How long does a newborn sleep?

January 18, 2024

We spend a third of our lives in bed, and sleep is a major component of physical well-being.

For children and infants, sleep is even more important.

During sleep, the brain reprocesses all the lessons and things learned in the past day and recovers its functionality. But many parents ask, “How long does a newborn sleep?”

How long does a newborn sleep?

Granted that it is not possible to give precise figures and standard numbers and that each baby has its own history, different from that of others, we can indicate some basic parameters with which to compare.

In any case, it is important to keep in mind that these are values to be understood as averages taken over the long term, and one should not worry at all about exceptions.

Let’s start with a 3-month-old baby, in which case the ratio of newborn sleep hours will be about 16/17, dropping to 14 hours at 6 months and 12 hours at one year.

These values are to be considered over the day, thus including naps of 1 or 2 hours taken during the morning or afternoon. An infant’s sleep in any case is composed of micro cycles, of one or two hours each, so intermediate awakenings should always be taken into account.

When do infants oversleep?

After the doubts about how much newborn babies sleep, one of the questions parents have is whether problems can arise if they oversleep.

Newborn sleep as we have already seen, is a form of self-recharging of the body, in which cells regenerate and the baby assimilates what it has experienced during the day.

It is therefore very possible that a baby, after long days full of new activities or during a period of intense growth, will abandon himself in the arms of Morpheus!

Just as it is common that following a mild illness, such as a cold or flu, the infant fights off viruses by sleeping a little longer. In any case, there is no cause for concern unless you notice other symptoms.

Why is the infant a light sleeper?

Let us come to the opposite case, that is, when an infant sleeps lightly or when a baby does not sleep.

At these junctures, the cause can be found in mild discomfort, such as a cold that does not allow him to breathe well, tonsil stones, or in a change of habits.
The child needs routine and continuity.

Always putting him to bed at the same time, and creating a set list of actions that are repeated every night, will help generate a calm and relaxed atmosphere. If, on the other hand, we notice that the little one at bedtime remains excited about the day that has passed, then a bath before bed, complete with massages and caresses, can calm tempers and give the right cuddle for bedtime.

It is also important to remember to create an environment as free as possible from electronic impulses, such as televisions, tablets, or PCs, which with their influences, could disturb the mild sleep. Be careful in using supplements like melatonin, which still don’t have much evidence about long-term use on newborns.

How often does an infant eat at night?

During the early stages of life, nighttime awakenings to eat are a constant. The infant’s metabolism is all in flux, and the alternating cycles of sleep and feeding, contribute to his growth and allow for rapid absorption of nutrients.

But how much does an infant eat?

Again, it is impossible to give numbers, but in recent years, for toddlers, there has been a move toward the idea of breastfeeding on demand. An infant will eat whenever he or she is hungry!

As he or she grows up, however, this mode will increasingly fade and milk demands will fall in line with standard values.

Still talking about a 3-month-old baby, we are on the 6 daily feedings and then we will have about two-night feedings depending on bedtime.

In theory then, from the fourth or fifth month, the feedings decrease by one, and usually the one excluded is the night feeding.

When do an infant’s feedings become regularized?

Time logically leads to the growth of the baby, to a self-awareness that begins to take shape, with the identification of the various times of the day.

As the infant grows, he begins to understand when the moments of feeding or bedtime arrive, and his requests are no longer made solely based on instinct.

It is at these times that feedings will begin to regularize.

In this way, a daily routine will be created that will become more and more established, step by step, until weaning begins. Generally speaking, however, we can say that it is from the third month that the first signs of regularization can be seen.

When does an infant’s sleep stabilize?

Sleep and bedtime, on the other hand, deserve a separate discussion.

Nighttime autonomy and sleep regularization can be considered to have taken place even two or three years after birth, often in conjunction with the start of kindergarten.
In the early years of life, night awakenings, sleep disturbances, or even just the need for cuddles and reassurance from mom and dad are frequent.

This is an essential part of a child’s growth and is probably the most subjective. In fact, out of a sample of ten children, it will be difficult to find two with the same path in the area of bedtime.

Emotions, teachings, and recovery are processed during the night. It is therefore normal to incur situations of nighttime sleep interspersed with wakefulness.

We are with you.

In these cases, you just have to be patient, if you want to help your child but also the whole family to recover a few hours of sleep and finally get back to better sleep, I remind you of our guide “MAMISleep“, thanks to our path more than 11000 moms and dads have finally gone back to sleep.

SOURCES

Tham EK, Schneider N, Broekman BF. Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 May 15;9:135-149. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S125992. PMID: 28553151; PMCID: PMC5440010.