Your Baby Needs A Better Sleep Environment
If your baby struggles to sleep during the day and at night, the problem may not be with them or your approach, it may be with their environment.
Older children in particular need a quiet, dimly lit space. Draw the blinds and use blackout drapes, when possible. Consider a white noise machine, if/when appropriate, and keep babys room cool. It is also important you make sure they are dressed appropriately for sleep.
Change Your Babys Diaper Strategically
Changing the diaper before a middle of the night feeding prevents the baby from waking up too much after a feeding is finished. When the baby wakes up change the diaper and re-swaddle to prepare him for sleep immediately following a night feeding. If you change the diaper after the night feeding, the baby may become too awake, making it more challenging for him to fall asleep.
Now, Ive also heard from parents of very young newborn babies sharing that the baby poops right after a night feeding. This is very common during the early newborn phase when babies are still working out the flow of their digestive tracts.
If your baby is consistently stooling after a night feeding, then certainly, just wait to change the diaper until after the feed. Once your babys gut matures and he or she stops stooling immediately after a night feed, you can go back to changing the diaper before the feed.
When Should Babies Start Sleeping Through The Night
Some babies begin sleeping through the night around six months of age. At six months, about 62% of babies sleep uninterrupted for at least 6 hours. By the time they reach one year, about 71% of babies sleep uninterrupted for at least 6 hours at night.
Infants three months and younger generally don’t sleep throughout the night without waking up to be fed. Parents shouldn’t be concerned if their baby doesn’t sleep throughout the night without waking up, even if the baby is a year old.
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Nap Problem: Shes Overtired
Signs are: She falls asleep in the car, she slumps over before naptime, shes cranky and bleary-eyed.
Solution: Create a flexible schedule. Im not a fan of scheduling your infants life down to the minute. But having a flexible routine can be a real help if your babys not sleeping well: Shes a sensitive, persnickety child who falls apart if her nap is too late gets cranky when shes overtired resists sleep wakes too often or wakes too early in the morning. I suggest the following steps for creating a workable schedule and getting naps back on track!
Why Is My Newborn Awake All Night And Sleeping All Day
Is your baby up all night? Don’t worry, it’s completely normal. Here’s how to deal with your newborn’s sleep patterns.
By Tara-Michelle ZiniukMay 1, 2018
Dacia Carney vividly remembers driving her newborn son Evan around the quiet streets of her neighbourhood in the wee hours, trying to get him to sleep. Evan had his days and nights mixed up, snoozing for stretches during the day, but wide-eyed and ready for fun at night. The Calgary mom was exhausted from her newborns sleep patterns.
According to Burlington, Ont., paediatric sleep consultant Alanna McGinn, day-night confusion happens because newborns have yet to develop their internal rhythms. These clocks drive our circadian rhythms and create an internal timing mechanism that makes us more awake during the day and more tired at night, she explains. Parents tend to have unrealistic expectations that a newborn baby can adjust to their new world too quickly, after spending nine months in relative darkness. Theyre just not developmentally ready.
In fact, Leigh Anne Newhook, a paediatrician in St. Johns, Nfld., says that for the first six to eight weeks, many, even most, newborns have their days and nights mixed up. Around-the-clock feedings also play a big role in this, since little ones have a high biological need to eat, and their tiny tummies empty quickly. Newhook adds that a new moms oxytocin and prolactin levels are elevated at night, which means she produces more milk, encouraging babies to feed frequently.
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Keep An Eye On Daytime Naps
You know the adage about letting sleeping babies lie? Thats mostly true, but if your infant is taking super long daytime naps , it could delay the day/night differentiation process. You know your babys feeding schedule best, so use that as your guide. The idea is not to keep her awake all day shes still far too young for thatits to remind her that daytime naps should generally be shorter than nighttime sleeps. To prompt her to wakefulness after a good nap, start gently. If shes swaddled, unwrap her, stroke her face or hands, and/or hold her upright. Once shes awake and fed, talk to her, sing to her, dangle toysall to signal that its wakey-wakey time.
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.
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Do: Feed Take A Break Then Nap
It’s natural for babies to fall asleep after a feeding. And nursing or bottle-feeding newborns to sleep is a great way to feel close to your baby. Over time, though, it can become the only way they can fall asleep. Babies should learn to fall asleep on their own. Try to separate nursing from naps even by just a few minutes. Read a story or change babys diaper in between.
Where Your Baby Should Sleep
Cot death or sudden infant death syndrome is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby who seems healthy during sleep.
It can happen in a cot, pram, bed, car seat, baby seat or anywhere a baby is sleeping.
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in the same room as you.
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Are There Other Sleep
Some of the most common sleep-related issues are sleep associations, or behaviors that help your baby fall and stay asleep.
Of course, not all sleep associations are problematic. Some children use thumb-sucking to self-soothe while others use a lovey or white noise machine.
However, if your baby is relying on you to perform a sleep association such as rocking, replacing a pacifier and/or feeding them to fall asleep they may struggle to return to sleep after waking.
The most common sleep associations and sleep-related problems include:
- nursing or bottle feeding baby to sleep
- rocking or cuddling baby to sleep
- driving or walking baby to sleep
The good news is most of these issues can be rectified, with time and patience. Sleep is a skill, Zentz tells Healthline, and that foundation, if built strong from birth with the understanding of your childs needs, can ease children into the natural consolidation of sleep.
However, habit-breaking is hard so expect resistance and some tears, until a new routine is established. You may want to try a sleep training method or work with a sleep consultant on ways to establish positive sleep habits.
What Is Bedside Sleeping
Bedside sleeping is when your baby sleeps in a bedside cot. This allows you to be close to them without sharing the same bed.
The idea is that the bedside cot attaches securely to your bed, at the same level as your mattress with the side next to you open. Then you can reach out to your baby without the bother of getting out of bed.
Theres limited research on bedside cots but possible benefits include:
- Making life easier when your movements are limited after a caesarean .
- Closeness might help with bonding.
- You can easily settle your baby back to sleep.
- Your baby will be nearby for night feeds.
- It might encourage breastfeeding if you had an intervention-free birth.
The same health and safety guidelines for bed-sharing apply if you use the bedside cot as they do for your baby sleeping in your bed. Check out our cot safety and safe co-sleeping pages for advice.
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Settling Babies Aged 0 To 6 Months
Babies need to learn the skill of going to sleep and parents can help.
In the first 6 months, you could try holding your baby in your arms until they fall asleep. Use gentle rhythmic patting, rocking, stroking, talking, or softly singing before putting your baby into the cot asleep. These repetitions signal relaxation and sleep.
You could also try ‘hands-on settling’, where you place the baby in the cot awake and gently pat or stroke them till they fall asleep, comforting them with gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds.
If your baby becomes or stays distressed, pick them up for a cuddle until calm or asleep before putting your baby back in the cot. Stay with them until they fall asleep.
The Fact Of The Matter Is
Babies go to sleep better and sleep longer when they are calm, settled, and in a good routine.
It doesnt have to be a huge thing with church bells and four part harmony, but the more you are able to protect your babys sleep, create a good wind-down routine, and make it a regular part of your evening, the better your whole family will sleep.
To recap, to help your babies sleep better at night you want to:
- Choose an appropriate bedtime
- Give your baby a calming bath or wipe down
- Before putting on a clean diaper and swaddle, give your baby a rubdown or massage with nice calming lotions
- Have some quiet quality time to help get your baby very drowsy before putting him into the crib.
If you would like to create a simple and easy wind down routine that anyone putting baby down can follow plus some BONUS baby sleep troubleshooting checklists,.
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Dont Wake Your Baby To Feed After 2 Months
If your baby is gaining weight properly, you dont have to wake them at night for feedings. Your baby needs to find them own sleep schedule. Once they are eating more in the daytime, they dont need to wake and eat at night.
Here are some instances where you should wake your baby:
- They are sleeping more in the day than the night and missing their daytime feeds.
- Dont let them go more than 4 hours without eating during the day. You may need to wake the baby up to feed at night, but it is probably better to try to change your babys daytime habits rather than continuing to wake them every 4 hours at night.
Your babys pediatrician will give you advice for your baby. For premature or special-needs babies, you may need to adjust feedings.
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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Your Child Is Unable To Connect Sleep Cycles Independently
Lets say baby is being nursed or rocked to sleep and then waking just 30 or 45 minutes after being put down sound familiar? The most common reason this happens is because your little one is unable to self-soothe independently as they connect their sleep cycles, which last about 30 to 45 minutes.
What to do: If this is happening, start working on those self-soothing skills so baby can start connecting those cycles on their own. You can do this by practicing putting your child down awake instead of asleep, performing quick check-ins when baby wakes up and giving your child the opportunity to self-soothe depending on the intensity of their crieslimit hard crying to 5 to 10 minutes but give baby more time if theyre just fussing or crying softly.
When Your Baby Wakes At Night Take Care Of You
While there are strategies you can incorporate into your days and nights to help your baby ease into nighttime sleep cycles, many babies will grow out of this stage as their bodies mature and develop. In fact, it may be more beneficial to find coping strategies for a sleep-deprived parent in these early weeks rather than fighting against your newborns internal clock .
Its not you
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How To Change A Newborns Sleep Patterns
Your newborns sleeping patterns are difficult to change, but theres a lot you can do to make her environment more conducive to sleep, including making sure shes fed with a clean, dry diaper, checking that her room is the right temperature and she’s not overdressed for sleep, and avoiding any distracting lights or sounds that could keep or wake her up.
In the meantime, you might need to adjust your own sleep schedule to get the rest you need. When your baby is around 3 months old, you can try getting her on a sleep schedule, and when she’s between 4 and 6 months old, you can try sleep training if you want to.
Parenting is full of surprises, and your babys sleep schedule is no exception. Your little one likely wont start to establish a regular sleep routine until around 8 to 12 weeks of age, and even then her sleep schedule will probably change, thanks to developmental milestones, travel and other common sleep routine disruptions.
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.