New Parents: What You Should Know About Your Newborn's Sleep Habits
If you're up at all hours of the night with a crying newborn, you're probably wondering if you will ever get a good night's sleep again. The good news is there are a few things you can do to increase your shuteye.
Keep in mind, though, that a baby's sleep cycle is not regular until about 6 months of age, and, even then, all babies are different. While you may have heard stories of babies sleeping through the night at a young age, it is more likely that they will wake frequently and without a pattern.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a newborn's sleep is irregular and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours at a time. Newborns will typically sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day but this is broken up into several shorter sessions. Babies also spend more time in active sleep (rather than deep sleep), so they may appear restless — moving their arms and legs or sucking.
With these thoughts in mind, try these tips to help both you and your newborn sleep better:
- Split duties — Switch schedules with your spouse/partner so that both of you get to rest.
- Establish a routine — Make it a habit to wind down at night with regular calming activities. This can include story time or listening to soothing music.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps — Don't answer your phone, and ignore the dishes and laundry.
- Create a soothing sleep environment — Turn off electronics, and keep your bedroom cool and dark. Make sure kids are drowsy but awake when going to bed, so that they can fall asleep on their own.
- Make your baby's sleep environment comfortable and safe — While blankets, pillows and stuffed toys are comforting, they pose a risk for suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Use music or white noise, rather than plush bedding, to create a comforting environment.
- Contact your doctor — If lack of sleep is becoming a problem, your doctor can help you develop a plan to ensure that you and your child are both well rested.
Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Krames Staywell