Newborn babies require an average of 16 hours of sleep per day, according to KidsHealth and the Nemours Foundation. Most newborns get this sleep in several two- to four-hour intervals. Getting your newborn put down for a nap, or for sleep at night, is often a challenge, but there are several ways to encourage positive sleeping habits and make putting your newborn baby to sleep easier.
Establishing a routine helps your baby learn it is time to sleep. Following a simple routine when putting your newborn down for a nap, or to sleep at night, encourages her to relax and fall asleep, according to KidsHealth. Change your baby's clothes before bed, give her a warm bath, read a short story, sing a lullaby or just give a simple hug and kiss as you put her in the crib. Following this routine consistently signals to your baby that it is time to go to sleep. Kidshealth also notes that it may take a while for newborns to understand a bedtime routine.
Learn Sleep Cues
Knowing when your newborn is tired helps you determine when to put him to sleep. Being aware of his sleep cues allows you to avoid putting your newborn to bed when he is wide awake or overtired, making it harder for him to fall asleep, according to Babycenter. Look for cues such as developing dark eye circles, eye-rubbing or ear-pulling that signal that a newborn is tired. Be aware of other signals that your individual newborn gives when he is ready for sleep.
Put Down When Drowsy
Putting your newborn to sleep when she is still awake but drowsy prevents her from having trouble going back to sleep, according to Healthy Children, sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teaching your newborn to fall asleep in her crib promotes healthy sleeping habits and makes it easier for her to fall asleep if she wakes up, while rocking or holding her until she is asleep may pose a challenge if she wakes up. She will likely expect the same help again.
Day and Night
Once your baby is several weeks old, begin teaching him the difference between day and night. Show your baby that night is the time for sleep, by keeping the lights dim and your voice low during nighttime feedings. Try not to talk to your baby or play with him when you are up with him at night, notes Babycenter. During the day, engage your baby in activities and interact with him as much as possible. Wake him up if he sleeps through a daytime feeding to help distinguish between day and night.
When your hear your newborn fussing, wait a short while before responding to her cries. Many newborns simply fall back to sleep if no one responds to a mild cry. According to Healthy Children, if your newborn continues to cry for several minutes, go and check on her quietly. If she continues to cry or is unable to calm down, ensure that there is nothing bothering her, such as a dirty diaper or hunger, before putting her back to sleep.