Caring for a newborn is hard work, especially if you are having trouble getting your newborn to sleep and you are not getting enough sleep as a result. You may be wondering how to get your newborn to sleep in a more regular or predictable pattern. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure your baby’s comfort, safety, and readiness for sleep.
EditSeeing to Your Baby’s Needs
Change your baby’s diaper and put comfortable pajamas on them. If your baby has a wet diaper, then it will be hard for them to relax. Likewise, an uncomfortable outfit will also make it harder for your baby to sleep. Change your baby’s diaper and put on their pajamas before you put them down for bedtime or a nap.
A lightweight long-sleeve cotton shirt and a muslin sleep sack are good options for warmer weather, while a pair of fleece sleeper pajamas or a pair of long-sleeve cotton pajamas with a fleece sleep sack are good options for colder months.
Newborns will have 2 to 3 wet diapers per day for the first few days, and then 5 to 6 wet diapers per day after that.
Nurse or bottle-feed your baby. Your baby may have trouble falling asleep if they are hungry, so make sure to feed your baby before you put them down for a nap or bedtime. Also, keep in mind that newborns typically will not sleep through the night because they need to eat so frequently.
Newborns need to eat often, about once every 2 to 3 hours. A newborn may only take in of breast milk or formula per feeding in their first few days, but this amount will gradually increase and they will be drinking between per feeding by around 2 weeks.
Breast-fed babies need to feed about 8 to 12 times per day, or about every 2 to 3 hours.
Bottle-fed babies need to feed about once every 3 to 4 hours.
Check your baby’s skin temperature to determine if they are too hot or too cold. It is important to avoid over-dressing or over-bundling your baby, but your baby may also be underdressed. Touch your baby’s bare skin under their clothes, such as on their back. Your baby’s skin should feel warm, but not hot or cool to the touch.
If your baby is sweaty or their skin feels hot, then they are likely overdressed.
If your baby’s skin feels cold, then they are likely too cold and need another layer or a warmer pair of pajamas.
Hold, cuddle, and rock your baby to calm them if they are fussy. If your baby is crying despite making sure they are comfortable enough for sleep, they may be seeking comfort and affection from you. Pick up your baby, and then stand or sit and rock your baby.
Keep in mind that you cannot “spoil” a newborn with too much love and affection! Holding your baby often may actually make them less fussy overall.
Swaddle your newborn to help them feel more secure. Lay a swaddling blanket on a sturdy, flat surface so that it looks like a diamond. Fold the top corner of the diamond down and place your baby on the blanket with their head on the folded part. Bring 1 side of the blanket across your baby’s body and tuck it under their armpit. Wrap the bottom end of the blanket up to your baby’s other armpit and tuck it in. Wrap the remaining end of the blanket across your baby’s arms and body and tuck it in.
The blanket should be snug around your baby’s body, but not tight. Your baby’s face and neck should be visible.
You can also purchase special swaddle wraps with Velcro flaps to make swaddling your baby quick and easy.
Lay your baby down on their back in a bassinet or crib with only a fitted sheet. Do not use bulky bedding, pillows, or bumpers in your baby’s bed. Keep stuffed animals and any other bulky items out of the bassinet or crib as well. These pose a hazard to your baby since they can lead to suffocation.
Remember that the crib or bassinet is the safest place for your baby! Always put your baby in their crib or bassinet to sleep.
Lay your baby on their back to sleep. Never place your newborn on their stomach or side because this increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)!
Don’t let your newborn cry for more than a minute. If they are not settling down, then they likely need something. Pick up your baby, soothe them, check their diaper, and feed them if they are still hungry. Then, try putting your baby back in bed once they seem drowsy and ready to fall asleep again.
EditHelping Your Baby Establish Good Sleep Habits
Watch for signs that your baby is sleepy. The best time to put your baby down for a nap or for bed is when they are showing signs that they are sleepy. This will make it more likely that your baby will fall asleep. Some common signs of sleepiness in newborns include:
Rubbing their eyes
Pulling at their ears
Keep the lights bright during the day and dim at night. Open up the curtains and blinds in the morning to let in natural daylight and turn on extra lights as needed. This will signal to your baby that it is daytime. Then, around bedtime and naptimes, close curtains and blinds and dim the lights to signal to your baby that it is time for sleeping.
Avoid other stimulating activities when it is time for your baby to sleep as well, such as playing or talking. These activities will cause your baby to wake up and make it harder to get them sleeping.
Put your baby in their crib or bassinet when they are sleepy but awake. Don’t wait too long to put your baby in bed if they are showing signs that they are sleepy. Change your baby’s diaper, feed your baby, and then put them into their crib or bassinet while they are sleepy, but still awake. This will give your baby a chance to fall asleep on their own.
Allow your baby to nap as needed during the day. Newborns sleep for up to 19 hours per day. Trying to keep your baby awake for longer stretches will not help them to sleep for longer stretches at night. In fact, it is likely to make them fussier and make it harder for them to fall asleep. Instead, allow your newborn to nap as often as they want during the day.
EditCreating a Simple Bedtime Routine
Dim the lights in your baby’s bedroom. Start your baby’s bedtime routine by dimming the lights in the room where your baby sleeps, whether this is in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom or in your baby’s nursery. Close the door, turn on a nightlight or dim lamp, close the curtain or blinds, and shut off any bright lights.
Let other members of your household know that you will be putting your baby to bed or down for a nap so that they do not interrupt you.
Read your baby a book. Getting into the habit of reading your baby a bedtime story is a great way to signal that it is time for sleep. Choose a bedtime classic, such as Goodnight Moon, and read it to your baby while you hold them. Repeat this every night before you put them in bed or before a nap.
Even though your baby may not yet understand what you are saying, the sound of your voice will be soothing to them.
Sing a song or play some soothing music for your baby. Singing to your baby or playing them some soothing music is another great way to help them settle in for the night or a nap. Try singing your baby a simple lullaby, such as “Rock-a-Bye Baby” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
You can play music for your baby using a musical mobile suspended from their crib or bassinet, or you can find lullaby music on Youtube that you can play for your baby. Just turn off the screen on your phone, or face your baby away from the screen on a TV or laptop so that the images do not distract them.
Place your baby in bed and give them a kiss. After you lay your baby on their back in their bassinet, give them a kiss. Then, as long as your baby seems comfortable, quietly leave the room and stay nearby to listen. Your baby may drift off to sleep quickly, or they may cry for a few minutes before falling asleep.
If you will be out of earshot of your baby, place a baby monitor in the room. Use the monitor to listen for your baby while you are in another part of the house. If your baby starts to cry or fuss, check on them and attend to their needs.
Never place your baby in bed with you as this increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
EditSources and Citations
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