When you have a newborn, your life likely involves regular feedings and not getting enough sleep. Regular feedings and short sleep intervals for your newborn mean that your days -- and nights -- must focus on these basic needs. Understanding the sleeping and eating habits of your newborn allows you to create a flexible schedule that ensures that your little one can thrive.
Expect your newborn to eat about every two to three hours throughout the day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org. In a 24-hour period, she should eat about eight to 12 times. Rather than adhering to a rigid every-three-hours eating schedule, you should simply ensure that your baby eats, at a minimum, once within this three-hour time frame. These regular feedings should occur at day and night, which means you might have to wake your sleeping baby for a middle-of-the-night feeding, depending on your pediatrician's instructions.
Hunger cues tell you when your newborn is ready to eat. When you notice these cues, you should feed your newborn, even if this feeding falls within that two- to three-hour window. HealthyChildren.org recommends that parents feed their newborns on demand in response to hunger cues. Breastfed newborns might root -- open their mouths and try to move toward the breast -- while others might put their hand in their mouth and suck on it when they're hungry. Crying is a late sign of hunger, according to HealthyChildren.org. Responding to these early signs of hunger can dictate your newborn's eating schedule.
Newborns sleep about eight to nine hours during the day and eight hours at night, according to the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. However, this sleep is interrupted. Newborns typically sleep in three- to four-hour stretches, although some might not sleep that long. Sleeping and eating schedules are intertwined. Your little one's small stomach fills and empties quickly, requiring regular feedings, and a desire to eat can arouse your newborn from a sound slumber.
Every newborn is different, with different sleeping and eating patterns and demands. Successful parenting of a newborn requires flexibility -- you should adapt your schedule to meet your baby's ever-changing needs. Feeding on demand and soothing your baby to sleep when he's tired can help ensure he enjoys both adequate nutrition and sleep.