How to Get Your Newborn Into a Sleep Routine
Newborn babies can sleep for up to 16 hours, but this is usually broken down into periods of one or two hours. Establishing a sleep routine for your newborn can be stressful, especially as your baby’s sleep dictates the quality and amount of sleep you get. Instead of thinking of getting your baby to sleep as a test, see it as a goal, which, with a little bit of time and patience, can be achieved successfully.
Resist the urge to interact with your baby when she wakes in the middle of the night for a feed. Make sure that you feed her in a dark, quiet place that is free from distractions. Nighttime feeds should always be boring and uneventful. This will help her understand that this is not playtime. The more stimulated she is when awake, the less likely she will be to fall back to sleep after her feed. Rocking can comfort a crying baby but it can also stimulate her, making her more alert. Simply hold her until she has fed, check her diaper and return her to her crib.
Consider giving him a pacifier for his nighttime sleeps, as this can help comfort a baby who is especially fussy or who may find it hard to settle. The use of a pacifier at night can also reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), advises MayoClinic.com 2.
Do not go to her as soon as you hear her move or as soon as she starts crying. Give her a few minutes to settle down. It is not unusual for babies to cry and fuss as they are settling down to sleep each night. If you are quick to attend to your baby every time she makes the slightest noise, she will learn her behavior gets your attention and you may find it a hard habit to break.
Try putting your baby down in his crib when he is dozy but not asleep, and this will allow him to fall asleep by himself. Keep repeating this each evening and he will soon associate his crib with the place where he falls asleep.
Make sure your baby has plenty of stimulation and activity during the day. Activities for a newborn can be cuddles, rocking, singing and reading to him. All these activities will keep him engaged and eventually tire him out. Consistent play during the day will help encourage a sleep pattern during the night as he sleeps off the day's activities.
Try swaddling your baby in a blanket when you put her to sleep in her crib at night. Swaddling involves wrapping a blanket tightly but comfortably around your baby. This will prevent her from being able to move her arms in her sleep, which should stop her from waking herself up. This is particularly effective with newborns as they associate the swaddling with the confined space and comfort of the womb.
If your baby sleeps from early evening to the middle of the night, try moving his last feed to just before you go to bed. Following this routine consistently over a period of time should stretch out your baby's sleep pattern.
Do not be tempted to share a bed with your newborn. Not only is there the risk you can roll on to her, but sharing a bed can increase the chance of SIDS. If your baby continually cries for long periods of time during the night and is hard to settle, consult your pediatrician to rule out any other possible reasons.
- Baby image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com