The fact is a newborn’s sleep patterns are unpredictable. And differ from baby to baby! But, newborns sleep a lot – up to 16 to 17 hours a day. But, during the first few weeks of life, most babies don’t sleep for more than two to four hours at a time, day or night. Consequently, lots of sleep for your newborn and a very irregular – and exhausting – schedule for you. Like other new mothers, you’ll probably be up several times during the night to change, feed, and make him feel loved and secure. So, why do newborns sleep the way they do and how can we get them to sleep all night?
When should newborns sleep through the night?
By the time they are six months old, nearly all babies are able to sleep through the night, but when they decide to do so depends on the infant. Some infants as young as three months old can sleep for six to eight hours at a stretch. Others won’t sleep that long until they’re 12 months old.
When will your baby start to sleep for longer periods?
Generally, between six to eight weeks, most babies begin to sleep for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night. Most babies, however, will continue to feed during the night. They will also experience shorter periods of REM sleep, and longer periods of deep, non-REM sleep. According to the experts, between the ages of four and six months, most babies are capable of sleeping for eight to 12 hours through the night. Some infants sleep for long stretches as early as six weeks, but many don’t until they’re five or six months old. Some continue to wake up at night even when they are toddlers. You can help your baby get there sooner, by teaching him good sleep habits from the start.
How do you create good sleep habits in your baby?
- For the first six to eight weeks, most babies can’t stay awake much longer than two hours at a time. If your baby stays up much longer, he may get overtired and have trouble falling asleep. So, give your baby a chance to nap frequently.
- Some infants are night owls and will want to stay awake just when you want to hit the sack. When your baby is about two weeks old, you can start teaching him to distinguish night from day.
During the day:
- Keep the house and his room light and bright.
- Interact and play with him as much as you can.
- Don’t worry about minimizing normal daytime noises like the phone, music, or dishwasher.
- Make daytime feeds social and lively.
- If he tries to sleep through feedings, wake him up.
During the night:
- Don’t play with him when he wakes up at night.
- Keep the lights and noise levels low at night.
- Keep night-time feeds quiet and calm.
- Don’t spend too much time talking to him.
Before long he should begin to realise that nighttime is for sleeping. This way you can teach your baby the difference between day and night.
- Watch out for signs that your baby’s tired. Is he rubbing his eyes, pulling his ear? Is he being more fussy than usual? If you spot these or any other signs of your baby feeling sleepy, try putting him down to sleep. In short, look out for signs that your baby’s tired.
- It’s never too early to start a bedtime routine. It can be something as straight forward as getting your baby changed for bed, singing a lullaby, giving him a cuddle and kissing him goodnight. Establish a bedtime routine for your baby.
Quick and simple tips on how to make your newborn sleep at night
- Give your newborn the chance to fall asleep on his own.
- From about three months set a short and simple bedtime routine: start with a bath and then pop your baby into her pajamas
- Wrap her up so she feels warm and secure.
- Limit her naps during the day.
- Use white noise so she feels soothed and calm.
- Follow the eat, wake, sleep cycle.
- Use pre-nap and bedtime routines.
- Change your baby’s diaper strategically, before she starts feeling wet and uncomfortable.