The average newborn sleeps for many hours during the day and night, intermittently waking up for feedings. When it comes to newborns, there is unfortunately no set schedule for their sleep patterns: they tend to have their days and nights confused (meaning they are awake at night and asleep during the day).
Newborns will generally sleep 9 hours during the day, and 8 hours during the night. Babies do not being sleeping completely through the night, until 3 months of age. However this is subject to variation, and there is evidence that some babies do not sleep through night until a 12 month period has passed.
So how do you get your newborn to sleep? Here are four strategies for you to implement into your everyday life
Be strategic about how you use light
Literature surrounding newborn sleep habits suggests that light triggers your child’s biological alertness mechanisms. In a similar sense, darkness prompts the brain to release melatonin, a key sleep hormone. Curiously, melatonin is often called the ‘hormone of darkness’.
By implementing a routine for your baby, of generous exposure to light during the day, and generous exposure to the dark during the night, he or she will quickly learn when it is appropriate to sleep.
Respond to the tired signs
Babies display signs of drowsiness, and it is best to put them to bed at this point. Tired signs include, grimacing, grizzling, frowning, yawning, sucking, staring, eye rubbing, fist clenching, staring, and even crying. Responding early to these tired signs avoids a distressing sleep process, and ensures your baby is efficiently and easily put to sleep.
If your baby is finding it hard to sleep, hold them in your arms until they fall asleep. Use gentle rhythmic stroking, rocking, talking, and patting to put them to sleep. Singing a nice lullaby can trigger a relaxed state for your baby, and enable them to gently drift off.
Research has found a link between sudden infant death syndrome and babies who sleep in a prone position (on their stomach). The safest way to put a baby to sleep is on their back. Side-sleeping has a higher risk for SIDS than back sleeping. Soft surfaces, loose bedding, overheating, may also increase the risk for SIDS. Back sleeping is also safer because there is no evidence that a child may vomit or spit up while sleeping on their back. Choking is more likely in the prone position.
If you have any questions about or the postpartum period or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.