1. Can my Newborn Sleep too Much?
Newborns need between 16 and 20 hours of sleep per day! Meaning they are really only awake between 4 and 8 hours spread over 24 hours. You newborn can’t sleep too much.
From birth to 8 weeks, most babies can only comfortably stay awake for approximately 45 minutes. We call this awake time between sleeps “awake time” and this is the time your baby needs to be asleep, not starting the routine.
From 8 weeks to 12 weeks, the awake time can extend to as much as 1.5 hours.
With both these awake times, you will notice that they are shorter in the morning after the first wake up your child may show sleep signs earlier than this and that is normal.
After that time elapses, it can become harder to get your newborn to settle into sleep as she becomes “overtired.”
Overtired babies are at risk of:
2. Can I have a schedule for my newborn?
During weeks 0 to 8 weeks, it’s almost impossible to have a fixed schedule where 9 am is nap time. That’s because at this age we cannot control how long a child naps for. What do you do with your fixed schedule if your baby poops herself awake mid nap? Should you wait until the next nap time even though she’s tired? Fixed schedules at this age set a parent up to fail and feel confused.
Most kids don’t have a “fixed” schedule successfully until about 9 months when on 2 naps. Naps in these first 3 months are quite varied by day and by child. In my online sleep class I teach you how to develop a “flexible schedule” so you know what your baby’s rhythm to the day looks like and what she needs from you, but it is not rigid at this age as there is so much change happening so quickly.
Some babies will take a 1 hour nap every hour. Other babies will take only 45 minutes naps except for one long nap mid day.
In general, the first nap of the day at this age tends to be the longest. By 5 months, naps evolve into a more predictable pattern for most children and they shift down to 3 naps by 6 months of age.
In this 0-3 month period, your nap lengths will vary tremendously. Focus on your baby’s 24 hour sleep goal of 16-20 hours.
3. What advice do you have on naps?
Another subjective goal is to become an observer of naps. Does your baby wake up crying right away or does she surface contentedly and then cry for you to come get her?
Babies who surface crying right away have something bugging them. What can it be?
Some questions to ask yourself:
Part of having a great sleeper is having a parent who is a great detective and observer.
4. Should I ever wake my newborn from a nap?
The only reason to wake a newborn during the day would be to get calories into her to keep her tank full and set her up for the potential for a longer stretch of night time sleep. My general guideline is that I will wake my baby from a nap if it has been 4.5 hours since her last feed.
Otherwise, it’s very unlikely your baby has switched her nights and days for most breastfeeding babies since your baby gets her melatonin from your breast milk until about 2-3 months of age.
Melatonin is a human hormone that you secret which signals your body that it is time to sleep. Melatonin is inhibited by sunlight, and is released at night when the sunlight goes down.
If you find your baby is up for extended periods in the night, you need to figure out what is bugging her. Is she overtired, is she gassy, is there something that you are eating that disagrees with her?
5. Can you sleep train your newborn?
Sleep training, or as I like to call it “sleep teaching” is something you do after 4 months when you realize that you have inadvertently taught your child that she needs a boob in her mouth, to be rocked or bounced or other laborous routines to fall asleep that are hard to maintain or are no longer working as effectively.
Sleep training involves taking away the external thing she relies on to fall asleep so that she can develop some self soothing skills. It can be done as gently as possible, with a parent in the room right by the baby’s side, but it always involves some crying as your baby expresses her frustration with this new routine.
In my opinion, you cannot sleep train in the newborn stage as your child does not have hand control, still has the moro reflex which is helped by being swaddled and lacks the capacity to understand messaging.
However you can start teaching your newborn gentle sleep routines, sleep cues and healthy sleep habits. These can be simple things such as differentiating between sleep time and awake time by changing her environment.
Sleep happens in the nursery and awake time happens in the living room. Brightness can help setting the message of when sleep happens. Start closing the blinds for nap time and having it bright for awake time. You also want to start helping her sleep in her crib with your help as that’s ultimately where you’ll want her to sleep. These are a few simple things you can do.
In my class “Bundles of Sleep: How to Gift Your Newborn the Love of Sleep’, which launched online October 1st, 2019, I teach a more simple strategies like the above to help you teach your newborn “what sleep looks like.”
Ultimately, the need to sleep is biological, but the way we sleep is learned, and unknowingly, those first 2 months we are teaching our baby how and what sleep looks like to her. For some babies this can backfire around 4 months of age when your child exits the “4th trimester” and wakes up to the world around her. At this age she learns “object permanence”, the fact that you exist even though she can’t see you and calls for you more frequently in the night and has shorter naps. Other babies aren’t as affected by the 4 month sleep regression as personality does play a role in behavior even by this age!
There is no right or wrong way to do this parenting thing. What works for you to get your baby to sleep might not be helpful at all to your friend. There is no right or wrong way to help your baby sleep, as it is really a family affair. Everyone has different thresholds and needs for sleep. The goal of this article is to help answer some of the most common questions around sleep and teach you some general sleep information. I hope you have found this helpful!
If you liked this post about newborn sleep, we think you'll love these resources too!
- How Much Sleep Does My Newborn Need?
- How Can I Improve My Sleep with a Newborn?
- Majka's Fourth Trimester Guide
Did you have more questions about your baby's sleep patterns? Tell us your thoughts and experiences with your sleep consultant in the comments below @lovemajka #lovemajka #fuelingmotherhood