Most newborns sleep a minimum of about 16 hours a day. Unfortunately, they rarely sleep for more than two or three hours at a stretch. The most frustrating part of this for parents is when it happens at night -- although you might get as much as four straight hours of sleep in. This cat nap sleep schedule is essential for newborns, with their small stomachs that require refills every two to four hours. For new parents, however, this can be exhausting and leave you desperate for sleep. Sleeping when Baby sleeps is a great way to get a few naps in, but it just isn’t the same as a solid night of unbroken sleep. Working with your newborn to create a good schedule is possible, although it might take some work (and a few months of sticking with it). Here are a few tips for getting your newborn -- and yourself -- some sleep.
Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
Creating a good environment for sleep will make it easier to get her back to sleep quickly after a feeding or changing. White noise, like a fan or a recording of the ocean, can help encourage sleep. When it’s time to eat, keep lights dim. Try using a nightlight to avoid bright lights that fairly scream “wake up and stay up!” Stay quiet to give Baby the idea that nighttime is for sleeping, not socializing. If you hear her whimpering in the night, and it isn’t feeding time yet, wait a minute before rushing in. She may just be wiggling around before falling back asleep. Similarly, daytime naps can occur in the same place, although some experts suggest not trying to stay as quiet as possible. This can help your little one get used to background noise and learn to sleep through it, rather than waking up at the slightest sound.
Start a Solid Routine
When it comes to a bedtime routine, it’s never too early to start one. Providing plenty of stimulation during the day contrasted with a calm, quiet environment during the night will help clarify the difference in play time and sleep time. About an hour before bedtime, start emphasizing that peaceful atmosphere. A warm bath can be soothing for some babies, although it riles others up. Reading stories and singing quiet songs are great ways to get Baby ready to snooze. Whatever getting-ready-for-bed-routine you decide on, make sure to keep it relatively regular every night. If your “schedule” is pajamas, then a story, cleaning his gums, a song with a bottle, and then lights out, make sure to stick to it every night (when possible).
Work Baby’s Feeding Schedule Into Her Sleep Schedule
Brand new babies shouldn’t sleep through the night. Although he or she may give it a try, it’s up to you to wake your newborn if she doesn’t wake you. However, how you feed your baby can make all the difference in getting her to sleep at night. Breastfed babies wake at closer intervals than formula fed babies, so bottle babies tend to sleep for longer stretches than nursing babies. This is because formula takes longer to pass through the baby's digestive tract, keeping her full longer. Some parents who breastfeed choose to supplement infant formula before bedtime to encourage the baby to sleep longer at night. In babies older than four months, some parents add infant cereal to the bottle to fill that little stomach a little longer.
Make a Safe and Comfortable Sleep Spot
To prevent SIDS, your baby should be the only thing in his crib. There shouldn't be any pillows, stuffed animals, or fluffy blankets. Swaddling her before sleep in a light blanket (such as a flannel or cotton receiving blanket) can provide womb-like comfort without suffocation or overheating hazards. A safe crib is the best thing you can offer your newborn when it comes to good sleep.
Despite the pure joy of curling up for a nap with your newborn, experts recommend keeping baby in her own crib or bassinet. However, some parents find co-sleeping helps create longer sleep cycles, among other benefits. If you want to try co-sleeping, look for one of the many products that promote this practice safely. Alternatively, putting her bassinet next to your bed offers closeness without the concerns of co-sleeping.