Being a great parent demands a lot of effort since children and especially babies can be very unpredictable and very hard to treat. You might find yourself in an unpleasant position where you can’t tell what’s bothering your baby or what it needs. One of the most confusing and stressful tasks a parent has to succeed at is understanding and adjusting to his/her newborn sleeping patterns. The whole newborn sleep schedule process at the early stages of a baby’s growth can be too exhausting and too difficult for the parents. But you do not need to panic!
Newborn Sleep Patterns
It’s an unfortunate truth that newborn babies cannot stay asleep for long periods of time. More specifically they tend to sleep for maximum 4 hours at a time and a total of 16-17 hours per day. That irregular newborn sleeping pattern can be extremely tiring for the parents that get up lots of times during the night to feed, comfort or change their baby.
Why babies sleep irregularly?
Newborn sleep cycles are significantly shorter than those of the parents. That means that they are mostly sleeping in REM sleep, which helps the development of the brain. Fortunately this period doesn’t last that long.
At the age of 6-8 weeks, most babies begin to sleep more during the night and less during the day. Moreover, they have larger periods of deep sleep and shorter periods of REM sleep. Your baby is going to start sleeping through the night somewhere at the age of 4-6 months old. In some cases, babies are capable of sleeping through the night at six weeks after birth, but that’s not very usual. There are also cases of toddlers who cannot sleep all the way through the night. If you want your baby to adjust soon, you have to teach it good newborn sleeping habits from the very first day.
How to teach your baby good sleeping habits:
1) First of all, you should choose and follow a newborn sleep schedule. Your baby should learn and cope up with a simple night routine to realize it is time for bed. This way your newborn will fall asleep a lot easier. This bedtime ritual can be something very simple. You can just change it and then sing a lullaby or give your baby a goodnight kiss, and that’s all. Your child is going to get used to the process and eventually it will fall asleep at a specific time every night.
2) You should search for signs of sleepiness and put your baby to bed once it’s sleepy. If your baby is rubbing its eyes, pulling its ear or just expressing discomfort, all these could be signs that your kid is tired. Do not worry too much about how you are going to spot your child’s sleepiness, though. Slowly you are going to understand it instinctively!
3) Let your baby nap as often as it needs. Most babies can’t stay awake for more than two hours until they become 6-8 weeks old. If your baby doesn’t nap when it needs to, other issues might come up. Overtired newborns have usually trouble to fall asleep.
4) Lastly and most importantly you should make your child understand the difference between night and day. You should spend time with your baby, talk to it, play with it, etc., in the daytime. Also, the house and especially your kid’s room should be filled with light. Don’t try to eliminate the noise around your baby like the phone or the dishwasher. If your baby gets sleepy after feeding, make it stay awake. Furthermore, you should avoid interacting, talking to your baby during the night. This way after a couple of weeks your child will be able to make out the difference between day and night. Your newborn will get that night is when he/she is supposed to sleep.
Here is an example of a newborn sleeping schedule you could follow. Just remember that every baby has different rhythms and needs.
This baby sleep schedule could be used for the first month. You can alter it however you want to fit your needs since every baby is obviously different. Keep in mind that the next months are going to be completely different from the first one, so don’t get used to it.
Newborn Sleep Schedule for the first month:
7:00 am Diaper Change-Nurse
7:30 am Playtime with baby
8:00 am Nap
10:00 am Diaper Change-Nurse
10:30 am Playtime with baby
11:00 am Nap
1:00 pm Diaper Change-Nurse
1:30 pm Playtime with baby
2:00 pm Nap
4:00 pm Diaper Change-Nurse
4:30 pm Playtime with baby
5:00 pm Nap
7:00 pm Change Diaper-Nurse
7:30 pm Playtime with baby
9:30 pm Start Bedtime Routine-Nurse
10:00 pm Sleep
In general, your baby’s sleeping needs are going to change through time as your baby is developing. Here is an average plan of what most babies need at the first few months of their life:
Total Hours of Sleep: 16-18 hours
Sleep during the night: 8-9 hours
Nap: 7-9 hours (3-5 naps)
Total Hours of Sleep: 14-16 hours
Sleep during the night: 9-10 hours
Nap: 4-5 hours (3 naps)
Total Hours of Sleep: 14-15 hours
Sleep during the night: 10 hours
Nap: 4-5 hours (2-3 naps)
For example, a baby sleep schedule that could apply to babies of 2-8 weeks old (until the 2nd month)
9:00 AM – Baby eating
10:00 AM –Sleep (30-60 minutes)
11:00 AM – Baby eating
12:30 PM – Sleep (30-60 minutes)
1:30 PM – Baby eating
3:30 PM – Sleep (30 – 60 minutes)
4:30 PM – Baby eating
6:00 PM – Sleep (30 – 60 minutes)
6:30 PM – Baby eating
7:30 PM – Sleep (20 – 30 minutes)
8:00 PM – Baby eating
9:30 PM – Sleep (20 – 30 minutes)
10:00 PM – Baby eating
11:30 PM – Eating and bedtime
3:30 AM – Eating and back to bed
6:30 AM – Eating and back to bed
How should my baby sleep?
There are two options when it comes to putting your infant to sleep. Some parents prefer having their baby in their bedroom so that they can keep an eye on him/her and some other prefer having a nursery. For the first weeks of your child’s life, it’s a good idea to have your baby’s crib next to your bed. This way your baby learns to distinguish your smell and sound; he learns how to recognize and feel your presence. However, do not share your bed with your baby. It can be very dangerous. Room-sharing might be safe for your little one, but bed-sharing can end up with your baby suffocating or be strangled. Tragic accidents have happened because the parents shared their bed with their kid.
How to put your little one safely to sleep:
1) Put your baby to sleep, laying on his/her back. Don’t ever place your baby on the side or his/her stomach.
2) Take care of the crib. Make sure the mattress, the sheets, and the crib are all of the high quality and meet the safety standards.
The whole sleeping and putting your baby to sleep process can be very hard at first. Especially the first couple of months might feel like an eternity because the truth is that your infant is not going to get enough sleep at night and so are you. You are probably going to be sleep deprived and deeply exhausted. However, remember that this is just a short period and that your baby is eventually going to grow. The role of the parent is not an easy task, and that’s why it’s also a blessing! These first stages of your baby’s life are the ones that create a strong bond between you two. This is the beginning of your little one’s life, so it is indeed a huge deal!