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How Long Should a Newborn Sleep During the Day?

author image Lisa Sefcik
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.
How Long Should a Newborn Sleep During the Day?
Newborns sleep a lot during the day, but it's in fragments. Photo Credit: kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

When you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you're going to be faced with some sleepless nights as your little one adjusts to being out of his mommy and out in the real world. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies don't fall into a regular sleep cycle until they're about 6 months old. However, you can roughly predict how much your newborn will sleep during a 24-hour day, if not his exact pattern of sleeping. As your newborn grows and requires fewer daily feedings, his periods of sleep become longer.

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What to Expect

According to the National Sleep Foundation, your newborn's sleep schedule is closely tied to his need to be fed, changed or nurtured. Your newborn may sleep between 10.5 and 18 hours every day. Initially, his schedule is erratic. Your newborn may sleep between three to four hours at a stretch, according to Kids Health. However, he may sleep for only a few minutes before waking. Newborns often appear restless as they sleep, actively twitching, smiling and sucking.

Sleep and Feedings

Your newborn's sleeping schedule is closely tied to his need to be fed every two to three hours around the clock. Newborns need to be breastfed between eight and 12 times during the course of a 24-hour day, notes Kids Health. Newborns sometimes lose weight during the first few days post-birth, according to StorkNet, but they regain it within a few weeks. If your baby sleeps for three hours at a time, it's crucial that you wake him for feedings.

As Your Baby Grows

As your newborn grows out of the need to be fed around the clock and nighttime feedings are no longer required, he may sleep through the night as soon as 6 months of age, says the National Sleep Foundation. By 9 months of age, between 70 and 80 percent of babies sleep through the night uninterrupted. Generally, older infants require nine to 12 hours of sleep each night and 30-minute to two-hour naps, one to four times each day. Naps become less frequent as your baby reaches the 1-year-old mark.

Putting Baby to Sleep

Your newborn's sleeping habits may be highly unpredictable, but Kids Health says you can help get him used to sleeping at night. Keep him active and engaged during his waking hours, providing him with ample stimulation of routine daytime noise and light. When your baby begins to nap, don't let him sleep for large amounts of time--this can discourage nighttime sleep. Get into a regular nighttime routine of bathing, reading or singing so your baby picks up these "sleeping" cues. Put him in his crib when he's sleepy but still awake; this encourages self-soothing behaviors.

Newborn Sleeping Safety

Regardless of when your newborn sleeps, use safety strategies to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. According to the American SIDS Institute, putting your baby to sleep on his back is safer than letting him sleep on his side or tummy. Use a firm mattress in baby beds and cribs, and don't smother your newborn with blankets and toys. Keep him in the same bedroom with you for the first his first six months, advises the American SIDS Institute. Don't let him share your bed, however, as this, too, increases his risk of SIDS.

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