One of the most challenging parts of bringing home a new born is getting acquainted with the newborn sleep schedule. Newborns will sleep around 15-17 hours per day, divided equally between night and day. Although they require a lot of sleep, the sleep time is separated in anywhere from 30 minute to 3 hour segments. As they grow, the sleep segment times increase and the total sleep time decreases a little.
Learn More About How to Set a Newborn Sleep Schedule
What to Expect
While every newborn is different, it is not realistic for any parent to think their baby will sleep through the night when they first bring him home. Babies establish their sleep patterns over the first 12 weeks of their lives. Newborn sleep patterns differ greatly compared to the sleep patterns they will exhibit as a toddler. So if it seems like your newborn never sleeps or sleeps only during the day, take heart that it won’t always be the same.
Newborns are light sleepers that lack the ability to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up. This becomes the job of the new sleep-deprived parents. Eventually, they will learn how to soothe themselves back to sleep, but this doesn’t typically happen right away. Sleeping through the night will begin around six weeks or older when they learn to calm themselves. Newborns also aren’t born with the ability to distinguish between night and day. They have to learn this as well. Parents can help their newborn sleep more at night by increasing their interaction with him during the day and decreasing his stimulation in the evening. Also, establishing a bedtime routine will help your newborn learn what bedtime means.
Foster Good Sleep Habits
During this time in your newborn’s development, it is important to teach him good sleep habits that he will continue with into his toddler years. When your baby is sleepy, get into the habit of putting your baby to bed before he falls asleep. Over time this will teach him to put himself to sleep and not be dependent on outside influences to soothe him to sleep.
Limit the length of daytime naps. While getting on schedule of consistent naps is important, sleeping for long periods of time during the day may shorten the length of time he will sleep at night. As your baby ages, his need for daytime naps decreases and will eventually disappear altogether.
Be sure to practice soothing activities right before bedtime. Having a relaxing bath or a quiet story time will allow your baby to gear down and be properly prepared to sleep. By incorporating these relaxation techniques into a nightly routine, you will help your baby move from a newborn sleep schedule to a more manageable sleep schedule.
While sleep training your infant can seem like a daunting task, it is a necessary part of teaching your baby good sleep habits that will last a lifetime. As new parents it is important to remember that newborn sleep patterns are temporary; your baby will eventually develop a sleep pattern that is more compatible with your sleep patterns.