newborn sleeping 23 hours a day

Welcome to the world of onesies, midnight feeds, and, yes, lots and lots of sleep. No, not for you – for your adorable newborn!

If you’re often peeking into the crib and seeing your baby fast asleep all the time, you’re not alone. 

Many new parents wonder about this. Your tiny baby seems to love sleep more than anything else. But why do newborns sleep a lot? like 23 hours a day? Is this okay? 

As you’re getting used to life with your newborn, their sleep habits can be a big question mark. 

Understanding the Newborn Sleep Cycle

Newborn babies are little sleep champions! They often sleep a lot, usually around 16-17 hours a day. Sometimes, they might even sleep as much as 20 hours, or more. 

This might sound like a lot, but it’s just how they grow and stay healthy.

Their sleep isn’t like ours, though. Newborns have short sleep periods. They wake up often, usually every 20 to 60 minutes. 

Why? Well, their tiny tummies need regular feeding. After they’re born, for the first few weeks, they need to eat very frequently. 

So, they wake up, have a little meal, maybe burp, sometimes pee, and then back to sleep they go.

You might hear about something called ‘REM’ sleep. This is a kind of light sleep when we dream. 

For us grown-ups, it’s just a part of our sleep. But for newborns, they have a lot more of this REM sleep. 

It’s shorter and lighter, which is why they wake up so often. This light sleep is really important for their brain development. 

So, when your baby is sleeping, they’re not just resting – they’re growing and learning in their own baby way!

Is It Normal for Newborns to Sleep 23 Hours?

It’s completely okay for a newborn baby to sleep up to 23 hours a day. What’s really important is not just how long they sleep, but how they’re eating, how many diapers they’re wetting, and if they’re gaining weight properly.

Let’s talk in detail. 


In their first week, newborns usually drink only a little at each feeding, about 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60ml), because their stomachs are tiny.

As they grow, by around 4 to 5 weeks old, they’ll typically eat more, about 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120ml) each time. Over a day, they might drink about 30-40 ounces (900-1200ml) in total.

Here’s what you can expect for feeding as your baby grows:

Right after birth: They need 1 to 2 ounces per feeding, 8 to 12 times a day.

At 2 weeks old: They’ll take 2 to 3 ounces, still about 8 to 12 times a day.

When they’re 1 month old: It’s usually 3 to 4 ounces, but now 8 to 10 times a day.

By 2 months old: They might drink 4 to 5 ounces, and need to feed 6 to 8 times a day.

Wet Diapers:

In the beginning, a baby might only have around 3 wet diapers a day. But after a few days, this should increase to at least 6 wet diapers daily for the first month.

Let’s break it down:

  • Day One (The Day After Birth): It’s common to see just one or two wet diapers, especially for breastfed newborns.
  • Day Two: Expect a slight increase in wet diapers, about two to three.
  • Days Three to Five: This period will show a noticeable jump in the number of wet diapers, usually between three to five per day.
  • From Day Six Onward: Now, your newborn should be having around six to eight wet diapers daily. Some babies might even reach up to ten wet diapers in a day, particularly after each feeding.

Remember that exclusively breastfed babies may have fewer wet diapers in the beginning as the mother’s milk takes some time to adjust. 

Also consider the quality of the diapers, if you are using very high-quality diapers that absorb a lot of moisture, you may see fewer wet diapers. 

Weight gain

About weight, it’s normal for a newborn to lose a bit of their birth weight at first, around 7% to 10% of their birth weight. 

But, they should gain it back within about 2 weeks. After that, they usually gain about 1 ounce (30 grams) each day for their first month.

So, in short, if your newborn is sleeping a lot, don’t worry too much. Focus on how they’re feeding, their diaper changes, and their weight gain. These are the key signs that everything’s going well.

Breastfeeding newborn sleeps 23 hours a day :

If a breastfeeding newborn is sleeping for 23 hours a day, it’s still okay, as long as they are feeding well, having the right amount of wet diapers, and are on the right track of weight gain.

It’s usually hard to figure out how much newborn is drinking if they are nursed. In this case, you can consider their number of diapers. 

newborn sleeping

Why Do Newborns Sleep A Lot?

Newborns sleep a lot due to several fundamental reasons, all of which are critical for their healthy development:

  • Brain Development: Sleep is essential for the rapid and complex brain development happening in newborns.
    During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates new information and experiences, which is crucial for cognitive and emotional development.
  • Physical Growth: Growth hormones are primarily released during sleep.
    Since newborns are in a phase of rapid physical growth, they need ample sleep for these hormones to effectively support their development.
  • Digestive System Development: Newborns have small stomachs and need to feed frequently.
    After feeding, they often fall asleep, allowing their bodies to digest and absorb nutrients.
    This frequent eating and sleeping pattern supports their energy needs and growth.
  • Immune System Development: Adequate sleep is vital for the development of a healthy immune system.
    Newborns are building their immunity, and sleep plays a key role in this process.
  • Processing Stimuli: The world is entirely new to a newborn, and processing all the sensory stimuli can be overwhelming. Sleep helps them recover from and process these new experiences.
  • REM Sleep: Newborns spend a significant amount of time in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is believed to be important for brain development. REM sleep is lighter and occurs in shorter bursts, contributing to the higher total sleep time.

Basically, the long hours of sleep that a newborn baby gets are really important. This sleep helps them grow, helps their brain develop, and makes their body better at fighting off germs.

Factors Influencing Newborn Sleep

Newborn sleep is influenced by a variety of factors. Hunger is a key one, as newborns have small stomachs and need frequent feeding, which can often wake them up.

Their sleep is also affected by developmental stages; as babies grow, experience growth spurts, and learn new skills, their sleep patterns can change.

The environment plays a significant role too; a quiet, dark, and comfortable sleeping space is ideal, while noise, light, or discomfort from temperature can disrupt sleep.

Establishing a regular bedtime routine can help signal to a baby that it’s time to sleep. Health and comfort issues like illness, teething, or discomfort from wet diapers or gas can also affect a newborn’s sleep.

Additionally, how parents respond to their baby’s sleep cues and their soothing methods can influence sleep patterns.

Lastly, each baby’s unique temperament can determine their sleep needs; some might naturally be light sleepers or require more comfort and soothing to fall asleep.

Health and Safety Considerations

If a newborn is sleeping too much, there are several signs that can indicate their health might not be optimal:

  • Difficulty Waking Up: If your baby is unusually hard to wake up for feedings, or doesn’t wake up for several feedings in a row, this could be a concern.
  • Feeding Issues: If they are sleeping too much and not feeding well, or if they seem too weak or disinterested in feeding, it could be a sign of a health problem.
  • Wet Diapers: Fewer wet diapers than usual can indicate dehydration or other health issues, especially if your baby is sleeping a lot and not waking to feed regularly.
  • Weight Gain: Poor weight gain or weight loss is a significant indicator. If your baby isn’t gaining weight as expected, it may be due to not feeding enough, possibly because of excessive sleepiness.
  • Lethargy: If your baby seems unusually limp, less responsive, or less active than usual, even when they are awake, this could be a sign of a health issue.
  • Fever or Other Symptoms: Any signs of illness like fever, rash, or difficulty breathing while sleeping too much should be immediately checked by a doctor.
  • Change in Skin Color: Paleness or a blue tint to the skin, especially around the lips, can indicate a serious problem.

If you see any of these signs in a newborn, it is best to consult the doctor instead of searching on the internet. 

newborn sleeping

What To Expect Next

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns will evolve in noticeable ways. 

Gradually, their sleep cycles will extend, meaning they’ll start sleeping for longer stretches at a time and will also stay awake for longer periods during the day. 

This development is a normal part of their growth and maturation.

By the time a baby reaches about 6 months old, a significant milestone often occurs – they may begin to sleep through the night. This is a welcome change for many parents, as it indicates the baby is developing a more regular sleep pattern. 

However, it’s important to remember that every baby is different, and some may take a bit longer to reach this stage.

During these months, you’ll likely notice your baby becoming more active and alert when they are awake, showing more interest in the world around them. 

This is an exciting time of growth and development, both in terms of physical abilities and sensory exploration. 

As always, maintaining a consistent sleep routine can help support these changes and promote healthy sleep habits.

Should I wake my baby to feed?

Whether or not to wake your baby to feed depends on their age, weight, and overall health. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Newborns (First Few Weeks): It’s often recommended to wake your newborn to feed if they haven’t woken up themselves after about 2-3 hours for breastfed babies and about 3-4 hours for formula-fed babies. Newborns need frequent feeding to support rapid growth and development and to ensure they get enough nutrients.
  • Babies Gaining Weight Well: If your baby is gaining weight and has no other health issues, you can usually let them sleep and wait for them to wake naturally for feedings. This often starts to happen as they get a bit older and their stomach capacity increases.
  • Low Birth Weight or Health Issues: If your baby was born with a low birth weight or has medical concerns, your pediatrician might advise you to continue waking your baby for feedings, even beyond the newborn stage.
  • During Growth Spurts: Babies often have growth spurts, during which they might need more frequent feedings. So, you might need to wake them to feed during these times.
  • Consult Your Pediatrician: It’s always a good idea to discuss feeding schedules with your pediatrician, especially if you have concerns about your baby’s weight gain or overall health.

Remember, each baby is unique, so these guidelines might vary. Your pediatrician can give you the best advice tailored to your baby’s specific needs.

Is it normal for my newborn to have irregular sleep patterns?

Yes, it is normal for newborns to have irregular sleep patterns. In the early weeks and months of life, babies have not yet developed a circadian rhythm, which is the natural internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.

Remember, it’s normal and healthy for newborns to sleep up to 23 hours a day. As you navigate this special time, remember each baby’s journey is unique.

For more parenting tips, check out my post “10 Cool Gadgets for New Moms That No One Talks About” for some handy and innovative tools for new parents.

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