Newborn Sleep: Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns During the First Week of Life

As a new parent, understanding your baby’s sleep patterns can be a source of confusion and stress. During the first week of life, your newborn will have different sleep patterns than older babies or adults. This guide will help you understand the science of sleep, the norms of sleep for newborns, and provide tips on how to create a sleep-conducive environment for your baby.

How Much Sleep Does a Newborn Need?

The first thing to understand is that newborns need a lot of sleep, typically around 17-19 hours per day. However, it’s important to note that each baby is unique and some may sleep for as much as 20 hours per day, while others may only sleep for 16 hours.

Newborns’ Sleep Patterns in the First Week of Life

During the first week of life, your newborn’s sleep patterns will be irregular. They may have periods of being awake and active followed by periods of sleep, and they may wake up frequently throughout the night. This is normal and to be expected as newborns are still developing their sleep patterns and learning to regulate their own sleep.

Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

To help your newborn sleep, it’s important to create a sleep-conducive environment. This includes keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, using a white noise machine, and making sure the room is dark and quiet. A consistent bedtime routine, such as a warm bath, lullaby, or feeding before bed, can also help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep.

Being Patient and Understanding

It’s important to be patient and understanding with your newborn’s sleep patterns. Newborns are still learning how to sleep, and it can take time for them to develop regular patterns. It’s also important to take care of yourself and your own needs, such as getting enough sleep and taking breaks when needed.

Consult with Your Pediatrician

If you are concerned about your baby’s sleep, it’s always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. Some newborns may have trouble sleeping due to medical conditions or other issues, and it’s important to address these concerns as soon as possible.

In conclusion, understanding newborn sleep patterns and learning how to help your baby get the sleep they need is an important part of being a new parent. By creating a sleep-conducive environment, being patient and understanding, and consulting with your pediatrician, you can help your newborn sleep well and have a positive impact on the well-being of both the baby and the parents.


1. Iglowstein I, Jenni OG, Molinari L, Largo RH. Sleep duration from infancy to adolescence: reference values and generational trends. Pediatrics. 2003 Feb;111(2):302-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.111.2.302. PMID: 12563055.

2. Heraghty JL, Hilliard TN, Henderson AJ, Fleming PJ. The physiology of sleep in infants. Arch Dis Child. 2008 Nov;93(11):982-5. doi: 10.1136/adc.2006.113290. Epub 2008 Jul 24. PMID: 18653626.

3. Iwata S, Fujita F, Kinoshita M, Unno M, Horinouchi T, Morokuma S, Iwata O. Dependence of nighttime sleep duration in one-month-old infants on alterations in natural and artificial photoperiod. Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 17;7:44749. doi: 10.1038/srep44749. PMID: 28303945; PMCID: PMC5355994.

4. Jenni OG, Deboer T, Achermann P. Development of the 24-h rest-activity pattern in human infants. Infant Behav Dev. 2006 Apr;29(2):143-52. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2005.11.001. Epub 2005 Nov 28. PMID: 17138270.

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