Setting Newborn Sleep Expectations

Charmaine Walters baby sleep expert

Charmaine Walters is one of the expert team at Bundle London – who provideantenatal classes, friendship and expert care throughout pregnancy and your first year as a new mum.

Charmaine is a member of the International Association for Child Sleep Consultants, an experienced night nanny and a mum of one! She has teamed up with us to answer some questions about what a night with a newborn is REALLY like…

How many times is a newborn baby expected to wake in the night?

A newborn baby is born not knowing the difference between day and night, so they can & often will wake up overnight and during the day quite frequently. In the first days after the birth they will be quite sleepy and will probably only wake to feed, for nappy changes, or for comfort. A newborn can sleep between 16-18 hours out of a 24 hour day but (unfortunately for us parents) those hours of sleep are not consolidated. It is important that your baby wakes to feed often in the first few weeks as most babies lose weight after they’re born & will need to regain that weight lost.

Why will a newborn wake in the night?

Heard of the fourth trimester? Your pregnancy is described as being made up of three trimesters, each trimester is a phase of rapid growth for your baby in the womb. The fourth trimester describes the first three months your baby will spend ‘earth side’ after the birthing process, during which they will continue to grow and develop rapidly and adjust to this new world outside the womb.

The birth process is physically tiring for both mother and baby, and life outside the womb for your baby is very very different to their time in the safety of your womb. The fourth trimester is thought of as a time for mum and baby to get to know each other, recover from birth and finish growing and developing. Your newborn will wake to feed, to be changed and also at times will just need comforting and soothing. Some babies are born very chilled out & relaxed and may need to be woken often to feed or be changed, other babies are more sensitive and may need lots of reassurance and soothing to help them calm and relax.

Any tips for settling baby back to sleep in the middle of the night?

For newborns anything that reminds them of life inside the womb can be calming and soothing. Once baby has fed, it’s important to ensure they have brought up any wind from their feed. Trapped wind can feel very uncomfortable for babies and will make getting to sleep difficult. Also, ensure they have a nice clean nappy (newborns poop A LOT) and that they’re warm and comfortable. I find with newborns anything that reminds them of life in the womb can be extremely soothing for them.

Think about how life has been for them in the womb…..

They are floating in lovely warm water, in the foetal position and there’s almost constant movement. It’s warm, dark and snug and they can hear a lot of what’s happening outside mum’s tummy as well as what’s happening inside mum’s body too. It’s actually quite noisy when you think about it!


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