According to experts, newborns should be sleeping up to 17 hours a day. But try telling that to a worn out, sleep-deprived new parent! Babies are unpredictable and often sleep in short spurts, making it hard for adult caretakers to get much sleep themselves. The National Sleep Foundation has these tips to help your baby get the recommended amount of sleep so you can start getting a healthy amount of sleep yourself.
How to Get Your Infant to Sleep with Ease
Keep a Consistent Routine
It’s hard to keep track of regular hours of sleep for infants under six weeks of age since they have no circadian rhythm. But once babies are between six and eight weeks old, starting a consistent bedtime routine can help them sleep better during the night. Choose a sequence of soothing activities to do before bedtime, such as a warm bath, a story time and a lullaby—and repeat the same thing every night at the same time. Once your baby gets used to the comforting routine, he or she will recognize that falling asleep is the final step.
Try to Let Your Child Fall Asleep On His or Her Own
If your baby falls asleep while being rocked or nursed to sleep, he may expect to do that same thing in order to fall back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. So try to put baby down drowsy but awake, to let him figure out how to fall asleep on his own. That way when he wakes up, he’ll be able to soothe himself back to sleep.
If falling asleep on his own doesn’t work and you don’t have the heart to let him cry it out, Dr. Bill Sears gives other recommendations to help condition your baby to fall asleep, such as laying next to your baby until he falls asleep. When he wakes up, Dr. Sears says you can try laying a hand on baby’s back or giving a gentle pat instead of picking him up.
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Let the Sunshine In
A newborn’s natural body clock is still developing, so it’s a good idea to let him know the difference between day and night. So soon after the sun rises, open the curtains or blinds and start moving around, so baby knows it’s time to wake up. Do the opposite in the evening when you’re ready to start the bedtime routine, so he knows that darkness signals time to sleep.
Don’t Wake a Napping Baby
It may be tempting to wake a baby who’s been napping too long during the day in order to save sleeping hours for the night, but that could backfire and make him overtired. Infants who are able to finish daytime naps often enjoy a healthy amount of sleep at night.
Figure Out What Works For You
As Dr. Sears says in his advice about putting a baby to sleep, stay flexible. “Babies have different nighttime temperaments, and families have varied lifestyles. Keep working at a style of nighttime parenting that fits the temperament of your baby and your own lifestyle.”