Why won’t my newborn sleep?

It’s not easy adjusting to interrupted sleep, but these reasons for waking may help you understand better what is going on and how to help your newborn sleep

Newborn not sleeping at night: Here’s what you need to know

The lowdown on why your newborn may not seem interested in sleeping at night

newborn not sleeping 474

If in your pre-baby life you’ve enjoyed getting roughly eight hours sleep a night to help you deal with the day ahead, then along comes a newborn. You’ll know that this quickly becomes a thing of the past. Sound familiar? It’s not easy but understanding what your newborn needs from sleep can at least help you to get some perspective on what you’re all dealing with and why.

Why don’t newborns sleep for longer?

Quite simply, newborns have to wake regularly to feed. Indeed, your newborn’s sleeping patterns are nothing like yours. Below is a very rough guide to a newborn’s day. This isn’t a schedule to follow it’s simply designed to show how hectic their day is in these early weeks.

9am– Wake and feed

10am – Quick nap (30-60 minutes)

11am – Wake and feed

12.30pm – Quick nap (30-60 minutes)

1.30pm – Wake and feed

3.30pm – Quick nap (30 – 60 minutes)

4.30pm – Wake and feed

6pm – Quick nap (30 – 60 minutes)

6.30pm– Wake and feed

7.30pm – Little doze (20 – 30 minutes)

8pm – Wake and feed

9.30pm – Little doze (20 – 30 minutes)

10pm – Wake and feed

11.30pm – Feed and bedtime

3.30am – Feed and back to sleep

6.30am – Feed and back to sleep

My newborn doesn’t seem to sleep at all

Reasons may include:


Newborns have little tummies which means they eat more often; and if they are going through a growth spurt, your newborn may feed even more often! 


Parents don’t often think of this as a reason but it can be the case. Your newborn will give you tiredness cues, eyes getting heavy, yawning, look out for your baby showing these signs so you can get them down to sleep when they really need it.

‘Startle’ reflex keeping them awake

You’ve probably noticed your baby starts to fall asleep and then suddenly “startles” and wakes. It’s officially called the moro relflex and is like a free-falling sensation for your baby. Babies grow out of this fairly quickly. At around 6 weeks their neck gets stronger helping them support themselves and by 4-6 months this reflex has gone.

Your baby needs you

Sometimes they just need a cuddle! Particularly if they seem very upset, try cuddling your newborn skin-to-skin against your chest; soothing them really can help work wonders in those early weeks. Most babies have their day and night time differences sorted by around 3 months. So in the meantime do let yourself nap in the day to get yourselves through the nights. Ask for help from family and friends and do not worry about these erratic patterns as your baby is showing normal newborn behaviour.

Why won’t my newborn sleep?