Ultimate Guide to a Newborn Baby Sleep Routine

Newborn Sleep Routine Guide

Developing a Newborn Sleep Routine is one of the first challenges a mother face with her new baby, and it’s an important step to get right in early on, but with the tips in this guide you can maximize your babies sleep, and sleep for the whole family you had taken.

Newborn Sleep Routine Guide Arrow


Are you in the throngs of enduring what feels like endless sleepless nights wondering if you’ll ever get a full eight hours’ sleep again? Ah – you’ve just had a new baby!  Don’t worry – you will sleep again, but when you finally get your zzz’s back will depend on your child and the routine you put into place.

So to assist Mums with this, TheBabySpot has created this guide to developing a your very own Newborn Baby Sleep Routine.

Without adding too much pressure to your hectic schedule, putting your baby into a routine will help his or her sleeping pattern to fall into place.  Remember, all parents are different and some prefer a more relaxed approach to daily life than others.  However, if you prefer to be led by your baby’s sleep patterns be prepared for it to take some time before he or she sleeps at the right time.baby-sleeping-routine-fast-asleep

If you are looking for some help, this guide will help you to understand your baby’s sleep patterns.  It will show you how to get your baby sleeping through the night as quickly as possible.  All children are different and some babies will sleep through the night as early as six weeks. Others might take four or five months to sleep from 11.00pm to 7.00am.

Being patient and following a good routine that works for you and the rest of your family will ultimately help settle your baby into positive sleep behaviour. There are also many other factors which might hinder your child’s sleep.  Understanding what they are and how to deal with them is part of the battle.

In this guide we will tackle:

Hopefully, by the end of this guide you and your little one will be dropping off to dreamland in no time!1    It’s All About Routine…


It’s All About… Developing a Newborn Sleeping Routine…

Follow a good routine to teach your baby good sleeping habits!Baby-Sleep-Routine

Some mothers don’t believe in routine and others are rigid – to the minute.  Believe it or not, a baby sleep routine does win out in the end so it’s important to put one into place.

However, it doesn’t have to be completely unbending and there should be some flexibility involved. A baby needs to know when it’s sleep time and when it’s not!

Babies have no idea of night or day time when they’re born so it’s up to parents to teach them good habits.  Very small babies only sleep for short periods of time to begin with, and most of that sleep is light sleep which is why it’s easy to disturb them.

Once you find a routine that works for you, you’ll find your days settling into a recognisable pattern and everything else should feel much easier to cope with.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep for mum and dad takes its toll so try and establish a routine early on. Of course, no baby will respond to a pattern from day one but after two or three weeks you can certainly start to try and establish one.


Is There A Tried & Tested Routine That Works?

There are no hard and fast rules and the following is a guideline which you can adapt to suit your family’s needs.

During those first precious weeks try and take a break at the same time your baby sleeps. Even if it’s just to put your feet up, relax and recharge those batteries, after all, you need your energy!  You could use the other part of the time for chores so you get some of those household bits and pieces done.

What’s best for your baby depends on the age of your child.  A newborn should be allowed to sleep when they need to but from approximately week two or three try to put into place a form of routine.  This is because you might find it hard over the coming months, and even years, to get your baby to sleep through the night when there’s been no pattern in place before.  Babies like routine and grasp very quickly what’s happening and when it’s happening.


Signs Your Baby Needs A Sleep

Look out for when your baby becomes irritable, it’s a sign of tiredness and at this early stage, tetchiness will probably occur every two or three hours.  Here’s a great source of information detailing how much sleep babies, children and adults should have:


How much sleep does your child need?

AgeSleep Requirements Per 24hrs
0-2 months12-18 hours
3-11 months14-15 hours
1-3 years12-14 hours
3-5 years11-13 hours
5-10 years10-11 hours
10-17 years8.5-9.25 hours
Adults7-9 hours


Baby Sleep Routine At 4 Weeks:

As a mother it’s better for you to be up and ready before your baby and while this is easier said than done, you have to start somewhere!

Get your baby up at 7.00am and this should be your starting point for your baby’s day.  Even if your baby has already been up at 5.00am wake them again.  This is really important as it will help them to establish their sleep pattern, getting them used to the time of day.  This is the time to feed, wash and change your baby.

Put your baby back to sleep at approximately 9 to 9.15am for 45 minutes and then wake your baby at approximately 10.00am for one hour.  You should next feed around 11.00am and then baby should go back to sleep for a long lunchtime nap, at approximately 11.45am.

In an ideal world your baby will sleep until approximately 2pm. If not, persevere because the aim is for 4 hourly feeds with short naps in between.  Don’t leave your baby asleep after 2.00pm because you want him or her to have a nap late afternoon.  The late afternoon nap gives them a good opportunity to be tired enough to sleep longer at night.

Next, feed your baby around 3pm and again introduce a nap at approximately 4.00pm for no more than one hour.  Your baby should always be up at 5.00pm. This is to make sure that he or she is tired enough to go to sleep at 7 or 7.30pm.

You should aim to feed your baby just before 7.00pm.  At this point your baby should be sleepy enough to want to go to sleep.

You can start to drop night feeds from approximately 7 weeks but in the meantime, feed at 11.00pm when baby should either wake naturally or start to stir.  After this feed your baby should sleep a few more hours until the next feed which normally occurs around 3.00am.


How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 4 weeks!

  1. Try to start your baby’s day at 7.00am every day for a week – this instils good habits.
  2. Get into the habit of morning, lunch and afternoon naps.
  3. Always have your baby up at 5.00pm to encourage a 7.00pm bedtime.
  4. Don’t wake your baby during the night – the aim is to push out the feeds as long as possible.
  5. Relax when your baby sleeps to re-charge your batteries.


7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 45mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.45amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
4:00pmPut baby back to sleep for 1 hour sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep
11:00pmBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep
3:00amBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep


Baby Sleep Routine At 9 Weeks:

At 9 weeks + your baby should drop the 11.00pm feed naturally and sleep until the middle of the night, 2 or 3.00am.  If you find your baby is still sound asleep at 2 or 3.00am, don’t wake him or her – push out the feed until baby wakes naturally.  This will help get your baby through the night the aim is for 12 hours straight sleep.

How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 9 weeks!

  1. Encourage your baby to drop the 11.00pm feed, don’t wake him or her – push it out as long as possible.


7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 45mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.45amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
4:00pmPut baby back to sleep for 1 hour sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep
3:00amBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep


Remember! Even if your baby wakes at 5.00am, don’t forget to start the daily routine at 7.00am.  Within a few days you will start to get into a comfortable pattern.


Baby Sleep Routine At 12 Weeks Plus:

Normally when weaning begins you will discover that your baby stays up longer in the morning and sleeps for deeper and longer stretches at night.  This is when most babies go through the night from 7.00pm for 11 or 12 hours.

During the day, your baby will still need to nap.  Try and keep up the mid-morning nap for half an hour, it shouldn’t be dropped until age 1.  Bring forward lunch/nap to 11.30am and combine it with a small milk feed so your child is ready for a long lunchtime nap.  The lunchtime nap should last anything from 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on your child.

At around the 4 to 6 month mark, your baby might still get irritable and fuss so a short nap in the afternoon should help.  However, always have your baby up by 4.00pm so he or she is tired enough for the long night-time sleep around 7 to 7.30pm.


How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 12+ weeks!

  1. If your baby is too tired for lunch bring it forward to 11.30am.
  2. Don’t be tempted to drop the afternoon nap because it could interfere with bedtime.
  3. Have your baby up at 4:00pm at the latest after napping.


7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 30mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.30amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
3.30pmPut baby back to sleep for 30min sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep


Baby Sleep Routine At 12 Months:

At one year old, your child should lose the late afternoon nap and should have one long nap at lunchtime, 2 to 3 hours long.  Some babies still need a second nap and this should be taken in the middle of the morning around 9.30am for half an hour.  This nap usually disappears around the 18 month old mark.

The lunchtime nap will remain important for a long time – children age 3 and sometimes 4 still need a rest at this time of day.  Remember, your baby is a very busy person!  He or she is learning new skills and discovering exciting new things every day and this is exhausting.  It’s good for your child to sleep and to be in a recognisable routine.

Of course, you might find your child is too tired to eat lunch especially if you’ve dropped that morning nap so you could bring lunchtime forward to 11.00am. Give half of their lunch to him or her at that point and the rest on waking up.  Milk is great at this time too, especially before the lunchtime nap because it is soothing and helps to make baby feel sleepy.


How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine 12 months!

  1. This is the time to drop the late afternoon nap and encourage a longer nap at lunchtime.
  2. If your baby is too tired for lunch, bring it forward by half an hour and save any leftovers for after the lunchtime nap.


7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:30amPut baby back to sleep for 30mins. Optional after 18 months
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
1:00-1:30pmPut baby back to sleep for 2-3 hour sleep
6:00-7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep


Baby Can’t Get No Sleep!

Does your baby cry when you put him or her down?


Bottle V Breast – The Debate Continues!

It’s worth remembering that there are lots of factors which might help and hinder sleep.

Bottle-fed babies tend to sleep through the night much faster than breastfed babies. This is because formula milk is notoriously heavier than breast milk so makes babies feel sleepier.

Breast milk is quicker to digest. Therefore breastfed babies become hungry faster, whereas formula-fed babies digest milk slowly so hunger pains are kept at bay.  So if you are reading this guide and your baby is 12 weeks old and showing no signs of going through the night it might be because he or she is breastfed.  Don’t feel disheartened, persevere, breastfed babies do catch up in regards to sleeping patterns. There are other benefits of breastfeeding which are covered in more detail here.


Colic – The Witching Hour

Some babies go through a colicky period which normally occurs from week 2 or 3, and can stretch to week 9 or 10.

Colic starts in the evening and is usually a combination of wind build-up.

Be patient, your baby is growing and his or her insides are stretching to try and accommodate the milk.


Colic Symptoms

Colic episodes can be distressing and some babies cry for hours on end, clenching their fists and drawing their legs up.  This is a sign of tummy discomfort.


How To Relieve Colic

To help to relieve their pain you could try Gripe water before feeding which alleviates trapped wind.

Don’t feed your baby lying down, prop him or her upright during feeding, this helps them to stop swallowing air. Always burp your baby after feeding by gently rubbing the back, pushing the wind upwards.

Don’t feel you can’t pick your baby up during an intense crying period and help your baby by massaging the tummy area to disperse wind. Another remedy for colic is choosing a baby bottle with an anti-colic design teat.


Actionable Steps for Colic!

  1. Use Gripe water before feeding if your baby has colicky episodes.
  2. Choose a bottle with an anti-colic teat.
  3. Feed your baby propped up to help wind disperse naturally.
  4. Always burp your baby after feeding.
  5. Don’t be afraid to pick your baby up, if in discomfort.
  6. Gently rub your baby’s tummy to sooth.
  7. Stay calm!  Colic eventually passes.

Ideal Baby Room Temperature

Keep the temperature of your baby’s room cool.  Unsettled babies are sometimes too warm.

It’s recommended that a baby’s room be no more than 16-20 deg C (61-68 degrees F) and babies dressed accordingly.  This is a clever guide to help you know what your baby should be wearing to bed.

How to dress your baby for bed

When dressing your newborn baby for bed is suggested that wrap your in a swaddle with arms inside. Swaddling your baby arms in help your baby feel safe and secure, and prevents them from startling themselves awake, by hitting themselve with a stray arm. As your baby grows older you can transition them into a sleeping bag.

Its important to consider the TOG rating of what you baby wears to bed to ensure its not to hot or too cold for your climate or room temperature.

TOG ratingAmbient Room TemperatureRecommended Product
0.2 TOG24-27 degree Celsius0.2 TOG Swaddle
1.0 TOG21-23 degree Celsius1.0 TOG Sleeping Bag
1.0 TOG Swaddle
2.5 TOG16-20 degree Celsius2.5 TOG Sleeping Bag
2.5 TOG Swaddle

There’s no doubt, swaddling is an art-form and here’s a little video to help you get to grips with swaddling your baby.  If you can’t swaddle don’t worry, there are ready-made swaddle bags. Swaddle bags are useful for babies who like to sleep entirely covered or part-covered. Simply zip your child in so they are nice and snug. A good swaddle to try is the ErgoPouch.

Baby Sleeping Swaddle

How To Swaddle Baby video:

  1. As an alternative to swaddling you could try the ErgoPouch sleeping bag which cocoons beautifully without being restrictive.  Choose the correct tog according to the season and temperature of baby’s bedroom. Courtesy of: http://goo.gl/Xm1q8y
  2. Don’t overcrowd your baby’s cot or crib – too many objects could make the cot very warm and too busy.  Stuffed animals in abundance could pose a health risk.
  3. A twinkling mobile is hypnotic and often works perfectly to lull babies to sleep; babies love colours and different shapes as well as gentle music.
  4. At night, tell your baby it is night time so it’s sleeping time.  It’s always a good idea to tell your baby what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. Babies love being spoken to especially by mum’s voice, it helps them to understand later on.
  5. Be kind but firm, if your baby won’t go to sleep, comfort them but don’t be tempted to pick them up unless you think there might be a specific reason why they won’t sleep.  Never rock your child to sleep or let them fall asleep on you; if you do this your baby will begin to expect it every time it’s time to go to bed.
  6. Perhaps choose some soft music such as classical piece because it is soothing and relaxing, babies like this type of sound.
  7. Babies also love white noise!  You might notice that when you use the vacuum
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Ideal Baby Cots

Choosing your babies cots can be a task on its own, but ideally should be done before your baby arrives home. There are all sorts of different baby beds to choose, from cribs, classic old style cots, sleigh cots, etc … but checkout our guide on how to choose the right cot.

Whatever you buy, make sure the bed, mattress and bedding meets Australian Standards, meets the Sids guidlines, and is comfortable and won’t make the baby to hot.


Other Reasons Baby Doesn’t Settle

Sometimes your baby just won’t settle.

Some babies are exemplary – they sleep when they should, they feed when they should and they hardly ever cry. This is rare and most babies have an unsettled period.  If your baby doesn’t settle remember as long as he or she has fed well, then sleep should be achievable.  Ask yourself if your baby has eaten enough? Check your baby’s nappy and make sure the temperature in your baby’s room is comfortable.

Your baby might be struggling with wind which will definitely hinder sleep or might be unwell so keep a thermometer handy.  Sometimes baby is just over-tired, in which case try your best to relax him or her, soothing and settling.

If your baby continues to be unsettled for a few weeks there might be another reason which needs exploring.  In which case, it is a good idea to seek advice from your doctor to check for allergies for example, or see a sleep consultant in extreme cases.

Heres some more tips for a Baby Sleep Routine.


How to Settle a Crying Baby!

  1. If baby doesn’t settle perhaps there’s been an interruption to routine?  It’s easy enough to remedy, just go back to basics and start again.
  2. Things to check: your baby’s nappy, bedroom temperature, trapped wind.
  3. Ask yourself if your baby has fed well and check baby’s body temperature.
  4. Don’t be frightened to speak to your doctor if unsettled episodes continue.


Bedtime Routine Video Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

YouTube Preview Image

Top Baby Sleeping Tips!

  • Nap your baby in the same place every day.  Generally the cot or a crib is the best possible place but if not, a buggy will suffice.  This is so your baby knows it’s time to go to sleep.  If it’s hot or cold a good quality sheepskin liner will work well for your baby’s comfort. In cold weather sheepskin keeps baby warm and snug and in warm weather it cools the body down.
  • Develop a night time routine, for example, bathe your baby, feed, read a story and put your baby down to sleep.  Your baby will recognise the pattern which is soothing and comforting.
  • Swaddling is an excellent way of helping your baby to sleep because it cocoons in warmth and comfort – reminiscent of the womb. Swaddle your baby every time they have a nap, even during the daytime so it’s associated with going to sleep, babies like familiarity.


What NOT To Do!


Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Baby On You! (image source http://goo.gl/F9HHAV)

Bad habits are easy to fall into and unfortunately, co-sleeping is one.  Tempting though it might be, don’t try it because it poses a serious health risk.

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your bedroom for the first six months, however this should be in a cot or a crib and never in your bed.  Sometimes, you might find you doze off while breast feeding or because your baby has fallen asleep on you and you find yourself drifting to sleep.  This is very risky and some sleeping like this could suffocate your baby.

Here are some extra resources from “SIDS and Kids” on co-sleeping and the risks associated with sudden infant death syndrome.


Actionable Steps for Co-Sleeping!

Here are some pointers to avoid falling asleep in the same bed as your baby:

  • Check your baby can’t fall out of the bed.
  • Never cover your baby with your duvet, a duvet could stop your baby from breathing.
  • Don’t put your baby on a pillow as this is a suffocation risk.
  • If you feel sleepy move your baby to the cot quickly or ask your partner to take over.
  • For the first six months keep your baby in your room but in a separate cot/crib.
  • From 6 months plus, move your baby into their own room.  Start by introducing naps in their own room first, gradually increasing the number of naps until they are used to their surroundings.  If you are not using a cot yet, place the crib on top of the cot and after a few days, place baby directly into the cot without the crib.  Using this method means change won’t be as drastic as moving them straight from crib to cot.

Newborn Sleeping Patterns – 3 Tips to a Better Nights Sleep

I found it very important as a new mum to understand how much sleep a newborn is supposed to have and the time frame associated with a new babies sleeping patterns. Things like, at what age does your babies sleeping pattern change and when am I going to get a better nights sleep.

Newborn Sleeping Patterns – What to Expect

For the first few weeks of a baby’s life, it seems like all they do is sleep. For the next 6 weeks your baby is awake for shorter periods of time.

A newborn at this stage will sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day. It may seem like this is a lot of sleep but in at this stage of their lives babies are growing a lot. Growth most commonly takes place during the sleeping hours.


How Much Sleep Do Children Need

AgeSleep Needs
Newborns (0-2 months)12 to 18 hours
Infants (3-11 months)14-15 hours
Toddler (1-3 years)12 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years)11 to 13 hours
School-age children (5-10 years)10 to 11 hours
Teens (10-17 years)8.5 to 9.5 hours

how much sleep do children need

Baby Sleeping Problems

One problem that can occur is that your baby gets their days and nights mixed up with their sleep.  This is a time when keeping the baby close to you all the time is helpful, allowing you to sleep when your baby sleeps. In the long run it is better to teach your baby to sleep at night, especially if you have other children, some things you can try are:-

  • Keep lights on during the day, open the blinds in the morning and say “Good morning sunshine”.
  • Don’t change the time you wake in the morning, try to get your baby to sleep until at least 7am.
  • Keep everything quiet and calm at night.
  • Keep babies sleigh cot for sleeping only, not playing.
  • Play with or talk to your baby a lot during the day.
  • Associate a warm bath with bedtime.

Newborn Sleep Stages

A newborns stages of sleep begin to form during the last trimester. Newborns go through an active sleep and a quiet sleep. This is because of the two different types of sleep states, Non-REM Sleep and REM Sleep.

The first stage is called Non-REM sleep, which is divided into 4 stages.

This stage of sleep repeats until the baby is ready for REM sleep.

REM (Non- REM sleep) is the stage that a body regenerates and repairs itself. For babies and children this is also the time that they grow.

Stages of Non-REM

  • Stage 1 is drowsiness. This is when the eyes begin to droop, many consider this dozing.
  • Stage 2 is a light sleep. This is a stage where the baby moves or can be startled awake.
  • Stage 3 is a deep sleep. In this stage the baby doesn’t move.
  • Stage 4 is called the very deep sleep. Most people cannot see the difference between the third and fourth stages of sleep.

Stages of REM Sleep

The second stage or the active sleep is called REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep.

This is a light sleep. This is the stage that most people dream. Approximately half the time that a newborn sleeps they spend in this stage of sleep.


A Few Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep

There are some tips that can help you know when your newborn is ready for sleep, as well as ways to help them sleep.

  1. Babies of all ages show signs of sleep readiness through yawning, fussing, and rubbing eyes.
  2. Learn the warning signs that your baby is ready for sleep
  3. Swaddling your baby can help to reduce the startle movement and helps them feel safe and secure.
  4. Many newborns don’t know how to put themselves to sleep, it is a learned process, be patient.
  5. Babies love routine, so establish a routine early that suits you and baby.

Do you have any tips on getting your newborn to sleep? We would love to hear them………….