- Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week by Week
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- Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week by Week
I’d like to start off by saying that I feed my baby when he is hungry. I love routine and think they’re great, and we work towards a routine each day. But even if it’s “off schedule,” I feed my babies when they are hungry. In case you are a troll. Or a routine hater. Or about to send me hate mail. I just wanted to tell you. I feed my babies when they are hungry.
So let’s talk about how to get your newborn on a routine where they feed, “play”, and sleep in set patterns that are beneficial to everyone involved. Baby, siblings, and adults. Routine is not a dirty word. In fact, routine brings sanity to an otherwise chaotic home environment. Some mothers thrive on a spontaneous day, and that’s great for them and their kids, but some mothers need structure to make it through. And I’m one of those mothers!!
I know some of you are going to think my routine is cuh-ray-zeee. But all four of my kids have had the same newborn routine and I’ve had the same results with all 4. So I’m not saying it’d work for every baby, and definitely not for every mom, but it has worked for me and mine.
Sample Newborn Routine
Note: these are approximates, but most days we are very close to each of the times listed.
7:30-8:00 am – wake up and feed
8:30 am – down for a nap
10:30 am – feed, change diaper, play (developmental play mat here)
11:10 am – down for a nap
1:00 pm – feed, change diaper, play
1:40 pm – down for a nap
3:30 pm – feed, change diaper, play
4:10 pm – down for a nap
6:00 pm – feed, change diaper, play, bath (we use this for the sink and it is amazing)
6:30 pm – down for a catnap
7:30-8:00 pm – change diaper, put to bed for the night
10:30-11:00 pm – dream feed swaddled, put back to bed (my favorite swaddle here)
Then when they wake up during the night I feed them, and this is usually every 3 hours or so.
Why so much sleep?
Well, first of all, why not so much sleep? All 4 of mine have taken a nap after every single feeding from newborns until they were over 1. Of course the schedule changes, but they nap between feedings for the first few months without question unless they’re sick or we’re out.
Most sources will say it’s normal for a newborn to sleep 18-24 hours during the first few months and I’ve always found this to be the case. If your baby refuses to sleep much I’d say that it’s a case of you keeping them up. If you try feeding them, swaddling, then immediately putting them down to nap to sleep you may see a big change. I think this pacifier is a lifesaver with this.
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Does the family ever get to see them?
In a word: no. Not really anyway. My family always jokes, “When are you going to let the baby come out of its room?” and I reply smiling, “In a month or two!” :) Aside from the germs aspect, babies can be overstimulated very easily. People who are far removed from the baby world think it’s normal to talk very very loudly and try to wake the baby up to see the color of its eyes. It’s like… I mean… just… no. Please stop that.
By the time the baby is 3 to 4 months old they are awake more and have a lot more time to “socialize.” Ultimately, these first few months set the tone for their sleeping habits and newborns who are used to sleeping become babies who are used to sleeping and babies used to sleeping become toddlers used to sleeping, etc. A major sleep law: sleep begets sleep.
How do you know when to change the routine?
I almost always have to wake up the baby to feed it throughout the day. All four of mine were (and one still is) so sleepy they would either sleep until woken up, or awake at almost the exact time I normally feed them. I kid you not when I say they will wake within minutes of the normal feeding time. Their metabolisms are sort of trained to feed and sleep on the routine we make and they wake up happy!
I change schedules when the baby is able to be awake a lot more and is sleeping through the night. By four or five months when the baby is sleeping 12 hours at night, they are usually awake more during the day and able to cope with more stimulation and play. That’s when you need to get this swaddle so you can wean one arm at a time. That’s when I’ll go to 3 hour or 3.5 hour feedings at whatever time seems to suit.
Hang up these printable routine cards as visual reminders of the routine.
Tips and things to note:
- At night feed swaddled to communicate they should stay asleep and during the day unswaddle to feed which helps wake them up. This swaddle is breathable and you can change them at night without taking their arms out. Here are my best swaddling tips.
- Yawning, tugging ears, staring off into space, and eye rubbing are signs of tiredness, crying is usually a sign of overtiredness. Waiting until they cry to put them to sleep will likely result in a baby who can’t get to sleep on their own
- It’s okay to wake a sleeping baby during the day to feed them, really it is. Letting babies sleep long stretches during the day will not help in the day/night confusion issue.
- Earlier to bed and nap is always best! Wearing them out will backfire. (Here’s why)
- I use white noise during naps and create a dark room. These will help the room be more conductive to sleep.
- If we’re out of the house I won’t attempt to keep the same schedule, but I will try to feed them at the same time as normal or put in an extra feed before I leave so they don’t get hungry while I’m in the checkout line at Wal-Mart.
The Key to a Good Routine
This may be so simple it goes without saying… but the key to a good routine is keeping the routine. It can be tricky to remember everything in order when you’re beginning, but once you get the hang of it, routine will be second nature. It can seem very difficult to get started doing or keeping a routine when you do not have one at all. Here are some ways you can learn to keep your routine.
Hang it up.
In my Rhythms, Routines, and Schedules ebook (see more below) I have 25+ sample routine printables from babies age 6 weeks to 5 years. You can take these printables and hang them in your nursery, on the fridge, or keep them in your planner. Whatever works. You can hang the routine cards as well and pretty soon you won’t need to reference anything, it’ll be second nature.
While you don’t need to live and die by the clock, setting your phone, watch, or a timer will help you keep aware of routine transitions. We can often get so wrapped up in what we’re doing we forget we’ve let the baby sleep 4 hours. Why is that bad? Because 4 hours is a stretch littles ones should only sleep at night! I set alarms on my phone that show on my watch and this works for us.
As with anything, if you want something to work then work it. Keep pushing what you’ve decided to do. If it doesn’t work then change it up a bit and keep going. Move forward. I assure you 100% that a routine will work if you keep at it.
Want Routine Printables to hang up?
If you want routines and schedules for not only the newborn age, but for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and on I’ve got great news. I’ve created a book chock full of routines that work. Routines that keep babies well rested, happy, and content. Routines that account for all the things you need to do and they are mom tested. The best part? The book comes with printable routines (3 choices for each age) that you can hang up and use! So instead of having to reinvent the wheel every few months, you’ll have tried and true mom tested routines right at your fingertips.
Get your own routine book and printables here!
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you struggle with creating an easy flowing routine or rhythm in your home… this is it. I’ve gathered all my easiest routine hacks into one free series and, best of all, you can get a big sneak peak into our book that has over 25+ routines for babies ages 6 weeks to 5 years. This series will help you:
- find a routine and rhythm for your child
- learn how to juggle multiple routines (for 2 or 3+ kids)
- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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