Overcast   62.0F  |  Forecast »

Newborn Baby Sleep Patterns: Tips for First-Time Parents

Puzzled by why your child sleeps a ton at times – and then is awake all night? Get insight into some of the reasons and how to smooth the adjustment.

It's an early parenthood puzzle: Is my baby sleeping too much? Is it normal for him to feed so much at night? Why are her naps so short? Newborns don't magically "sleep when they need to sleep."

And parents who are just getting to know their new family member haven't yet figured out baby's sleep needs or cues. But supporting healthy sleep starts early. Read on for tips on helping your wee one sleep well (so you can catch a few zzz's, too!).

Round-the-clock sleep

New parents are often shocked by how much new babies sleep, says Roslinde M. Collins, M.D., sleep specialist at Vermont's Rutland Regional Medical Center.

In the first month, it can hit 18 hours a day. "But lots of parents wonder if something is wrong when their baby sleeps that much," she notes.

Newborns don't have a predictable naps until 3-4 months. Until then, don't fret about short naps. Just wake your child from any nap longer than two to three hours, to protect nighttime sleep.

Make some noise

After being lulled by a blanket of mom's internal sounds for nine months, new babies often find life outside the womb strangely quiet, says Harvey Karp, M.D., pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block.

He recommends high-quality white noise to help support longer sleep periods. "White noise is like an audible teddy bear – it's very soothing to babies," he says.

Night owl nudge

In the early weeks of life, a baby's circadian rhythm begins to develop. This "body clock" helps her organize sleep patterns, resulting in more daytime wakefulness and sleepiness at night. This rhythm falls into place around the second month. Until then, many babies swap day for night, preferring to snooze all day and play all night, leaving parents exhausted.

To help babies learn that night is for sleeping, seek out bright light by day and avoid nighttime light exposure, says Collins. This allows your baby's brain to produce adequate melatonin at night.

"Melatonin is the hormone that tells our brains when we should be sleeping, and it's suppressed during light exposure," she says. Skip night lights, use blackout curtains and go with very dim light for nighttime feedings and diaper changes.

Support independent sleep

In the womb, your baby drifted off without your help. It's perfectly fine to nurse or rock a new baby to sleep – but these are learned habits. And if you'd like your child to learn to sleep independently, take small steps now.

Put your baby down to sleep when he appears tired and try to allow him to fall asleep unassisted. Your kiddo may surprise you by revealing that he can fall asleep solo, at least some of the time.

Allowing him to do so whenever possible is the key to healthy sleep habits through babyhood, toddlerhood and beyond.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Michigan Education Improves, Poverty Grows, Kids Count Says

Michigan Education Improves, Poverty Grows, Kids Count Says

The 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation study finds promising trends for preschool attendance and high-school graduation, but notes struggles with child poverty.

Zucchini Recipes: Ways to Incorporate Veggies Into Your Diet

Zucchini Recipes: Ways to Incorporate Veggies Into Your Diet

Is your garden overflowing with this vegetable? Try making cheesy zucchini bites, zucchini fries or any of these recipes.

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Looking for an easy, compact way to tote those summer necessities? You're in luck! This simple sewing project makes carting your fabric accessories a breeze.

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

After only one night in, Romanian socialite Monica Gabor took her adopted son back to the orphanage because the child was too distressed.

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Recent findings published in Pediatrics show that nearly 40 percent of parents make measuring errors for their kid's medicine. Why is this happening and what can you do to prevent it?

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Beat vacation boredom with these four cool ideas from blogs, including Popsicle holders, printable sewing cards, jellyfish handprint bookmarks and more.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement