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How Much Sleep Does A Newborn Baby Need?

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 27 April 2022, Updated on - 16 June 2022

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It is natural for new parents to undergo a massive change and experience an emotional shift after the birth of their baby. Especially while adjusting to their sleeping pattern, new parents may worry if the baby is sleeping too little or too much. Let us understand more about the sleeping patterns of a newborn.

How many hours should a newborn baby sleep?

Initially, newborn babies do not sleep for a long stretch and end up waking frequently. Since sleep is as important as proper nutrition for newborns, paediatricians suggest that newborn babies sleep between 14 to 17 hours in total for up to three months. Infants (within the age of 4 to 11 months) should sleep between 12 to 15 hours. Research shows that newborn babies who sleep well for 14 to 17 hours per day have better cognition and brain development than babies who cannot sleep well. 

Is it normal for a baby to wake up every 2 hours? 

Yes! Newborn babies tend to wake up every 2 to 4 hours for milk and attention. However, other reasons that may cause the baby to wake up more than often include: 

  • Premature birth 
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Stomach pain
  • Silent reflux 
  • Loud noise  
  • Bright light in the room
  • Diaper rashes 
  • Poor feeding 

How many feedings do most newborns need? 

Most newborn babies require 8 to 12 feedings. Doctors advise that mothers should feed their baby every 2 to 3 hours and should not wait till the baby wakes up crying loudly for feeding. Waking up crying is considered a sign that the baby is hungry. 

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Should you wake the baby from sleep for feeding? 

Newborn babies usually lose weight within two weeks post-birth. Therefore, it becomes necessary to wake your baby gently every 2 to 3 hours to feed, preferably with breast milk as it is rich in colostrum. Colostrum is highly nutritious that helps the baby gain back weight and also strengthens their immune system. If breastmilk is not available, the baby can also be fed formula milk.

Where should a newborn baby ideally sleep? 

A newborn can sleep in a bed or a cot, in the parent's room, sibling's room, or newborn's own room. The parents must make sure that the room has enough ventilation and has a temperature between 20 to 22 Degree Celsius. Overheating the room may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which causes sudden death of the baby usually in their sleep. 

How should a newborn baby dress to sleep? 

Instead of making them wear thick pyjamas, parents can wrap their newborns in layers of comfortable fabric, preferably cotton. It is advisable to keep the baby's head uncovered during sleep, however, avoid hats or other dress materials that can accidentally suffocate the baby. 

Since babies naturally maintain body temperature by releasing heat from their feet and faces, do not drape them tightly. During cold weather, avoid the use of hot water bottles or electric bed warmers to warm the baby. One can use heaters to warm the room while keeping the door slightly open to avoid overheating. 

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What are some of the ways to help my newborn sleep well?

Measures that may help a newborn sleep peacefully include: 

  • Use blackout curtains in the room. 
  • Give the baby a gentle massage before they sleep. 
  • Change the diapers before the baby sleeps. 
  • Avoid turning on bright lights when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night. Dim lights can help the baby go back to sleep again.
  • Gently stroke the baby after feeding until the baby burps. 
  • Establish a bedtime routine by gently rocking, singing, quiet talking, or cuddling to help the baby understand that it's naptime. 

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When should I seek a doctor's help? 

One should consult a paediatrician if the baby is:

  • Extremely irritated and fussy throughout the night 
  • Experiencing breathing difficulties 
  • Not taking feeding eight times a day
  • Experiencing frequent episodes of colic pain or reflux 
  • Is feverish and is shivering 
  • Crying continuously, without any break
  • Turning blue or yellow 

Every baby is different, thus, their sleep patterns can also vary. Doctors suggest a newborn should stay asleep for 14 to 17 hours with frequent awakening in the middle for feeding. Parents can consult a child specialist if the baby is waking up too often or exhibiting any of the signs mentioned above. 

Have more questions?

Consult a Paediatrician Now

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