Baby sleep: birth to 3 months
22, Feb 2022
Typical sleep patterns for newborns
Newborns sleep a lot – usually up 16 to 17 hours per day. But most babies don’t stay asleep for longer than two to four hours during the first few weeks of life.
Much sleep for your baby and a very irregular – and tiring – life to you. Your mission is to respond to clues of the newborn so you’ll probably get up often during the night to change him, feed him and comfort him.
What is happening
Baby sleep cycles are much shorter than those of adults, and babies spend more time in rapid eye movement sleep (REM), which is believed to be necessary for the extraordinary development that is happening in the baby’s brain. REM sleep is lighter than non REM.
All this unpredictability is a necessary phase for your baby and doesn’t last long – although it may seem like an eternity when you are sleep-deprived.
What is the next step
Around 6 to 8 weeks of age, most babies get to sleep for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night, although most continue to wake up to feed at night. They also have shorter periods of REM sleep and longer periods of deep sleep non REM.
Sometime between 4 and 6 months, experts say, most babies are able to sleep from 8 to 12 hours overnight. Some babies sleep a great part of the night much earlier, at 6 weeks for example, but many babies reach this milestone by 5 or 6 months of age, and some continue to wake up during the night. You can help your baby get there sooner, if that is your goal, by teaching good sleep habits from the beginning.
How to establish good sleep habits
Here are some tips to help your baby sleep:
Learn the signs that mean that he is tired.
- In the first six to eight weeks, most babies are not able to stay awake more than two hours. Extending more than that to put your baby to sleep, he can become too tired and have trouble falling asleep.
Notice the signs of tiredness of your baby.
- Does he rubs his eyes, pulls his ear or is more demanding than usual?
If you notice these or any other signs of drowsiness, try to put him to sleep.
«Quickly you will develop a sixth sense about the pace and daily pattern of your baby, and will know instinctively when he is ready for a nap.»
Start to teach him the difference between day and night
Some babies are night owls (something that you may have started to notice a little during pregnancy) and well awaked when you want to rest. In the early days will not be able to do much about it. But around 2 weeks of age you can begin to teach him how to distinguish night from day.
When your baby is alert and awake during the day interact with him, as much as possible, keep the house and his room light and bright, and do not bother to minimize daytime regular noises, as the phone, music or dishwasher. If he tends to sleep during feedings genteelly wake him up.
At night, do not play with him when he wakes up. Keep the lights and the noise level low, and spend a less time talking to him. This way your baby begins to discover that the night is for sleeping.
Consider starting a bedtime routine
It is never too early to start to try to follow a routine before bed. It can be something as simple as putting the baby in his bed, singing a lullaby and giving him a kiss good night.
Create the environment so that your baby falls asleep by himself
By 6 to 8 weeks of age you can start giving your baby the opportunity to fall asleep on his own.
Put the baby in the cradle when he is drowsy but still awake.
It is not advisable to rock or breastfeed your baby to sleep, even at the beginning. There are Parents who believe what they do at the beginning has no impact, but it has. Babies are learning their sleeping habits.
«If you breastfeed the child to sleep every night in the first eight weeks, why would she expect something else later?»
However, not everyone agrees with this strategy. Some parents choose to rock in their arms or breast-feed their babies until they fall asleep, because they believe that it is normal and natural, because they like and because their baby is growing and sleeping well, or just because nothing else seems to work.