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The Newborn Sleep Schedule

Why Baby Wakes

Generally, newborns will sleep for most of the time, waking due to hunger every few hours. The number of hours that they will sleep between feedings is typically based on two things:
  • Breastfeeding vs. formula: Breast milk is extremely efficient in how it is processed by your baby's little digestive system. This causes it to travel through them quicker, which results in the need for more frequent feedings. Formula travels a little slower, so the periods of sleep are longer and feedings are fewer.
  • Your baby's temperament: The innate behavioral style of your newborn will affect their tendency to want to sleep versus being active (see Temperament).
Babies sleep lightly as a natural defense. By sleeping lightly, a baby is more in tune with their physical needs (hunger, temperature, or a stuffed nose) and can wake themselves when they become physically in need of your help. Some sleep lighter than others and may rouse before there is a reason to do so. The goal is to create a sleeping environment that helps your baby get through the lighter sleep periods with as few unnecessary wake-ups as possible.

When Should I Wake My Baby?

It is often hard for new parents to know how long and how often a newborn should sleep. Newborns have small stomachs and, for that reason, must wake every few hours to eat. It is generally not advised to let a newborn go for more than a maximum of five hours without a feeding to prevent your baby from becoming dehydrated. Discuss this with your baby's healthcare provider.

Tip for the Sleeping Baby

When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night for a feeding, the goal is to feed and get you both back to sleep ASAP. A great trick during the colder months is to put a heating pad (one of those half-gallon size bean bags) in baby's crib while you are feeding. When it is time to put your baby back down, remove the pad and lay him or her back down in the warm spot (make sure the spot is not too hot). This way, the baby is not going from a warm mom to a cold bed, making it an easier transition.
Baby Milestones You've Never Heard Of

Newborn Care Information

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