Newborns have special sleep patterns and needs, but things start to improve around 12 weeks after delivery. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns should sleep between 14 and 17 hours in a 24-hour period, with some babies able to sleep up to 18 or 19 hours a day. Although it can seem like an eternity when you don't get enough sleep, these unpredictable patterns don't last long. By 3 to 4 months of age, many babies can sleep for at least five hours at a time.
At some point during your baby's first year of life, there may be 10-hour night stretches. To maximize your own sleep, try to be creative and put your baby to bed before you become too tired. A study found that children of parents who worked full time were more likely to sleep during the shorter night than those of parents who did not work full time. Many parents expect their baby's sleep to improve steadily until they are sleeping for 8-hour stretches by 4 months old.
The quality and quantity of your baby's sleep can be affected by the relationship you have with them and the attention you give them during the day. However, the biggest misconception of first-time parents is that once the baby passes the first few weeks, their sleep will gradually improve. It is believed that newborns have more REM sleep because it is necessary for the extraordinary development that is happening in their brain. It is important for new parents to prioritize getting enough sleep, even if it is a challenge with a newborn in the house.
Newborns take frequent naps lasting between 2 and 4 hours, for a total of 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day. At this age, their sleep cycles are closer to those of adult sleep, meaning they wake up less at night. They also need to eat frequently throughout the day and night because their small stomachs don't contain enough breast milk or formula to keep them satisfied for long periods of time. If you are concerned about your baby's sleep, it is a good idea to consult a child health professional for help.
Some mothers and sleep experts believe that an old wives' tale about babies sleeping through the night at 4 months old is true, but there is no scientific evidence to back this up. You don't need to set a strict sleep schedule yet, but there are some things you can do to encourage good sleeping habits. At 6-8 weeks old, try putting your baby in their crib or bassinet when they are sleepy but still awake so they can learn how to fall asleep on their own. Even if you don't get a full night's rest yet, your baby's sleep patterns will likely become more predictable after a few months.