When you see a newborn baby, in most instances they will either be eating or sleeping. This is because newborns need a lot of sleep. In fact, in the first 1 to 6 weeks, babies need around 17 or 18 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. So what’s the big deal? How come new parents are always so tired then?
Just because newborns need 18 hours of sleep doesn’t mean that they actually get it. Newborns usually do not sleep longer than 4 hours at a time before waking up, having a feed, having a look around, having a change and then going back down to sleep. And, for many new babies, the longest they will go is one or two sleep cycles which is around 40 to 90 minutes long.
But here is a brief guideline to what you may want to aim for when it comes to developing your newborn’s sleep patterns:
How Much Sleep Do Newborns Need?
17 to 18 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period is recommended but your baby may be sleeping more or less than this. Some days they may sleep for 20 hours while others they may only sleep for 15 hours. Newborns generally cannot go longer than 6 hours before they need another feed and most babies will wake every 2 to 4 hours at this stage.
Once baby has been fed and is awake, they will most likely need to go back down for a sleep after 30 minutes to 1 hour of awake time (this includes the feeding). So, if you feed for a half an hour and change them, they may be ready to go back to bed shortly after this.
How to Sleep?
Some babies will simply drop off to sleep everywhere. Others will need a little assistance. One of the most trusted methods to help new babies to sleep is wrapping them or swaddling them. You can use a Muslim or light wrap or you can purchase swaddles that keep baby tightly wrapped while they sleep.
Try to keep baby’s sleep environment consistent, especially at night. Stick to a similar sleep time every night and a similar routine. Keep their sleeping area consistent and simple and try not to rely on too many gadgets (noise makers, mobiles, rocking, bouncing, etc.) Even at this young age, babies can start to rely on these props to help fall asleep. You can expect baby to fall asleep when you are out, such as doing the shopping or in the car on the way back from a party. Don’t stress that they are not in their ‘sleeping’ environment. Learning how to fall asleep is essential for your baby but it is not practical to remain at home all day, every day for the next few months just to ensure that they are used to their cot. So give yourself a break and a chance to settle into a routine that compliments, rather than controls your life.
Every baby will have a different sleep pattern and there are several different best-selling baby sleep books out there that explain the different sleep techniques and how to get your baby to sleep perfectly from day one. However, the truth is that not all babies will care if you have read the book, followed the cues and used the right settling techniques. Every baby’s sleep pattern will vary based on several personal factors like where they sleep, where you sleep, what time you go to bed, when you go out, etc. Some babies sleep better in the car or in a pram; others sleep better when at home. And others just don’t sleep. Period!