Newborn Baby Sleep and Feeding Schedule

Newborn Baby Sleep and Feeding Schedule

 

When you understand your newborn’s sleep patterns and habits, you can start to establish a little more structure in your daily life and build a little more confidence in your decisions and actions during the baby’s first days.

While newborns can’t stay on a strict sleep or feeding schedule – mostly due to their many growth spurts in these early months – these sample newborn sleep and feeding schedules can guide you through these stages and make sure everyone is getting the sleep and nutrition they need.

Otherwise, you may be soothing a crying baby all day.

A newborn baby cries a lot more when they are over-tired, not sleeping enough, or hungry. In other words, getting him or her on a routine (even if it’s not a strict schedule) can be a life-saver!

Your newborn’s feeding schedule should be age-appropriate, and you should never withhold food from a newborn just to stay on schedule. A newborn sleep schedule is also often based on how long your baby can stay awake (not strictly by the clock), which is usually short in the newborn days.

Keep reading to discover what you can do to get started.

Skip to the schedules

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

A baby is considered a newborn from birth until about 3 months of age.

During this period, your newborn’s sleep patterns will look nothing like yours.

Your baby will sleep in short bursts – anywhere from 30 or 45 minutes to 3 or possibly 4 hours – and then eat between periods of sleep.

In other words, the typical day/night sleep cycle doesn’t really apply to newborns. Some newborns come out of the womb with their days and nights completely mixed up!

This is called day/night confusion, and babies who struggle with it tend to sleep a lot during the day and then wake up frequently at night.

Many newborns also seem extra sleepy in the first week or two after birth and must be woken up to feed or drift off while feeding before getting their fill.

Eventually, though, your newborn will definitely “wake up” within three weeks after birth. This is when you will start to deal with more wakefulness. In fact, you may start to miss the early weeks of having a super-sleepy newborn!

Babies simply cry more often as they get a bit older (depending on temperament), but you will quickly learn how to soothe a crying baby.

Working with Newborn Feeding Schedules

Newborns feed very, very frequently, but this isn’t a problem that needs to be solved.

It’s perfectly natural!

Your newborn’s tummy is quite small. They simply need to fill it up regularly.

Formula-fed newborns may need to eat slightly less often than breastfed newborns because it takes a newborn’s tummy longer to digest and break down formula.

So babies tend to feel fuller for longer periods of time. Breast milk, on the other hand, is digested fairly quickly.

How much breastmilk or formula does your baby need?

Every situation is different, of course, but if your baby is formula-fed, you can use a fairly simple formula to determine approximately how many ounces your baby needs in a day.

Simply multiply your baby’s weight by 2.5.

For example, an 8-pound baby would need about 20 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period.

If your baby is breastfed, the general rule is that most newborns need between 20 and 30 ounces of breastmilk (and between 25-35 ounces once they’re past the newborn stage).

How often should you feed your baby?

In general, if you are exclusively nursing, it’s best to nurse on demand in the first few weeks after birth to ensure that your milk supply becomes well-established. In fact, in order to maintain your supply, you’ll need to nurse every 2 to 3 hours, on average.

Once your baby is past 3 months of age and is in the infant stage, that will slowly stretch into 5-6 hours, and then 7-8, and eventually right up to 10 or 11 hours once your baby is 9 months old or 10 months old.

Newborn Growth Spurts

Believe it or not, a lot is going on with your newborn baby.

So much growth and development is happening in that little body! Your newborn will very likely go through growth spurts at the following times:

  • 7-10 days of age
  • 2-3 weeks of age
  • 4-6 weeks of age
  • 3 months of age

During these growth spurts, it will feel like your newborn is feeding almost constantly (and like when she’s not feeding, she’s sleeping). This is 100% normal – feed your newborn as often as she needs it, as the extra nourishment is important during the growth spurt.

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How to Create a Newborn Feeding and Sleep Schedule

Your unique newborn’s wake times and total sleep needs may vary from what is recommended below.

These schedules are based on averages, but your baby may need more or less sleep (or shorter/longer wake times) than what is listed here.

Remember, watch your baby’s sleepy cues closely (rubbing eyes, yawning, staring off into space, etc.), and let those guide the sleep schedule.

Remember, too, that if your baby is already fussing, he or she is already overtired. Try to get your child down for his or her nap earlier next time, before the fussing starts.

2-8 Week Old Newborn, Breast Feeding

This schedule is best for babies who consume average amounts of breast milk and for moms who have average breast milk production and storage amounts.

9:00 AM Wake and Feed*
10:00 AM Nap (30-60 minutes)
11:00 AM Wake and Feed
12:30 PM Nap (30-60 minutes)
1:30 PM Wake and Feed
3:30 PM Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
4:30 PM Wake and Feed
6:00 PM Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
6:30 PM Wake and Feed
7:30 PM Catnap (20 – 30 minutes)
8:00 PM Wake and Feed
9:30 PM Catnap (20 – 30 minutes)
10:00 PM Wake and Feed
11:30 PM Feed and Bedtime*
3:30 AM Feed and Right back to sleep
6:30 AM Feed and Right back to sleep

* – We recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.

Babies who eat smaller amounts, babies with reflux, and moms who produce and store smaller amounts of breastmilk will need a different schedule. So will babies who eat larger amounts per feeding and moms who produce/store greater amounts of breast milk.

Schedules for those scenarios, as well as schedules for older, breastfed newborns, are available in our newborn book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep.

2-8 Week Old Newborn, Formula Feeding

This schedule recommends longer naps and fewer feedings than the breastfeeding schedule above, simply because formula is more difficult for baby to digest. So, babies tend to feel fuller longer and therefore need slightly fewer feedings.

9:00 AM Wake and Feed*
10:00 AM Nap (60 – 90 minutes)
11:30 AM Wake
12:30 PM Feed and Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
1:30 PM Wake
3:00 PM Feed and Nap (60 – 90 minutes)
4:30 PM Wake and Feed
6:00 PM Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
6:30 PM Wake
7:30 PM Feed and Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
8:30 PM Wake
9:30 PM Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
10:00 PM Wake and Feed
11:30 PM Feed and Bedtime*
4:30 AM Feed and Right back to sleep
7:30 AM Feed and Right back to sleep

* – We recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.

For formula-feeding schedules for older newborns, see our newborn book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep.

How to Get a Free Custom Schedule

Your baby’s sleep patterns can be difficult to navigate. We’ve teamed up with Batelle so that you can generate your own, personalized sleep and nap schedule. This custom sleep schedule generator will ask a few questions to guide you. It’s quick and easy!

Additional Newborn Sleep Articles

Want more newborn sleep tips? Check out our other newborn sleep articles:

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