Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene can help you get more rest, whether or not you have a newborn at home. Strategies include:
- Avoiding caffeine: This stimulant can interfere with your sleep cycle.
- Not using electronics before bed: You may want to post the latest pictures of your baby on social media, but using mobile phones, tablets and computers at night can interfere with total sleep time, says Pien, adding that the light from electronic devices can confuse your body clock.
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule: As difficult as this sounds as a new parent, try to turn in and wake up at the same time every day. Just keep in mind that with a baby, you need to be flexible and expect nighttime awakenings.
New Parents: Tips For Quality Rest
As any new parent knows, frequent feedings, diaper changes and walking thehalls with a fussy baby can make sleeping soundly at night nearlyimpossible. While taking care of yourself can be a challenge when you havea newborn, making sure you get enough shuteye needs to be a priority, saysJohns Hopkins sleep specialistGrace W. Pien, M.D., M.S.C.E.
If youre getting enough sleep, youre going to be better able to fulfill your new responsibilities of taking care of the baby, she says. Youll be more patient and more likely to feel good about parenting. Pien suggests the following strategies to catch some extra ZZZs.
Put Off Extra Responsibilities
You want to get back to feeling like your normal self soon after giving birth, but dont push yourself. Put off any extra responsibilities that you may feel inclined to take. You dont NEED to bring a dish to that work potluck. Everyone will understand that youre tired!
Dont volunteer with your childs classroom. Skip some playdates and dont feel obligated to head to a family party if youre really tired.
All of these things are great, but if youre exhausted, theyre only going to make matters worse. Right now, you need to preserve all of your energy and not waste it on activities that arent necessary.
Lets be honest youre in a survival mode right now with a newborn baby! Your single goal is to survive until your baby sleeps longer stretches, and you CAN do it! This hard stage only lasts so long, and itll just be a painful memory before long.
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What Are The Sleep States Of A Newborn
Babies, like adults, have various stages and depths of sleep. Depending on the stage, the baby may actively move or lie very still. Infant sleep patterns begin forming during the last months of pregnancy?active sleep first, then quiet sleep by about the eighth month. There are two types of sleep:
REM . This is a light sleep when dreams occur and the eyes move rapidly back and forth. Although babies spend about 16 hours each day sleeping, about half of this is in REM sleep. Older children and adults sleep fewer hours and spend much less time in REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep. Non-REM has 4 stages:
Stage 1: drowsiness, eyes droop, may open and close, dozing
Stage 2: light sleep, the baby moves and may startle or jump with sounds
Stage 3: deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
Stage 4: very deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
A baby enters stage 1 at the beginning of the sleep cycle, then moves into stage 2, then 3, then 4, then back to 3, then 2, then to REM. These cycles may occur several times during sleep. Babies may awaken as they pass from deep sleep to light sleep and may have difficulty going back to sleep in the first few months.
Mixing Up Day And Night
What it looks like: Your baby sleeps all day, but then stays up all night long .
How to solve it: Your newborns nocturnal ways should correct themselves as she adjusts to life on the outside, but there are a few things you can do to help baby differentiate between day and night, including limiting daytime naps to three hours, and making clear distinctions between day and night .
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Send An Early Riser To A New Time Zone
“Waking at 5 a.m. is rough, and it’s one of the hardest things to fix. Parents often try making their baby’s bedtime later, but what you really need to do is shift his circadian rhythm, as if he’s flying to Bermuda and needs to function in a new time zone. That means everything needs to move to a later time. If you shift by 15 minutes each day, you can adjust his body clock in about a week.” Nalle
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Sleeping Problems Whats Not Normal
Babies can be snuffly or noisy sleepers. Its common for babies to have irregular breathing patterns when they sleep they might breathe quickly, and then have short pauses, for example. This is normal.
If youre worried about your babys sleep because:
- you cant settle them
- they sleep for long periods
- theyre too tired to feed
- they dont wake for feeds
- theyre not feeding well, or not having many feeds
- theyre breathing more quickly than usual
- theyre wheezing or grunting
then contact PlunketLine on , or talk to your midwife, doctor, or your Well Child nurse.
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Trouble Settling Down To Sleep Even Though Baby Seems Very Tired
What it looks like: What happens if babies dont get enough sleep? They can become overtired where theyre exhausted and moody but also too wired to relax.
Its a classic case of what can happen if babies dont get enough sleep: Your baby is cranky and showing other signs that shes more than ready to take a nap or go to bed. And yet, she wont actually power down.
Younger babies might fight the soothers that normally help them nod off, like rocking or feeding. And babies over 5 or 6 months who are capable of falling asleep on their own struggle to doze off when theyre put in their crib, or wake up and have a hard time falling back to sleep.
How to solve it: Put your baby down for her nap or bedtime when shes tired, but not too tired. When you start to spot signs that she needs a rest like rubbing her eyes, yawning, looking away from you or fussing a lot, thats your cue to get her into her crib or bassinet.
Resist the urge to get her to stay up later chances are it will cause her to become overtired and ultimately make it harder for her to fall asleep.
Also, try to ensure that your little one is logging the total hours of sleep she needs. If she wakes very early from her last nap of the day, for instance, consider putting her to bed a little earlier to make up for the lost shut-eye. If she has a rough night or wakes extra early in the morning, offer more naptime that day.
Start Weaning The Night Feedings
Once you get the okay from your doctor to stop night feedings, you should slowly start to reduce them. In many cases, feeding becomes a sleep association because you fed your baby every time they woke up. Just because thats no longer necessary, doesnt mean your baby wont want it anymore. Slowly wean them off the night feedings , feeding them less and not as frequently over a few days or a week to get them used to not feeding every time they wake.
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Newborn Sleep Patterns: Are There Any
To the sleepless parent, newborn sleep might seem totally disorganized. For example, consider these points.
1. Newborns never sleep for long.
Newborns sleep in short bouts typically ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours at seemingly random times throughout the day and night.
2. Newborns awaken easily.
In part, this is because they spend a large portion of their sleep time in active sleep, a light sleep state characterized by fluttering eyelids rapid, irregular breathing occasional body movements and vocalizations .
3. Newborn sleep times can vary widely.
In the first few days, the average newborn sleeps between 16-18 hours a day . By four weeks, newborn sleep averages about 14 hours. But the range is considerable. Some four-week-old babies sleep as little as 9 out of 24 hours. Others sleep for 19 hours a day .
Put Your Sleepy Baby To Bed
Starting when your baby is 6 to 12 weeks old, soothe them until they are drowsy. When they are on the verge of sleep, put them down and let them drift off on their own. Don’t wait until they are fully asleep in your arms this could be a behavior that may become a struggle to get rid of later in their life.
This routine will teach your baby to soothe themselves to sleep, and you won’t need to rock or cuddle them to sleep every time they wake up during the night.
If your baby has trouble settling down, try moving their bedtime earlier, not later. Being overtired can make it hard to nod off.
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Safety First: Lower Sids Risk
Every time you put your baby down to sleep, whether it’s at night or for a nap during the day, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do the following to lower the chances of SIDS :
- Always put your baby down to sleep on their back.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- If you baby falls asleep in a stroller car seat or swing, try to remove them and lay them down on a flat surface.
- Your baby should sleep in the same room as you, but not in the same bed as you.
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and bumper pads.
- Dont rely on devices which claim to prevent SIDS.
- Do not use wedges and positioners.
- Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering your baby’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Make sure your baby gets all recommended vaccinations.
- Get some skin-to-skin contact time with them.
- Give your baby supervised, awake tummy time every day.
- Don’t smoke.
- Breastfeedyour baby.
- If you are tired, dont breastfeed while in a chair or on a couch in case you fall asleep.
- If you’re pregnant, get regular prenatal care.
Don’t Rely On Soothing Methods
“If you put your baby in the crib when they’re already asleep and they wake up in the night, which all humans do, they won’t recognize their surroundings and will need your help getting back to sleep,” notes Dr. Givan. “Try to put your baby down drowsy but awake.” This will help them learn to self-soothe and fall asleepand, more importantly, fall back to sleepon their own, which is the main goal of sleep training.
Adrienne Porzio of Centerport, New York, can attest to this. She began driving her newborn around at night to get her to fall asleepand she was still relying on that crutch when her daughter was 5 months old. “The issue we get the most calls about is parents automatically repeating soothing habits to the point that the baby is hooked,” says Los Angeles sleep consultant Heather Turgeon, coauthor of The Happy Sleeper. Newborns benefit from rocking, bouncing, and soothing to sleep, but babies develop quickly and don’t need those things forever.
“By about 5 months, most babies have the capability to fall asleep on their own, and if we’re still doing it for them, we’re getting in their way,” says Turgeon. “Start practicing in the early months to put Baby down awake, at least once a dayusually the first nap is the most successful.” Keep your cuddle time, but gradually stop the patting and shushing and rocking to sleep.
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Tip #: Rethink Your Stance On Night Waking At Least For Young Babies
Weve all witnessed a heated debate in a playgroup about using the cry-it-out method in the middle of the night. But for the first 6 months at least, babies waking at night is completely normal and crucial for feeding. It doesnt necessarily need to be fixed.
While it can be stressful to have a baby who wakes frequently in the night, its very normal in the early months and even beyond.
That said, you can start encouraging even young babies to use the self-soothing abilities that naturally begin to emerge around 4 months. When baby wakes at night for a feeding, you can foster these abilities by:
- keeping the room dark and quiet as you feed baby
- letting baby fuss for a few minutes before feeding
- using a pacifier and soothing touch to lull baby back to sleep
How Much Sleep A Newborn Baby Needs
Your baby will need about 9 to 18 hours of sleep until they are 3 months old. The average they will sleep is about 14.5 hours.
Your baby is unique and may sleep differently to other babies. Some babies sleep for long periods, others for short bursts. They will sleep during the day and night. They might sleep for anything between a few minutes to a few hours at a time.
Newborn babies dont know the difference between day and night. Their sleep is more likely controlled by their tummies.
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Are There Other Ways To Help Reduce Your Babys Risk Of Sleep Dangers Including Sids
Yes. Heres what you can do:
- Make sure your baby gets all her vaccinations. These shots help protect her from serious childhood diseases and may help prevent SIDS. All children should be vaccinated for their own health and so they dont spread infections to others.
- Dont smoke and keep your baby away from other smokers and secondhand smoke . Babies who live with smokers are at increased risk of SIDS. Keep your home and your car smoke-free.
- Dont smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs during pregnancy. Babies of mothers who do these things are at increased risk of SIDS.
- Go to all your prenatal care checkups during pregnancy. Babies of mothers who dont get regular prenatal care are at increased risk of SIDS.