Helping Your Newborn Sleep
Newborns follow their own schedule. Over the next couple of weeks to months, you and your baby will begin to settle into a routine.
It may take a few weeks for your baby’s brain to know the difference between night and day. Unfortunately, there are no tricks to speed this up, but it helps to keep things quiet and calm during middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. This will send the message that nighttime is for sleeping. If possible, let your baby fall asleep in the crib at night so your little one learns that it’s the place for sleep.
Don’t try to keep your baby up during the day in the hopes that he or she will sleep better at night. Overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who’ve had enough sleep during the day.
If your newborn is fussy it’s OK to rock, cuddle, and sing as your baby settles down. Swaddling can also help to soothe a crying baby. For the first months of your baby’s life, “spoiling” is definitely not a problem.
How Long Will My Newborn Sleep
Newborns should get 1417 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Some newborns may sleep up to 1819 hours a day.
Newborns wake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every 23 hours. Bottle-fed babies tend to feed less often, about every 34 hours.
Newborns who sleep for longer stretches should be awakened to feed. Wake your baby every 34 hours to eat until he or she shows good weight gain, which usually happens within the first couple of weeks. After that, it’s OK to let your baby sleep for longer periods of time at night.
The first months of a baby’s life can be the hardest for parents, who might get up many times at night to tend to the baby. Each baby has a different sleep pattern. Some start to sleep “through the night” by 23 months of age, but some don’t.
How Do Sleep Cycles Progress As A Baby Grows
A newborn babys sleep cycle falls into the two categories of REM/active and NREM/quiet. In the first few months of life, babies sleep is split nearly evenly between REM and NREM sleep stages. As a baby grows, their sleep cycles progress and they begin to spend less time in REM sleep. They also begin experiencing the three stages of NREM, instead of one. As a baby grows, their sleep cycle looks more and more like an adults sleep cycle.
Understanding a babys sleep cycle is important for parents interested in sleep training. Because babies are not born with a strong circadian rhythm, sleep training is not possible for most newborns. Parents who want to sleep train have to work with their babys unique development timeline, and might not be able to sleep train until six months of age.
Read Also: How To Survive A Newborn
About Your Newborns First Week Of Life
Newborns spend their first week of life adapting to their new environment.
The outside world is very different from the womb, where its dim, the temperature is constant, and noise is muffled. You can help your baby get used to the outside world by giving them warmth, love, security, attention and lots of cuddles and smiles.
Your Newborns Appearance In The First Week Of Life
Your newborns appearance will change over the first week.
If your newborns head is a bit cone shaped after journeying through the birth canal or because of a vacuum-assisted birth, it should round out to a more normal-looking shape.
Any swelling around your newborns face and eyes will go down within a few days. If your newborns face or head has been bruised for example, after a forceps birth the bruising will disappear. Newborns with bruising are at risk of newborn jaundice. Let your midwife, GP or child and family health nurse know if the skin on your newborns face looks yellow and you think it might be jaundice.
Your newborns umbilical cord will gradually dry, become black and then fall off, usually within the first 10 days. Try to keep the umbilical cord clean and dry. If the area around the umbilical cord looks red or is sticky, let your midwife, GP or child and family health nurse know.
Your newborn might have one or more birthmarks, either at birth or later on. Birthmarks are common and usually dont need medical attention. But if your newborns birthmark concerns you or if it changes, its a good idea to have it checked by your GP or child and family health nurse.
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The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week By Week
Youve come to the right place for your newborn sleep schedule and sleep patterns. I will help teach you how to get your baby on a schedule, how much time in bed is actually needed, and day and nighttime solutions.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn I hadnt babysat a child more than once or twice.
Much less a baby.
Much less a newborn that was as small as my forearm and was always hungry.
I read what I could, studied what I found, and now as a mom of 5 can safely say getting your newborn to sleep well is totally possible.
Ill show you how.
How To Help Your Newborn Sleep
Overstimulation during the day can cause your baby to either sleep too little, or sleep when they should be eating, due to exhaustion. Your baby can also become overtired if they stay awake too long in between naps, which usually causes them to become very fussy and harder to settle for sleep. Heres how you can help your newborn sleep and begin instilling healthy sleep habits:
1. Teach the difference between night and day: If you have a baby who seems to sleep a lot during the day, but is wide awake come bedtime, it could be a sign that theyre getting their days and nights confused. Remember to keep night times dark and calm with little activity. Following a consistent bedtime routine helps them understand when its night and time for bed. You can have a similar routine before naps, but make it a shortened version.
2. Create a soothing environment: Adding white noise, light-blocking curtains, and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature will help your baby sleep better.
3. Cultivate a consistent bed time routine: It consists of feeding, swaddling, shushing, swaying and the proceeding to sleep.
4. Develop healthy sleep habits: Put your baby to sleep drowsy, but awake. This tip is crucial to helping your baby learn good sleeping habits starting at around 3.5 – 4 months and throughout their first year.
The Zen Swaddle® helps your baby get the sleep she needs with it’s patented weighted design.
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How Much And How Often Do You Feed A Newborn
Deciding on whether to breast or bottle-feed your newborn is completely your own decision and you should do whatever works best for your family.
Health professionals do advise that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months of their life, as your breast milk is specially designed to give your baby all of the nutrients they need to grow healthily you dont even need to give them water!
How To Keep Your Light Sleeper From Waking Up All The Way
1. Dont rush in the moment you think your baby has awakened.
As noted above, babies experience frequent arousals, but that doesnt mean they are doomed to wake up all the way every few minutes. Babies often jerk, sigh, or vocalize during partial arousals. If you avoid stimulating them during these moments, they may go back to sleep on their own.
2. Tank up the baby before you go to sleep.
Whether you breastfeed or bottle-fed, try to give the baby an especially large meal before your own bedtime. This will encourage your baby to sleep longer. To learn more about this approach, see this Parenting Science guide to Dream feeding.
3. If you feed your baby formula, try to find one that includes DHA.
DHA is a fatty acid found in fish oil and other dietary sources. Its important for brain development, and may play a role in shaping sleep patterns as well.
In one study, children who consumed low levels of DHA had reduced amount of slow-wave sleep . In another study, pregnant women with higher blood levels of DHA gave birth to babies who spent more time in quiet sleep .
DHA is found in breast milk, so its plausible that boosting a nursing mothers DHA intake could improve a newborns sleep patterns. If you use formula, it seems like a good idea to find a baby formula that contains DHA.
4. Check out my article on baby sleep aids.
There youll find tips for improving newborn sleep, and avoiding practices that are either unhelpful or potentially hazardous.
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Check Out Babys Amazing Features
What unbearable cutenessand what a strange little creature! Its impossible to stop looking and touching, isnt it? Thats what this week is all about, so settle in and learn a little bit about your babys special features as you get to know each other.
5 weird things about your newborn that nobody talks aboutHats off to your little one! Your babys head may still be a bit squashed and bumpy after the journey down the birth canal, while a C-section baby may be a little ahead of the game in the looks department. Either way, the growth and fusion of the skull will gradually smooth your babys head over the weeks and months to come. For now, your baby has soft spots, or fontanels, on their skull, which allow the skull to squeeze through during delivery. Dont worry about injuring your babys soft spotthere is a tough membrane underneath that protects your babys brain while their skull grows in. And that hair! It comes in all colours and thicknesses and often wont look the same for longbabies with lots of hair may gradually go bald, brunettes can turn blonde, and straight hair may become curly. Are you shocked by your babys hair colour or texturewhat recessive gene did thatcome from? You may be equally surprised by how different it will look in a few months, so take some photos and a little snip to save.
A Note On Sleep Patterns And Cycles
Within the first 6 weeks after birth, babies typically take a nap between their 2 or 3 hourly feeds.
For the first three weeks of a babys life, they are relying on maternal melatonin to help them prepare for sleep and their drive to sleep is strong.
Sleep cycles typically last about 45 minutes to an hour for newborns.
0-10 minutes they start to fall asleep, 10 to 20 minutes they are getting into deeper sleep.
20 to 30 minutes they are heavily asleep, 30 to 40 minutes they are coming out of heavy sleep, and 40 to 50 or 60 minutes they are in light sleep and easy to wake up.
This is why if you help baby to sleep by patting or shushing, but only do it for 5 minutes, baby wakes up or cries.
Its because they are not yet in deep sleep.
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How Long Do Newborns Typically Sleep
Most newborns sleep for around 89 hours during the day and 8 hours at night. Most also wake up at least every 3 hours to feed.
However, this timing varies widely. Some newborns may only sleep for 11 hours per day, while others may sleep for up to 19 hours per day. Also, newborns may sleep more or less than usual when they are sick or when they experience a disruption to their regular routine.
Most newborns also do not sleep in one stretch. They usually sleep for only about 12 hours at a time, though some may sleep a little more or less than this. In the first couple of weeks, it is normal for a newborn to wake up to feed and then go right back to sleep.
As newborns grow into infants, they begin to develop a schedule. They eventually start sleeping longer at night, though they may still wake several times to feed.
Week Old Sleep Schedule / 2 Month Old Sleep Schedule Development And Sleep Patterns
Your newborns sleep patterns: By 8 weeks old/2 months old, many babies are sleeping longer at night and we start to see earlier and earlier bedtimes as your baby lengthens nighttime sleep to 11-12 hours and they nap 3-4 hours during the day, on average. They still need ~14-16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. However, if your baby still has a later bedtime, that isnt too uncommon. Until your baby is sleeping 11-12 hours at night, you really dont want an 8 PM or earlier bedtime else you will have to start your day WAY too early! In addition, your baby may have been eating just 1-2 times a night but once they lengthen their nighttime sleep, this might mean a night feeding creeps back in, temporarily.
Some parents stop swaddling around this age because baby is rolling which can become problematic for sleep. This can lead to more night-waking and shorter naps. In addition, there is commonly an 8-week growth spurt to keep in mind.
Here is what your 8-week-olds schedule may look similar to:
|8 Week Old/2 Month Old Sleep Schedule|
|3:30 AM||Milk and Diaper Change|
Please note: Not all babies, especially breastfed babies, can transition to just two night feedings by this age, especially if they are in bed for 12 hours. Some babies are still getting three night feedings and that would be within averages.
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When To See The Doctor
Occasionally having to wake your newborn or older baby isnt something to worry about on its own. We all need a little more rest sometimes, so enjoy the extra downtime and keep your eye on the clock to know when you definitely need to wake her.
Chronic sleepiness, though, can sometimes be a cause for concern. If your newborn is regularly sleeping for more than 17 hours a day and is interfering with her ability to eat at least eight times per day, you should let your pediatrician know. Frequently missing meals could hurt her weight gain and growth.
For newborns or older babies, you should also call the doctor if the sleepiness coincides with other symptoms, like:
- Extreme lethargy or listlessness after you wake her, or trouble waking her.
- Signs of dehydration, like fewer wet diapers, darker colored urine, tearless crying or cracked lips.
- Extreme fussiness or irritability after you wake her.
- For newborns, being uninterested in eating after waking.
- Being unresponsive when you try to wake her.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.