Newborn babies typically sleep 16 or more hours each day – but only in 1-2 hour stretches. At first, the sleep patterns will seem random, but your baby will fall into a predictable sleep schedule soon enough. When the 3 month marker rolls around, your baby should be sleeping for 5 or 6 hours straight – which will be a welcome reprieve for weary parents. And by 6 months, your little tiger should be sleeping 9-12 hours a night –phew!
Of course, all that isn’t helping now, is it?
The first few months can be tough, and there is no way to completely ensure your baby sleeps through the night.
How to Get Baby to Sleep
- Run the little guy around during the day. Engage him by singing, talking, and playing. Let your baby experience all the household bustle – lights, kitchen noises, music, etc. Experts tell us that visual and auditory stimulation during the day can help a baby sleep through the night.
- Get a handle on your baby’s naps. Napping is important, but oversleeping during the day can leave your baby wide awake at night.
- Consistency Rules! Try a winding down routine each night – cuddling, bathing, or reading. Your baby will learn to associate these rituals with sleep. Like to play music in the nursery? Good move, according to the experts – but make sure the same tunes are playing each night.
- Lights, camera, action! Learn to put your baby to bed when she’s drowsy, but still awake. The will help her associate feelings of tiredness with her bed, and then falling asleep. Remember to clear the crib of all blankets and toys, and lay your baby on her back.
- Cut your baby some slack. Your baby may express her drowsiness with fussiness, and may have trouble finding a comfortable position in her crib. If the fussing doesn’t stop, talk to your baby while slowly caressing her back. Sometimes, your baby just needs a little bit more of you before she drifts off to sleep.
- Think pacifier. If your baby fusses and has trouble settling down at night, a pacifier might be just the thing. Studies show that using a pacifier reduces the odds of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as well. But there’s a flip side – if your baby becomes dependent on a pacifier, you may face more middle-of-the-night crying when the pacifier inevitably falls from her mouth.
- Babies rock and roll at night. Expect a lot of wriggling, twitching, and squirming in their sleep – and their noisy too. Sometimes a fussy baby is just settling down, but it could also mean she’s hungry. It’s OK to wait a few minutes to see what happens.
- Settle down. Keep your nighttime activities low-key – use dim lights, calm movements, and a soft voice. This will signal to the baby that playtime is over with – it’s now time for sleep.
- Bed Sharing is a no-no. Experts have found a link between bed sharing and SIDS. Bed sharing can also make your baby dependent on you to fall asleep.
In the end, some babies are just sleeping rock stars – they sleep for long stretches at night and only waken for feedings. Some just have trouble falling back asleep when they wake up at night. One of the joys of parenting is discovering your child’s ways of communicating.