Newborns and Sleep Part 2: Weeks 7-16

Tired parents showing how newborns and sleep can be incompatible.

Congratulations! We bet you are amazed at how quickly the first six weeks passed!

Perhaps you are reading this blog because the glow of new parent-hood is wearing off, you face going back to work, meals and packages have stopped arriving, and exhaustion is setting in. Or, maybe you are doing okay, but anticipating what’s to come in your baby’s sleep future and want to get started on the right foot.

This age range can be very hard for new parents who are seriously sleep deprived, yet still have a baby whose sleep is very much in development (aka: erratic). It’s also a time when some babies start to experience such issues as reflux, allergy symptoms or “colic”. Your new idea of a Friday night? It will get better!

This blog is long for a reason and will cover night sleep first, and then day sleep in later sections so be sure to scroll through the whole thing. We hope you had a chance to look at our first Newborn Blog on sleep during the first 6 weeks. Other important blogs topics not covered here are the blogs on swaddling, pacifiers, important sleep basics for all parents and pediatricians, night feeding expectations, and night sleep expectations. We strongly recommend reading these blogs as well.

Note: Remember to continue to adjust for prematurity if your baby was born before due date and calculate your baby’s sleep age based on due date if your baby was born early. Ex: if your baby was born 2 weeks before due date and is 9 weeks old, your baby is 7 weeks old in terms of sleep development.


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)


Sleep Maturation, Sleep in Motion, and Importance of Environment

This 7-16 week stage brings some remarkable changes in your baby’s life and sleep! Around 7-9 weeks, when you start to see the onset of some regular social smiling and the evening fussiness is tapering off (remember learning about this phenomenon in the 0-6 week blog), you’ll start to notice your baby becoming more able to spend a few moments quietly in her baby seat or swing looking at a sibling, toy, mobile, or simply the world around her. Continue to spend lots of time soothing, holding and snuggling your baby, but it’s also okay to give her some supervised alone time with an interesting toy, activity mat or mobile to help her get used to the sensation of being out of your arms at times.

This social development around 7-9 weeks will signal your baby is getting ready to make some really strong attachments to her means and location for sleep. Because of this, as you move along in this age range your baby’s sleep environment becomes more and more important. Your baby will become more aware of the world around her and become more distracted by all she’s seeing and doing each day. If your goal is to have your baby become a predictable sleeper in a consistent location (ex: at home in a crib) you’ll want to start offering that opportunity to your baby more and more. Take a look at our blog on sleep environment for tips on creating an ideal sleeping location!

This does not mean you can’t go anywhere or take your baby out for a walk or in a stroller, it simply means start keeping an eye towards your future goals and giving your baby the chance to experience the sleep location you’d ultimately like her to have on a regular basis. At first you might simply start feeding or rocking your baby to sleep in your room or a nursery, creating an ideal sleep environment, so your baby is simply getting used to falling asleep in the room you’ll ultimately like her to sleep or nap in. From there you can use the steps described below for the earliest, most interactive way to begin to teach independent sleep. Again, not necessarily at every sleep episode! Give yourself small goals. For families who have other children who have needs and schedules too it becomes a balancing act. We encourage you not to overschedule. If you know that you will have your baby out and about during a time when she would otherwise be ready for a nap at home, see if you can induce the nap on the go by wearing her in a soft carrier, or holding, stroller or rocking your baby in another way.

Weeks 7-16 Night Sleep

So, what you should be expecting as your baby enters his third and fourth month of night sleep? This is when some really positive sleep changes are starting to occur! As you see those evening fussy periods taper off, and you see more social smiling and fewer BM diapers overnight you know your baby’s circadian rhythm is maturing. This is the time when your baby will be capable of having a much earlier bedtime – 10-11pm can start to drift earlier and earlier and most babies will be able to sleep 9-11 hours at night (with wake ups for feeding). At this point, it doesn’t actually matter what time your baby goes to bed as long as she’s getting enough sleep. If you put your baby to bed ultra early at night, she’ll wake ultra early in the morning, too!