As the early weeks go by, your newborn's sleep schedule can sometimes be tricky to figure out: how much sleep does your baby actually need anyway? And are they getting enough sleep? If you're wondering about how much sleep your 15-week-old baby should be getting each day, you've come to the right place. Because sleep is so vitally important for both you and your baby, we've created a helpful week-by-week guide to assist you in navigating the early months of your baby's sleep journey. You've got this, mama.
To help you navigate these early weeks of newborn sleep, we've put together a handy sleep schedule of how much your 15-week-old is sleeping, plus some tips on these early days of sleeping.
How much sleep does a 15-week-old baby need?
Your new baby needs lots of sleep: according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a newborn should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. And according to the Baby Sleep Site, at just shy of four months old, your baby will fit well within that timeframe, as they should be getting 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 3-4 hours during the day.
"At 15 weeks your baby is nearly 4 months, which is a huge milestone for your baby. Your baby's melatonin is starting to ramp up, their circadian rhythm is kicking in, and they are starting to develop more predictable patterns. In this stage, I recommend parents try to follow a 12-hour cycle, so 6-6, 7-7, or 8-8. For example, if your baby is waking for the day at 7 am, their ideal bedtime would be 7 pm," says Rachel Mitchell, founder of My Sweet Sleeper.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
During weeks 14-16, the Baby Sleep Site suggests beginning to develop a consistent sleep routine, reviewing your baby's schedule, consider gentle sleep coaching/training (if necessary), create a sleep plan for your family, gather support from your village (so important!) and prepare for sleep regression, which can occur around four months of age.
I know this sounds like a lot (after all, babies need to eat, poop and play, too!), so we've put together a sample sleep schedule of what one 24-hour period with a 15-week-old baby would look like. (Note: this is meant to be a rough guide of what you can expect your baby to do; however, this is not meant to be a sleep schedule to attempt to put your baby on.)
Fifteen-week-old baby sleep schedule
OPTION 1: Early bedtime routine, starting at 6:15 pm, with baby asleep by 6:45 pm.
OPTION 2: Offer a nap at 6:15 pm. Wake up baby at 7 pm, with an 8:45 pm final bedtime.
"While awake windows still take priority over a sleep schedule, you can aim for this as your goal each day, just don't worry if it doesn't end up following this pattern perfectly. Continue to work on moving up bedtime and gradually introducing more independent soothing skills," says Mitchell.
Wake windows for a 15-week-old
A wake window is the period of time a baby can stay awake in between naps without becoming overtired (because newborn babies are unable to self-regulate their own sleep patterns, they can become overtired instead of simply just falling asleep).
The average wake window for a 15-week-old newborn is about 2 hours, according to Amy Motroni, a baby and toddler sleep consultant. While baby is awake, it's time to for eating, playing and getting a diaper change. As your baby approaches 4 months old, they will likely be staying awake more during the day, while some naps may be getting shorter.
Related: 4-month-old baby milestones
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).
A version of this story was published August 24, 2021. It has been updated.