Newborn Sleep In The First 8 Weeks

newborn sleep tips - photo of a newborn foot on the edge of a blanket

Having a newborn baby is wonderful and magical but it can also be very disorienting! You are suddenly thrust into taking care of a little being who is mysterious and confusing, and you are trying to make sense of this new life while being sleep deprived and recovering from a major medical event. Baby sleep is often a huge source of stress and anxiety for new parents because it is so unlike our own adult sleep, and therefore it can be very hard to understand what is typical for a newborn baby.

Newborns sleep a lot! A newborn baby’s sleep will come in fragmented bursts of 25 minutes to 3 hours (sometimes 4 if you’re lucky!) and this will occur around the clock. In the first 8 weeks the baby’s days and nights are confused. You may see more sleep during the day than at night and as difficult as that is for parents, it is completely normal for the baby. Some parents may be tempted to keep their baby awake during the day in order to promote better night sleep, but this will actually lead the baby to become overtired, which contributes to increased crying and poorer sleep. Have faith that their days and nights will evolve and their sleep will come together in time. By the time a baby is 8 weeks old they have typically resolved their day/night confusion and their longer sleep periods occur at night.

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Your job as a parent is to help your newborn sleep in whatever way works. Some babies need to be held, rocked, carried, nursed, walked or bottle-fed in order to get them to sleep and that’s completely fine. You will not be spoiling your baby by doing these things and you will not be forming bad habits. In the first 8 weeks your focus can be on bonding with your baby, recovering from childbirth, making sense of your new family and settling in at home. Although it is a big shift from how we as adults sleep, it is completely fine for your young baby to sleep this way.

Many babies will reach their peak of fussiness at around 6 weeks of age. There is something called the Period of PURPLE Crying that I only wish I had known about when my babies were tiny! The Period of PURPLE Crying is completely normal fussiness (usually worse in the evening) that begins when newborns are about 2 weeks old and peaks when they are 6 weeks old. Usually by 3-4 months of age PURPLE crying has ended. It is important to note that this is called the Period of PURPLE Crying because it is a period of time and it will end. All babies will experience this – some to lesser degrees than others – and it is a perfectly normal period in their development. So if you are reading this post when your baby is in the throes of PURPLE crying and disorganized newborn sleep and you’re wondering when (or if) things will improve, hang in there! It’s hard and exhausting but it will get better and you are not alone. Babies get older and evolve and soon enough your endless nights will be behind you.

Sleep Consultant Kayla Ginsler
Sleep Consultant Kayla Ginsler
Kayla Ginsler is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant and a Registered Social Worker. KAYLA’S SLEEP STORY Kayla’s first son was a terrible sleeper! She sought out a sleep consultant when his sleep felt more challenging than she and her husband could manage. Kayla knew that she needed someone to hold her accountable, walk through the sleep training process with her, and guide her through the steps to improve her son’s sleep. Kayla’s sleep consultant helped them get his sleep on track and his struggles resolved faster than they could have imagined! When her son was sleeping better Kayla’s own mood was much improved, and she was better equipped to cope with the demands of raising an active baby. PAYING IT FORWARD By this time Kayla had been working as a Social Worker for almost a decade, after completing her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Toronto. Kayla supports parents of children with special needs or mental health concerns, and loves to witness the happiness and pride parents feel when they see the changes they are hoping for. Her personal experience with a sleep consultant piqued her professional interest in the field. Kayla was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and has lived in Waterloo Region for most of her life. She is thrilled to be offering sleep consulting in Waterloo Region and beyond! Kayla’s second son, much to her dismay, was also a bad sleeper, and she felt so strongly about getting him the sleep he needed that she decided to pursue education in sleep consulting so she could help other parents solve their sleep struggles. BETTER SLEEP, BETTER DAYS Kayla believes in empowering families to feel confident in helping their baby or child achieve better sleep. When a child is sleeping poorly, it can affect the entire tone of the family – there is stress and tension and anxiety and fatigue. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Bedtime can be a quiet, beautiful time with your children and Kayla feels privileged to have the opportunity to help you find the calm for your family.

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