Infant sleep can vary with each individual baby. It can be said that most newborns will sleep for about 15-16 hours a day, usually sleeping no more than three to four hours at any given stretch. Some infants may sleep less than this particularly if they have problems with colic, and breastfed babies may sink into a schedule where they wake about every two to three hours to nurse. The breastfed baby may also be willing to go back to sleep after satisfying hunger needs, though again this may vary.
Usually babies under a month old don’t sleep without waking for more than four hours, but as they reach a month, sleep periods may stretch to five or six hours at night. It’s tempting not to give these numbers out because infant sleep can be so variable, and there are certainly parents who have babies who remain wakeful or who catnap so that they wake up or rouse more easily and more often.
Parents who do have babies will colic may have a rough road at first because of these frequent wake ups, which often include crying a great deal. In general, if a baby is awake for more than eight or nine hours a day, you might want to speak to your pediatrician about infant sleep and any potential conditions that would be interfering with sleep patterns.
After the first month infant sleep may be an average of 12-15 hours a day. The baby has more wakeful periods but also may learn to sleep for longer stretches. Even breastfed babies may skip one nursing at night and possibly wake after three or four hours. This really depends on the baby though, and some continue to wake on a two hour schedule, but will go back to sleep after being burped and changed.
If you have a very young infant, infant sleep may pose a concern if a baby sleeps too much. Though there is a normal range, if infant sleep seems excessive, you should check with your doctor. Since infants do need to be fed every two to three hours when nursing and every three to four when eating formula, they may not be eating enough due to too much sleep. Lots of babies do seem to sleep a lot, with few wakeful periods in the first few days, but if you notice a big change in sleep habits and a baby that seems to never rouse, you should speak to your child’s pediatrician, particularly if sleep habits are interfering with diet, or if sleep habits have changed suddenly and you suspect illness.