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Your Guide to an Effective Newborn Sleep Schedule

Newborns are pretty great. They’re snuggly, they smell pretty good and they’re just so dang cute. However, most of the time newborns don’t have the best sleeping habits. Whether they’re getting their days and nights mixed up, or want to eat every two hours on the hour, they’re awake and you’re tired. While every baby is different, and there is no foolproof sleep schedule, we’ve gotten pretty close. And so, we present you our guide to an effective newborn sleep schedule. (You can thank us later.)

Give Your Baby a Chance to Nap 

Newborns tend to sleep a lot… between 16-17 hours per day. Consequently, for the first six to eight weeks of life, most babies aren’t able to go more than two hours without a nap. Your impulse might be to try to stretch out the time between naps, but this can actually make your newborn overtired. Which means she’ll have a more difficult time falling asleep.

Look for Tiredness Cues

Observe your baby for signs that she’s tired. Is she rubbing her eyes? Pulling on her ear? Fussing more than normal? If so, she’s probably tired. Once you get your baby’s cues down, you’ll know when it’s time for your baby to take a nap.

Help Establish the Difference Between Day and Night

Some babies get their days and their nights mixed up, which is problematic for bedtime. For the first few days, you won’t be able to remedy this (sorry) but by two weeks old, you can start establishing the difference between night and day. During the day, interact and play with your newborn as much as you can. And don’t minimize daytime noises, and keep her room light and bright. At night, don’t play with her when she wakes up, and keep lights and noise levels low.

Get Into a Bedtime Routine

Creating a set routine at a set time every night will help your baby know that it’s bedtime. An example of said routine could involve the following:

  • Bath time followed by lotion massage.
  • Singing a lullaby while putting baby into her pajamas.
  • Swaddle her up.
  • Rock and feed your child until she’s sleepy but not all the way asleep. (This is a toss-up with experts. Some say it’s better to not feed your child right before bed, but it works really well for some parents. So we say, do what feels right and what works for you and your baby.)
Be Strategic in the Middle of the Night

It’s difficult to think clearly at 3:07 in the morning. Especially if you’re running on too few hours of sleep. So try to be as strategic as you can for night feedings. Change your child’s diaper at the beginning or middle of the feeding instead of after so you don’t overstimulate her. Get in a system with your spouse or partner about who is doing what feeding and if/how the other can help. If you’re bottle-feeding, get them ready ahead of time, so you don’t have to measure out formula or breast milk while you’re barely coherent. And try not to be overly chatting or engaging with your newborn. As we mentioned above, keeping sounds and lights low will help baby know it’s nighttime.

We hope these tips help you create your own personal guide to an effective newborn sleep schedule. At the end of the day, you’ll find out what works best for your child, and that’s the most important thing.

Did we miss anything? Please share your sleep schedule tips below. 

Author Info

Lauren Soderberg

Wife of one tall drink of water. Mama of two spunky kids. Lover of awkwardly long hashtags and unicorn emojis. And babies, obviously.

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