The Best Newborn Schedule for Breastfeeding (Up to 12 Weeks)
Trying to figure out when to put your newborn to sleep and when to feed your baby? Here is a sample newborn schedule for up to 12 weeks. This will help you learn how to set a routine and bring a sense of regularity back to your life!
What is a Typical Newborn Schedule Like?
Newborn babies will feed, sleep, and play whenever they want, and it’s usually often. To build a healthy sleep, eat, and play routine that benefits everyone in the family, you can learn your baby’s cues and establish a newborn schedule around their routine.
How Often Newborn Babies Sleep?
Newborn babies sleep more than the older children. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a newborn can sleep from 14 to 17 hours easily. Your baby may wake up in between these hours to nurse and play.
Babies who breastfeed wake up about every 2 to 3 hours to feed in the early days and weeks. This is totally normal. It helps your milk regulate and establishes a solid supply for future months.
There is no denying that getting sleep for longer hours is good for babies and it helps their growth as well. Sometimes babies don’t wake up as often, but as long as they are gaining weight according to their growth chart, content after feeding, and their diaper output is good, there is no need to wake your baby to eat after the first two weeks of life. Babies who do not wake up after 3 to 4 hours to feed and aren’t gaining weight, should be awakened by you to make sure that baby gains a healthy weight during the first few months.
How Many Naps Does a Newborn Take?
Newborns spend most of their time sleeping. They usually take 3 to 5 long naps a day. But as they get older, the number of naps decreases. If your baby takes more naps during the day, your baby may have difficulty falling asleep at night. Try to set up a bedtime routine early on for your new baby to encourage the best newborn schedule.
How Long Do They Stay Awake?
As mentioned above, newborns tend to sleep a lot. Normally, they will wake up when they are hungry and may fall asleep even during the feeding session.
A baby who is up to 3 months old can stay awake for 40 to 60 minutes easily. Some even stay awake for 2 to 3 hours if they take long naps routinely at night or even during the day.
Babies who stay awake at night may disturb the sleep pattern of parents a lot. That is why starting a routine can help you establish better sleep for you and your baby.
How Often Do Newborns Breastfeed?
Each newborn is unique and has their own breastfeeding routine. A newborn will feed more often than an older baby. Usually this means 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period, including nighttime. Your baby’s stomach has a very small capacity to take in milk. That is why baby’s tummy gets full easily. As your baby grows and becomes more efficient at breastfeeding, your baby will be able to consume more milk and may even feed less often.
A newborn usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to breastfeed. However, this time may reduce to 5 to 10 minutes with the passage of time as they get more skilled in feeding.
Sample Schedule for a Newborn up to 12 Weeks
Every newborn is unique and has its own needs. There is no fixed newborn schedule that a mama is asked to follow to see results. Still, this approximate schedule is designed to help you take an idea and use it to set your baby’s routine.
Keep in mind that you do not have to follow them strictly. Enjoy your newborn and focus on your health as well.
Newborn Schedule at 1-4 Weeks Old
During the first 2 weeks, do not worry about setting a schedule. Enjoy the company of a new addition to the family and take care of your health. During these weeks, your newborn will sleep most of the time. And even if your baby wakes up, he/she will likely nurse, play, get a diaper change, and go back to sleep.
During the initial days, give your baby full feedings whenever your baby is interested in eating- follow your baby’s lead. Imagine it like a 24-hour buffet- that’s how your baby experienced eating in the womb, so let your baby eat as often as your baby wants to so you produce ample milk and your baby thrives.
Newborn Schedule at 5-8 Weeks Old
Now your baby is 5 weeks old and you both, have gotten familiarized with things, it is time to introduce a more regular yet flexible schedule. You can gently start waking up your baby to feed in the morning if your baby doesn’t wake up on their own. Also play and feed your baby after naps throughout the day.
Here is a sample newborn schedule:
- 5:00 am: Feed baby without turning lights on. Put baby to sleep in a safe co-sleeping environment or in their crib near you.
- 7:30 am: Feed the baby again. Bring baby into a lighted area. Baby’s play time!
- 8:15 am: Time for the first nap of the day.
- 11:00 am: Feed again. Play and chitchat time.
- 1:00 pm: Time for another nap.
- 3:00 to 3:30 pm: Feed time again. Time to play with the family.
- 4:30 pm: Time to take another nap.
- 6:00 pm: Feed again. Play with the family.
- 7:00 pm: A short nap before bedtime.
- 8:00 pm: Feed baby. Put down for another nap.
- 10:00 pm to 10:30 pm: Dream feed the baby if desired. Put baby in a crib in your room or in a safe co-sleeping environment. Wake up to feed baby when baby wakes up. Side-lying nursing can come in handy for night feedings.
Newborn Schedule at 8-12 Weeks Old
Now that your baby has grown up more, he/she will feed and take naps less than before. Here is a sample newborn schedule for an 8 to 12-week-old baby.
- 7:30 am: Wake baby. Feed then play.
- 8:30 am: Time for first nap.
- 10:00 am: Wake baby to feed.
- 11:00 am: Put baby down for 2nd
- 1:00 pm: Feed baby again. Time to play with the family.
- 2:00 pm: Time for a nap.
- 4:00 pm: Wake up the baby to feed again. Talk and play.
- 5:00 pm: Nap time.
- 6:00 pm: Feed baby.
- 7:00 pm: Feed and put baby down to get the last nap of the day.
- 10:00 pm: Full feeding and put baby to sleep.
- 11:00 pm: Dream feed the baby if desired.
- 11:30 pm to 7:30 am: Feed baby whenever he/she wakes up at night.
These schedules are not fixed but they are written just to give you an idea about how you can set a schedule to get time for yourself as well! If you want to learn more about establishing breastfeeding, check out my Breastfeeding with Confidence course here.