Sleep and Your Baby

Source: One Tough Job

Infants should be put to sleep on their backs, on a firm surface, with no toys or loose bedding.

American Academy of Pediatrics

Learning to care for your infant can be both exciting and challenging. The sleep patterns of newborns can be especially trying for parents. Most newborns sleep for around 16-18 hours throughout the day and night. However, they may not sleep at times that are convenient for their parents. Newborns have small digestive systems and it is normal for them to wake every 3-4 hours to be fed. By 4-6 months, your newborn may start to sleep for 6-8 hours at night and take two shorter naps during the day, for a total of 10-14 hours. It takes some infants longer to develop this routine. Try to be patient as your baby develops good sleep habits and go easy on yourself as you help them learn.

Here are some ways to help your baby sleep:

Situation – Some infants are more sensitive to the amount of noise or level of light, and may have trouble sleeping because they get scared or are woken up. Try and put your infant to sleep in an area where there are fewer distractions. However, make sure you check on him from time to time and can hear him if he cries.

Schedule – Establish a bedtime routine for your infant, with soothing activities such as bathing, rocking, singing, or reading. This will help her learn when it is time to go to bed. Try to put her in her crib right before she falls asleep instead of letting her fall asleep in your arms. This will teach her to put herself to sleep later on or if she wakes up during the night. Although it might be difficult for you to hear, letting your infant cry for a short time is not bad for her.

Safety – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be put to sleep on their backs, on a firm surface, in a room that is not too warm, in a nonsmoking environment, and with no toys or loose bedding. Toys and loose bedding can hurt your infant or interfere with his breathing. Sleeping on the side or stomach can also interfere with your infant’s breathing and cause him to suffocate, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Talk to your doctor if you have questions about sleep safety.

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