"How much sleep does my newborn need?" is an age-old question for new moms and dads everywhere. The short answer? A LOT. If you're worried your baby is sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, we've created a week-by-week guide to help you find the answers you need and develop a newborn sleep schedule that works for your baby and your family. The first step to a healthy sleep pattern is a regular sleep schedule—we've got you covered, mama.
To help you figure out the early weeks of newborn sleep, we've put together a handy sleep schedule of how much your one-week-old is sleeping, plus some tips for ensuring the best sleep.
How much sleep does a one-week-old baby need?
Your new baby needs lots of sleep: a newborn should get 14-17 hours of sleep per 24 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
"Newborns need about 14-17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period," says Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric and maternity sleep consultant. "Because sleep is still inconsistent in this stage, naps will vary in length and stretches of night sleep will also vary. Ideally, newborns are getting between 4.5-6.5 hours of day-sleep and 10-12 hours of night-sleep, but your baby is going to have a hard time telling the difference between their days and nights which can make sleep feel like it all blends together. To help with this, I recommend waking your baby at the three-hour mark for naps and exposing them to light as much as possible during awake periods, and keeping the room dark for both naps and night sleep. If it seems like your baby struggles to sleep in the crib or bassinet, it is OK to hold [them] for 1-2 naps, but make sure you are still attempting naps in the crib/bassinet for at least 2-3 naps per day. Bedtime will also be later in this stage since your baby is not yet producing the hormone melatonin. Typically newborns do best with a bedtime between 7:30-9:30 pm, so if you notice that your baby struggles with an earlier bedtime don't be afraid to push that back a bit.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
A one-week-old baby will likely sleep in spurts because they need to eat often to ensure proper weight gain, and, of course, they need plenty of diaper changes. Your newborn might even fall right back asleep after filling their tummy (if only we all could, right?) However, if your baby is sleeping through feedings, ask your pediatrician for advice.
One-week-old baby sleep schedule
You may be wondering how you will get your baby fed with that much sleeping going on, so we've put together a sample sleep schedule of what one 24-hour period with a one-week-old baby would look like. Newborns make their own schedule, for the most part. Developing a solid sleep schedule can take a few weeks (or longer) to take hold.
You may even notice your baby gets themselves on their own regular routine after two or three weeks, and you can take their lead if it works for your family. Therefore, this is just a rough guide of what you can expect your baby to do, not a strict sleep schedule to adhere to.
Wake windows for a one-week-old
What are wake windows and why are they important? A wake window is the period of time a baby can stay awake in between naps without being overtired. Since newborn babies can't self-regulate their own sleep patterns, they can become overtired instead of simply just falling asleep.
"Because sleep still varies you are not following a by-the-clock schedule, but rather awake windows between 60-90 minutes. You can have a schedule in mind but just understand this will change daily. You may find that it is hard for your one-week-old to stay awake, which is completely normal. Remember that they are still adjusting to life outside of the womb and they are growing rapidly, which makes them quite tired!" says Mitchell.
Related: 1-month-old baby milestones
Sleep tips for newborns
Your one week old doesn't yet know the difference between night and day. Keeping things quiet, dim, and calm during those nighttime feedings and diaper changes can help them recognize it's still time to sleep.
Remember, try not to keep your baby awake if they don't want to be. An overly tired newborn can have trouble settling down and falling asleep at all, even if they're exhausted.
- 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. "You can also introduce the swaddle and pacifier at this stage to help promote sleep once the feeding relationship has been established," Mitchell says. If they reject it, that's OK. If it falls out, that's OK.
- 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. Mitchell also says it "will help replicate that sound your baby heard frequently in the womb."
- 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 September 28, 2021. It has been updated.