Newborn Care: Newborn Sleep
Michael Schoenwetter, MD
babies are great sleepers and some are not. I can tell you from personal
experience, my first child is an amazing sleeper and always has been
while my second who is almost three is still waking up most nights.
Very soon, after your
newborns arrival, you will learn that your sleep patterns will
dramatically change. Newborns do sleep a lot but not in consecutive
hours. It is very common to wake up multiple times per night for
feedings and diaper changes. Also, a lot of parents in my practice tell
me that their newborns have their days and nights confused. Thus, the
newborn may be at his/her most alert period during the night when you
are at your most tired state.
I feel that scheduling a
newborn for sleeping is a difficult task. I try to tell parents to take
a relaxed attitude when dealing with sleep. I also reinforce to new
parents to try and sleep when their newborn is sleeping. The video will
discuss newborn sleep in more detail as well as how much a newborn
sleeps, when to consult your pediatrician for newborn sleep issues and
other helpful facts.
New parents often ask if they should put their newborn on a schedule for
sleep. For the first weeks, you should be on the baby's schedule.
Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day. Unfortunately, those hours are not
necessarily the ones you prefer. In the first weeks try to sleep when
the baby sleeps. Turn off the phone and restrict visitors to immediate
family only so you can drift off when you have the chance.
Although day and night means little to a
newborn, you can teach your infant that nighttime is for sleep. Make
night feedings quiet, with subdued lighting; speak softly and minimize
walking and jiggling. Sleep patterns change in the first weeks.
Fortunately, your newborn will eventually sleep for longer and longer
stretches. By 3 months, the majority of babies sleep six to eight hours.
Periods of shorter sleep and more frequent waking that occur are
probably due to growth spurts.
If you let the baby fall asleep at your
breast or with a bottle, the same feeling will be necessary when she
goes through lighter stages of sleep during the night. Start, right
away, to put your baby down drowsy but slightly awake. That way you will
avoid the infant not being able to get herself back to sleep. Most
importantly, make sure your newborn sleeps safely: on the back, on a
firm mattress, with no blankets, pillows or bumper pads that can trap
the face. If you want to sleep with your infant, a co-sleeper is safer
than having the baby in bed with you.
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