Parents often ask me when they should expect their baby to sleep through the night. The truth is, you can’t really EXPECT anything in the early months because newborns vary in their sleep needs. I know that’s probably not the answer you were hoping for, but the saying “all babies are different” really applies here. There is a wide range of what “normal” newborn sleep looks like. While some babies may sleep through the night very early on, most don’t. There is too much variability in feeding patterns. Young babies need to eat around the clock because of their tiny bellies. Also, some newborns have their days and nights reversed and sleep more during the day. So I guess the only thing you can expect in the first several months is that you will be exhausted. Just try to remember that this is the time where you are building life-long bonding & attachment skills in your baby, and that should be your focus. The sleep will come! And if it doesn’t call me ;).
Top 10 tips for the early months:
- Keep visitors to a minimum in the early weeks.
- Keep baby’s environment as calm as possible so he does not get overstimulated.
- Try feeding your baby when he wakes instead of right before he goes to sleep. This will encourage great feeds and prevent the ”feed to sleep” association. The Baby Whisperer’s EASY routine is great!
- Newborns can only stay awake for 45-60 minutes before they need to sleep again.
- Establish a consistent bedtime and nap routine (swaddle, white noise, dark room).
- Put your baby to sleep on their back but give him or her plenty of tummy time during the day, which reduces your baby’s risk for SIDS.
- Learn your baby’s sleepy cues. Watch for yawning, rubbing eyes, zoning out, etc. and get your baby to sleep. Don’t wait until they are overtired or they may have a harder time sleeping.
- Daytime sleep is not developed in the brain until between 4-6 months. It is normal for naps to vary in their timing and length until this time. It’s okay to do whatever you have to do (as long as it is safe) to get your baby to nap.
- When you have to feed your baby at night, keep lights and stimulation to a minimum.
- Putting your baby down awake but drowsy will encourage the development of self-soothing skills. Practice at bedtime when your baby is between 6-8 weeks old. If it does not work, soothe your baby to sleep however you usually do and try again in another week or so. Some babies need more soothing than others.