The average newborn sleeps much of the day and night, waking only for feedings every few hours. It is often hard for new parents to know how long and how often a newborn should sleep. Unfortunately, there is no set schedule at first and many newborns have their days and nights confused - they think they are supposed to be awake at night and sleep in the daytime.
Generally, newborns sleep about eight to nine hours in the daytime and about eight hours at night. Most babies do not begin sleeping through the night (six to eight hours) without waking until about three months of age, or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds. Newborns and young infants have a small stomach and must wake every few hours to eat. In most cases, your baby will awaken and be ready to eat about every three to four hours. It is not necessary to wake a baby for feedings unless you have been advised to do so by your baby's physician. However, do not let a newborn sleep longer than five hours at a time in the first five to six weeks. Some premature babies need more frequent feedings and must be awakened to eat.
Watch for changes in your baby's sleep pattern. If your baby has been sleeping consistently, and suddenly is waking, there may be a problem such as an ear infection. Some sleep disturbances are simply due to changes in development or because of overstimulation. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle propped for feeding. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to ear infections and choking.