Fair   55.0F  |  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

Popcorn Treats for Halloween

Popcorn Treats for Halloween

Get popping with these kooky recipe ideas that are perfect for All Hallows' Eve. Learn how to make a white chocolate popcorn skull, popcorn balls and more!

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Classic DIY materials are a cinch to transform into a darling Halloween decoration! Have kids get involved with this simple project for October.

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

After a Florida mom petitioned on Change.org for the toy store chain to stop selling the dolls from the AMC TV show, the toy store has agreed.

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Turn a white sock or marshmallows into everyone's favorite goofball from Frozen or gear up for snowy evenings with a constellation lightbox and table runner.

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Keep your kids off the couch this winter and get them active and healthy with these family-friendly fitness tips from the community program director at the Macomb Family YMCA.

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Modern flapper era mamas had plenty of progressive advice. But when it came to baby name tips, it was a mixed bag. (And especially tough for poor Lenora!)

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Slice into sweetness with these kid-friendly ideas – thanks to Betty Crocker, Taste of Home and more – that transform pizza into something oh-so-sweet!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement