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Newborn Sleep and Feeding Schedule for Baby's First Month

Here’s what to expect for your newborn baby’s sleep schedule, wake times, feeding routine and diaper changes in the first four weeks.

Newborn Sleep and Feeding Schedule for Baby's First Month

Photo: iStockphoto

The newborn phase is the most intense getting-to-know-you you’ll ever experience, as you attempt to figure out what your tiny human needs for sleeping and feeding. Will they have a reliable schedule or routine? Probably not. Newborns sleep a lot. Or they don’t. Or they sleep really well during the day and are ready to play from midnight to dawn with the occasional catnap.

Sometimes they feed All. The. Time. And often they switch things up, just when you think you’ve finally got an idea of what to expect.

Still, many parents find it helpful to have a rough idea of a schedule and what could be coming, week by week. Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to sleep, wake times, feeding and diaper changes in the first four weeks. Then you can work your way up to sleep training.

Baby's first week

Newborns are usually very sleepy in the first few days after birth, and that’s normal. Babies born before their due dates have some extra days of sleepiness, while those born after their due dates may skip the super-sleepy stage entirely. They tend to feed less frequently in the first few days.

Then their nervous system matures a bit, and they’ll have more alert periods of awake time and start to eat more, too. It’s important to check that they’re getting enough to eat by counting the number of wet and dirty diapers.

Week 1 sleep schedule

Wake time length: 45 to 60 minutes Sleep time length: Up to 2 to 4 hours Total sleep time: 16 to 18 hours a day

Week 1 feeding schedule

Breastfeeding: On-demand, every 1 to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times a day (or more) Exclusive pumping: 15 to 20 minutes per breast, every 2 to 3 hours Formula: 30 to 60 mL (1 to 2 oz) per feeding, about 8 times a day

Week 1 diaper changes

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Day 1: 1 wet diaper, at least 1 dirty diaper Day 2: 2 wet diapers, at least 2 dirty diapers Day 3: 3 wet diapers, at least 2 dirty diapers Day 4: 4 wet diapers, at least 2 dirty diapers Day 5: 5 wet diapers, at least 2 dirty diapers Day 6 to 6 weeks: 6 to 8 wet diapers, at least 2 dirty diapers

Baby's second week

Being awake for 45 minutes is about all that newborns can handle for the first few weeks, says Erin Neri, a certified paediatric sleep consultant in Sherwood Park, Alta.  

If it feels like all you’re doing is feeding, changing and putting your baby to sleep all day long, then you’re doing it right!” she says. “That’s what it’s like when they’re brand new. Sometimes I talk to moms of newborns and their babies are up for two hours and then sleep for 15 minutes. It’s this vicious cycle, and their babies are overtired.”

You’ll want to put your baby to bed at the 45-minute mark, while they’re awake, so you’ll hit that important window of time between awake and overtired. Of course, there’s still lots and lots of feeding going on, too, and you have to continue to keep track of the diaper situation. Oh, and remember to look for those hunger cues.

Week 2 sleep schedule

Wake time length: 45 to 60 minutes Sleep time length: Up to 2 to 4 hours Total sleep time: 16 to 18 hours a day

Week 2 feeding schedule

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Breastfeeding: On-demand, every 2 to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times a day (or more depending on appetite and milk supply) Exclusive pumping: 15 to 20 minutes per breast, every 2 to 3 hours Formula: 45 to 90 mL (1.5 to 3 oz) per feeding, about 8 times a day

Week 2 diaper changes

6 to 8 wet diapers a day, at least 2 dirty diapers (and often more depending on how often baby feeds)

Baby's third week

Baby sleep schedules often starts to consolidate a little bit more at this point, with longer nap times (up to 3 to 4 hours) and a bit of a reduction in the total number of hours of sleep each day (14 to 17 hours). Still, it’s also normal for your baby to have their days and nights mixed up because they aren’t yet producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

You may choose to time your baby at this point, but it's not really necessary. Hang in there! Your babe is eating as often as ever and is likely taking in more milk now than the previous couple of weeks. That means your newborn feeding schedule is shifting, too.

Week 3 sleep schedule

Wake time length: 45 to 60 minutes Sleep time length: Up to 3 to 4 hours Total sleep time: 14 to 17 hours a day

Week 3 feeding schedule

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Breastfeeding: On-demand, every 2 to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times a day (or more) Exclusive pumping: 15 to 20 minutes per breast, every 3 hours Formula: 60 to 90 mL (2 to 3 oz) per feeding, about 8 times a day

Week 3 diaper changes

6 to 8 wet diapers a day, at least 2 dirty diapers (and often more)

Baby's fourth week

Newborns definitely eat often, but cluster feeding is also common, depending on when your little one’s growth spurt kicks in. They may add a few feeds, especially in the evenings, or want to eat for long stretches at a time. Prep as much as you can to take care of yourself, whether you’re bottle feeding or nursing (full water bottle, check; one-handed snacks, check), and have the rest of your household pitch in, too.

When it comes to your newborn sleep schedule and bottle feeding, you may notice slightly longer stretches now than over the past couple of weeks. Continue to keep an eye on the number of wet and dirty diapers as you work towards a more reliable bedtime routine. They're just beginning to find their natural out-of-the-womb circadian rhythm at this point.

Week 4 sleep schedule

Wake time length: 45 to 60 minutes (their sleep cycle should begin to regulate now) Sleep time length: Up to 3 to 5 hours Total sleep time: 14 to 17 hours a day

Week 4 feeding schedule

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Breastfeeding: On-demand, every 2 to 4 hours, or 7 to 12 times a day (or more—look for signs of hunger) Exclusive pumping: 15 to 20 minutes per breast, every 3 hours Formula: 120 to 150 mL (4 to 5 oz) per feeding, about 8 times a day

Week 4 diaper changes

6 to 8 wet diapers a day, at least 2 dirty diapers (and often more)

Remember, this stage goes quickly! You'll be onto solid foods, toddler alarm clocks, looking for a kid's mattresses and booking all-inclusive family resorts in no time. Enjoy the ride.

Consider investing in a top-rated bassinet or crib

While many parents swear by co-sleeping, infant sleep experts still agree that having one of the best bassinets for baby or best baby cribs is the safest bet.

We love the Maxi-Cosi Iora Bedside Bassinet because it keeps newborns within arm's reach as they fall asleep. They'll likely outgrow a bassinet by about two to three months of age, so don't overspend on this newborn care essential. These are particularly helpful if you have a breastfed baby because they tend to wake more often for feedings.

maxi cosi bassinet, newborn sleep schedule first month Merchant
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This article was originally published on Mar 11, 2019

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