If you’re expecting a baby or have recently welcomed a little one, you’ll know that sleep is a very important part of your baby’s routine. It’s also something that you (the parent) aren’t going to get much of for a while. So, let’s find out more about your newborn’s sleep patterns, how much sleep they should ideally be getting, how you can encourage proper sleeping habits, and most importantly, when you will finally get a good night’s sleep again.
When and how much do newborns sleep?
Newborns need a lot of sleep. On average, your newborn will sleep for approximately 16-20 hours in a 24-hour period. That’s the good news. The downside is that newborn sleep is mostly irregular, takes place in short bursts and doesn’t follow a particular pattern at first.
Up until 6 weeks or so, your baby’s naps can last from anywhere between 10 minutes to 4 hours. When your baby awakes, it is usually to be fed, burped and changed, after which your baby will go back to sleep. It’s important to remember that newborns can’t stay awake for too long at a time. Their “awake time” usually lasts up to an hour, after which they go back to sleep. As they grow older, this obviously increases and by 4-6 months, they can stay awake for up to 2 hours at a time. Some babies do tend to stay awake for longer periods but this can cause your baby to become overtired. An overtired baby is usually fussy, cranky and harder to manage. That’s why it’s important to make sure your baby naps frequently through the day.
Here’s a quick look at your newborn baby’s sleep schedule for the first three months.
|1-month old baby sleep schedule||Sleep duration ranges from 15 minutes to 3 hours at a time||Can stay awake for 35-45 minutes|
|2-month old baby sleep schedule||Sleep duration ranges from 15 minutes to 3 hours at a time||Can stay awake for up to 1 hour at a time|
|3-month old baby sleep schedule||Sleep duration ranges from 30 minutes to 3 hours at a time||Can stay awake for up to 1.5 hours at a time|
Why do newborns sleep so much?
Firstly, your newborn baby has a very tiny stomach and needs to be fed very often. Sleep is also important for your newborn baby’s growth and development. You might also wonder why your baby sleeps so much during the day. It’s because a newborn’s circadian rhythm is not properly developed and so, they cannot tell the difference between day and night. Hence, you cannot expect newborn sleep patterns to be like your own.
What is a newborn baby’s sleep cycle like?
A newborn baby’s sleep cycle lasts for about 40-50 minutes on average. Your baby’s sleep cycle has two phases: light sleep (REM sleep) and deep sleep (non-REM sleep). For the first few months, babies spend more time in REM sleep which is when most of their brain growth and development takes place. As babies spend more time in light sleep, they also wake very easily and frequently. When your baby is about 6 months, their sleep cycle will become longer and their REM sleep periods will reduce.
How can you help encourage proper sleep habits?
The most common question that most new parents ask is how to make a newborn baby sleep, and better still, how to make baby sleep through the night? Although your newborn’s sleep pattern is going to be irregular for a while and they won’t sleep through the night until they are a few months old, there are ways in which you can encourage good sleeping habits right from the start to make the routine easier for both you and your baby. Here are a few newborn baby sleep tips:
- Let your baby take lots of naps
Newborns cannot stay awake for long periods and until your baby is 6 weeks old, his/her “awake time” should not be more than an hour at a time. Even if you find that your newborn baby is not sleeping and is wide awake, it doesn’t mean that you should let him stay awake for as long as possible. This will only overtire your baby and you will find it harder to put them to sleep later on.
- Help them learn the difference between night and day
Your baby can’t tell the difference between night and day yet which is also one of the reasons behind irregular baby sleep patterns. This means you need to help them understand the difference by sleep training your baby. You can start doing this after your baby is a week old. During the day, make sure there is lots of natural light coming into the room. Even while you’re feeding, pick a spot with good light. Play and engage with your baby during the day. Make sure you wake your baby up for regular feedings through the day, even if he/she tries to sleep through. At nighttime, try and minimize outside sounds and provide a calm, relaxing environment. Establish a proper bedtime routine such as including a massage or a relaxing bath before putting baby to sleep at night. When your baby wakes up for night feeds, don’t engage with him/her. Simply put them right back to sleep when you are done. Slowly but surely, your baby will begin to note the differences.
- Look out for signs of sleepiness
When your baby is sleepy, he/she will show you. Keep an eye out for when your baby yawns, rubs the eyes or fusses too much. Don’t wait until they are too tired to put them to bed.
- Make sure your baby is sleeping in the right position
When it comes to baby sleeping positions, the safest way to make baby sleep is generally on the back. Most experts will recommend that you do not make your baby sleep on the stomach until they are around one year old and are able to hold their neck and head up without support. Baby sleeping on stomach or baby sleeping on side is not ideal as it can potentially lead to airways getting blocked and increase the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Keep your baby cozy and comfortable while sleeping by swaddling them. It prevents your little one from getting startled awake by their own sudden reflexes, helping them sleep better.
And yes, parents. We promise that you will get a good night’s sleep again someday. At around 6 months of age, your baby will start sleeping deeper and for longer periods. At this point, most babies start sleeping through the night. However, every baby is different and if your little one hasn’t reached this milestone yet, don’t worry. Keep working at establishing good sleep habits and a consistent bedtime routine and eventually, your baby’s sleep schedule will fall right into place. Good luck, parents. Got any questions for us? Leave them below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.