Sleeping habits in infants vary considerably from those of older babies and toddlers. There has been a lot of research on newborn babies’ sleep patterns. By about 16 weeks, babies should have adopted adultlike sleep patterns. It is healthy to guide your baby toward these patterns. Keep in mind newborns can only stay awake for two hours at a time. After two hours, they will start to get overstimulated. There is so much going on sometimes, they can’t fall asleep.
Throughout the day, watch for those sleep signs. Newborns may have later bedtimes than toddlers if they had a long nap during the day. Typically, toddlers will have an early bedtime. They typically sleep for about 21 hours a day.
Instilling Healthy Sleeping Habits in Infants
Put the baby down before they are fully tired, so they get practice putting themselves to sleep. Always put the baby to sleep on his back. For one- and two-month-old babies, awake time is only one to two hours throughout the day. Catnapping at this age is really common and normal. Your baby’s night sleeping will be eight to ten hours total, though not all at once. At this stage, your baby needs to eat at night as well.
It is recommended to track sleep only if there is a problem and the baby is really fussy. For establishing good sleeping habits in infants, don’t worry about all of these naps being at home.
Feel free to utilize naps on the go. If you want to go out and about, run errands or meet up with friends, your baby will have to learn to sleep on the go. Have your baby nap in a baby stroller or in the car. Also, utilize motion sleeping as well, such as in a swing or vibrating chair, as long as you supervise the baby in these spaces.
Reinforce Daytime vs. Nighttime
One of the most crucial sleeping habits in infants is reinforcing day versus night. A lot of this is physiological and will develop over time. However, there are strategies you can implement to reinforce daytime versus nighttime. It is perfectly fine to leave your daytime surroundings the same with regular daytime activities. Newborns can sleep through anything and everything during the day.
There are things to reinforce day versus night. Engage as you normally would during the day. If the baby is having trouble napping during the day, just make subtle changes like turning off the overhead light but don’t make it completely dark. No other noises should be present at nighttime, except for white noise. Nighttime baby should be conditioned to do nothing but sleep.
Sleeping swaddled is recommended but not in a traditional swaddle. They usually break out of a traditional swaddle. Being swaddled helps them sleep longer stretches by muting the startle reflex from waking up your baby. Keep in mind that babies do not have to be swaddled. Specialized sleep sacks are an excellent alternative.
At night, don’t engage the baby too much by encouraging him to play. Stay in nighttime mode. The key is to always feed him in pitch black if possible. Avoid turning on the lights when changing diapers and feeding the baby at night.
Also, be sure to have all your supplies easily accessible. Have a changing center, burp cloths, wipes and any additional supplies right where you need them. If you need light, use a dim light; keep everything low key. If nursing, learn how to nurse lying down. A generally accepted rule is that about nine months, you should no longer need to breastfeed the baby. That way, you and baby can fall asleep nursing. Babies can fall asleep while eating. Have some sort of nursing pajamas for easy access.
Keep track of bedtime and wakings in the night. Add in an early evening nap before your actual bedtime routine. Bedtime may need to be as late as 10 p.m. if you want to start your day at about 6 a.m. If your baby’s bedtime is too early (say, 8 p.m.), then the baby will wake early, around 4 a.m., ready to play.
For establishing good sleeping habits in infants, follow these simple tips to ace your first four months.
Related Content: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
In the past, the common practice was to pass Dad the surgical scissors and have him perform a quick snip just before the newborn babe was whisked away to be cleaned, measured and dosed with vitamin K. Any delay in cord cutting was viewed as unnecessary in promoting general health for the baby or mother. However, recent research suggests that a delay of even three minutes can have a significant positive impact on infants.