Establish good sleep habits: newborn to 3 months
22, Feb 2022
What will the baby’s sleeping pattern?
Newborns sleep a lot. Wait for your baby to sleep up to 18 hours per day in the first few weeks. However, do not sleep for more than three or four hours at a time, day or night. This unfortunately means that you can expect some sleepless nights, especially at the beginning.
This is a necessary phase for your baby and passes quickly, although it may seem like an eternity when you are sleep-deprived.
Your baby’s sleep cycles are much smaller than yours. The baby will have a greater quantity of rapid eye movement sleep (REM), which is a light sleep, easily disturbed. This is necessary for the changes that are happening in his brain.
Between six and eight weeks your baby will probably sleep for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night. But he will still wake up to feed at night. He will have more stages of sleep deeper, non-REM sleep, and less light sleep.
It is possible that your baby sleeps the night at eight weeks of age. But it is much more likely that your nights are interrupted for at least the first few months. If your goal is to get the baby to sleep through the night, encourage clear habits from the beginning to help.
How to encourage good sleep habits
The baby can develop good sleeping habits soon after six weeks. Here are some strategies that you can use to help your baby develop them:
Recognize the signs that mean he is tired
In the first six to eight weeks, the baby will probably not be able to stay awake for more than two hours at a time. If you wait much longer than that to put him to bed, he probably will have more trouble falling asleep.
During the first three months, learn to read the signs that your baby is sleepy, as:
• rubs his eyes• pulls the ear with his hand• has dark circles under his eyes• is irritable and cries for almost nothing• stares into space• yawns and stretch himself often• loses interest in people and in his toys• and still becomes too quiet
If you notice these or any other signs of sleepiness, falling asleep put the baby in his cot or pram. You will quickly develop a sixth sense about the pace and daily routine of your baby, and will instinctively know when he is ready for a nap.
Teach the difference between day and night
Your baby can be a night owl and be wide-awake when you are ready to sleep. At about two weeks of age, you can begin to teach him the difference between day and night.
During the day, when it is wide-awake:
• Change his clothes upon awakening to signal the beginning of a new day.• Play with him as much as you can.• Create animated energetic moments, talking, singing and playing with him.• Keep your house and his room light and bright.• Do not minimize the noises of everyday life such as radio or washing machine.• Wake him up gently if it is falls asleep during feeding.
• Create quiet moments while you are feeding him.• Keep the lights and low noise, and talk.• Change him to the pajamas to signal the end of the day.
All this should help the baby to begin to understand that night is for sleeping. And give him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own.
Between six and eight weeks of age, you can teach the baby to fall asleep on his own. Put him to bed when his is drowsy but still awake. Stay with him if you want, but be prepared to do the same, every time that he wakes up during the night.
How the baby falls asleep is important. If you rock him to sleep every night in the first eight weeks, he will wait the same later. If you leave him alone to sleep, he will wait for that too.
Some experts advise against rocking or feeding the baby to sleep. It is up to you to decide what kind of routine best fits you and your baby.
If you want to establish a predictable pattern, you will need to adopt the same strategy every night.
What sleep problems happen at this age?
In the first few months, you may have to resign yourself to some restless nights. In the first few weeks you will notice probably that snuggling the baby helps him fall asleep.