Getting A Full Night’s Sleep Is Rare For Parents Of Newborns Find Out How To Promote A Sleep Schedule For Your Baby And How It Might Help You Sleep Too
Every parent needs a good night’s rest. Taking care of a newborn is a full time job, but breaks and time off can be hard to come by. Parents of newborns know a full nights rest may be scarce for a while. But for how long?
In this article well answer the most pressing questions of sleep deprived parents:
- Should I put my newborn on a sleep schedule?
- How much sleep does my baby need?
- How can I put my baby on a sleep schedule?
- What is a good sleep schedule for my baby?
As a newborn, your baby spent the last nine months surrounded by comfort, nearly constantly asleep.
Night and day are completely new, and your baby may have some post labor jet lag.
Your baby’s sleep will be unpredictable for the first few weeks, and you will need to wait a few months before a reliable schedule can be implemented.
However, there are basic routines and habits that you can begin as soon as you bring your newborn home.
What’s An Example Of A Sleep Schedule At 2 Months
A 2-month-old sleep schedule might look something like this:
|Sleep, wake only to eat|
|4 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.||Sleep, wake up|
Of course, this schedule is only an example. Different infants might sleep at different times of day or for different lengths of time depending on their parents’ schedules and activities. The same infant might also sleep at different times on different days.
Trust Your Instincts And Get Help When You Feel Stressed
If something feels wrong with you or the baby, talk to your physician. And remember that your own mental health is crucial.
Coping with sleep deprivation is very stressful, especially if your infant seems to be especially fussy or prone to crying. Watch for signs of postpartum stress and postpartum depression, and reach out to others for support.
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How To Clear Up Day And Night Confusion:
- During the day when baby is awake and feeding, open windows, turn on lights, and keep things very bright
- At night, 8:00 pm and later, do all feeding, hugging, cuddling, diaper changing, in very dim or dark conditions
- After feeding your baby during the day, attempt to keep them awake for at least a few minutes by singing, cooing, playing, and bonding
- If your baby seems fully awake in the middle of the night, try turning on very bright lights which will cause baby to shut their eyes
- Dont allow more time than 3 hours between feedings during the day, even if they are still sleeping. Wake them up and feed them again if they continue sleeping. You dont want a 5 hour stretch to happen during the day, you want it to happen at night
- At night, feed them whenever they wake up and are hungry, but let them determine how frequent that is
- At night, avoid stimulating, playing, cooing, singing, or any other behaviors that will encourage baby to stay awake
- Work on your swaddling with these helpful tips.
At this point your baby is getting the hang of the outside world and you are getting the hang of this period.
If baby is napping quite long stretches during the day, then saving his fussiness for night. this could be day/night confusion.
I have had a few babies who would sleep well all day for naps and then would have a two hour stretch at night where they were fussy and not able to be consoled.
This was day night confusion.
Separate Eating From Sleeping
After the first month, you dont want to let your baby fall asleep while youre feeding or rocking them, because you want them to figure out how to put themselves to sleep.
They may eat a little, doze a little, and eat some more, a couple of times. If they go to sleep and keep sleeping when youre feeding them, stop and put them to bed.
Some parents try to push more formula, breast milk, or baby food to try to make a baby sleep on schedule or sleep longer. This isnt good for your baby. Just like you when youve eaten too much, your overfed baby wont be comfortable enough to rest well.
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Sample Baby Feeding Schedule For 4
This schedule assumes that your 4- to 6-month-old is taking three naps and you’re introducing solid foods by spoon-feeding purées.
If your family is following a baby-led weaning approach, solids would not be offered until after the 6-month mark, when your child is likely more capable of self-feeding.
- 7:00 a.m.: Wake and nurse or bottle
- 7:45 a.m.: Breakfast
- 8:45 a.m. 10:45 a.m.: Nap
- 10:45 a.m.: Wake and nurse or bottle
- 12:00 p.m.: Nurse or bottle
- 12:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m.: Nap
- 2:30 p.m.: Nurse or bottle
- 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Nap
- 5:00 p.m.: Nurse or bottle
- 5:45 PM: Dinner
- 6:45 PM: Nurse or bottle
- 7:00 PM: Bed
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 .
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What If Your Baby Is Still Hungry
In general, if your baby seems hungry, feed them. Your baby will naturally eat more frequently during growth spurts, which typically occur around 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age.
Some babies will also cluster feed, meaning theyll feed more frequently during certain periods and less at others. For example, your baby may cluster feed during the late afternoon and evening and then sleep longer at night . This is more common in breastfed babies than bottle fed babies.
Worried about overfeeding? While this isnt really possible to do with an exclusively breastfed baby, you can overfeed a baby whos taking a bottle especially if theyre sucking on the bottle for comfort. Follow their hunger cues, but talk to your pediatrician if youre worried your little one may be overeating.
Your baby is probably ready for solids if theyre 4 to 6 months old and:
- have good head control
- seem interested in what youre eating
- reach for food
- weigh 13 or more pounds
Which food to start with? The AAP now says it doesnt really matter much in what order you introduce foods. The only real rule: Stick with one food for 3 to 5 days before offering another. If theres an allergic reaction , youll know which food is causing it.
As your baby grows, move from pureed baby food to ones that have more texture . This generally happens around 8 to 10 months of age.
Oh yeah, and buy some stock in a company that makes stain-fighting laundry detergent. Itll pay for college.
Place The Crib Near Your Bed
Placing the babys crib or bassinet next to your bed makes it easier to tend to the baby and then go back to sleep, making for a more restful night. While co-sleeping in the same bed with your little one may seem tempting, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against it because of the risk of suffocating the baby.
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Coping With Disturbed Nights
Newborn babies invariably wake up repeatedly in the night for the first few months, and disturbed nights can be very hard to cope with.
If you have a partner, ask them to help. If you’re formula feeding, encourage your partner to share the feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your partner to take over the early morning changing and dressing so you can go back to sleep.
Once you’re into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could occasionally give a bottle of expressed breast milk during the night. If you’re on your own, you could ask a friend or relative to stay for a few days so you can get some sleep.
Sample Newborn Baby Schedules
I really like to see things on paper, so I developed a few sample newborn schedules to give parents an idea of what their babys day might look like.
Keep in mind this is a general overview and I urge parents to always feed a hungry baby and follow their babys feeding cues.
7:00 AM: Wake up + nurse or bottle
7:45 to 9:30 AM: Nap
9:30 AM: Nurse or bottle
10:15 to 12:15 PM: Nap
12:15 PM: Nurse or bottle
1:00 to 2:30 PM: Nap
2:30 PM: Nurse or bottle
3:15 to 4:45 PM: Nap
5:00 PM Feed
5:30 to 6:15 PM: Nap
6:30 PM: Start bedtime routine + nurse or bottle
7:00 PM: Bedtime
If you love sample schedules, I also have my baby sleep cheat sheets for ages newborn through 3 years old which has sample schedules for every stage and tells you when and how to make a nap transition.
Good luck getting your newborn on a flexible routine using this sample Babywise schedule as a guide!
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Real Baby Schedules From Other Moms
It can also help to get the perspective of other parents going through the same things as you. Have mom friends with babies the same age as yours? Ask them what kind of baby schedules their children keep. Or go on The Bump message boards to make new pals.
Curious to see some sample baby schedules? See below for routines that other families have found work for them, broken down by different age groups:
How To Get On A Feeding Schedule
Schedules are the holy grail of every parent. Your child will naturally start to fall into a feeding pattern as their tummy grows and they can take in more breast milk or formula at one sitting. This may begin to happen between 2 and 4 months of age.
For now, though, focus on learning your babys hunger cues, such as:
- rooting around your chest, looking for a nipple.
- putting their fist in their mouth
- smacking or licking their lips
- fussing that can escalate quickly
Once your baby is a few months old, you may be able to introduce a sleep/feed schedule that works for you.
Lets say, for example, your 4-month-old wakes every 5 hours for a feeding. That means if you feed at 9 p.m., your baby wakes around 2 a.m. But if you wake and feed the baby at 11 p.m., just before you go to bed, they may not rouse until 4 a.m., giving you a decent chunk of nighttime winks.
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A Foolproof Newborn Schedule
Love it? Share it!
Inside: A new baby brings incredible sweetness and incredible chaos to your home, all at the same time. But that chaos cant last forever! Creating a newborn schedule is one of the simplest ways to get your groove back and center yourself in these crazy newborn months. The best part is that you can sync your newborn and toddler schedule so that each child gets the routine they need! Read on to steal my easy tips for making a routine that will work for both your baby and your older child.
Everyone tells you that having baby #2 is a whole different animal. But we dont believe them, huh?
With multiple children, our love somehow multiplies exponentially. Its impossible to explain. Your own mama told you when you were a kid, but you just didnt get it. Yet, mamas really do love each child equally.
Yes, our love multiplies.
But our time? Our time is more divided than ever.
There are suddenly two tummies to fill, two pairs of hands to hold, two faces to kiss, two children to carry. Yet only one mama, and one lap to hold them in!
Baby #2 adds a completely different dynamic to the family. I dont know about you, but when my second baby was born I needed a plan. A plan to help me navigate two sets of needs. A schedule to help me make the best use of my limited time with each child.
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If You Are Breastfeeding You Are Likely To Get More Sleep If You Keep Your Baby Nearby
The World Health Organization recommends that babies share a bedroom with their parents, and its a recommendation that makes breastfeeding less disruptive. A recent study found that breastfeeding women got more sleep when they co-slept with baby . In fact, mothers who co-slept and breastfed got more sleep than did mothers who bottle-fed their babies .
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Working With Newborn Feeding Schedules
Newborns feed very, very frequently, but this isnt a problem that needs to be solved.
Its perfectly natural!
Your newborns tummy is quite small. They simply need to fill it up regularly.
Formula-fed newborns may need to eat slightly less often than breastfed newborns because it takes a newborns tummy longer to digest and break down formula.
So babies tend to feel fuller for longer periods of time. Breast milk, on the other hand, is digested fairly quickly.
How much breastmilk or formula does your baby need?
Every situation is different, of course, but if your baby is formula-fed, you can use a fairly simple formula to determine approximately how many ounces your baby needs in a day.
Simply multiply your babys weight by 2.5.
For example, an 8-pound baby would need about 20 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period.
If your baby is breastfed, the general rule is that most newborns need between 20 and 30 ounces of breastmilk .
How often should you feed your baby?
In general, if you are exclusively nursing, its best to nurse on demand in the first few weeks after birth to ensure that your milk supply becomes well-established. In fact, in order to maintain your supply, youll need to nurse every 2 to 3 hours, on average.
Once your baby is past 3 months of age and is in the infant stage, that will slowly stretch into 5-6 hours, and then 7-8, and eventually right up to 10 or 11 hours once your baby is 9 months old or 10 months old.