Expert guidance tips on your newborn's sleep schedule
Your baby's seven weeks old! If they're an early learner, they may be able to lift their head and give you a heart-melting gummy social smile, but if not don't worry! Those milestones will come in the following weeks. As you and your little one continue to get adjusted to your new lives together, you may be wondering what newborn sleep schedules are supposed to look like (and when you'll ever get to sleep again).
We've put together a handy schedule that shows how much the typical newborn sleeps, as well as some tips on these early days of sleeping, to help you navigate these early, sleep-deprived weeks.
How much sleep does a seven-week-old baby need?
Your newborn needs sleep, and lots of it: according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a newborn should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
"At 7 weeks old, you may notice that your baby's naps are starting to become a bit shorter, which is normal. Because newborn sleep cycles only last between 30-40 minutes or so, it is common to see a lot of naps that only last this long. In this case, it is fine to help your baby go back to sleep by replacing their pacifier or picking them up and rocking them back to sleep," says Rachel Mitchell, founder of My Sweet Sleeper. "If you notice that your baby is only taking short naps, you can practice a held nap for at least one nap per day, if that helps your baby connect sleep cycles. You just want to make sure to do this safely and to still attempt crib naps for the majority of naps throughout the day."
With most hours of the day dedicated to snoozing, you may be wondering about when you'll have time to feed, change, bath and engage with your little sweetie. We've put together a sample sleep schedule of what one 24-hour period with a seven-week-old baby could look like. (Note: this is meant to be a rough guide of what you can expect a day with your baby to look like; however, it is not meant to be a sleep schedule you put your baby on.)
Seven-week-old baby sleep schedule
|7:30/8:30 am: Wakeup for day|
|8/8:30 am: Feed and morning routine|
|9/9:30 am: Nap 1 (Morning awake window may extend slightly to 1.15-1.5 hours)|
|10:30/11 am: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-2 hours)|
|11 am: Feed|
|11:30 am: Tummy time|
|11:45 am: Nap routine|
|12/12:30 pm: Nap 2 (1.5 hour awake window or slightly earlier if nap 1 was short)|
|1:30/2 pm: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-2 hours)|
|2:15 pm: Feed + Walk outside|
|2:45/3 pm: Nap routine|
|3:15/3:30 pm: Nap 3 (1.5 hour awake window or slightly earlier if nap 2 was short)|
|4:30/5 pm: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-1.5 hours)|
|5:15 pm: Feed|
|5:30 pm: Tummy time + Last exposure to light|
|6/6:30 pm: Nap 4 (1.5 hour awake window or less depending on nap 3)|
|6:45/7:15 pm: Awake (Cat nap, cap at 45 minutes, can hold for this nap if needed)|
|7:30 pm: Tummy Time/Play|
|8 pm: Bedtime routine + feed|
|8:30 pm: Bedtime|
"Peak fussiness will likely continue through this stage, tapering off in a few weeks so continue to practice a later bedtime, unless it seems that your baby does better with an earlier one. This sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to find their sweet spot for bedtime!" says Mitchell.
Wake windows for a seven-week-old
What is a wake window and why is it important? A wake window is the period of time an infant can stay awake in between naps without getting overtired. Newborns are unable to self-regulate their sleep patterns, so instead of simply just falling asleep, they can easily become overtired. And that's bad news for everyone!
Though each baby is different, most newborns can't stay awake longer than 45 minutes. The average wake window for a seven-week-old baby is 30 minutes. During this time you can change their diaper, feed them, bathe them, stimulate them with some tummy time, books, or songs, or engage in any other activity you'd like before it's time to catch some zzz's again.
Sleep tips for newborns:
As you work on creating a daytime and evening sleep schedule for your baby, establish a bedtime routine and hopefully get a bit more sleep yourself, it's important to consider the following sleep tips for newborns as well:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. This helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). The American Academy of Pediatrics initiated the "Back to Sleep" movement in 1992, and rates of SIDS/SUID have decreased dramatically since.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, loose sheets, and bumpers out of your baby's crib or bassinet for similar reasons as above.
- Avoid overheating. Even though they're itty-bitty babies, you can dress them according to the room's temperature. Don't over-swaddle or over-layer their clothing.
- Try a pacifier. If they reject it, that's OK. If it falls out, that's OK. If you're breastfeeding, you may want to wait until baby is comfortable with latching and effectively nursing before introducing a pacifier.
- Use a white noise machine. Whether your house is quiet as a mouse, or you've got other kids running around making noise, a white noise machine can help your baby feel soothed (and possibly tune out) in their surroundings.
- Snuggle it up. Your newborn wants your cuddles as much as you want to give them—especially if they're fussy. Swaddle them up snugly, then rock them until they quiet down. There's no such thing as holding a newborn too much (for safety reasons, don't fall asleep with them in your arms).