Swallowing is a powerful inhibitor of respiratory rhythm in infants. The present study was aimed at investigating the influence of states of alertness on non-nutritive swallowing (NNS) frequency, on NNS and respiration coordination, and on bursts of NNS frequency in newborn lambs. Six full term newborn lambs were instrumented for electroencephalogram, eye movement, diaphragm and thyroarytenoid muscle electromyogram, nasal flow and electrocardiogram. Polysomnographic recordings were performed in non-sedated lambs, using radiotelemetry. NNS frequency was significantly higher during quiet wakefulness (W) and active sleep (AS) than during quiet sleep (QS). NNS mainly interrupted inspiration and the transition phases between expiration and inspiration, especially in W and AS. Bursts of NNS occurred significantly more often during AS. This study highlights the relevance of the ovine model to study ontogeny of NNS during sleep, and documents the influence of sleep on NNS and respiration coordination.