Essential sleep tips for newborns

tired newborn baby ready for sleep

3 minute read

Essential sleep tips for newborns

Key points:

  • What you do during the day can help your baby sleep at night
  • A dark environment is conducive to sleep
  • Follow your baby’s lead and adjust your expectations

During the first few months, it will take a lot adjustment (and patience) to settle into a sleep rhythm with your newborn. Here are some things that can help.

Up and down

Your newborn will sleep for about 16 hours every day, with bouts of wakefulness lasting around 45-90 minutes in between sleeps. There might be a lot of restlessness and fussiness as you all adjust, so it’s important to have patience while you little one establishes their sleeping patterns.

During the day

It sounds counter-intuitive, but being too tired can hinder your baby’s ability to regulate their sleep throughout the night. Make sure their daytime sleeps are regular, but not too long (around four hours max, after which time they will need a feed).

If your baby is sleeping longer stretches during the day without waking to eat, but sleeping shorter periods at night, try to encourage more daytime feeding sessions.

Use the light

Put your baby to sleep in a dark room and pick them up to play in natural daylight. This sends signals about what they should do in different environments.

The sleep space

As well as lighting, consider how quiet and cool their room is. The temperature should generally be between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. Draw the curtains and lay your baby on their back on a firm mattress, free of loose bedding or clothing.

Look for patterns

From seven weeks, your baby should begin sleeping in 2-3 hour stretches, while at twelve weeks, they could be sleeping for around 4-6 hours at a time.

Watch your baby closely during weeks 7-12 to see if new sleep patterns emerge. When they start sleeping more in the first third of the night, avoid waking them to feed (unless instructed otherwise by your paediatrician). Instead, let their body’s natural pattern emerge.

Let them learn to self-soothe

To encourage your baby to learn to fall asleep independently, start laying them down just before the time they usually start nodding off. They may need lots of support at first, but your gentle shushing, tummy rubbing, or soothing cuddles will help.

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