How much should a newborn sleep? Babies may be too short to compete in the Olympics, but they definitely hold the world’s record for championship sleeping. With an average of 16 hours a day (and, rarely, up to 20!), newborn infants rack up more snoozing than at any other time in life.

Yet this can be a fooler! You’d think that 16 hours of baby sleep would leave you tons of free time every day. But newborn sleep is shredded into confetti-like bits sprinkled throughout the light and night. It’s like winning the lottery—but getting paid in pennies.

And if your child only needs 12 or 13 hours of sleep per day, it’s even crazier. Between feeding, bathing, nappy changes and calming crying—God help you!—it can feel like you never get a break.

Newborn Sleep Schedule - What's Normal?

And many parents are surprised by their newborn’s sleep pattern. During the first day of life, most babies are alert for about an hour, and then they can fall into deep sleep for 12 to 18 hours. (Like most of us, they’re exhausted by the whole ordeal.)

Of course, you should cuddle your baby during this period (skin-to-skin is great) and offer feedings—but even if she suckles, the breasts contain very little milk on the first day. Don’t worry, however! Your early milk (colostrum) is rich in protein, antibodies and nutrients to get your baby off to a great start. Additionally, like a little camel, your baby is born with an extra pound of food and water in her body.

Over the next day or so, your baby will become increasingly awake and begin the classic pattern (awake for 1 to 2 hours, then sleeping for 2 or 4) that will dominate her life for the first month.

See similar posts

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.