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
Is It Normal For Kids To Take Naps
For many kids, it is normal to take naps, especially when they are toddlers and preschool-aged. During these years, napping may continue to confer benefits for memory and thinking.
It is normal for napping to slowly phase out during early childhood with naps becoming both shorter and less frequent. This may occur naturally or as a result of schedules for school or child care.
Although many children stop napping by around age five, its important to remember that nap preferences can be different for every child. In preschools with scheduled nap time, some children sleep easily, but others up to 42.5% in one study fall asleep only sometimes or not at all.
Some older children may still be inclined to nap and can benefit from doing so. In a study in China, where it is often more culturally appropriate to nap, children in grades 4-6 who took frequent naps after lunch showed signs of better behavior, academic achievement, and overall happiness.
The existing research about napping and optimal timing of sleep episodes is inconclusive and acknowledges that whats best for one child can change over time and may not be whats best for another child of the same age. For this reason, parents, teachers, and child care workers may be able to best encourage optimal sleep for kids by being flexible and understanding about naps.
When To See The Doctor
Occasionally having to wake your newborn or older baby isnt something to worry about on its own. We all need a little more rest sometimes, so enjoy the extra downtime and keep your eye on the clock to know when you definitely need to wake her.
Chronic sleepiness, though, can sometimes be a cause for concern. If your newborn is regularly sleeping for more than 17 hours a day and is interfering with her ability to eat at least eight times per day, you should let your pediatrician know. Frequently missing meals could hurt her weight gain and growth.
For newborns or older babies, you should also call the doctor if the sleepiness coincides with other symptoms, like:
- Extreme lethargy or listlessness after you wake her, or trouble waking her.
- Signs of dehydration, like fewer wet diapers, darker colored urine, tearless crying or cracked lips.
- Extreme fussiness or irritability after you wake her.
- For newborns, being uninterested in eating after waking.
- Being unresponsive when you try to wake her.
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.
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How Much Is Normal For A Newborn
Newborns can sleep anywhere from 16-22 hours per day, broken up by feeding, so any sleep within this range should be expected. Your baby may fluctuate on how much sleep she gets, especially if she is experiencing a growth spurt and is feeding more frequently. If your baby is sleeping more than 22 hours per day, contact your pediatrician to see if he or she is concerned. If your new baby sleeps less than 16 hours per day, try adjusting the room temperature and lighting to make the room more sleep-friendly, play soft music to entice sleep, or hold your baby until she falls asleep.
Every baby is different, and it may take some time for her to settle into a schedule. As she gets older, her schedule may become disrupted by growth spurts or teething. If you have any questions about your babys sleep, our pediatric staff is on call 24/7 and happy to answer them.
How To Get Your Newborn To Sleep At Night
All babies cry, and all parents experience a crying baby at night from time to time. There are many reasons your newborn may cry at night, rather than falling or staying asleep. For example, she may be uncomfortable or overstimulated, or may need a diaper change.Here are some of the things you can try to help your baby settle and fall asleep:
Play some soft music or white noise. Some babies may be soothed to sleep with the help of soft music or white noise. A fan pointed at the wall or a baby sound machine can produce white noise, which can also help mask household sounds that may otherwise disrupt his sleep.
Track your babyâs sleep. Keeping track of your babyâs sleep, including naps, can help give you a better idea of how much sleep sheâs getting and when she might be ready for the next sleep block. You could do this either digitally or in a notebook. However, if youâre looking for an easier way to track your babyâs sleep patterns, try Lumi by Pampers, which features a smart sleep system that combines expert sleep coaching with personalized sleep tracking to help get your babyâs sleep on track.
Above all, try not to become stressed if your little one can’t seem to sleep never act on any frustration you may be feeling by shaking or hitting your baby. Instead, leave your baby safely in his crib for a few minutes while you regroup in another room, and go back in when you feel calm and ready.
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Myth: You Should Never Wake A Sleeping Baby
FACT: If your baby is a great daytime napper they might be having too much day sleep, which would then mean they wont sleep as much overnight. In this case you should definitely wake your baby from their naps. Some babies would quite happily sleep all day then stay awake all night and we absolutely dont want it that way around! Waking your baby from their naps means you are able to regulate how much day sleep your little one is having, to enable them to sleep well at night.
What Are The Different Alert Phases Of A Newborn
Babies also have differences in how alert they are during the time they are awake. When a newborn awakens at the end of the sleep cycles, there is typically a quiet alert phase. This is a time when the baby is very still, but awake and taking in the environment. During the quiet alert time, babies may look or stare at objects, and respond to sounds and motion. This phase usually progresses to the active alert phase in which the baby is attentive to sounds and sights, and moves actively. After this phase is a crying phase. The baby’s body moves erratically, and he or she may cry loudly. Babies can easily be overstimulated during the crying phase. It is usually best to find a way of calming the baby and the environment. Holding a baby close or swaddling may help calm a crying baby.
It is usually best to feed babies before they reach the crying phase. During the crying phase, they can be so upset that they may refuse the breast or bottle. In newborns, crying is a late sign of hunger.
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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.
How Can You Help Your Baby Fall Asleep
Not all babies know how to put themselves to sleep. When it is time for bed, many parents want to rock or breastfeed a baby to sleep. Establishing a routine at bedtime is a good idea. However, be sure that the baby does not fall asleep while eating or in your arms. This may become a pattern and the baby may begin to expect to be in your arms in order to fall asleep. When the baby briefly awakens during a sleep cycle, he or she may not be able to go back to sleep on his or her own.
Most experts recommend allowing a baby to become sleepy in your arms, then placing him or her in the bed while still awake. This way the baby learns how to go to sleep on his own. Playing soft music while your baby is getting sleepy is also a good way to help establish a bedtime routine.
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Should I Wake My Baby During The Day
Your baby’s power naps can feel like a godsend to you, but if she snoozes for too long, you may have to wake her.
Very young babies need to eat frequently to get the nourishment they need. So if your newborns sleep schedule doesnt quite match up, you should wake her if shes been sleeping too long during the day or at night.
Breastfed newborns shouldnt go more than two to four hours without eating, and formula-fed babies shouldnt go longer than three to four hours. The rule typically applies to babies 3 weeks and younger who are still establishing a pattern of weight gain. Once your little one is consistently gaining a healthy amount, your pediatrician will likely tell you that its okay to stop waking her for feedings.
Rousing a sleeping newborn to eat can sometimes be tough, though. Youll have an easier time if you wake your little one during a light, REM stage of sleep, when her arms or legs are moving, her facial expressions are changing or her eyes are fluttering.
Since youve gone to the trouble of interrupting your newborns nap, do what you can to try to get her to take a full feeding. If despite your best attempts your baby isnt interested in more than a nibble, its okay once in a while to let her doze back off.
The exception to the rule is when your baby is sick. Its normal for your little one to need more rest when her body is fighting off a virus, so dont feel too much pressure to stick rigidly to her usual schedule.
What If My Newborn Won’t Sleep
There are many reasons why your baby might be refusing to fall asleep:
- Newborns often confuse day and night. A set of blackout shades and a white noise machine may help encourage dozing off when it’s bedtime.
- Your baby might object to being on his back. If thats the case, swaddle him before putting him down or let him get drowsy in your arms first before putting him in the crib. Avoid rocking or holding your baby until hes completely asleep, though. This could make it harder for him to go back to sleep on his own if he wakes up during the night.
- Your baby could be overstimulated. Its hard to sleep when the world is full of fun things to do, especially when its getting close to bedtime and everyone is home. If thats the case, switch your bedtime routine into slow and boring mode, with rocking, simple storytelling and some soothing music.
- Your baby may be overtired. If that’s the case, try adjusting bedtime or naptimes accordingly to see if that helps him settle down better at night, and make sure to follow a consistent bedtime routine.
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Myth: You Should Teach Your Newborn How To Self
FACT: Babies under 12 weeks genuinely arent capable of consciously self-settling. It is also not crucial that your baby has this skill until theyre over 3 months old anyway, when they start waking between sleep cycles. A baby under 12 weeks is able to transition a lot easier between sleep cycles, regardless of how they went to sleep at the start of each nap or at bedtime. It is however, good practice to put them in bed when theyre awake but drowsy so they do the final bit of falling asleep by themselves if you think they can. If youve been following our Sleep Program your baby will be good and ready for sleep and this will make it a lot easier for them to fall asleep without you helping them too much.
What Are The Sleep States Of A Newborn
Babies, like adults, have various stages and depths of sleep. Depending on the stage, the baby may actively move or lie very still. Infant sleep patterns begin forming during the last months of pregnancy?active sleep first, then quiet sleep by about the eighth month. There are two types of sleep:
REM . This is a light sleep when dreams occur and the eyes move rapidly back and forth. Although babies spend about 16 hours each day sleeping, about half of this is in REM sleep. Older children and adults sleep fewer hours and spend much less time in REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep. Non-REM has 4 stages:
Stage 1: drowsiness, eyes droop, may open and close, dozing
Stage 2: light sleep, the baby moves and may startle or jump with sounds
Stage 3: deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
Stage 4: very deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
A baby enters stage 1 at the beginning of the sleep cycle, then moves into stage 2, then 3, then 4, then back to 3, then 2, then to REM. These cycles may occur several times during sleep. Babies may awaken as they pass from deep sleep to light sleep and may have difficulty going back to sleep in the first few months.
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