How much sleep should a newborn be having? I'm never sure if my seven-week-old is getting too much or too less sleep. She seems to only sleep for up to three hours at a time as she's being breastfed. I'm concerned that a three hour stretch of sleep is not enough to be completely rested. Paula

Three hours sleep between feeds is fantastic for a seven week old baby.  I would expect a baby of this age to feed about every three hours to every four hours.  It would extremely rare for them to feed longer than this during the day.   As a newborn it is more likely to be every 3 hrs that she will need to feed.

I would aim to have her up for about 40 – 50 mins at the most 1 hour.  This up time includes a chat, a feed, nappy change, cuddle and then at her first signs of tiredness wrapped and back to bed.  I recommend doing her nappy change between sides at this time by the time she is 12 weeks you can move it to after a full feed.

Once down to bed let her sleep as long as she likes, she should be having multiple sleep cycles.  A sleep cycle is 40 mins in length for a baby and then she should have another 40 mins and another 40mins.  This continues until she has had enough sleep.

Aim to get her to put herself back to sleep so she can achieve this easily without needing you to help. This way she can sleep for as long as she needs not dependent on whether you are available to help her sleep.  It sounds as though she must already be doing this as she is achieving a wonderful amount of sleep.

I would expect that there is a longer stretch at night of sleep perhaps 5 hours by this age.

One tip I can give you is that early in the morning around 6.00 / 6.30am she is likely to feed and go straight back to sleep, like a night feed without chatting etc.  Aim to have her straight back down and you will be surprised to find that she is likely to have 1 ½ hours of sleep at this stage and then wake about 8.30am ready for another feed and to start her day.  This is the exception to the 3 – 4 hourly feeding.

Also if you have feed and have her in bed by 6.30pm at night and she is unsettled, due to ‘end-of-dayitis’, then try a feed to help her to settle about 1 hour later.

I would also look at moving her to a sleeping bag by 12 weeks of age, just make sure it’s appropriate for the weather.  Enjoy your baby and her, her sleep.

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Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact nicole@babysmiles.com.au.

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