By Elizabeth Pantley
Newborn sleep problems are common – but it’s a mystery. Babies in the womb sleep up to twenty hours per day. Newborns know how to sleep, but we unknowingly get in the way of their natural process. Here are ways to help your baby get more sweet dreams.
- Don’t Exceed Baby’s “Happily Awake Span”
Newborns can only last forty-five minutes to an hour between sleep sessions. By three months of age this can extend to two or three hours, maximum. If your baby is awake longer than biology allows he’ll be fussier and cry more, plus find it harder to fall asleep.
- Learn your Baby’s Sleepy Signals
Your newborn will give you signals when she’s tired. If you miss the signs, your baby will quickly become overtired. On the flip side, a baby who isn’t tired will reject efforts to get her to sleep. Look for that perfect sleepy moment. Babies share a few common signs of tiredness, such as losing interest in people and toys and making slower movements.
- Correctly Identify Sleeping Sounds and Motions
Newborns grunt, coo, twitch, and shift position during sleep. These noises and movements don’t always signal awakening. Rushing to pick your baby up during these occurrences can actually wake her up! So, take a pause to observe and listen. If your baby is sleeping – let her sleep!
- Use White Noise to Mask Baby-waking Sounds
The use of quiet, rumbly white noise can soothe your baby and mask any outside sounds that wake him. Find a sound that you enjoy, too, since your baby may enjoy these sleepy sounds up through toddlerhood.
- Feed your Newborn Frequently – Day and Night.
Your baby doesn’t have a day/night body clock, so sleep and feedings occur throughout a 24-hour period. Your newborn’s teaspoon-sized stomach doesn’t last long without food. Newborns can’t sleep when they’re hungry and will keep waking up until they’re fed. It’s better to respond to feeding cues quickly so you can both get back to the important job of sleeping.
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series which helps mums and dads through all key stages of parenting. Visit her at nocrysolution.com.