Sleep solutions for newborns

Newborns have very different sleep needs than older babies. Absolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle sleep issues with your new baby. Get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put him down to sleep as soon as he seems tired.

Help your baby distinguish day from night
A newborn sleeps sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between night sleep and day sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet, except for white noise. You can also help your baby differentiate day from night by using a nightly bath and change into pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

The biology of sleep
During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired, it’s that simple. You can do little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly. Newborn babies have very tiny tummies. They grow rapidly, their diet is liquid and it digests quickly. Actually it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at bedtime and not hear from him until morning, this is not a realistic goal for a tiny baby.

Sleeping through the night
For a new baby a five-hour stretch is a full night. Many babies can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 am. This may be a far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant. What is more, some sleep through the nighters will suddenly being waking more frequently, and it’s often a full year or even two until your baby will settle into an all-night, every night sleep pattern.

Waking for night feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn’t let a newborn sleep longer than four hours without feeding, and the majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick him up for a feeding and when you can let him go back to sleep on his own. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries and these noises don’t always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises and your baby is asleep during these episodes.
Learn to differentiate between sleeping sounds and awake sounds. If your baby is awake and hungry you will want to feed him as quickly as possible so he will go back to sleep easily. But if he’s asleep – let him sleep.

It’s fact that your baby will be waking you up, so you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. Being frustrated about having to get up won’t change a thing. The situation will improve day by day, and before you know it your newborn won’t be so little anymore – he will be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight … during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

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