Baby Sleep Guidelines – Newborn to 12 Months
You just had a baby and you are unsure of what to expect based on the baby's sleep schedule. However, when your baby is only a few weeks old, there won't be a sleep schedule to go by and your baby will be sleeping from 18 to 20 hours a day completely broken up. That is because they run completely on instinct as they will not have the days and nights together as they would not know since they were in the womb in the darkness for 9 months. And they would be rocked to sleep during the day because of the mother being active and be more active themselves at night as the mother goes and sleeps. They also need to feed every 2 to 3 hours because their stomachs are very small and can only hold in so much at a time. Additionally, they are growing constantly and will be hungry whenever they are ready which is why they will literally feed 2 to 3 hours each day and night.
And it does not matter what they are wearing when they go to sleep. They could be wearing their sleepers or one of their brand new baby christmas outfit and they will sleep because there is no point in changing them for naps they will take during the day if their clothes are clean. However, in order for you to understand your baby's sleeping patterns, this newborn sleep guideline will be helpful to you:
First Born To 4 Weeks Old
During this time your newborn will be sleeping most of the time but they break often to be fed and changed. They will sleep from 2 and a half to 4 hours at a time and in between sleep phases they can sleep for 45 minutes to an hour. This is why they are up all the time to be fed and changed and it is important to interact with them as well as they are taking in everything in their environment.
Next Phase 5 To 8 Weeks
This is the time when you will notice that there are some slight changes in the baby's sleeping patterns. The newborns are beginning to see that there is a difference between day and night, and they will be napping from 45 minutes to an hour for 3 to 5 times a day and will be sleeping longer at night. This is the time when you will want to start implementing bedtime routines as well so that they become used to sleeping through the night quicker. They will also not require feedings in the middle of the night so often once they are closer to 8 weeks.
The Third Phase 9 Weeks To Close To 4 Months
The baby will be awake more during the day and will begin to sleep longer at night which is what the parents have been wanting for so long. They will nap 3 times a day for 45 minutes to an hour an a half. One nap will be in the morning, the next will be in the afternoon, and the next will be in the early evening. And it will be predictable at this time when the baby will wake up. They can sleep from 4 to 8 hours in the night as well but don't despair that they can regress with their sleeping right around the end of this phase as well which will be temporary.
The Fourth Phase 4 Months To 8 Months
This is the time when you are able to set a real schedule for your baby as they have their internal clocks set at this point. They will need a morning and an afternoon nap, and a quick nap from the afternoon to bedtime. The way it can go is from 8 to 8:30 am they go in for their morning nap and they are napping for 2 hours to get up and feed. And in the afternoon they nap starting from noon to 12:30 and wake up 2 hours for a feeding. And then between the afternoon and evening, they can get a 30 minute to 45-minute nap which is known as the buffer nap.
This way they can nap quickly so they are not too cranky for bedtime which could cause them not to sleep well as the one way to prevent a baby from being overtired is if they nap enough. However, you don't want them to nap too much which is why they should not nap for longer than 5 hours during the day which has been broken up based on their nap schedules.
The Last Phase 8 Months To 12 Months
This is the time when infants only need to have 4 hours of napping time in a day which is 2 hours in the morning from 8 to 8:30 as their start time and sleep for 2 hours. And they have another nap in the afternoon which would be around 1 pm and they will wake up at 3 pm and be up until bedtime. You will want to start the bedtime routine a half hour before they go to bed for the night. That means at that time before they get a bath, get those onesies for babies, if that is what they are wearing and then get them bathed so they are drowsy enough to sleep.
Then after their bath, get them into their pajamas and they will be drowsy enough to sleep. And don't be surprised as well if there are sleep regressions here and there especially around 9 to 12 months of age due to teething or growth spurts.
Your baby will sleep as he or she gets older and there will be some rough nights where he or she is sick or has a bad dream and needs your comfort. But just know that there will be more restful nights than not as the baby matures and grows older. It will not last this way forever and that is a promise.
Written in collaboration with Lavendersun.