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How much sleep do newborns need?

Newborns need a variable amount of sleep, averaging around 16 hours when they are first born and decreasing over the course of the first few weeks. They don’t sleep more than 2 to 4 hours at a time, as they do need to feed frequently and at first, there is no distinct difference between daytime and nighttime sleep patterns.
Newborns have more periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which are deemed necessary for the rapid brain development that they are undergoing at this stage. Over the first few weeks to months, they develop longer non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phases, during which sleep is deeper, and therefore, progress to sleeping for longer periods, with a more predictable day/night schedule.

You will learn to read the cues your baby gives you that tell you he or she are ready for sleep. Acting on those cues early and providing them with a comfortable sleep environment, makes it easier to put them to sleep and avoids their getting overtired and irritable.