“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 with the early weeks of newborn sleep, we’ve put together a handy sleep schedule of how much your five-week-old is sleeping.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
How much sleep does a five-week-old baby need?
At five weeks old, your baby is still considered to be a newborn for a few more weeks but is likely growing bigger and stronger every day. And your baby is growing so well because you, mama, are doing everything right.
Your baby won’t be sleeping through the night just yet, but they’re likely having longer wake times and sleep stretches—hooray! Much like those first few weeks, your baby still needs to sleep for an average of 16 hours in a 24-hour-period. Remember, all babies are different and they all develop at their own pace—that includes sleeping, too!
“At five weeks old, your baby has likely given you at least one stretch of sleep at night over 4 hours, which can feel life-changing! Continue to focus on full feeds throughout the day to ensure that your baby is able to sleep longer stretches at night without a feed. It is still normal though for your baby to need anywhere from 1-3 feeds overnight in this stage,” says Rachel Mitchell, founder of My Sweet Sleeper. “Remember that inconsistent naps are still developmentally normal, but keep attempting naps every 60-90 minutes and make sure to watch your baby’s sleep cues closely to see if they may need to go to sleep sooner. All babies vary in their awake windows which is why we provide a range, so you may see your baby is on the shorter end or higher end of the range.”
Related: 2-month-old baby milestones
When it comes to developing a solid daily routine, your five-week-old likely already has one. Babies are great at adapting to predictability and often end up sleeping, waking, and eating at similar times each day. If you’re looking to establish a more set routine for your five-week-old, here’s a sample sleep schedule of what one 24-hour period with a five-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 strict sleep schedule to adhere to.)
5-week-old baby sleep schedule
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.Wake windows for a five-week-old
For a five-week-old, the average wake window is still 30-45 minutes. During these wake windows, you can change their diaper, sing to them, talk to them, snuggle, set them down safely in a swing, or do whatever you want to do with them before it’s time for them to catch some zzz’s again.
Sleep tips for newborns
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.
Your five-week-old may still not 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. 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 baby 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.