Once you bring home your little bundle of joy, there’s no doubt you will forget what a decent night’s sleep is like. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can improve sleep with a newborn so you’re not a zombie walking to the coffee machine in the morning.
Before diving into the tips, it’s important to understand a newborn’s sleep pattern. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by waking up several times per night but understanding your baby’s needs a bit more in depth can help you feel less stressed out over lack of sleep.
Sleep Patterns of a Newborn
It’s common for a newborn to sleep most of their day away. They will wake up for feedings every two or three hours, usually. This pattern happens around the clock; therefore, with most babies that means feedings every two to three hours at night as well.
Newborns can’t distinguish from day and night so they don’t realize they should be awake during the day and asleep at night. In most cases, a newborn will sleep between 8 and 9 hours during the day and approximately 8 hours at night (of course not all at once).
Usually, babies won’t sleep through the night until they are at least three months old. Newborns have such a tiny stomach that they need to eat on demand every three hours, at least. According to HealthyChildren.Org, it’s developmentally critical for newborns to wake throughout the night, and sleeping through the entire night is not healthy at this age.
Tips to Get You Through
While feeding your baby through the night is critical, and it’s important to allow them to wake up for feedings, there are some tips to help. Every time a baby wakes throughout the night doesn’t mean they are necessarily hungry. Some of the following tips can help when you know your baby is not hungry.
Straight from birth until a baby is around five months old, he will experience a startle reflex. This sensation will cause jerky movements and will usually wake your baby. Keeping him swaddled will prevent your baby from waking up. It’s important to know that once your baby starts showing interest in rolling over or keeps taking his hands out, you should no longer swaddle.
Limit Naps During the Day
It’s hard to see your precious baby snoozing away and waking him up on purpose, but it could help him sleep a bit longer at night. Try letting your baby sleep for around two or three hours during the day and waking him and keeping him up for a bit.
White Noise Works Miracles
Your baby may be interested in every sound in the home and wake up continuously. Using a fan or white noise machine can cut out the noise and soothe your baby to sleep. If you aren’t fond of the idea of purchasing a sound machine, you can download a free baby white noise app on your smartphone.
Get Strategic With Diaper Changes
When you feed your baby during the night, change his diaper beforehand. When you change your baby’s diaper after the feeding, you’re taking a chance on him becoming too awake. Once your baby is fully awake during the night, it can seem like a real challenge to get him back to bed.
Teaching Your Baby to Become Independent
Instead of putting your baby down once he already fell asleep, try putting him in his bassinet or crib while he is awake but drowsy. This will help him learn how to sleep independently and can be a lifesaver if he happens to wake up during the night. When your baby starts to fall asleep independently, he will be able to drift back to sleep on his own if he wakes up.