Newborn Sleep – What to Expect

Newborn sleeping on a moon pillow with star pillows around him

Ah, the magical world of newborn sleep! It’s like a roller coaster ride that you never signed up for, but guess what? You’re not alone on this wild journey. Parents and soon-to-be parents, especially those snuggling tiny bundles of joy in the wee hours of the night, this one is for you. Let’s dive into the dreamland of baby sleep during those first six weeks. 

How much does a newborn actually sleep? 

From the moment your little one emerges into the world, they come with their very own sleep schedule – one that makes no sense to us grown-ups. It is a very snoozy start. Babies, being the bosses that they are, log around 16 to 18 hours of sleep a day during the first six weeks. That’s a whole lot of shut-eye! 

Now, before you start imagining peaceful, uninterrupted hours of sleep, let’s get real. Those hours are sliced and diced into naps that last about 2 to 4 hours each. Yep, you read that right – your sweet pea might snooze for a couple of hours, then wake up needing attention, a diaper change, or just some cuddles.

How does this relate to feeding? 

Feeding and sleep are practically partners in crime during the newborn phase. Their tummies are tiny. Therefore, babies feed around the clock, and it feels like your day revolves around those little meal times. Sleep and feeding go hand in hand, and it’s not uncommon for your mini-me to wake up hungry every 2 to 3 hours during the first six weeks. So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking around like a sleep-deprived zombie. 

Just how tired will I be?

I’ve had two children and the newborn phase was the most tired I’ve been. So yes, it most definitely is an exhausting time for new parents. If you are the parent that birthed the baby you are also recovering from pregnancy, labor and birth. Feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, and like you’re starring in a real-life zombie movie is common during this phase. It’s like joining an exclusive club where the membership fee is sleep deprivation. You’re not alone, and there’s a camaraderie in knowing that fellow parents are right there with you, bleary-eyed and fueled by caffeine. 

Getting through it with support 

You’re probably thinking, “Can I get some help, please?” Of course, you can! We’ve got your back.

  1. Check out our blog post: Postpartum Sleep Deprivation for helpful tips. 
  2. Get prepared with our list of newborn sleep essentials that will help you maximize the amount of sleep that you and your baby are getting (white noise machine, black-out curtains, and more).
  3. Best of all, the postpartum doulas at Buddha Belly are here to provide overnight care for your baby. Your doulas will be responsible for all the night time duties while you and your family get as much restorative sleep as possible. You decide how many nights per week you need help and our doulas will be there. To this day people tell me, “I wish I knew that a service like this existed when I had my baby.”  
  4. Additionally, living in the Tampa Bay area gives you access to a good number of local resources. From parenting groups that meet up in person to online forums where you can exchange your newborn sleep stories, connecting with like-minded new parents can be therapeutic during this chapter. 

It might feel like it’s going to last forever, but trust us, it is a blip on the parenting radar. Your baby will eventually settle into a more predictable sleep pattern, and you’ll regain a bit of your sanity along the way. Until then, get support where you can and find humor in the sleep-deprived moments. Know that you’re doing an amazing job, even on those days when your shirt is on inside out.

Hang in there new parents and remember, we’re here to support you through every sleepy stumble and joyful moment of this incredible journey. 

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading