Is there even really such a thing as a newborn schedule? After all, we’ve all heard that all babies do in those first few weeks is eat and sleep, so why bother getting them into a routine?
I’ll tell you why.
Because babies thrive on predictable routines and schedules.
Of course, the younger your baby is, the more fluid your routine is, but trust me, putting your baby on a (loose!) schedule is one of the best things you can do for them– even as a newborn.
Here’s how to set the perfect newborn schedule, week-by-week for those first 6 weeks, plus helpful mom hacks along the way.
The easiest newborn schedule, week-by-week
Newborn schedule week 1
The first few weeks of your infant’s life will be largely spent eating and sleeping. In the first week, you can expect your baby to sleep upwards of 17-18 hours in a 24 hour period.
Infants will also eat a lot during the first week, not really eating when the clock says so, but rather by when their tummies are empty.
Breastfed babies tend to eat more often than formula fed babies as breastmilk is easily digestible and won’t leave them full for long amounts of time.
For the first week, focus on picking up on early hunger cues of your newborn and feeding on demand. Common hunger signs are:
- Licking lips
- Turning head toward nipple (rooting)
- Suckling on things
- Putting their hand to their mouth
Once they’ve started to fuss and cry, your newborn is in the later stages of hunger. It’s much easier to feed an infant in the early stages of hunger, versus the later!
Additionally, try to make sure baby stays awake to get a full feed in before they promptly doze off again. You can help baby stay awake during a feed by stroking their cheek, tapping the bottom of their foot, unswaddle baby or try to burp intermittently.
Here’s what your first week might look like:
- 8:00 am: Awake for the day, feed, burp, play
- 8:45 am: Down for nap
- 10:15 am: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 11:00 am: Down for second nap
- 12:30 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 1:15 pm: Down for third nap
- 2:45 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 3:45 pm: Down for fourth nap
- 5:15 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 6:00 pm: Down for fifth nap
- 7:00 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 8:30 pm: Down for last nap of the day
- 9:15 pm: Up, play, feed, prepare for bedtime
- 10:15 pm: Lights out for everyone!
For the first week, your newborn will sleep more than they’re awake.
And during that time you’ll feed him, burp, and they’ll likely almost be ready to fall asleep again! Because there truly is no schedule those first few weeks, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Most babies won’t be able to stay up more than 30-45 minutes at a time at this age. Your baby will most likely want to sleep on you most naps of the day. This is totally normal and fine! Soak in those newborn snuggles!
- If you’re breastfeeding, feed baby on demand when they exhibit hunger signs.
- If you’re formula feeding, you’ll typically feed baby every three hours. Baby will eat 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.
- Breastfeeding can be challenging! I had a rough time with my first child and after visiting a lactation consultant many times, I wrote this post on breastfeeding tips that really helped me.
Baby will likely wake up every two to three hours during the night wanting to be fed and held. If you’re reading this thinking you’ll never sleep again, don’t worry. It gets better so soon.
Around four weeks or so baby will start sleeping for longer stretches again. During this time remember to rest during the day while your baby rests– you can’t afford to get behind on your sleep! If you just can’t sleep (postpartum hormones, anyone?) here are the newborn hacks that saved me both times.
Newborn schedule week 2
Week two is very similar to week one in that your newborn is still pretty much eating and sleeping their days away.
Something that might be different this week is the fact that your baby might seem like they’re constantly hungry at night and want to feed continuously.
This phenomenon is called cluster feeding, and it typically strikes around day 10 when your baby will be going through a growth spurt.
There’s many different theories as to why newborns will want to constantly feed for several hours on end, but basically, newborn cluster feeding is totally normal, so no worries there.
A cluster feeding newborn typically strikes at night and might feed for short bursts off and on again for a period of 1-3 hours. There’s nothing you can do but settle in, get comfortable and make sure you’ve got tons of snacks and water handy!
Week two is a great time to start tummy time with your little one. Begin by placing baby on their tummy for 30 seconds to a minute, two to three times a day. You’ll want to gradually work your way up to five minutes at a time by the time your baby turns two months.
For week two, your baby will pretty much stick to the schedule outlined in week one. Baby’s appetite will still dictate the feeding schedule, as well.
Newborns should never go more than four hours without a feed, even at night, so until you get the all clear from your baby’s pediatrician, make sure to wake them accordingly.
Its right around this time that many new moms start to question their milk supply. The best advice I can give is to try not to worry, nurse often and make sure you’re eating a lot of foods that boost milk supply. I loved making this lactation smoothie every morning!
Browse my newborn must haves!
Newborn schedule week 3
By week three you may notice your baby is more alert and interested in the world around them.
Unfortunately for many parents, the increased alertness may come at night!
Week 3 is when many new moms notice that their baby may sleep for longer stints during the day than they do at night and this has to do with day/night confusion that seems to plague so many newborns.
If you notice your little one happily take one or two really long day naps and then is up like clockwork every 2 hours at night, it’s likely he has day/night confusion.
Here’s how to reverse that:
As soon as your baby wakes up for the day, it’s go time: keep lights on, open blinds, play music do normal household chores, etc. The bottom line here is, don’t create a quiet dark space during the day, reserve that for nighttime.
Don’t put baby to sleep in a dark room. When my daughter suffered from day/night confusion I brought her bassinet downstairs where it was really bright and let her nap in the daylight.
During baby’s awake time stimulate them: Do tummy time, read to them, move their little arms and legs.
Once bedtime comes, start establishing a bedtime routine of soothing bath, baby massage, books, feed and then lights out. Make sure their nighttime sleep is in a dark room with white noise.
Don’t underestimate the power of white noise. My husband ordered a sound machine in the middle of the night about 3 weeks into our new baby’s life, and we still use it to this day!
Here’s what a sample week might look like for your 3 week old newborn:
- 8:00 am: Up for the day, feed, burp, play
- 9:00 am: Down for nap
- 10:30 am: Up from nap, feed, burp, play, tummy time
- 11:30 am: Down for nap
- 1:00 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play
- 2:00 pm: Down for nap
- 4:00 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play, tummy time
- 5:00 pm: Down for nap
- 6:30 pm: Up from nap, feed, burp, play, tummy time
- 7:30 pm: Down for nap
- 9:00 pm: Up from nap, feed, wind down routine
- 10:00 pm: Put baby to sleep for the night
In addition to your baby’s increased alertness, you might notice your baby is up more during the day.
While the total amount of time they are up in a 24 hour period at 3 weeks is still relatively short, it can be a welcome change for new parents excited to “get to know” their newborn.
- Total asleep time is likely to be around 16 hours in a 24 hour period at three weeks.
- Continue to feed breastfed babies on demand.
- Feed formula fed babies when they show signs of hunger or every 3-4 hours.
- Feed baby as she wakes up at night or follow advice of your pediatrician.
- Keep in mind, this is just a sample schedule, your baby will likely deviate from this. The only constant at this age is feeding when hungry and making sure they are down for a nap after being awake for 1 hour.
Newborn schedule week 4
Some parents might find week 4 to be challenging in a new way, as your baby is now experiencing the world differently than they did before.
Around weeks 4-5 your baby will likely hit a developmental leap, causing them to see the world in a different light. They are now more alert and more aware of their surroundings.
Developmental leaps can often cause babies to be fussier than normal and disrupt their sleep. Because of this your baby will need extra soothing and it may take longer than normal to get them to go down for naps.
Additionally, if you haven’t already experienced it before this week, you might notice your baby tends to cry at night a lot. If this is the case for you, your baby is probably experiencing what’s called the witching hours.
The newborn witching hour is a period of time each night, typically from 5:00 pm – bedtime, where your baby will be extremely fussy.
This is perfectly normal newborn behavior, and there’s really not a whole lot you can do other than help baby cope and get through this phase. Don’t worry though, the witching hour phase peaks in a couple weeks and completely subsides by 3 months.
Here are some easy things you can do to help baby during their fussy time:
- Rock baby
- Cluster feed
- Swaddle baby
- Relax baby with a warm bath
- Play music
- Use the baby swing/bouncer
For week four, you’ll follow the same schedule as outlined in week three.
Newborn schedule week 5
By week five, the average newborn sleeps around 15-16 hours in a 24 period. Your newborn might still sleep more than this per day, and that’s okay. You might also notice that your baby is still a little “off” due to the developmental leap they could still be going through.
Around five weeks, I noticed my daughter stopped napping as well during the day. I picked up on the fact that her startle reflex was causing her to wake up early from naps. All babies are born with a startle reflex, which is an involuntary reflex that causes them to jolt their arms or legs.
This reflex is typically short lived and is completely gone by 6 months, but many parents notice their baby doesn’t show any remaining signs of the reflex once their baby reaches 3 months.
Swaddling my baby for naps helped clear up this problem completely. My daughter loved to be swaddled and would instantly calm down, plus she started taking long restful naps, too!
I loved this swaddle as it was way more secure than swaddle blankets. Swaddling might be something you want to try if you notice your baby is not sleeping as soundly as they did their first few weeks.
Additionally, while five weeks is still a hair too soon to put baby on a firm schedule, it’s a good idea to start getting good at picking up on baby’s tired cues when deciding whether or not they need a nap.
Because your baby is way more awake and alert than they’ve been before, some parents mistakenly think their baby can stay up for much longer periods of time than they actually can at this point. Following age-appropriate wake windows is the easiest way to prevent an overtired baby at this point.
If you put baby down for a nap when they first show signs of tiredness, baby will actually sleep better and for longer periods of time. Most babies show signs of being tired by rubbing their eyes or yawning. Some will also zone out and stop focusing on anything in particular.
For week five, you’ll follow the same schedule as outlined above in week 3, as nothing has really changed too much other than increased alertness during awake time.
You may modify the schedule 15 minutes or so, but don’t allow baby to stay up for more than an hour in between naps at this point, or you risk having an overtired baby on your hands.
Newborn schedule week 6
By week six, many parents start to feel human again. Your little one is likely sleeping longer stretches at night, and you’ve hopefully gotten the hang of this newborn phase by now.
Six weeks is a great time to start moving towards a more concrete schedule or routine that you follow each day.
It’s also a great time to introduce a dream feed into the mix if that’s something you haven’t already tried before. Essentially, a dream feed works to help baby “fuel up” for a longer stretch of sleep at night.
Many moms will arouse baby just enough to get them to breastfeed at night, typically around 10 or 11 pm. The hope is that baby will sleep longer now that their little tummy is full!
Here’s more info about the pros and cons of the dream feed so you can decide wether or not it’s right for you.
Here’s what a sample 6 week old newborn schedule might look like:
|8:00 am||Up for the day, feed, burp, play, tummy time|
|9:15 am||Down for a nap|
|11:15 am||Up from nap, feed, burp, play|
|12:30 pm||Down for a nap|
|2:30 pm||Up from a nap, feed, burp, play, tummy time|
|3:45 pm||Down for a nap|
|5:00 pm||Up from a nap, feed, burp, play, tummy time|
|6:15 pm||Down for a nap|
|8:00 pm||Up from a nap, feed, burp, wind down routine|
|11:00 pm||Dream feed|
- At six weeks, you’ll likely notice that your newborn is awake for longer periods in between naps, and they’ll typically want a nap after being up for about an hour and 15 minutes.
- Most formula fed babies are now feeding about every 3-4 hours at this point.
- Continue to feed breastfed babies on demand.
- Feed baby as they wake up at night or follow advice from your pediatrician.
- Keep in mind baby sleep can still be difficult at this age. Here’s all of my newborn sleep tips.
- Don’t let breastfeeding get you down. I’ve written about anything and everything breastfeeding related here.
Questions you may have about your newborn’s schedule
When should I start getting my baby into a routine?
Babies pick up on predictability fast, and while it can be difficult to follow any set schedule those first few weeks, you can likely start trying to establish routines at or around 6 weeks.
I firmly believe in creating a wind down routine each night, and you can start that as early as two weeks.
Keep a wind down routine simple: warm bath, baby massage, books or singing and a feed will work great.
Starting a wind down routine early and sticking to it really helps with your baby’s day/night confusion and also comes in really handy when you try sleep training down later on.
Should I put baby down in bassinet to nap or is it okay for baby to nap on me?
The first few weeks, your baby will probably take most of their naps on you right after they feed, and that’s totally okay!
As baby progresses to six weeks of age, it’s a good idea to start introducing them to sleeping in a bassinet for nap time. This allows you to shower, sleep or get stuff done around the house, while teaching baby to nap on their own.
Should I wake up baby to feed during the day?
My baby was an excellent napper and would take very long naps at times. Because I never wanted her to go more than 3 hours without eating, I would wake her up to eat.
Some babies tend to sleep for one long chunk during the day, and if you don’t wake them up to feed, they are likely to wake more during the night from hunger.
If you have questions about this easy newborn schedule, please feel free to ask!
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Love this info! Please don’t stop writing. You do a fantastic job at explaining things!!
Ashley Bryant says
This made my day, thank you!!!
I did a schedule with all 4 of my kids (20 yrs ago now) and it was an acronym of EASY…eat, awake, sleep, you. I repeated it every 2-3 hrs…depending on the cues from the baby. You explained it all wonderfully and I encourage any new mom out there to try it.