What Is The Best Sleep Schedule For A Newborn Baby
There is no single, ideal newborn baby sleep schedule. How much a newborn baby sleeps is more important than when they sleep.
An average newborn baby sleeps between 16 and 17 hours over each 24-hour period. This sleep generally occurs in 2 to 4 hour increments throughout the day and night, with the baby waking when they are hungry.
At birth, babies don’t yet know the difference between night and day, so they sleep at any time. Parents shouldn’t expect infants younger than 3 months old to sleep through the night or adhere to a specific sleep schedule. That said, a baby’s sleeping patterns often shift over the first three months of life.
Research suggests that during the first three months, babies begin developing a circadian rhythm that affects sleep. As a result, they start sleeping for longer periods of time at night and shorter periods during the day. On average, one-month old infants sleep 5.7 hours each night and three-month olds sleep 7.4 hours, though this is normally non-continuous sleep.
Parents can help their babies sleep longer at night by exposing them to more light during the day time during the first three months of life. Similarly, dimming the lights at night and maintaining quiet hours may also help babies begin to sleep more at night than during the day.
Interact A Lot During Day Feeds
When your baby is awake during the day, spend lots of time interacting with him so he starts to learn that daytime is when things happen and nighttime is for sleep! Talk to him, look at him, play with him, etc. Interact a ton during day time feeds.
Give him all the attention you want when the sun is shining so he starts to notice a difference between daytime and nighttime feeds. This will really help with his day night confusion.
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.
Helping Your Baby Sleep
If you haven’t already, start a bedtime routine that will be familiar and relaxing for your baby. Bathing, reading, and singing can soothe babies and signal an end to the day. Some babies like to be swaddled , which can be done until they start to roll. Be consistent and your baby will soon associate these steps with sleeping.
If you rock your baby to sleep before bedtime, your little one may expect to be rocked to sleep after nighttime awakenings. Instead, try putting your baby into a crib or bassinet while drowsy but still awake. This way your baby will learn to fall asleep on his or her own.
Some babies squirm, whine, and even cry a little before falling back to sleep on their own. Unless you think that your baby is hungry or ill, see what happens if you leave your baby alone for a few minutes he or she might settle down.
If your baby wakes during the period that you want him or her to sleep, keep activity to a minimum. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. Change or feed your baby and return him or her to the crib or bassinet.
If your baby is waking early for a morning feeding, some small changes may allow a slight shift in schedule. You might try waking your baby for the late-night feeding at a time that suits your sleep schedule:
It may take a few nights to establish this routine, but being consistent will improve your chances of success.
How Can I Tell If A Newborn Is Sleeping Too Much
A baby occasionally sleeping for longer than usual is not a cause for concern unless there are other symptoms.
In general, it is uncommon for a newborn to consistently sleep through feedings or to sleep for longer than 19 hours per day unless they are ill or are having feeding difficulties.
Some of the most common reasons that healthy babies sleep for longer than usual include the following:
- They may experience a growth spurt or developmental leap.
- They may have a minor illness, such as a cold.
- They may have a serious infection. This is rare, but it can happen. A newborn might not have a fever or other symptoms of illness like an older baby might.
- In very rare instances, a baby may have another medical condition that causes them to sleep too much. Breathing and heart disorders may affect sleep, and premature babies often have different sleep patterns from full-term infants.
- Some babies sleep too much because they have jaundice. A newborn who has jaundice will have a yellow color to their skin and a yellow cast to the whites of their eyes. Other symptoms of more severe jaundice include being lethargic, having difficulty eating, and being fussy or irritable.
- Sometimes, babies may sleep too much because they are not getting enough to eat. They may get dehydrated, lose too much weight, and even experience a failure to thrive.
However, in the early stages especially for first-time parents the signs of a potential problem may be easy to miss.
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Teach Your Baby To Self
When your baby wakes in the middle of the night and cries for you, its always okay to go check on them. However, try and limit your time in there with them. Make it clear that its still time to sleep, not play or eat. Place your hand on their chest for a few moments to calm them, then leave the room . The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack are gently weighted on the chest and sides, which make your baby feel like youre still there. This can help ease separation anxiety, break the sleep association to be held to fall back asleep, and help your baby learn to self-soothe.
Avoid Eye Contact During Night Feeds
Keep night feeds uneventful by avoiding eye contact and refraining from talking or playing with your baby in the middle of the night. Eye contact stimulates your baby and can make him wake up and want to play. Give him a quick diaper change if he needs it, a feed, and then put your baby back to bed.
Ill tell you that this felt so wrong and non-nurturing to me in the beginning, but I just made sure to give my baby tons of eye contact and attention during all of her daytime feeds. The idea is to keep your baby sleepy during the night feed so they eat and then go back to sleep easily.
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Let Baby Settle Himself
Dont worry if your baby grizzles when you put him down. Some babies will be trying to cut out other sounds, others may be creating a wall of sound around them, that is familiar. Allow this ‘crying’ to diminish.
Mum’s tip: “I tried not talking to my son if he woke during the night. I would comfort him with cuddles and shushing, but never spoke to him. During the day, I constantly talk to him, and I think this helps him learn the difference between day and night.”
Should I Wake Up With My Baby Every Time They Wake Up At Night
During the first 12 months, babies develop quickly, and their sleep patterns change rapidly. Its important to understand that all babies briefly awaken several times a night. Some babies are able to soothe themselves back to sleep after they wake up. Other babies learn to signal their parents for help to settle them back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. However, it is best to let the newborn comfort himself or herself back to sleep rather than develop a need or association with a parent or guardian.
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Make A Big Deal Of The Morning
When your baby wakes up in the morning, make a big deal out of it! Go in his room, sing a little good morning song, open up the blinds to let the sunlight in, change his diaper, and start the day. Your baby will start to see a difference between night feeds and that first morning feed and theyll learn that the day is starting when mom enters with a pep in her step!
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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Establishing A Baby Bedtime Routine
You may feel ready to introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is around 3 months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be helpful for everyone and help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also a great opportunity to have one-to-one time with your baby.
The routine could consist of:
- having a bath
- changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy
- putting them to bed
- dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle
- singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed
- brushing their teeth
As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.
Dont Buy Those Cute Crib Bumper Sets You See On Blogs And In Catalogs
This ones pretty easy to follow: dont use crib bumpers. They are a SIDS risk, the sale of them is even banned in some US states, and doctors have been lobbying against crib bumpers for years. Yes, some babies flail around a lot in their sleep, especially when theyre on the verge of learning to roll, crawl, or walk. But they probably wont seriously injure themselves by bumping their heads on a crib rail. While those breathable mesh bumpers do a good job of keeping soothers from poking out of the crib slats, they are not recommended due to the risk of entanglement and strangulation. And while were at it, you shouldnt use a DockATot or infant lounger for unsupervised sleep inside the crib, either. Theyre technically no longer available in Canada, but similar products are still on the market.
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Lights On During Day Off At Night
When youre feeding during the day, keep the lights on or curtains open. This helps communicate daytime to baby. As you approach naptime with baby, dim the lights and close curtains, but help baby associate day with light.
When youre feeding, changing, or situating at night keep lights off.
This means dont turn on a lamp. It definitely means no overhead lights.
Get out your flashlight or a flashlight app on your phone. Seem drastic? Well not as drastic as being up for 3 hours for the next month.
Grab this sample newborn routine, tweak it, and have calmer more peaceful and predictable newborn days.
How To Put A Baby To Sleep
Does your little one often wake up crying? Take back the night with this 24/7 guide on how to get your baby to sleep longer.
If your baby tosses and turns all night, reworking their sleep routine might solve the issue. “There’s no such thing as a bad sleeper, just bad sleep habits, and they’re usually reversible,” says Ingrid Prueher, a pediatric sleep consultant in Fairfield, Connecticut, and host of the Baby Sleep 911 video series. Avoid these common sleep saboteurs, and you may actually snooze through the night.
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How To Fix Day Night Confusion Quickly
Again, its perfectly normal for babies to wake at night to feed, but you can have babies who wake only to feed and essentially sleep through the feed.
I know. Ive had 5 babies do it and you can too. You may want to use our daily baby logs to help you keep it all straight.
When To Contact A Doctor
When in doubt, contact a doctor. Only a doctor can accurately determine the reason that a newborn is sleeping too much. In many cases, a pediatrician may be able to assess the problem over the phone.
Excess sleep in a newborn is not typically an emergency unless they also show signs of respiratory problems. or go to the emergency room if the following apply:
- The baby is gasping for air or wheezing.
- The babys breathing is very loud.
- The babys nostrils flare when they breathe.
- The skin around the babys ribs sinks in when they breathe.
- The baby has a fever.
- The baby may have inhaled, touched, or eaten something toxic.
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