How do newborn babies sleep?


By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns ~~~

Your baby doesn’t magically transform into a different life form at the moment of birth. He is the same person he was just a minute before in the womb. So, the first months of life are often referred to as the fourth trimester and should be treated as gentle entry into this world – with respect, patience, and tender loving care.

In the first few weeks of life, newborns sleep about 16-18 hours per day, distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods (more sleep hours, in more segments, for babies who are premature or who have health issues.)  Throughout the first few months, your newborn will gradually set into a pattern of defined naps and nighttime sleep.

A typical baby’s biological clock doesn’t actually begin to mature until about 6 to 9 weeks of age, and it is not working smoothly until about 4 to 5 months of age. Eventually, a baby reaches a point when he is mostly awake during the day, and mostly asleep during the night. If things are working perfectly and there are no outside factors getting in the way, at about 9 to 10 months of age, a baby’s sleep periods consolidate so that he wakes and goes to sleep at about the same times every day, and his sleep spans are longer and more consistent.

Since our biological clock is the primary regulator of a human pattern of sleep and wakefulness, it is easy to see why an infant does not “sleep through the night” – and why this pattern so adversely affects new parents who’s mature biological clock is being totally disrupted!    But at least now you have more understanding about normal newborn sleep.


Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting.  Visit her at

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