Sleep, and getting enough of it, is a common concern for every new parent. With a new baby in the home, it’s inevitable that you will find sleep is in short supply. If you’re wondering (or worrying) about your baby’s sleep habits, have a look at these facts and our well thought out baby guide – and remember to try and get some well-earned rest yourself.
Where Should Your Baby Sleep?
For the first six months your baby needs you nearby – so put them down to sleep in the same room as you, both day and night, in a basket or a baby cot.
How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?
Every baby is different when it comes to sleep patterns and needs. Some start to sleep through the night relatively quickly, others take a much longer time to get there. Some will happily sleep for long periods, whilst others will only sleep in short bursts. It’s important to remember that your baby will have a unique sleep pattern, so you shouldn’t worry about them being different from other babies.
This is a rough guide to sleep requirements at different stages:
- Newborn – Most newborns are asleep more than they’re awake. A newborn has no concept of night and day and will simply wake to feed, regardless of the time! Most newborn babies wake to feed several times during the night. Total daily sleep can be anything from 8 to 18 hours.
- 3 to 6 months old – At this stage, your baby needs fewer night feeds and will be able to sleep for longer, with most babies sleeping between 12 and 14 hours across the day and night.
- 6 to 12 months – From 6 months, your baby will drop the night feed at some point and start to sleep through the night, for up to 12 hours. They will also usually nap at least twice during the day for up to 2 hours at a time.
- 12 months+ – Expect your baby to sleep for 12 to 15 hours a day in total after their first birthday. This will include 10-12 hours at night and usually 2 day-time naps of 1-2 hours each.
Newborns Sleep For Most Of The Day
A newborn baby doesn’t have much of a pattern to his sleep schedule. Baby will be sleeping anywhere from 14 to 17 out of every 24 hours, give or take. Your little one will probably only be awake for 30 minutes to an hour at a time and will nap anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours at a stretch.
Newborns Confuse Day & Night
Before your little one was born, he lived in total darkness and became accustomed to snoozing the day away (since that’s when they are most active). Fortunately, your little one’s nocturnal ways are only temporary and as they adjust to life on the outside, they’ll eventually stop mixing up the days with nights, often by the end of the first month.
How Can I Help My Baby Get Used To Night & Day
At night, you need to make things more calm and quiet. So, don’t play games or get them excited, avoid loud noises and talking, and try and keep lights low and curtains shut. This way, your baby will gradually learn that daytime is for activity, and night-time is for sleeping.
How Do I Cope With Disturbed Sleep
Dealing with a lack of sleep is one of the most challenging parts of being a new parent, as it can leave you tired, tetchy and stressed. So, if you have a partner, make sure you share the load. While you’re breastfeeding, your partner can do the early-morning changing and dressing. Most importantly, accept that you’re not superwoman and try to sleep while your baby sleeps. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but at least try and have a rest while your little one is napping. And you must accept help from others with household tasks – shopping, childcare for older children etc – when it’s offered, so you don’t get too exhausted. Getting some fresh air each day will also help you (and daylight during the day has been shown to help babies sleep better at night). And don’t forget, this won’t last forever. Your baby will soon start to go down for longer stretches and eventually through the night, and you will get your sleep back again!
How Can I Help To Build A Bedtime Routine For My Baby?
A newborn baby cannot follow any sleep routine but from around 3 months you can start to establish a routine that gets them used to the idea of bedtime and snuggling down. So, find a good time for your baby to go down – ideally between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm – and try and stick to it each night, or as near as possible. Then establish a set routine to go through each night, such as bath, then story, then lullaby, then dim the lights for sleep.
Your Sleep Habits Affect Your Baby
Studies have proven what you probably already know: Well-rested parents are better able to help their babies regulate themselves. If you’re exhausted, it will be that much harder to get your baby to calm down. So please, ask for help if you need it, especially at night. It may seem obvious, but taking care of you is one of the best things you can do to help your little one get the right amount of quality sleep.