Baby Sleep Tips: A Guide For The Science
Baby sleep tips for calmer, quieter, more restful nights
Baby sleep habits can be baffling, and they can turn our lives upside down.
Whether its the crazy-making, nocturnal schedule of the newborn, or an older baby who wont get settled, the results are the same: A parent who is sleep-deprived and desperate for relief.
Whats a parent to do? Learning about the science of infant sleep can help. Once you understand how, why, and when babies sleep, it will be easier for you to decide on the best sleep strategies for your family. It may also bring you peace of mind.
So check out the weird world of opens in a new windowbaby sleep patterns, and consider these evidence-based baby sleep tips.
Week 3 Of The Newborn Sleep Schedule
Now that your baby is about 3 weeks old and is getting the hang of full feeds and has their days and nights mostly fixed, its time to start thinking about teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own.
Why worry about this so early?
Heres why because they are probably already doing it at this point and their drive to sleep is still strong.
2 and 3 week old babies often go to sleep on their own without much fuss, and if you want that to continue then now is the time to start good habits.
As babies get bigger theyll stop this and thats when you get in a pickle.
Having to jump through hoops and use newfangled vibrating equipment, washing machines, and cars to get baby to sleep.
Should You Let Baby Cry It Out For Naps
If your baby has you trained to respond to every whimper while hes supposed to be napping, crying it out might help both of you get some rest. The cry it out method is only for babies who are at least 4 to 6 months old. It simply means you allow a napping baby to cry for periods of time without going in to comfort him, so he learns to soothe himself to sleep on his own.
Although many parents find it too distressing, studies say this sleep training method usually improves sleep within a week.
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How To Create A Sleep Schedule For Your Baby
A baby sleep consultant shares how to get your baby on a schedule thats appropriate for his or her age.
If you followed me on this past fall, you know that my newborn, Thomas, was a TERRIBLE sleeper. He rarely slept more than 30 minutes at a time. Its always rough with a newborn, but we dont have family close by to help and we wanted ti keep everyone super healthy, which prevented friends from stepping in. I was in the hospital for 5 days so I came home very sleep deprived and then I rarely slept more than 3 hours a night for nearly 3 months. And Im NOT a person who can nap. Since I work for myself, I didnt get a true maternity leave so I was stressed about work as well, even though I have a fantastic blog team and Beautycounter team. On top of it all, I also dealt with pretty severe postpartum depression and anxiety, which was exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
All the newborn books in the world couldnt improve Thomas sleep. Nothing on my baby registry could fix it, not even the-supposedly magical Snoo. He wouldnt even sleep in the car or in the stroller. I bought multiple sleep programs and read countless articles online. Nothing. Helped. Im sure so many of you can relate.
Do Babies Really Need A Schedule
Scheduling is a modern concept. The ancients didnt feed babies according to the time on the sundial or make baby nap schedules. But staying organized can be a lifesaver for todays moms and can help a baby adopt a schedule that works better for the family.
Of course, rigid schedules that ignore a babys cries are unnatural and unloving. But flexible baby schedulesthat set approximate times for feeding and sleepcan work quite well.
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Does The Family Ever Get To See The Newborn On This Routine
In a word: no.
Not really anyway.
My family always jokes, When are you going to let the baby come out of its room? and I reply smiling, In a month or two! 🙂
Aside from the germs aspect, babies can be overstimulated very easily.
People who are far removed from the baby world think its normal to talk very very loudly and try to wake the baby up to see the color of its eyes.
Its like I mean just no.
Ask Your Pediatrician About Any Problems
When in doubt, talk with your pediatrician. Every baby is different and napping routines may vary over time theres not one right answer for every child. Dr. Lonzer says not to worry unless your child’s total sleep hours aren’t adding up, or if sleep is interfering with important activities such as eating and development. Talk with your pediatrician if you’re concerned your baby’s sleep schedule might not be healthy.
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How Do I Put My Newborn On A Sleep Schedule
Im write this post not because I believe newborns can or should be on a schedule, but because I know this is a question frequently asked by new parents. First, lets define two terms newborn and schedule. Newborns are babies aged birth16 weeks, counting from their due date. If you give birth 4 weeks early, your baby remains in the newborn stage until they are 20 weeks of age chronologically. Schedule refers simply to naps and bedtime happening at more or less the same times each day.
How Do I Make Sure My Baby Gets The Right Amount Of Sleep
Overstimulation during the day can cause your baby to either sleep too little or sleep when they should be eating, due to exhaustion. Newborn babies need to be fed frequently to ensure proper development.
If your newborn baby becomes overtired they will become fussy, and harder to settle for sleep. We’ve given age-targeted tips to help avoid overstimulation and improve your baby’s sleep in the sleep schedules below. For more information on how much sleep your baby needs and how long they should be sleeping at a time read How Much Do Newborns Sleep?
Learning your baby’s sleep cycle
While your baby has your nose or eyes, the two of you couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to sleep cycle! The main reason your newborn’s sleep patterns are unpredictable is because of their evolving sleep cycle.
Adults can easily pass from one sleep cycle into the next without completely waking up. Newborns, however, don’t stay in deep sleep for long periods at a time, so they are more susceptible to frequent wake-ups. Our post, Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle, explains more in-depth about how your baby’s sleep cycle is linked to their sleep patterns.
To learn more about the changes to your baby’s sleep cycle and how to cope with sleep regression, read our post 10 Tips to Surviving the 4 Month Sleep Regression.
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How Much Sleep Do Babies Need
Sleep patterns will change over the first year of a babys life, including the number of hours of sleep needed and the duration of sleep periods throughout the day and night.
- 0 to 3 months: Its normal for newborns to spend 14 to 17 hours asleep in a 24-hour day, broken into shorter periods to accommodate feeding, diaper changes, and interaction with their family. Breastfed infants usually need to eat more frequently than bottle-fed infants, about every 2 hours versus every 3 hours. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises parents not to worry if their newborns sleep pattern doesnt match the projections, as these amounts can vary before the first 4 months.
- 3 to 6 months: Starting at around 3 months of age, an infants daily sleep needs drop to 12 to 15 hours. Around this time, sleep also starts consolidating into longer periods as babies are able to go longer without feeding. Sometime during this period is when most babies start to sleep through the night, though there are exceptions to the rule.
- 6 to 12 months: From 6 months onward, babies do the bulk of their sleeping at night. However, other issues such as teething, growth spurts, illnesses, or sleep regressions may start leading to nighttime awakenings. Parents may opt to use more specific sleep-training strategies if babies arent sleeping through the night at this stage.
Want Routine Printables To Hang Up
If you want routines and schedules for not only the newborn age, but for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and on Ive got great news.
Ive created a book chock full of routines that work.
Routines that keep babies well rested, happy, and content. Routines that account for all the things you need to do and they are mom tested.
The best part?
The book comes with printable routines that you can hang up and use! So instead of having to reinvent the wheel every few months, youll have tried and true mom tested routines right at your fingertips.
Get your own routine book and printables here!
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Break The Routine When Needed
While you don’t want to become a slave to your child’s nap habits, experts say it’s helpful to maintain a consistent routine. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t break from the schedule when you’re away from home or when you’ve got special plans. “If your child is well rested, skipping a nap occasionally for a birthday party or an outing won’t cause problems,” says Chicago pediatrician Marc Weissbluth, M.D., author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
Whats The Very Best Child Sleep Schedule
There is no one-size-fits-all infant sleep schedule. Little ones vary in when and just how much they sleep every night and at naptime.
You might have a naturally early riser who likes to get up before the sun and eat immediately or your baby might sleep a bit later .
As your child grows, youll become familiar enough with her appetite and sleep hints to develop a feeding and sleep schedule that works for your household.
Heres a chart of rough child sleep schedules by age to get you started:.
All moms and dads desire their babies to sleep well. Lots of do not know but desire to understand the nitty gritty information: How long will my child nap? What time should she go to bed? How many hours of overnight sleep can I reasonably anticipate? How does a babys sleep schedule change in time?
Everyone understands that their new child wont sleep a lot throughout the first weeks.
The greatest new-parent mistaken belief is that once the baby passes the very first weeks, sleep slowly however, consistently improves.
Numerous expect sleep to just improve and much better up until the infant is sleeping an 8-hour stretch at 4 months. Not so quick! The reality, for many if not most children, is a bit of a roller rollercoaster with happy triumphes rotating with aggravating regressions!
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Getting Baby On A Sleep Schedule Infant Sleep Simplified
Just How Much Do Babies Sleep? A comprehensive Sleep Schedule for Your Babys 1st Year and answers to How To Make Sleep Schedule For Newborn Baby
Talk to knowledgeable parents about infant sleep, and the something youll hear over and over is the value of developing a baby sleep schedule.
Healthy sleep patterns start with a schedule. Heres how and when to get your baby on a regular sleep schedule.
Getting your baby on a sleep schedule early on might be the key to healthy sleep now and for years to come. Heres when and how to get your infant on a sleep schedule.
Baby Won’t Nap What Should You Do
Your babys fighting naptime for the same reasons he doesnt want to go to sleep at night. If your newborn wont nap, it might be that hes not used to sleeping on his back yet. So make the crib experience a little cozier: try swaddling, putting him in a super soft sleep sack or offering him a pacifier at naptime.
If hes older, it might be hard for him to calm down during midday noises and distractions. If thats the case, make his room feel more like it does at night, with blackout shades and a white noise machine.
Sometimes teething pain can keep him from dozing off. If teething rings dont do the trick, ask your pediatrician if baby acetaminophen is an option.
Maybe your little nap fighter is having too much fun at playtime and doesnt want it to end. Your naptime routine that resembles your bedtime routine will come in handy here, with lullabies, a book, a feeding and cuddles. Allow your baby to get drowsy, then gently put him down for some much-needed rest.
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What Happens During Baby Sleep
Sleep is important for a baby because of their rapidly developing brain and body. A variety of research studies demonstrate that infant sleep is crucial to both cognitive and physical growth. In fact, newborn infants learn during sleep. Infant sleep is positively associated with improvements in memory, language, executive function, and physical development.
Perhaps surprisingly, sleep might also provide babies an opportunity to develop motor skills. Researchers think the twitching babies do during sleep is more than movements related to dreaming. Sleep twitches could be a result of the infant brain strengthening its circuitry and learning how to control various body parts.
Sample Newborn Sleep Schedule And Feeding Schedule:
6:30 AM Wake up & Feeding
8:00-9:30 AM Morning Nap
3:30-4:30 PM Catnap
5:00 PM Bath, PJs, Books, Lullabies
6:30 PM Bed
10:30 PM Dream Feeding
2:30 AM Feeding
Consistency is KEY with this in order for it to work. Babies thrive off consistency and routines.
Newborn sleep schedules and feeding schedules need to fit who you are. There are a few hard-and-fast rules for creating happy, joyful routines for your little one. If youre up early and need to get out in the morning, get your baby dressed as soon as all their needs have been met, and head out after you have completed your morning wakeup routine. On the other hand, if youre just not ready to get into gear first thing, take your time in the morning and enjoy the routine with your little one. You can get out of the house in the afternoon and make your mornings about quiet time at home together.
But be prepared for your routines and newborn sleep schedules to change, as they grow and hit milestones throughout the first year. So many changes happen in the newborn year that the routines may end up only lasting a few weeks before you need to adapt again.
Most of all have fun with your routine!
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