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,.
Keep Up Your Milk Supply When Night Weaning
When you are night weaning your breastfeeding baby, you do need to be careful about your milk supply. When you dont breastfeed for many hours in a row, this can negatively impact your milk supply. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes two weeks to notice the drop in supply and its tough to get it back up. We cant predict which moms will experience this, unfortunately. In my 10+ years as a sleep consultant, Ive seen it enough times that we guard against it.
In addition, sometimes your goal is to drop one night feeding, but your baby decides to sleep through the night! That can be a blessing for your sleep but a curse on your milk supply.
Therefore, its best to be proactive to maintain your milk supply while night weaning. Heres how:
Breastfeeding operates on a supply and demand basis. The more your baby demands, the more milk your body makes. If your baby stops demanding milk for 12 hours at night, your body might think this is a signal to stop making milk at all times.
So, the easiest way to simulate demand for milk is to pump your breastmilk!
But, didnt we night wean so we can get more sleep?
Yes, indeed! Depending on the age of your baby, you might only need to pump once a night and can do so right before your bedtime. The younger your baby, the more times you will need to pump, of course. One idea that works well for younger babies is to pump before your bedtime and then set your alarm about 5 hours later for one more pumping session.
Week Old Sleep Schedule / 3 Month Old Sleep Schedule Development And Sleep Patterns
Your newborns sleep patterns have likely changed significantly from a few weeks ago. 12-week-olds are starting to approach the time when we start to see newborn sleep problems if you havent seen them up to this point. Naps sometimes get shorter and it may be harder to stick to your schedule or eat-play-sleep routine. Your baby still needs 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 3-4 hours during the day, but the total average sleep is right around 14 hours. Of course, by definition, some babies will need more and some will need less. If your baby needs less, developing a 3-month-old schedule is usually more difficult. Ideally, youd keep your baby awake no longer than two hours at a time.
Here is what a typical 12 week old sleep schedule looks like, though not always predictable just yet:
|12-Week-Old Sleep Schedule|
Also Check: How Many Poopy Diapers Should A Newborn Have
How Long Should You Let Your Newborn Sleep Without Eating
Newborns should eat as often and as long as they want, so it may be necessary to wake your newborn if shes sleeping too much to meet her calorie and nutrient needs. Frequent feeding is crucial for your newborns growth and development. Right after birth, babies lose up to 10 percent of their body weight and need to quickly regain it.
- Newborns: feed every two to four hours
- 2 months: feed every three to four hours
- 4 months: feed every four hours
- 6 months: feed every four to five hours
Newborn Sleep Cycles: Why Newborns Are Light Sleepers
When adults first fall asleep, we pass through a couple of light sleep stages, and then plunge into a bout of deep sleep.
Afterwards, we switch into REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, a sleep stage famous for its association with dreaming, and the loss of muscle tone. We dont move much during REM.
When REM is over, we either awaken, or return to light sleep and begin the cycle again. For the average adult, a single sleep cycle lasts about 90-100 minutes. We may partially awaken many times during the night. But were more likely to wake up all the way during transitions between stages, during light sleep, and during REM.
Newborn sleep is also characterized by sleep stages and cycles, but there are crucial differences.
First, babies typically begin their sleep bouts in the newborn equivalent of REM .
Second, newborns in REM dont usually experience muscle atonia.
Unlike us, they may thrash around, stretch, twitch, and even vocalize. The results can fool parents into thinking their babies are waking up, when they are actually experiencing normal REM sleep.
Third, newborn sleep cycles are shorter around 50-55 minutes for the average infant and REM makes up a much bigger proportion of sleep.
Its not unusual for newborns to spend more than half their total sleep time in REM . Indeed, several studies suggest that, over the course of a 24 hour day, some newborns spent may spend as much as 75% of their sleep time in active sleep .
Don’t Miss: How To Take A Newborn A Bath
Baby Sleep Schedule: 10
Your day should start around…
6 to 7:30 AM
Read 8 Solutions to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night for additional tips on getting your baby to finally sleep all the way through the night and tips for helping baby sleep alone to help your baby become an independent sleeper.
Ultimately, these baby sleep schedules are just suggestions. Every baby is different. We cant stress that enough. So, dont compare your babys sleeping habits to another babys because they WILL be different. Like we said, some babies start sleeping for longer stretches right at six weeks while other babies will take much longer to reach this milestone.
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.
Also Check: What Should Newborn Poop Look Like
Follow The Eat Wake Sleep Cycle
The baby wakes from sleep and immediately eats. Then the baby is awake for a while to play. Then the baby goes back to sleep.
This cycle has several purposes. First, it encourages full feedings by allowing the baby to eat immediately after waking. The baby will have the most energy immediately after waking, making him more inclined to take a full feeding and go longer between feedings.
Also, by feeding the baby after sleep rather than before sleep, the cycle prevents the baby from associating food with sleep or using food as a sleep prop. When using this cycle, a feeding before bedtime is typically only feeding before sleep.
Of course, there were times where I definitely fed my baby before sleep. He needed a little TLC for a certain nap, and I was totally fine offering it when he needed it. But for the most part, I tried to avoid feeding him right before sleep.
Note: Newborns require frequent feedings and rest to ensure healthy growth a development in the early months. Always feed your baby as frequently as your baby needs to ensure healthy weight gain.
Stimulation During Day No Stimulation At Night
This is a big one.
Daytime is for play.
Nighttime is for sleep.
Dont treat days like nights, afraid to wake the baby up. If its naptime, protect the nap. If you are feeding or playing with the baby then its okay for some stimulation.
However, at night, keep lights out, voices low, and all forms of Wakey Baby off.
This can be hard since babies are so gooey and sweet, but its what makes the difference in the long run.
Read: The Dreamfeed: The Why, The How, & When To Stop
Recommended Reading: How Many Hours Does A Newborn Baby Sleep
Dont Play The Blame Game
Brooding about the situation will make it harder for you to fall asleep when you are given the opportunity. And its wrong-headed, too: You might be doing everything you can to get more sleep, and still be stuck with a baby who sleeps less than average.
Research suggests that the amount of sleep we get at night is strongly influenced by genetics , and, as mentioned above, there is a lot of individual variation among newborns.
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 .
Also Check: Why Do Newborns Have Seizures
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.
So When Do Babies Develop Mature Circadian Rhythms
Its normal for babies to take 12 weeks, or even longer.
Most infants take about 12 weeks to show day-night rhythms in the production of melatonin . Circadian changes in cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate alertness, may take even longer to emerge . And, overall, babies may take 3-5 months before they settle at nightmeaning that they sleep for more than 5 hours at a stretch .
Nevertheless, newborn sleep isnt completely divorced from the natural rhythms of the 24-hour day. Studies show that circadian rhythms begin developing in the first days after birth.
For example, German and Japanese studies have reported that newborns sleep more at night than they do during the day .
And scientific evidence suggests that even newborns are receptive to environmental cues about time. You can take advantage of this fact to help shape newborn sleep patterns.
You May Like: How To Properly Bottle Feed A Newborn
Comparing Your Baby To Their Baby
In every new baby playgroup there is the blessed child who starts sleeping through the night at 4 weeks and takes huge chunky naps during the day. You will look at this well rested, recently showered parent and start to feel like you must have failed in some significant way. You havent, they just got lucky. About 33% of babies are easy they are easily soothed, fall asleep easily, sleep longer with less frequent night wakings, etc. Its just the way of the world. Your baby will get there too. Eventually
If you havent already checked it out, Baby Sleep: What is Normal is also a really great resource on how much sleep babies need by age.
So did I miss any? Feel free to share any stumbles youve had. I promise you, you arent the only one!
Settling Baby To Sleep
Every baby is different, and youll get to know what works best for settling your baby down to sleep.
Having a sleep routine is a good start, but try to be flexible. Your babys sleep cycles will change as they grow.
Try putting baby to bed while theyre awake or slightly sleepy, if possible. That way they associate their bed with sleep. If they wake up knowing where they are and feeling safe, they might be able to settle themselves back to sleep.
Read more about settling your baby to sleep
Read Also: What’s Needed For Newborn Baby
Switching From Crib To Big
“This is a classic mistake parents make,” says Faure. “Do not move your baby until he can climb out of the crib on his own. In that case, he is a danger to himself and must be moved into a bed. Otherwise, let him sleep in his crib until he’s around two years old, when most toddlers are ready for a bed. A crib’s sides provide a very useful barrier at a time when your baby cannot understand or obey verbal boundaries .”
If you are ready to transition your toddler to a crib, West says there are two approaches:
The Cold Turkey Method: Simply remove the crib and replace it with the new bed. Just be sure to have guard rails on both sides .
The Gradual Approach: Start by leaving the crib rail down, with a stool at the side so she can get out by herself, and some pillows near the bed in case she falls out. “If you can fit the new bed and the crib in the same room, you can start with reading books on the bed or have her nap in the bed,” explains West. “Then pick the big night where she sleeps in the bed at night. Once she’s sleeping in her bed for naps and nights, you can remove the crib.