Newborns and Sleep – The First Six Weeks

Newborns and Sleep – The First Six Weeks

We spent a lot of time thinking about this blog because we have SO MUCH to say about newborns and sleep, the first being CONGRATULATIONS! We also don’t want to overwhelm you information-overloaded, exhausted, possibly uncertain new parents either. If you remember nothing else about this blog in your sleep-deprived haze, remember these two things:

Read a variety of information and be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true promises and one size fits all approaches.

1. There are a lot of terrible (yet popular!) sleep books on the market.

It’s a good idea to read information from more than one source. If a book is based almost solely in author opinion or experience (no matter how many MDs are singing its praises in a prologue) take that into consideration AND be skeptical of any book that seems overly restrictive or that offers a one-size-fits-all approach for a newborn!

2. Try not to stress too much about “bad habits”, “magic windows of wakefulness”, or beating yourself up for making the “wrong” decisions.

Yes, sleep is important – for health and immune function, for mental and emotional wellbeing, for learning and attention spans, and even for romantic relationships and marriage – but as long as your baby is getting sleep, and you are making sleep safety decisions from an informed point of view (read AAP guidelines here) it’s all good! Okay? We promise! It’s all good! Even if you aren’t getting good sleep right now for any number of reasons (reflux, allergies, illness, breastfeeding issues, anxiety, etc), sleep deprivation can be reversed and you have lots of time to solve any problems.


As long as you are loving and bonding with your new little baby, nursing or feeding frequently, and keeping him or her as rested as you can (safely), there are few “rights” and “wrongs” when it comes to sleep. Sure, sure we’ll talk about the science of newborn sleep, reasonable expectations, things to watch for, developing a great foundation for good sleep, things to try, and patterns to try to avoid BUT, the bottom line is – your baby needs sleep! So if the crib or bassinet isn’t working at the moment, strap on the soft carrier, soothe with some recreational nursing or sucking, start bouncing on the yoga ball (or do all three!) and spend a few minutes reading this blog out loud to your newborn – it just might put him or her to sleep!


Need More Help?

We offer several options for optimizing your child's sleep:

SLEEP TRAINING CLASS (for well babies 6-15 months)

PHONE CONSULTATIONS (with one of our sleep experts)

THE SECRET TO NAPS (downloadable e-book)


NOTE: These additional important newborn sleep topics are NOT discussed in this blog, but we highly recommend you read about them in our other blogs here: important sleep basics for all parents, swaddling, pacifiers, age by stage expectations, and night feeding expectations.

Newborns sleep – a lot!

Up to 18-20 hours a day in those first couple of weeks. By the end of the first four months those numbers decrease down to 13.5 -15 hours in 24 hours. For some babies that sleep comes much easier than others and things may not go as smoothly as you expected. We hope this blog will provide you with some useful tools to help improve your new baby’s sleep and provide you with some comfort and reassurance that you are already doing a great thing just by reading this!

First things, first: Adjust for prematurity

Your baby’s sleep typically matures week by week based on your estimated due date. If your baby was born before due date, you’ll want to be sure to adjust for that. For example, if your baby was born 2 weeks before due date, when your baby is 7 weeks old, she is considered only 5 weeks old in terms of sleep development. If your baby was born post due date (ex: two weeks past due date) it’s possible she’ll be a little precocious in her sleep development, but in a situation like that we suggest calculating sleep age from BIRTH date. In other words, when it comes to due dates and birth dates – use the date that came later to figure out your baby’s sleep age.