Your Baby and Sleep Habits

Newborn babies sleep a lot. They typically sleep 14 to 18 hours a day during their first week of life. By the time they are a month old their hours of sleep drops down to 12 to 16 hours. Even though they sleep so many hours, most babies don’t stay asleep for more than 2 to 4 hours at a time during their first few weeks of life. You may ask, why do newborn babies sleep for such short, irregular periods of time? Baby sleep cycles are much shorter than those of adults. Babies spend more time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is a lighter sleep than non-REM sleep, and is also more easily disrupted. At six to eight weeks old, most babies begin to sleep for shorter periods of time during the day, and longer periods at night. They still will continue to wake up for a feeding during the night. They also have shorter periods of REM sleep and longer periods of deep, non-REM sleep.
Some babies early on get their days and nights mixed up. They are wide awake just when mom and dad are ready to go to sleep. Once your baby is about one month old, you can begin to help him or her distinguish between night and day. When your baby is awake during the day play with him as much as you can. Don’t worry about common household noises such as the television, phone, or washing machine. If he’s sleeping through feeding times, wake him up. At night, when he wakes for a feeding, try not to stimulate him. Keep the lights low, feed him, change him than put him right back into his crib to sleep. Before long your baby should realize that night time is for sleeping.
Establishing a sleep routine for your new baby is very important. How babies sleep is based a large part on habit. Their little bodies use signals that it is time to sleep. Always putting your baby in the crib for sleeping will help signal to him that this is the place for sleep. Keep your baby’s bedtime routine simple. Change them, sing a quiet lullaby, and give them a kiss goodnight. By the time your baby is six to eight weeks old, you can start giving them a chance to fall asleep on their own. Put him down when he’s sleepy, but still awake. If you rock or nurse her at this young age, it will be difficult to change this routine later on.
Creating a secure, comfortable sleep environment; coupled with developing a consistent routine, will help create healthy sleep habits for your new baby.

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