Getting enough sleep when you have an infant isn’t easy. You’re up at all hours of the night with feedings, diaper changes, and laundry, and you’re constantly worrying about whether your baby is getting their rest or not. That can add up to sleepless nights—and even days—when you just want to sit down and relax, if only for 10 minutes!
If you’re looking for ways to help your baby get more sleep during the night, there are lots of strategies that will work well in helping you both get more rest at night.
How much sleep should my baby be getting?
It’s normal for newborns to wake up frequently throughout the night. In fact, they may only sleep for a total of two to four hours at a time.
Most newborns sleep between 16 and 20 hours a day, but they wake up frequently.
By 3 months old, most babies need 14 to 15 hours of sleep a day, including naps. However, some babies may only need 12 hours of sleep a day.
How much sleep should I be getting?
Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a day. However, new parents often get much less sleep than they need. It is important to try to get as much sleep as possible when you have a newborn baby.
Tired after being awake for three days, trying to get a baby to sleep can be tough, but don’t despair. Babies have great success training their parents not to sleep at night.
In time, your body will adjust to not getting enough sleep and despite what the internet tells you in the wee hours of the morning, you will not die from lack of sleep!
Strategies to make their bedtime routine calm and consistent
A bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
Plus, a calm and consistent routine can help your baby feel safe and secure, which can lead to longer stretches of sleep at night.
To create a bedtime routine, start by choosing a few calming activities that you’ll do every night before bed, such as reading a book or taking a bath.
Next, establish a soothing bedtime ritual by giving your baby their final feeding and then rocking them in the rocking chair for 5-10 minutes while singing them their favorite lullaby.
Once they’re asleep in the rocker, gently transfer them into their crib (or bassinet) and tuck them in snugly with a blanket or stuffed animal. You can also turn on a nightlight in the room if needed.
Be sure to maintain the same order each night. For example, feed your baby first, then give them a bath, read them a story and finally rock them to sleep in your arms or the rocking chair. These simple steps will become second nature after just one week!
How can I get them into a good napping schedule?
It can be difficult to get a newborn on a good napping schedule. Here are some tips:
-Start by trying to put them down for a nap about 2 hours after they wake up from their last one.
-If they resist napping, try putting them in the car seat or stroller and going for a walk. The movement will often lull them to sleep.
-Once they’re asleep, try to keep them in the same place for their nap.
-If they wake during their nap, try going in and shushing them, but only pick them up if they really need help going back to sleep. Otherwise, let them lay down quietly until they fall asleep again.
The less frequently you pick them up during a nap, the longer it will last. Naps should not exceed 1 hour at a time before they start interfering with nighttime sleep.
Letting them cry themselves to sleep is not recommended because it can damage their ability to self-soothe later on. If they don’t seem tired enough at bedtime, use white noise while they go to bed so that they won’t feel scared when the room goes dark and quiet.
Strategies for making sure my newborn stays asleep after feeding or being changed
Do you have the lights on when you feed and change your baby? The light could interfere with their sleep and make them more wide awake. It is better to be prepared before lights out, so you don’t need to turn on the lights to find the changing supplies.
Your partner’s or your own chatter during this time could also wake up your baby, making it harder for them to fall back asleep.
Keep your baby’s surroundings as dark and boring as possible so that he can sleep right back to sleep after a feed or diaper change.
Because babies are so programmed to follow a routine, being consistent is key to ensuring they sleep soundly or do not wake up often.
Other parents’ anecdotes or our baby’s sleeping schedule is not as important as us following our own routine.
Although this is perfectly normal, six months will pass and you’ll find yourself sleeping more soundly at night. Infants need time to develop a sleep pattern, but if you stick to a routine, they will eventually adjust and follow the pattern.
If your baby is getting less than 4 hours of sleep at night, get in touch with a pediatrician for help and guidance.
If are you a first-time parent, you may also want to read New Parent’s Guide to the First Few Weeks With a Newborn.