Sleep Basics: print out guide
Things to Know
Sleep issues consume a huge amount of a new parent's waking hours -- and her sleeping hours, too! Here are some basic pointers on getting your newborn to sleep -- and check out Ages & Stages, where you'll find age-specific information on encouraging good sleep habits.
Things to know:
- A newborn averages about 16 hours of sleep a day but often can't snooze for more than a few hours at a time -- so you may not get a good night's rest for a while. By the time they're 3 or 4 months old, most babies will consistently sleep through the night.
- Newborns wake up frequently because they get hungry. Most experts say a baby must weight 12 to 13 pounds before she can hold enough food in her stomach to tide her over until morning.
- To encourage drowsiness, don't play or socialize with your baby during night-wakings. Keep the room dim, feed and change her quietly, then put her back down.
- Many newborns sleep more during the day than during the night. To help her adjust to a more adult-friendly sleep schedule, give her plenty of daytime cues: Play with her, keep the room light, and feed her on demand.
- If, after three weeks baby's still sleeping more during the day than at night, try waking her earlier from her long stretch of daytime sleep. Gradually, she'll start making up for that lost sleep after dark.
How to Put a Baby to Bed
- Make sure baby's sleeping place is safe. She should sleep on a firm surface, without blankets or quilts, pillows, or stuffed animals. (See Choosing and Using a Crib for more info below.)
- Turn overhead lights off, but keep a dim lamp or nightlight on.
- Create a bedtime ritual -- read her a quiet story, sing lullabies or play soft music, rock her and stroke her. Keep the routine consistent, doing the same things in the same order each time you put baby down to sleep.
- If she's asleep in your arms and you'd like to put her down, make sure she's in a deep stage of sleep first. What to look for: a motionless face and limp, dangling limbs. Then, put her down as gently as you can and keep a hand on her tummy for a minute or two afterward.
- Always put baby to bed on her back. Do not place her tummy-side down.
- If you're going into another room, keep a baby monitor switched on, so that you'll be sure to hear when she wakes up.