Mother and Baby

Baby Sleep: What’s Normal For A Newborn?

Section: Sleep

From the length of her sleep sessions to those funny little noises, here’s what to expect

She’s finally here. Your gorgeous baby. You’ve made it through labour and brought her home, now it’s all about settling into those first few weeks as a parent. So, from a sleep point of view, what can you expect? 

Well, right now, she‘ll be snoozing. A lot. We’re talking around 16 to 18 hours in every 24, although this varies and may be different if your baby was premature or there are any medical issues. It’s during this sleep that she’s physically and mentally developing. 

‘Your newborn will be pretty dozey in the first few weeks,’ says midwife and maternity nurse Jacqui Nancey.  ’She’s adjusting to life outside of your womb and it’s pretty exhausting, so she’ll probably be waking every two hours or so for an hour, and then drifting back off.’  

This will go on through the day and night so, even though she’s enjoying a lot of Zzs, the short bursts mean there’ll be quite a bit of sleeplessness for you. ‘Your baby’s waking for feeds because she needs to re-hydrate, especially at this young age,’ says Jacqui. 

Your newborn will be pretty dozey in the first few weeks

What her sleep will be like

Some babies may sleep peacefully at this age, while others will make lots of little snuffles, yelps and noises that can sound like crying, so it can be worth just waiting a moment to check she is really crying before you go to soothe her.

Little sounds like this can be caused by some mucus or dried milk in your baby’s tiny breathing passages, the fact that she’s learning to regulate her breathing or because she spends most of her early sleep in the REM stage – basically, the type of sleep that’s light and very active.

‘I’ve found that baby boys can be particularly noisy,’ says Jacqui. Just like dad then…  These noises are generally nothing to be concerned about, although it may be worth checking with your health visitor or GP if she’s grunting after each breath as this could suggest she’s having difficulty.

Wheezing, gasping or a persistent cough can also be a symptom of reflux or sleep apnea, so if you’re noticing more noise than usual, seek advice.

Our top sleep tip

When your baby’s around two weeks, you can start to teach her the difference between day and night. Keep the light on when you feed her during the day, but then lower them and create a quieter atmosphere during night feeds.

  • Author: Alex Davies Alex Davies
  • Job Title: Features Writer

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