Newborns sleep a lot, but not for very long at any one time. Thankfully, there are ways to help ease your newborn into a regular schedule with quiet moments together where you engage his senses, leading to more sleep and more healthy development.
The first few weeks of your baby’s life are all about adjustment — for your baby and you. It’s too soon to expect structured sleep patterns, so take your cues from your baby.
Newborns Wake Up – A Lot
For the first few months, your baby will fall asleep and wake up at all hours of the day (and night!). Newborn babies can have quite a range in total sleep time (10-18 hours per day), with sleep usually equally spaced throughout the 24-hour day with no real difference between day and nighttime sleep. Babies may sleep 2 to 5 hours at a time. Be sure to respond to your newborn when he signals, as he will likely need feeding…and diapering!
Why Your Newborn Wakes Up
Your newborn most often wakes up because he is hungry or needs to be changed. Be aware of sudden changes in your baby’s sleep patterns — it may signal illness or a hunger-inducing growth spurt
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
To lessen the chances of SIDS, always put your baby down to sleep on his back, not his tummy. Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress, with no fluffy or loose bedding, no stuffed animals and no pillow.
For more on baby sleep safety, please read here and visit international sites such as CPSC.gov, aap.org, and keepingbabiessafe.org.
Teach the Difference Between Night and Day
When your baby sleeps during the day, keep the lights on and keep sounds at normal levels. At night, on the other hand, turn off the light or use a night-light, feed and change your baby as calmly and quietly as possible, and limit your interactions to holding him gently. Soon you will notice your baby's longest periods of sleep occur at night.
Naptime — For Mom Too
Use your baby’s naptime as a time to catch up on sleep yourself. As tempting as it is to use naptime to get things done, you’ll be able to cope better if you nap when your baby does.
Create a Nighttime Routine
Even at this early age, a nighttime routine will help your baby learn that it’s time for sleep. Try our 3-step routine that includes:
*Adapted from Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Dr. Jodi Mindell and from an article by the baby care experts at JOHNSON’S®.
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