Wondering what a newborn baby daily routine looks like?
Whether you’re an expectant parent or a brand new one, having your own daily routine shaken up so dramatically is quite a daunting prospect.
When my daughters were born I had an idea of how little sleep we would get – because everyone jokes about sleep and babies.
However I didn’t realise quite how often a newborn will need to eat. Or that I would often be confused as to what they needed when they cried. And I also didn’t really understand how much they would wake at night!
So there I was feeling a bit adrift and confused as to whether all of this was normal.
While every baby is of course different (as with any adult too) there are patterns that pretty much all babies follow. Having now gone through this with two babies, I can testify to that.
They all need short bursts of awake time followed by a little milk then a decent nap before the cycle begins all over again.
These newborn baby routines will cover the first eight weeks with your baby. I’ve included timings here, but of course you should slightly adjust them depending on your baby’s awake time between naps as well as what time they get up in the mornings.
These newborn sample schedules will give you an idea of what a day with your little one looks like. But please remember that some days – whether it’s because of a little trapped wind, a growth spurt or a developmental leap – babies will suddenly change. They may cry for hours without settling or wake more frequently.
Newborn baby schedules can be pretty fluid, so be prepared to roll with the punches here and there. They’re also their own little people!
These are intended as a guide to help you see what your baby may be doing week-by-week in the newborn days.
What does a newborn do all day?
The early weeks with your baby are all about cuddles and bonding, but there’s also an awful lot of chat about weight gain.
Your baby will be offered regular weigh-ins to check how they’re getting on in the reverse Weight Watchers race!
Many newborns drop weight – around 10 per cent is quite common – after birth in the first week.
However by the second week most babies will have returned to their birth weight or be slightly above it.
Your new baby has a tiny tummy, but a whole lot of growing to do, so they will spend what feels like a lot of time feeding in the early months.
It’s normal for a newborn baby to feed every two hours, sometimes even less, in the early weeks.
As your baby reaches four weeks old they may manage three hours between feeds.
However a growth spurt can throw a bit of a spanner in the works, so don’t expect every day to be exactly the same. During a growth spurt your baby may feed frequently and be quite hard to settle. The frequent feeds may happen most often in the evenings and are called cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding was something I had never heard of until around four weeks after my first baby was born. It’s where your baby feeds on and off for hours on end with little respite.
It can be to do with stimulating your milk supply, but may also come hand-in-hand with a growth spurt.
If you are breastfeeding, there are tons of breastfeeding tips over on this post.
You may also appreciate this post on combination feeding, plus this one with hacks for bottle feeding.
Your newborn baby will sleep for 15 to 18 hours in every 24-hour day. That’s a whole lot of sleep.
But unfortunately for you, the poor frazzled new parent, this sleep will be broken up into lots of little chunks. That means that there will be some night feeds.
Of course every baby is different and some people hit the jackpot with a baby who sleeps for much of the night and hardly wakes for feeding at all. This is very rare and is the exception rather than the rule.
In the first three months you can expect to be woken roughly two to four times a night. This may be more, it could be a little less.
Baby expert and author Elizabeth Pantley says in this interview with KellyMom that the key to baby sleep is the awake time.
Nail the awake window and you will have a baby who is likely to sleep far better. The “awake window” is the time which your baby is happily awake for.
So it’s likely your newborn baby’s awake window will be around 40 minutes, which will gradually increase to about one hour in the first few weeks. This is the time they are awake and happy.
Once they become tired, they need to be put down for a nap or they become overtired. An overtired baby is difficult to settle and frustratingly will often experience disturbed sleep where they wake before they’ve had a proper restorative nap.
You can figure out your baby’s awake time by watching for their cues. Your baby is getting tired when:
- They stare off into space
- They lose interest in play or looking at you
- They become agitated
Crying is generally a last resort for their sleepy cues, so keep an eye on the clock and their behaviour then get them ready for a nap once you notice their becoming tired.
When it comes to helping your newborn baby to sleep in the early weeks, there’s certainly no need to even think of sleep training. It’s utterly pointless, and actually what you baby needs right now is you and your comfort.
While sleep training is out, you can still do a few things to help everyone get more rest. You can:
Figure out your baby’s awake time by watching for their sleepy cues.
Doing bedtime in a quiet, dark room so baby learns the difference between night and day.
Have a nap and bedtime routine involving simple cues for sleep like a nursery rhyme or baby massage.
Try to separate feeding from sleeping so that your baby gets a full feed before they go to sleep. A tired baby will often not take a full feed.
Accepting your baby is normal. One of the biggest struggles new parents have is the stress of lack of sleep. If you can accept that your baby’s sleep patterns are just a little crazy compared to what you’re used to as a grown adult, then a lot of that stress will be removed. Check your expectations and just learn to go with the flow a little.
We’re calling it play here, but your newborn baby won’t be ready to do much just yet.
Their version of play could be as simple as having a kick about on their changing mat while staring around the room. Or just having a “chat” with you (you will need to do all the talking).
Play has a ton of great purposes for your newborn. They’re figuring out the world around them, becoming secure in their environment and learning new skills.
So when your baby is awake, spend a little time chatting to them, show them around your home and give them a few minutes of tummy time each day.
There are tons of play ideas for babies over on this post.
TOP TIP: Think of your day as a three-step routine on repeat. Feed, play, sleep and repeat. This helps you separate feeding from sleeping so your baby will not associate feeding with nodding off and it won’t become a sleep prop.
One week old baby routine
You will find your brand new baby will be pretty sleepy the first few days.
Expert guidance from Elizabeth Pantley says that a newborn baby will stay awake from 45 minutes to an hour. With a brand new baby you may well find this to be less.
This is especially likely in the immediate days after birth and if you had some kind of pain medication during delivery. I had diamorphine in labour with my first baby and she was pretty sleepy for the first three days, with an awake time of no more than 30 minutes.
In these first few days though it is really important that your baby is taking proper feeds. These need to be regularly spaced out throughout the day and night.
This is because your baby’s tummy is tiny at birth, and only able to take a small amount of milk at a time. As they grow they will be able to take larger feeds and so sleep for longer at night without waking due to hunger.
The trouble with trying to get a newborn baby to take a full feed is that they nod off so easily on the boob or bottle. It’s warm, their tummy is happy and they’re in your arms, which is their safe place.
To help your sleepy newborn baby take a full feed you can try the following:
- Strip off a layer of clothing so their temperature is a little cooler.
- Tickle their toes or gently prod them to keep them awake.
- Blow gently on their face.
- Burp them.
As a new mama it’s important to get as much rest as you can in the early weeks, so remember to take it easy during the days as sleep may be tricky to come by in the night.
When it comes to visitors to the house after birth there are lots of tips for coping with them and making sure you still get your space on this post.
The below sample routine includes a dream feed. Some mothers swear by them! A dream feed is where you feed your baby when they are half asleep just before you go to bed. You get them just awake enough to give them a little feed.
The theory is this fills their tummy and gives you a few hours of undisturbed sleep. They never worked for me personally, but some mothers do find they work wonders.
I always found it easier to go to bed at 8pm when my baby was going to bed.
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How to survive your first week with a baby
Sample one-week-old baby schedule
|7am||Wake-up and feed then play|
|9am||Wake-up and feed then play|
|11am||Wake-up and feed then play|
|2pm||Wake-up and feed then playtime|
|4pm||Wake-up, feed, play|
|6pm||Wake-up, feed, play|
|8pm||Feed, then bedtime routine – this may involve a few nursery rhymes and gentle talking to your baby|
|10.30pm||Dream feed if you wish before bed|
|Night||Baby may wake roughly three to four times in the night for milk|
Nap length will vary for your baby throughout the day. Most babies take their longest nap after midday. Some naps may last as little as 30 minutes while others will go on for three hours. If you’re finding your baby is sleeping for longer spells in the day compared to night, you may want to consider waking them for a feed. However in these early weeks, try not to panic. Nighttime feeds will not last forever.
Two week old baby routine
Your baby’s routine at week two is very similar to week one. But at this point they may be getting a little more alert and possibly staying awake for a few minutes longer.
Keep watching for their cues when it comes close to nap time. However at this age it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly what your newborn is going to do next.
So the important thing to keep reminding yourself is that while a rough schedule may give you an idea of what’s going on with your baby and when, it’s OK if every day doesn’t follow this rigidly to the minute.
What the routines in this post are about however is helping you to find your baby’s natural rhythm of feed, play, sleep and repeat.
To help your baby figure out the difference between day and out you can try the following things:
- Keep the room where they sleep dark from bedtime to 7am when they get up for the day
- Keep your voice quiet and soothing after dark
- Avoid too many nappy changes in the middle of the night – if they’re already dozy it may wake them up a little more
Three week old baby routine
At three weeks your baby has probably gained a little more control of their limbs so you may see their muscle movements are a little less jerky.
During tummy time you may also see your baby trying to lift their head up from the ground. Soon they will be able to lift it up, look in front of them and turn their head to the other side. It’s all about building the strength in their neck and back. There are lots of tummy time tips here.
You may be pretty wiped out by this week as the sleepless nights catch up on you.
Remember that “normal” baby sleep at this stage is whatever your baby is doing.
The key things to try and give yourself a fighting chance of getting more sleep at night include:
- Encouraging baby to take a full feed by keeping them awake.
- Try to get into the rhythm of eat, play a little, sleep, repeat.
- Burp your baby before putting them down for sleep.
- Try swaddling to give your baby comfort. You can buy swaddles that do up with zips or poppers so you don’t have to fiddle with folding it yourself.
Four week old baby routine
In the next week or two may notice your baby is having fussy evenings where they are difficult to settle and/or want to feed constantly.
This is totally normal newborn behaviour. It often leads parents to think their baby has colic, but in reality it’s a fairly common pattern of behaviour many new babies go through.
The Purple Crying website has a great explanation for why your baby is particularly fussy in the evenings. I also talk about it a lot over on my post about the witching hour in babies.
Go with the flow when it comes to this behaviour because you won’t be able to stop it happening. Take it in turns with your partner to comfort your baby if they do get particularly fussy, and rest as much as you can during the day.
At night your baby will still be waking several times for milk. You could try co-sleeping or, if you don’t have one already, a side sleeper crib which makes it easier for you to reach for your baby at night.
Sample four-week-old baby schedule
|7am||Wake, feed, play|
|10am||Wake, feed, play|
|12.30pm||Wake, feed, play|
|4pm||Wake, feed, play|
|6.30pm||Wake, feed, play|
|10.30pm||Possible dream feed|
|Night||Baby may wake two to four times per night|
Five week old baby routine
While the first four weeks may feel a little chaotic as you’re getting used to parenthood, by week five you might feel like you have a little better grip on the situation. Just a little!
Your baby’s own natural rhythms might be more clear to you and you might be finding it easier to read their cues.
The routines explained in this post work really well because they help you figure out exactly what your baby needs next.
Babies can’t tell us exactly when they’re hungry or tired, and sometimes reading their cries and cues is tricky.
By having a rhythm of wake, feed, play, sleep, you will know what’s coming next.
Also, separating the feeding from the sleep makes it easier to get your baby to take a full feed. A baby who snacks here and there throughout the day may not take decent naps which leaves them exhausted by the end of the day.
If you’ve struggled to get your baby into a rhythm by this point, do not despair! The early weeks are tough and many parents do not manage to find a steady routine until two to three months.
Keep watching your baby and trying to following this pattern. Eventually you will see it click into place.
|Age||Naps||Nap duration||Awake time|
|Birth-6 weeks||4-8||45 mins – 4 hours||30 mins – one hour|
|6 weeks to 3 months||3-4||30 mins – 2 hours||45-90 mins|
|3-6 months||3||1-2 hours||90 mins – two hours|
Six week old baby routine
By now your baby is way less sleepy and enjoying their playtime when they’re awake.
If you are breastfeeding your baby then this is the point where nursing gets easier. By week six to eight you’ll find your supply is established and your baby will be in a more settled feeding routine.
It shouldn’t be causing you discomfort any more and hopefully you’re feeling a lot more confident with breastfeeding after those tricky early weeks.
After six weeks your baby may even be sleeping for longer spells at night – possibly five to eight hours at a time. Of course some babies continue to wake three to four times at night at this stage so don’t expect your baby to be sleeping through by now. Waking several times a night is still very normal at this point and you can’t expect lengthy spells of nighttime sleep until after three months. Hang in there, it does get easier!
Get the ebook for a complete guide to baby’s first year!
Featuring routines, feeding tips, a guide to getting more sleep, play ideas, tips for getting back to work and more.
Seven week old baby routine
Those fussy evenings may be starting to end at this stage. They should be gone by the time your baby is 10 weeks. Expect them to pop up from time to time though when your baby is having a growth spurt.
By this point your baby will be reaching out and batting things around with their hands and hopefully giving you longer periods of calm.
Some babies are awake for a bit longer between naps by seven weeks, but they’re all different and if your baby is still sleepy after 45 minutes, then stick with the routine that works for you.
As a newborn your baby may have been feeding 12 times per day, but at seven weeks you may see this reduce to six to eight times per day.
If you are breastfeeding it may be at the higher end of this scale. Night feeding is still crucial for your baby’s growth so when they wake up, feed them. Eventually, you won’t be on a 24/7 feeding schedule!
Eight week old baby routine
At this stage your baby may be managing to stay awake for up to 90 minutes between naps. However they may only still manage 45 minutes, so tailor this schedule to your baby’s individual needs.
Continue to keep a close eye on their sleepy cues, which have hopefully become a lot easier to read for you by now.
When your baby is awake, give them fun things to do such as tummy time play, an outing in their buggy or showing them board books.
A baby at two months will continue to need a late afternoon cat nap for another few weeks. This helps to carry them through to bedtime so they’re not overtired.
You’ll see from the sample routine at eight weeks that your baby is on a three-hour cycle. The wake-up, feed, play and then have a nap before feeding again. This means they have five feeds during the daytime hours, then two to three at night depending on what they need.
Eight-week-old baby sample schedule
|7am||Wake, feed, play|
|10am||Wake, feed, play|
|1pm||Wake, feed, play|
|4pm||Wake, feed, play|
|6.30pm||Wake, feed, play|
|Night||Baby will still wake one to three times for milk|
Final thoughts on newborn baby sleep schedules
These newborn baby sample daily routines should give you an idea of what your day-to-day life with a new baby will look like.
If your baby does not conform to any of the schedules here, do not stress. It’s likely that after eight weeks a pattern of some kind will emerge that works for both you and your newborn baby.
If you want baby schedules for the rest of your little one’s first year, you should check out these posts:
Best routine for a baby at 3-6 months
Perfect routine for a 4-month-old baby
Daily routine for your six-month-old
One-year-old baby routine
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