For new parents, sleep is a precious and rare commodity. By eight weeks, most parents are going on two full months of no sleep. The highs of new parenthood have potentially worn off while the feelings of sheer exhaustion take over. It was around the eight-week mark I remember questioning if I would ever sleep through the night again.
You won't be sleep deprived forever and there are ways to get through those early weeks of sleep. To help you, we've put together a simple sleep schedule of how much your eight weeks old is sleeping, plus some tips on these first few weeks of sleeping.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
How much sleep does an eight-week-old baby need?
Newborns need a ton of sleep: according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a newborn should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
"Congratulations, your baby is now officially 2 months old! By this [stage] your baby has likely given you several long stretches of night sleep and naps are becoming more pronounced, although they are still going to vary for a while. Night sleep almost always organizes before day sleep so it is not uncommon for your baby to take consistent stretches at night but then to take two 40 minutes naps, and then a 2.5-hour nap. Typically I recommend waking your baby at the 2.5-3 hour mark though to ensure they aren't missing a feed, and their naps are being distributed properly throughout the day," says Rachel Mitchell, founder of My Sweet Sleeper.
Related: 2-month-old baby milestones
Your newborn will spend at least half, but usually more, of the days catching some zzzs. You're probably wondering when the baby eats if they are sleeping so much. We've put together an example of a sleep schedule for an 8-week-old baby.
Below is what your schedule may look like over the course of a 24-hour day. (Keep in Mind: This is a rough guide of what you can expect from your baby. It's not meant to be a sleep schedule you put in place for your baby.)
Eight-week-old baby sleep schedule
"This is also around the time that your baby is seeming a lot more alert and possibly even getting distracted by their surroundings. Because of this, I recommend feeding in a low stimulating environment and making sure to give your baby plenty of transition time from activities to sleep periods so they have time to wind down. You are still following 60-90 minute awake windows at this point but you may notice that your baby can stay awake a little longer than they could just a few weeks ago. Continue to watch sleepy cues to help determine the optimal time for your baby to sleep," says Mitchell.
Wake windows for an eight-week-old
Newborn babies can't self-regulate their sleep patterns. By eight weeks, mom or dad will probably start picking up on cues that indicate the baby is tired. And it's imperative we pay attention to those cues because an overtired baby tends to have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.
Babies tend to have wake windows; a period of time a baby can stay awake in between naps without being overtired. Every baby is different, but on average, newborns can't stay awake for longer than 45 minutes. The average wake window for an 8-week-old newborn is between 45 and 90 minutes at a time. During this time, you can change their diaper, talk to them, rock them or do whatever you want to do with them before it's time to sleep 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.)
A version of this story was published August 24, 2021. It has been updated.