It may not sound like a long stretch, but at some point you will rejoice when your baby sleeps for 4 hours at a time. There's no magic age at which an infant snoozes for this length of time, but you can expect it to happen within the first few weeks post birth. Luckily, there are some things you can do to facilitate the goal of 4 blissful hours of pillow-time for the exhausted parents in the house.
Establish a Feeding Schedule
A newborn baby may sleep at 3 to 4 hour stretches right away, according to KidsHealth.org. Still, the reputable parenting site notes that a breastfed infant often wakes every 2 hours to eat at first and that baby's need to eat should take precedence over sleeping. So yes, you may need to wake your wee one for a feeding. Whether you are nursing or formula feeding, the best thing you can do to encourage your baby to sleep at longer intervals is to get her on a feeding and nap schedule. For instance, feed baby at 9 a.m. each morning, spend some time with baby, then put her down for a nap. Repeat this cycle again at 11 a.m. and so on. Keep baby's routine the same as much as possible so your cutie will begin to fall into a rhythm of eating and sleeping. Gradually the time between feedings will increase. Work with your pediatrician to develop a feeding routine that makes sense for your growing baby.
Get to Know Baby's Noises
If you pick baby up from her bed each and every time she coos or gurgles, the goal of getting her to sleep 4 hours at a time may be unreachable. Indeed, it's normal for an infant to grunt and hiccup from her bassinet; these sounds do not necessarily mean you need to intervene. You may find that after a period of time, your baby's noises will dissipate and she falls back to sleep. That being said, KidsHealth.org encourages parents to respond to a newborn's cries to make sure all of her needs are being met. This is especially important early on as you get to know your baby's cries and what they mean.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, properly swaddling an infant can promote sleep. Wrapping your baby in a breathable blanket will keep her from stirring and waking herself too soon. You may find that when you swaddle your sweetie, she is soothed and ready to snooze for a longer period of time. If you have any questions about how to safely swaddle your newborn, be sure to talk to your pediatrician. And always place baby on her back to sleep!
Manage Your Expectations
If your newborn is waking every few hours, 24 hours a day, of course you are exhausted! But try to keep in mind that this will not be baby's pattern forever. As your newborn grows and is able to consume more food, she will snooze for longer periods of time. Yes, you will get 4 hours of continuous sleep out of your new bundle of joy. And guess what? In the not-so-distant future, your baby will sleep for even longer than 4 hours!