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What to expect from your newborn’s sleep

We are very excited to be collaborating with Jenna Wilson, the founder of Little Dreams Consulting who has shared with us what parents can expect from their newborn’s sleep. At Homebodies we know first-hand how important it is to get sleep when you have a baby. If you want to learn more or get their support, please visit their website:

When you’re pregnant there’s lots of preparation when it comes to birth and labour, but what happens when you take your little one home? It might not be until then that you start thinking about your little one’s sleep – and there are so many questions – are they sleeping for long enough, why are they waking at night, how many naps should they have, how long should they nap for? Here is a helpful little guide from our fiends at Little Dreams Consulting about what to expect in the first 12 weeks, and how you can help guide your newborn towards good sleep habits.

What to expect

For the first 0-12 weeks of their lives, newborns average approximately 6-8 hours of sleep during the day, and 8 hours at night – normally in short stretches of 2-4 hours at a time. This is split between 50% deep sleep and 50% REM (dream) sleep and is fairly inconsistent.

What should I do in the first 6 weeks?

  1. Rest and recover! This is a huge change for you and your family so endure you rest, recover and be kind to yourself!

  2. If you would like to work towards a sleep goal, help your little one learn the difference between night and day. In the daytime, make sure the room is bright and noisy and, at night, ensure its dark and quiet.

  3. Be aware that newborns of this age can’t manage to stay awake for longer than 45 minutes-1 hour.

Some sleep goals for from 6 weeks

If you’re feeling brave, there are a couple of things you can do to help your little one even more once they get to 6 weeks. But do remember that these are goals, and something to work towards, you don’t need to achieve them every day or for every nap (in fact, if you do, you would drive yourself crazy)!

  1. While it is absolutely lovely for your little one to fall asleep in your arms, you may not be able to keep that up forever. If it is working for you, and you enjoy it, there is no need to change anything! If, however, you feel you are ready for little more freedom…and sleep…try to put your little one down before they are fast asleep. I know it’s almost impossible to stop in the first few weeks but between 6-12 weeks you can start giving it a practice. Just bear in mind the aim is for your little one to be able to connect being tired with falling asleep. Otherwise, they will want to recreate the same way they went to sleep each time they wake up, to the detriment of consolidated and incredibly important sleep (not to mention sleep for sleep deprived mummy or daddy)!

  2. Try to feed your baby when they wake up, rather than just before a nap. In the first 6 weeks this is unavoidable because, no sooner have they fed, they are ready for another snooze, but between 6-12 weeks, you can start to encourage them to ‘play’ a little (if there is time) after they have fed then ensure they have a good nap before you repeat this. This is also helps them take better feeds, as they should hopefully be rested after their nap. This is the eat, play, sleep routine.

  3. Once your little one is a few weeks old you can start to introduce a bedtime routine, a signal that this is a different time of day. A bath is always a good signal to your little one that bedtime is near as it’s so dramatically different to anything else in the day. You should also include a full feed and ideally a short story or song before they go into the cot, keeping the room quiet and dark. The guidelines are clear that your little one should stay in the room you are in until 6 months, to help prevent SIDS, so this will need to be relative, until they can go into their own room.

Above all, be kind to yourself and enjoy these precious weeks and moments!

If you are pregnant and would like to learn more about what to expect with your little ones sleep when they arrive, we have created our antenatal package to educate parents about newborn sleep early, so that they don’t need us to solve developed sleep issues later. Please do get in touch to find out more!

Jenna Wilson is one of the founders of Little Dreams Consulting.

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