To sleep or not to sleep, that is the question. It’s recommended that your newborn eat every two to three hours. You’ve also been told to never wake a sleeping baby. Okay, so how do you handle a very sleepy baby during the first two weeks? Sleep is important during the early weeks, but how will you know if your newborn sleeps too much? What should you do if your newborn is extremely sleepy in the first two weeks?

Normal Infant Sleep

While each newborn may require different amounts of sleep, on average newborns require between 16 and 20 hours of sleep daily. This requirement will begin to decrease after the first two weeks, with a twelve week old only needing fifteen hours of sleep on average.

During the first two weeks, sleep is usually divided into periods of two to three hours with a wake period of 30 to 45 minutes. Breastfed infants are likely to sleep only an hour or two before becoming hungry. It’s also not unusual for a newborn to sleep for three to four straight hours at a time.

How Do I Know If My Newborn Sleeps Too Much?

Labor is also demanding for your baby. I imagine you’d be tired too if you had to move from your comfortable home to a place with constant noise, fluctuating temperatures, and the new feeling of hunger. Nonetheless, watch for signs that they are feeling tired from all the new changes and not due to medical issues.

You should see your pediatrician if your baby does not urinate every one to three hours, have a bowel movement once a day, or gain weight at a rate of about 1 ounce a day; or if he is yellow in color.

To Sleep Or To Wake?

Parents are often instructed not to disturb sleeping children. This is not always the case. Until a newborn’s birth weight is regained, most pediatricians recommend that they be awakened to eat at least once every four hours, even if they are tired.

If you decide to breastfeed, it is important to place your baby at your breast as often as possible, even if they are just sleepily sucking. As the baby spends more time nursing, the milk supply will increase, thereby improving breastfeeding. Usually, if they have fed for ten to fifteen minutes on at least one breast, they are okay to sleep again.

Simple Ways To Keep Awake

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your newborn awake enough to feed full-time. When your baby is falling asleep on the nipple, you can stroke his cheek, tickle the bottom of his feet, or simply talk out loud to him.
Alternatively, release the baby from the nipple and burp or change his diaper to help wake him a bit. Babies can be fed naked or bundled up in a blanket while undressed; the cooler air will help keep him awake. Switching back and forth between breasts will keep your newborn awake longer if you are breastfeeding.

As long as your baby is happy and healthy, you can enjoy these sweet sleepy hours. Take these moments to breathe in every new thing that has happened or simply take a nap. If you have additional questions or concerns about your newborn’s sleep contact us today for a sleep consultation at

About The Author

Nia Davidson has over 10 years of experience working with children in Boston and Virginia, as well as abroad. She studied human development and family studies at the University of Vermont. She is also trained as a birth and postpartum doula and works as a Newborn Care Expert with BBN&N. Growing up mostly abroad in Germany and Qatar, she has a unique understanding of different cultures and traditions. She understands that bringing a newborn home can be filled with wonder and excitement but also can be a time of stress. Nia’s calm demeanor, loving nature, and multicultural experiences abroad make her uniquely capable of supporting families through the newborn stages. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and practicing yoga.