You should put your newborn to sleep when she's drowsy but still awake, as this helps her learn to fall asleep on her own, notes the University of Michigan Health System website. However, if you can't tell when your little one is getting sleepy, you could miss that ideal window of time. By watching for signs that your baby is ready for a nap, you'll be able to put her down at the right time -- and maybe get a few winks yourself.
If your normally calm newborn starts to get squirmy or fussy, there's a good chance that he's getting sleepy. Just like adults and older children, babies can react to tiredness with crankiness, so when you infant gets restless, it's a good time to get ready him ready for a nap. What's more, watching for signs of fussiness can help you track your baby's best times of day. For example, if he tends to get tired and fussy in the afternoon, you can plan to stay home for a nap rather than going to see family or do other activities.
Rubbing Eyes and Yawning
Even the smallest of newborns display actions that clearly tell you that they're ready for nap time. One of the easiest telltale signs is the tiniest yawn. Sure, it's a great photo op, but it's also a sign that you should be putting your little one down for a nap. She might also ball her hands into fists and rub at her eyes when she's sleepy.
While your newborn isn't exactly on the move, you should be able to tell the difference between periods of alertness and periods where he's feeling sleepy. An alert newborn makes eye contact and seems interested in the world around him. As he gets more tired, he'll stop holding eye contact, looking away and seeming less interested and alert, even when you try to play or engage him. That means it's time for a nap.
Some babies get sleepy when doing certain activities that they associate with sleep. For example, some infants might get drowsy when breastfeeding or when listening to certain sounds. You might notice your infant's eyes start to close while feeding, or perhaps your little one will suddenly lose interest in something that was just holding her interest. These drowsy times are ideal times to place your infant in her crib -- on her back -- so she can get used to falling asleep on her own.