The Courageous Chicken may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page. Learn More.
To the sleepless parent, newborn sleep might seem totally disorganized. For example, consider these points.
Newborns never sleep for very long. They sleep in short spurts—typically ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours—and these happen at seemingly random times throughout the day and night.
Newborns wake easily. In part, this is because they spend a large portion of their sleep time in “active sleep,” a light sleep state characterized by fluttering eyelids; rapid, irregular breathing; occasional body movements; and vocalizations (grunts or brief cries).
Newborn sleep times can vary widely. In the first few days, the average newborn sleeps between 16-18 hours a day. By four weeks, newborn sleep averages around 14 hours but some sleep as few as 9 hours per day.
Newborn Sleep Tips
Birth to 3 Months
Swaddle or Nest
We are all born with a natural startle reflex. This is the same as when you feel like you are all of a sudden falling. Just like with us grownups, this causes them to flail their arms and other crazy jerking movements. A great swaddle helps babies from startling themselves awake. Similar to getting tucked into bed as a kid. Snug as a bug!
In our house, we use a variety of different swaddles depending on the time of year. Don't want them to get too hot or cold. For the cooler months we use the Halo Swaddle and in warmer months we use these type.
Sometimes babies just hate being swaddled after the first month or two. All three of mine have been complete wiggle boxes and always manage to escape every type of swaddle I have in my arsenal.
So at this point, the baby nest comes to the rescue. I wish I would have had it for the first two babies but now Baby R uses it every night. I'm guessing it is like sleeping in a hug, LOL. It really does help her sleep and she will be able to use it as she grows as well.
I wish they came in adult sizes.
I believe that they can be used for cosleeping, but we don't just because our bed is not big enough. So we have ours in the pack and play beside the bed.
Reduce Night Stimulation
When your baby wakes for night time feedings, keep activity to a minimum. Make as little noise as possible, and avoid moving your baby around. Ideally, you want to avoid waking them “all the way up.” Sometimes that isn't possible but at least try to minimize the hustle and bustle. You want them to learn that nighttime is for sleep and quiet.
I always try and have a fan running at night to act as a sort of white noise machine. I use it for my husband and myself as well but for Baby R it is just another way to drown out the other household noises.
Nowadays there are some super cool multifunctional white noise machines that you can sync and control right on your phone. Perhaps once Baby R moves into her own room I may have to invest in something like this, cause my trusty fan is staying with me..
Let Them Nap
Don't try to keep your baby up during the day in the hopes that he or she will sleep better at night. Overly tired babies often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who would have had enough sleep during the day.
Feed your baby just as you are going to bed. They will probably already have been asleep for a bit. By doing this you avoid having to wake up and feed your baby just an hour or two after you fell asleep. To me going to bed knowing that you will be up with the baby in just an hour is just pure torture.
Avoid Night Time Diaper Changes
If at all possible avoid changing babies diaper at night time. Chances are that if they need changing they will be awake anyway, but otherwise wait till morning. The more fuss you make over them by changing and a cold wipe to the bum, the more awake they will be.
Try And Stick To A Routine
Try and establish routines that are applied to both nap times and bedtimes. This will help baby always associate those routines with sleep. Our typical routine includes a bath or lotion rub down, putting them into their cozy pajamas or swaddle, cuddling a bit in bed then nursing. Once they are done nursing I lay them down while they are still away but no more talking and playing at that point.
Just remember that the newborn sleep schedule is not really much of a schedule and you have to be flexible. Try to nap when you can and take a bit of time for yourself. These stages don't last long and take the extra cuddle when you can.
What have you found that worked to help your newborn have a restful night?