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, diaper 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.