What are Newborn Sleep Patterns?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2019
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Newborn sleep patterns are the patterns that newborn babies develop regarding sleep. Most newborns sleep the majority of the day during the first four to six weeks of life. The hours that newborns sleep may be inconsistent at first before slowly developing into a predictable pattern. There are also some newborn babies who never seem to sleep according to any set pattern and might wake up and go back to sleep at seemingly random times throughout the day and night. Usually by the time most babies are about eight weeks old, some set sleeping patterns have developed.

Most babies sleep from 16 to 18 hours a day during the first few weeks of life. During this time, newborn sleep patterns are usually similar, and most babies will wake up long enough to be fed and possibly look around for a little while before falling back to sleep again. Even though 16 to 18 hours of sleep a day is common for most newborns, these hours are normally broken up throughout most days. Newborns generally have small stomachs, and for this reason they may wake up every three to four hours to eat. Some newborn sleep patterns include more night alertness and daytime sleepiness because babies often get their days and nights mixed up.


There are also different stages of sleep that occur in various newborn sleep patterns. The majority of newborns are in any of four different sleep stages while they sleep. During the first stage, newborns might seem drowsy with droopy eyelids but are not fully asleep. Light sleep, which is the second stage, involves sleep with some movement and more sensitivity to any sounds. Stages three and four involve deep sleep, and newborns in these stages are generally still and do not move at all.

Understanding newborn sleep patterns can be tricky and tiresome for new parents because newborns are not programmed to sleep in the same way as adult humans. The first few months after birth might be incredibly exhausting because of how often newborn babies awaken during the night for feedings. Most newborns do begin to sleep throughout the night by the time they are anywhere from three to five months old, and most do begin to fall into more of a routine regarding daytime naps once they are one to two months old. Parents can often help their babies develop these routines by noticing when their babies display signs of sleepiness, which might include yawning, fussing, and rubbing the face or eyes, and lull their children to sleep at those times.



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