0-3 Months Newborn Baby Sleep Survival Guide

Newborn Baby

One Day Old Baby Boy

Newborn babies are those tiny wrinkly little peanuts that we bring home from the hospital even though we’re sure we’re not ready to care for such an impossibly tiny creature.

While your immediate focus should be mastering the basics of feeding and soothing your newest relative, if you want your newborn to be a great sleeper start with this newborn sleep series:

How and Why to Use and Loose the Paci

Baby Sleep: What is Normal?

Bedtime What Time?

Five Reasons to Swaddle Your Baby?

Baby Swaddling Tips and Tricks

Are You Keeping Your Baby Awake TOO Long?

How To Get Baby to Sleep Better Part 1

How to Get Baby to Sleep Better Part 2

Why Babies Love White Noise

The Ultimate Baby Swing Guide for Swing Hating Babies

Common Newborn Baby Sleep Mistakes

What to Do About Short Naps

Sleep Regressions 101

My 2 cents on which baby swing is right for you.

Where Should Your Newborn Sleep?

This series will be further developed over the next few months and will be supplemented by some how-to videos focused on helping baby fall asleep. If there is something you would like to see addressed here let me know!

 

31 Comments


  1. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information. I have a 5 week old who has been sleeping in his crib since we brought him home from the hospital, but we were having problems getting him to sleep AT NIGHT. We had been told by multiple people to just keep him awake during the day, but that lasted less than one day because he was miserable and I felt horrible keeping him awake when he clearly needed to sleep. Luckily, that night I found your website. We purchased a swing and made a point to get the baby more sleep all around. When he is overly tired and refusing to nap, into the swing he goes. Yesterday it was a lifesaver because we had been running around all day so he didn’t get quality sleep. I had my husband bring the swing into the nursery and he slept for 6 hours straight — even longer than I did! Just a few days of following your advice and there are fewer tears in our house and we have a much happier family overall. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the wonderful info on your site. I’ve spent many hours reading it, but haven’t stumbled across much for the baby who fights sleep like my 10 week old does. He absolutely hates taking naps during the day. He is a happy baby and usually only fusses when hungry, over tired, or doesn’t want to nap. Just the other day, I was holding him and as his eyes would be getting heavy and almost close, he would shake his head to wake himself back up. He would keep repeating this until he finally he couldn’t fight it anymore. It’s almost as if he’s afraid he will miss out on something! I try to be boring and reduce stimulation during sleep times. He’s a good sleeper at night though. He sleeps in his crib and wakes up a couple times to nurse, but goes right back to sleep. It’s just getting him to fall asleep on his own for naps that is giving us trouble. The swing works sometimes, but the only thing that works 100% of the time is Mommy’s arms. I know he needs the naps because when he naps crappy, we have a very fussy over-tired baby in the evenings. Im guessing your answer will be to keep doing soothing techniques for naps. But why is he sleeping so much better at night without needing additional soothing besides the nursing?

    • Hi Jill!

      Did you figure anything out that you can share??? This sounds just like my son, 3 months old and doesn’t want to miss out on anything by sleeping. Only thing that works for me is nursing to sleep and me holding him to keep him asleep during the day, but does fine once he’s down for the night.

      Hope things are going better for you,

      Katie

    • I have the same problem help

  3. My baby is 9 weeks and falls asleep while nursing or in the ergo. Basically those are my two options! Once in a while she will pass out in the swing if it close to her bed time. (at 8 pm she will normally sleep til about 2 or 3). My question is, when is it important for her to fall asleep on her own?
    PS- fussy turns into flat out crying if I let it go on longer then a few minutes.

  4. Hi, Riddle me this Batman

    I have a 11 week old daughter and last week I thought we were making progress on the sleeping front (silly me). Once she is asleep she normally wakes once a night to feed and then back to sleep easily. A few weeks back she was an awesome (and yes I know how lucky I was) morning napper as well, sleeping on average 3 hours, then up for lunch. Afternoon naps were kind of take it or leave it.

    So the last week she hasn’t been so keen on napping in the day, even though she is very obviously tired (red eye, nodding, crying and yawning). When I notice the first of these signs I make moves to settle her into a nap. If I am lucky she will drop off, but the recent development here is that she doesn’t stay asleep for long, normally 45-60 mins. She then wakes up and is grumpy :( Plus then she is more tired in the afternoon and resists sleeping even stronger.

    Then the worst bit is after dealing with a cranky, tired, fussy baby all afternoon if not all day, she is very hard to get to go to sleep in the evening. Last week she was happy to go off to sleep at around 7, sleep for 6-7 hrs AND the best part was that she was learning to self settle (ie I would put her in the cot sleepy but not asleep and she would grizzle half heartedly for 15 mins or less then drop off like an angel!). Now somedays the only way to get her to sleep in to nurse her to sleep in my bed and my husband will come move her when he comes to bed.

    What I would like to know is this – is this a stage she is going through, or am I conditioning her somehow into bad habits at evening bed time? Will the day time sleeps come back? And what do you do with a baby so so so tired and so so so against going to sleep??!

  5. Hi Alexis.

    I desperately need some advice my 1 month old baby girl has been extra fussy lately. I’m starting to think she has colic, after every feed she finds it very difficult to wind. I try everything to relieve her bicycle excurcises/ baths/ massages. I’ve been eating well so dnt think it’s from my end but I do find when I’m breastfeeding her she’s gulping in alot of air. My problem is everytime I nurse her to sleep- her sleep is interrupted from
    Needing to burp or fart n then she becomes wide awake, so I’ve been rocking her to bed (which I feel so stressed about) I feel like I’m
    Starting a bad habit.

    What to you recommend?
    I know it’s a matter of being patient and just waiting for time to pass till she gets older n her stomach will be more mature…

    Thanks in advance

    • Have you tried the swing? If you are rocking her to sleep, the swing will do that for you! Read the swing guide and the weaning from the swing guide. When you have a newborn, do what works!

    • Elle,
      Not sure if you’ll be checking back but I was having the same problem with my 3-week old. I had an oversupply of milk, which was causing her gulp, and pull of the breast repeatedly–making it difficult to keep a good latch. She also had a hard time keeping her tongue down when latching on and was making clicking noises at the breast. I used cabbage leaves and block nursing to get my supply down (she was able to nurse from one breast for 12 hours when I first began!). Just be careful with the cabbage because some people say it can work TOO well. Google it for more information. The good news is that with a reduced milk supply, slower milk letdown, and a better latch, she is doing much better–no more waking up as soon as I put her down because of her inexhaustible supply of gas. Hang in there!!

  6. I think of these things all the time, but the way you put it now makes me rethink alot of that.

  7. Hi there
    I really love your website, its hilarious and full of wonderfully useful information. My little man is eight and a half weeks old and over the past 2 weeks his day time sleeping has gone out the window. He has cut his sleeping to 40min naps (2-4 per day if I’m lucky). He will either wake up extremely upset or will wake up and kick around in his bassinet for 20mins before starting to cry. I’ve tried settling him back to sleep as soon as he stirs or leaving him until he starts to cry by keeping him in the bassinet and patting a shhhing him, I’ve tried picking him up and rocking him back to sleep, I’ve tried putting him in the pram and pushing him around to get him back to sleep – the pram is the most successful option at the moment. Each time I try for anywhere between 20 mins and 1 hour. He’s gone back to sleep twice in the two weeks and gone on to sleep for two hours. When he doesn’t go back to sleep he’s incredibly irritable which I figure is because he is tired as if I try to feed him before three hours from the start of his last feed, he will go on for under 5 mins and be totally disinterested when he will feed for 15-20mins per side on the three hourly feed cycle. I know newborns should only be awake for max an hour 45 and I try and try and try to put him back to sleep but he is ending up being awake for 2.5+hours from wake up time to when I feed him and put him back down. I feel like I’m trying everything and nothing is working and I’m starting to get really frustrated and upset as I know he’s tired and I’m doing everything I can to help him sleep but am failing!! He sleeps well at night – waking twice for feeds when he goes down at 6.30ish and wakes up at 5ish. I don’t know if he’s waking so quickly because he is doing longer stretches at night to maybe catch up in a missed feed. He had a great few weeks before this all started when he would sleep for 2-3 hours twice a day with one or two smaller naps and still be doing the longer stretches at night. I wouldn’t mind the smaller naps if he wasn’t so irritable when he was awake but he cries and cries and yawns and he gorgeous little eyes are red so I know he’s tired but whatever I do doesn’t seem to work. Do you have any suggestions as to what my be going on and what I can do to help the little man get back to sleep after the 40?

    • Check out Baby Sleep What is Normal? and Are you keeping baby awake too long? links above. An hour and 45 is too long for a baby as young as yours to be awake, and 40 minute naps at that age are totally normal as well. I suspect you will have better luck trying to get him down way sooner.

      Congrats on your baby and good luck! :-)

  8. Hello! My little angel is 6 weeks old. She goes to sleep so well during the day. She seems to be awake for about 1.5 hours at a time and takes around 3 naps. Her morning and afternoon naps are between 2-3 hours. At night (after 6) I would think she would fall asleep round 8. She will not.. She falls asleep and wakes quickly within a half hour until around 11. Is this the wiitching time? Should I bring her down from her room every time she wakes after 1/2 hour? Will this pass As she gets older? I swaddle her and have white noise. I even rock and swing her and this won’t work. When she falls asleep at night it’s only for 3 hours. She weighs 10 lbs and eats 5oz formula every 3-4 hours. Any Advice will b greatly appreciated!!!

    Amanda

  9. Hi Alexis,

    Thank you so much for your site and efforts. We are now utilizing your swing method for our 5 week old, and it seems to be working most of the time. We are so thankful!!!!!

    My question for you is: what about vacations? How do we get our little munchkin to sleep when there is no swing in our hotel? We have a trip at 3 months for a week but we also have a few weekends away at grandmas planned in the next few months. I’m this close to sending a swing to our hotel in Hawaii for one week’s use.

  10. The best piece of advice I got was from a neighbor who assured us that yes, your baby will sleep through the night before long. When it finally happened – one of the best nights of my life!!!!!

  11. I have a 5 week old who slept incredibly well since day one. Bay day 4 she was sleeping 4-5 hours at night. For the past three days she has made a complete turnaround! She won’t sleep and is extremely fussy. I have two other children and this has been quite a roller coaster so in my desperation I turned to google and found you! You are a life saver!! I fed her, put her in her swing (which she proved to HATE since day one) at the highest speed and WHA-LA! She is fast asleep!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I hope this works again tomorrow! If so, I plan to do laundry and dishes and brush my hair!

    I will keep you posted :)

  12. We had this problem for number two. He would only sleep for 15 minutes at a time. We found the Sleep Rumbler. We were able to teach him to sleep for 2 hours with it. We call it the sanity mat!

  13. I love this website. Reading it not only helps get her to sleep … So far. But also puts me at ease to know that I can do it and eventually I’ll do it right. Thanks for your time!! You’re an amazing woman to be able to raise your children and share all the wonderful things that you learned. Keep blogging!

  14. Hey, I am a sleep expert here. If you want more sleeping tips for an energizing day, visit http://www.SleepWellSecrets.com for more info!

  15. My almost 3 month old baby is going bed by 7:00 with a 6:30 bath and than a feeding if i prolong it she is overly tired and than take close to an hour and a half to put her down. Is this normal for a baby ready for bed this early or should i add another nap in the late evening and do a late bath like 8:30?? Not sure what is best. Any advice be so helpful.

    • My newborn went to bed early too. We kept trying to keep him up but finally gave in and let him tell us what he needed. I think if its working for you and your baby is getting good rest over a whole 24 hr period, I wouldn’t worry about it. Good luck!

      • Th you Becky, maybe you can help me with something else. Again my baby is 12 weeks today and i am having the hardest time puting her down for naps, i have to walk and rock for a good hour and a half for her to sleep during the day and most of the time when i put her down she will wake up with in minutes. I feel like im battling this all day long. I try to lay her down and soothe her but she just cries and cries so i pick her up and rock her. I feel like shes tired all day long because she does not get a good amount of nap time. I have tried the swing, bouncer, vibration, music, nothing helps if im not rocking her. I feel like i started a bad habit. And with her not having good naps, shes constantly whining because shes tired. I dont know what to do to get her to soother herself.

        • Hi Caitlin,

          I’m no expert, but like you am a mum to a 3 month old who I was having a lot of trouble getting to nap too…in the last few days I have finally been able to get her to nap in her swing with the help of some advice from Alexis…so maybe this can help:

          - are you doing the whole swaddle/white noise thing? It might ‘seem’ less effective in soothing babies as they get older, but stick with it as it really helps along with something else that I discovered in the last few days….

          - timing! I just found out how short a baby’s sleepy window can be. At 3 months it’s around about 1.5 hours. Whether my baby is looking tired or not, as of the last few days I have fed her just before the 1.5 hours is up since her previous nap (sometimes she feeds lots, sometimes little depending on how full she is, but I do so so she has a nice happy tummy)…she tends to fall asleep this way as I’m hitting her sleep spot right on cue…i burp her & swaddle her with the white noise playing. She wakes up slightly whilst swaddling, which is a good thing as it means she now goes into the swing awake, but happy & sleepy. I turn it on & leave the room. She chats for a bit but then falls asleep herself.

          Before I knew about timing, I’d be putting her into the swing overtired and she cry and scream until I actually manually swung the swing myself, which kinda defeats the purpose.

          Anyway, don’t give up on the swing thing yet. Try the timing thing and stick it out for a few days and it just may work. I lost faith a bit too when I first tried, but hang on in there!

          Good luck :)

          • Also, I removed the pillow case from my pillow which smells of me & put that in her swing as a comfort thing…maybe that could work for you too?

        • Everything Katie said! More soothing and make sure you aren’t waiting too long so you baby becomes overtired. White noise, pacifier, swaddle, swing.

        • Nice point Caitlin!

          Well, I believe that newborns vary greatly in the total amount of time they spend sleeping….

          It is because in the first few days, the average newborn sleeps between 16-18 hours a day, this is according to Iglowstein et al through their article published last 2002.

          Relatively, by four weeks, newborn sleep averages about 14 hours – But the range is considerable.

          I believe that some four week old babies sleep as little as 9 out of 24 hours while others sleep for 19 hours a day…

          That’s it! Any ideas to expand the conversation?

  16. I just wanted to thank you so much for all the helpful information! Our little man is 2 months and wasn’t getting great sleep at night. Ever since we started putting him to sleep at the fist signs of tired and using a swing our night are so much better! He has fantastic naps in the swing and then gets long sleeps at night in it as well.

    Thanks from a more rested mom!

  17. My two month old slept 6.5 hours last night not to shabby! Thank goodness for your blog, love your humor by the way.

  18. My 5 week old has never slept more than 2.5 hours at a time (naps or overnight). These 2.5 hour stretches happen pretty rarely, usually 2 hours is her max. Is this normal? We have her swaddled, in a swing with white noise. Since we started the swing she is much easier to get to sleep and is taking multiple 2 hour naps. She does not seem over tired and is not too fussy. I am exclusively breastfeeding and when she wakes overnight she eats well and easily goes back to sleep. My husband has been helping with a bottle of pumped milk in the early am so I can get a longer stretch of sleep. It is still exhausting. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  19. We need help.

    We have a 2.5 month old. He’s fairly big (over 15 pounds) and at the moment, is BF. He went through a particularly fussy phase and my wife eliminated dairy. The awake time fussiness went away.

    He cries and cries any time we try to put him down for a nap. This is our second child, so we wasted little time getting the environment right. Black out shades, white noise, and swaddled. We also pay attention to his sleep window and make sure to unwind and get him down after an hour. Invariably, he cries and cries for almost every nap. We are so desperate that often, we will be forced to just hold him during the nap. He has routinely slept on his own, however, in the rock-n-play for 45 minute stretches.

    We could survive the 45 minute naps if he wouldn’t spend the first 15-30 minutes crying hysterically.

    Oddly enough, at night, he sleeps great. We put him down drowsy and awake at 7 PM. He sleeps until 12, then wakes up again at 4, and finally at 7.

    He is, however, an absolute terror during naps.

    Is there help for us??

    • We have been in almost the exact same situation as yours with our 3 month old (EBF and 17 pounds). Good sleeper at night, but no matter the method, terrible short naps (15-30 mins) during the day, preceded by up to an hour of on and off scream crying (even if in a stroller, wrap, or being rocked by one of us). Like you said, an absolute terror regarding naps. From what I can tell from the hours of reading I’ve been doing lately on the subject, babies sleep (which is mostly deep sleep for the first few weeks) starts to resemble adult sleep around 4-6 weeks at which point they can start having real troubles with daytime sleep (nighttime sleep is better because of their natural circadian rhythm and melatonin telling their bodies to sleep). We’ve been going nutty lately and finally tried the swing (as Alexis advocates) today. AMAZING. I made the room dark, cranked up the white noise, put a piece of cloth that smells like me on his belly, and put him in the fast-moving swing (why this is so different than a stroller or him in a wrap with one of us bouncing side to side, I don’t know). With his three naps so far today, he’s already gotten in 4 hours of sleep and he’s asleep peacefully right now. I had a hard time believing it would work this well (or at all), but I’m sold. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend reading Alexis’ earlier post: The Ultimate Swing Sleep Guide for Swing Hating Babies. It talks about what is being taught to babies who sleep in swings and how to eventually transition them to their cribs one day. I am hoping it works for your baby, too!

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