Newborn Sleep Schedule: The Complete Guide

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 02/22/23 •  Sleep / Sleep Schedules

Healthy sleep patterns start with a schedule. Here’s everything you need to know about a newborn sleep schedule to ensure baby gets enough sleep and is developing properly during these early weeks. 

How Much Do Newborns Sleep?

TOP TIP: If you are concerned about your newborn’s sleep then keep a sleep journal for a couple of days. You may find that your baby is sleeping more or less than you think.

Newborn Sleep Schedule

Before I give you a sample newborn sleep schedule, there’s an important note I must mention first…

A newborn’s sleep pattern will vary wildly from day to day.

Therefore, with newborn babies, it is crucial to look at their sleep requirements in a 24-hour period as a whole rather than minute by minute.

Newborn Sleep Schedule Sample

How To Get A Newborn On A Schedule

Newborn babies will not follow a strict sleep schedule. 

Therefore, my newborn sleep schedule is designed to be a guideline to ensure you know what to expect from your baby but avoid you becoming anxious about trying to get your baby to stick to a rigid schedule. 

How Long Should You Let Your Newborn Sleep At A Time?

As a rule, newborns should not sleep for more than 4 hours at a time.

Breastfed babies require feeding every 2-3 hours and bottle-fed babies every 3-4 hours…

But in either case, you should not let your baby sleep for longer than 4 hours no matter how tempting it may be to leave them snoozing away.

Once they have regained their birth weight and are on a steady curve upwards on the growth chart, your doctor or paediatrician will give you the green light to let your baby sleep for longer periods.

Nap Schedule For Newborn Baby

A newborn sleep schedule and nap schedule are essentially the same things.

At this age, babies are primarily concentrating on growing and preparing to develop a host of physical, emotional, cognitive and social skills and as a result, they will spend more of their time asleep than awake.

Therefore, your baby’s nap schedule will probably contain 3 to 6 naps varying in length from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

You will find that the amount of time your baby can stay awake will vary quite dramatically from day to day depending on what they are experiencing when they’re awake too.

REMEMBER: It’s very difficult to reliably predict when your newborn will sleep, how deeply they will sleep or how long their naps will be until they’re a few months older.

How Long Can A Newborn Go Without Sleeping?

Bedtime For A Newborn

Although I am a great advocator of establishing a bedtime routine as early as possible, a newborn baby is simply too young for a full bedtime schedule.


The priority with a newborn sleep schedule is to make a stark difference between the nighttime and daytime interactions and to keep the sequence of events leading up to bedtime the same every night to establish strong sleep associations.

For a newborn baby, I’d recommend giving them a bath at the end of the day followed by a soothing massage and swaddling them up for some quiet time together in a dimly lit room.

You can then give them a feed and settle your baby down in their bassinet or Moses basket.

What Time Should A Newborn Baby Go To Bed

As a part of a newborn sleep schedule, your newborn baby will usually go to bed between 9pm and 10pm depending on when their last feed or dream feed falls.

REMEMBER: Bedtime for a newborn is later than for older babies due to their sleep and feeding schedule being so flexible. 

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

How To Get A Newborn To Sleep Through The Night

Despite having a newborn sleep schedule in place, a lot of newborn babies may experience the dreaded day/night confusion. 

I can speak from personal experience with my own son about this, but if you’re going through it with your little one… remembering that newborn babies have no concept of night or day is the key to being able to move forward with it. 

For the first 4 weeks, all your baby will do is eat, sleep and poop. 

But gradually, they will start to stay awake for longer periods and sleep for a little longer between feeds. 

The good news is that there are things you can do (even at this early stage!) to gently guide them towards healthy sleep habits so that they settle down quickly for the evening and nighttime feeds, and move towards an established sleep routine to sleep through the night.

Can A Newborn Baby Sleep Through The Night?

No. Your newborn will not sleep through the night yet. 

Most newborn babies will wake every 3-4 hours and the length of time they sleep between feeds at this age will vary from one night to the next.

Newborn Baby Sleep Tips

Managing a newborn sleep schedule is not easy… as it changes from day to day. 

However, there are plenty of things you can do to try and keep baby’s sleep on track.

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Common Newborn Baby Sleep Problems

Frequently Asked Questions About Newborn Sleep Schedules

Looking for more information about newborn sleep schedules? Find answers to the most common questions here.

Can You Sleep Train A Newborn Baby?

I would not recommend sleep training a baby before they are 4-6 months of age. Newborn babies should be fed and allowed to sleep as often as they wish. 

How Much Nighttime Sleep Is Appropriate For A Newborn Baby?

As a part of a newborn sleep schedule, your baby will usually sleep between 8-12 hours in their nighttime sleep space, but they will still wake up during that time for a couple of feeds.

Why Is My Newborn Sleeping So Much?

Your newborn baby will typically be sleeping a lot because they are developing at an incredible rate that requires a lot of energy.

They may also:

  1. Have a cold or minor infection,
  2. Have experienced a disruption to their routine,
  3. Have received some immunizations,
  4. Be going through a growth spurt,
  5. Not be having enough to eat,
  6. Have jaundice. Some newborns suffer from newborn jaundice which causes a yellowing of the skin and this can make them lethargic and reluctant to feed.

If you feel that your newborn is sleeping too much; is struggling to stay away for 20 minutes between naps, or is showing any of the following signs, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible:

Sleep Schedules Further Reading

Here are some more sleep schedules to help you get the most out of helping your little one sleep as best they can.

After all…

Sleep breeds sleep!

Need More Parenting Help?

Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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