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Sleep & Naps

Getting your little one to sleep like a baby can be a lot easier said than done. Huggies has compiled articles, advice and answers on how to get both you and your newborn snoozing soundly.

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Good Sleepers Gone Bad

Your beddy-bye routine hasn’t changed, so why is your child suddenly rousing like a pop-up toy at all hours of the night? A few answers that will help:

The sleep situation: A change in routine. When Andrea Everett, a mom of two, and her family moved from one home in Minneapolis, Minnesota to another, she knew there would be some adjustments. But nothing prepared her for her toddler’s new 5 a.m. wake-up time. "It was almost like he was an infant all over again," she says. She pushed his bedtime back from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in 15-minute intervals, which did the trick. Travel, illness, giving up naps, and daylight savings time can similarly throw off a child’s sleep at night, says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and author of the Expecting 411 series. The disrupted cycle easily becomes the new normal unless parents take snooze control.

The sleep solution: Reverse! Reverse! "When there has been a change in schedule, go back to the exact same old routine as soon as possible," says Dr. Brown. "A child will fall back to her normal sleeping patterns as long as parents are consistent. Of course, it won’t happen right away. Be patient—it may take a couple of nights."

 

The sleep situation: Night scares. Bad dreams are usually accompanied by tears and some anxiety. With night terrors, a sleep-cycle abnormality, children typically wake at about the same time each night, screaming, and have no recall of the terror in the morning.

The sleep solution: Comfort. For bad dreams, simply reassuring your child should help. Talk through what specifically scared her. Did a monster come at her? If so, you can say into the air, "Listen up, monster! Don’t you come back here!" Then give her a special stuffed animal for protection. If your child is experiencing frequent night terrors, discuss it with your pediatrician, who may recommend anything from relaxation techniques to medication.

The sleep situation: Your child’s not into the big-boy bed. For most kids, age 3 is the best time to make the move (unless your child has been climbing out of the crib); any sooner and you risk sleep disruptions.

The sleep solution: Dr. Brown advises a fanfare-free transition—if you make too big of a deal about it, she says, "there is potential for pushback." Emphasize independence: Tell your tot, "Now you’re big enough to climb into a bed on your own, won’t that be cool?"

 

The sleep situation: I’m thirsty, and other games. All the get-out-of-bed ploys your tot is pulling prove she’s one smart cookie (as if there were ever any doubt).

The sleep solution: Set limits. Each night, give her one token (a beanbag works fine) that’s redeemable for an extra hug or glass of water. "Of course, the token usually gets cashed five minutes after you shut the door," Dr. Brown notes. "Then you say ‘Good night’ and stick to it—no exceptions."

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Sleeping baby on white blanket

6 Simple Things That Helped Our Baby Start Sleeping Longer

Getting babies to sleep can definitely be a bit of a challenge. As I first-time mom, I spent days upon days of my life fretting over how to make sleep happen and worrying about why it wasn’t happening soon enough. With my second baby, I have learned to go with the flow a bit more. I am thankful to have had some perspective this time around, so that when I had those moments of feeling like the sleepless nights were never going to end, I knew that it wasn’t actually true.

But while I’ve realized that babies do start sleeping more eventually, but I’ve also realized that sometimes they need a little bit of help in getting there. Everyone has their own approach when it comes to babies and sleep, but sleep training techniques aside, we found a few things that helped our little one begin to sleep.

1. Moving to his own room

For a long while, I thought that room sharing was the best option for us to get extra sleep. Since our baby was waking 4-6 times each night to nurse for a good long while, it made sense. Around the time he was 6 months old though, I began realizing that this might have been more out of habit than actual hunger. We moved him to his own room and he ended up sleeping much more soundly – maybe because our noises weren’t waking him anymore!

2. Blackout shades

I cannot say enough good things about having a blackout shade. With the sun staying out longer each evening and rising earlier each morning, our baby had taken to waking with the sun and taking awhile to fall asleep as well. A blackout shade has helped remedy the problem, and we’re getting 1.5 to 2 more hours of sleep each night now — not to mention the fact that nap times are so much easier as well!

3. White noise

I procrastinated using white noise for our baby for quite some time, since he seemed to be able to fall asleep just fine without it. It had become something our older daughter was dependent on until she was nearly three, so I was hoping to keep our sleep routine more minimal this time around. The problem is though, little noises would often wake him and with an older sibling around, sleep disruptions from loud noises occur pretty often. We added white noise to the mix and the sleep has been a lot better ever since.

4. Using a wearable blanket

We had never used a wearable blanket for my daughter, so I didn’t really think to use one for my son, but someone gifted us one and it was brilliant! Not only does it keep our boy cozy and warm, but the mere sight of it serves as a sleep association. He’s so used to it as part of our nightly routine that he starts nodding off almost as soon as I put it on him! This Dumbo one from Disney Baby is a really cute option.

5. Daddy going in to comfort instead of Mommy

Because I nurse, I had always been the one to go in to soothe our little man in the middle of the night. In the past couple of months though, we made the switch so that my husband is now the one to go in and soothe him during middle-of-the-night wake-ups. After a week or so, he was hardly waking up in the night anymore, because he knew that it wasn’t time for a midnight snack. He still wakes up sad occasionally and a quick snuggle from Daddy seems to do the trick quite nicely.

6. Huggies Overnites

Changing diapers in the middle of the night is a bit of a pain and ever since our boy started eating solids and drinking water in earnest, the diaper changes have been a lot more frequent. Switching to Huggies Overnite diapers made a world of difference. I swore by them with my daughter, and I still think they’re the bee’s knees. No more early morning wake ups just for a diaper change!

Helping your little one find more sleep makes a world of difference on everyone’s outlook. Well-rested parents and babies are happy parents and babies! It may take a bit, but with time and a bit of trial and error you’ll find that sleep together.

Image : Disney Baby

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Baby sleep: Helping baby sleep through the night

If you haven't had a good night's sleep since your baby was born, you're not alone. Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for most new parents — but don't despair. You can help your baby sleep all night. Honestly!

Developing a rhythm

Newborns sleep 16 or more hours a day, but often in stretches of just a few hours at a time. Although the pattern might be erratic at first, a more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby matures and can go longer between feedings.

By age 3 to 4 months, many babies sleep at least five hours at a time. At some point during a baby's first year — every baby is different — he or she will start sleeping for about 10 hours each night.

Encouraging good sleep habits

For the first few months, middle-of-the-night feedings are sure to disrupt sleep for parents and babies alike — but it's never too soon to help your baby become a good sleeper. Consider these tips:

  • Encourage activity during the day. When your baby is awake, engage him or her by talking, singing and playing. Stimulation during the day can help promote better sleep at night.
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Try relaxing favorites such as bathing, cuddling, singing, playing quiet music or reading. Soon your baby will associate these activities with sleep.
  • Put your baby to bed drowsy, but awake. This will help your baby associate bed with the process of falling asleep. Remember to place your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.
  • Give your baby time to settle down. Your baby might fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep. If the crying doesn't stop, speak to your baby calmly and stroke his or her back. Your reassuring presence might be all your baby needs to fall asleep.
  • Consider a pacifier. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick. In fact, research suggests that using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Expect frequent stirring at night. Babies often wriggle, squirm and twitch in their sleep. They can be noisy, too. Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it's OK to wait a few minutes to see if he or she falls back asleep.
  • Keep nighttime care low-key. When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will tell your baby that it's time to sleep — not play.
  • Don't 'bed share' during sleep. This can make it harder for your baby to fall asleep on his or her own. Bed sharing might also increase your baby's risk of SIDS. If you'd like to keep your baby close, consider placing your baby's bed in your bedroom.
  • Respect your baby's preferences. If your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on these natural patterns.

Keeping it in perspective

Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a worthy goal, but it's not a measure of your parenting skills. Take time to understand your baby's habits and ways of communicating so that you can help him or her become a better sleeper. If you have concerns, talk to your baby's doctor.


This article was from Mayo Clinic Health Information Library and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image : Getty

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Baby naps: Daytime sleep tips

Baby naps can be a restful time for you and your little one — but the process of getting your baby to sleep during the day can be just the opposite. Understand the basics of baby naps.

How many naps a day does a baby need?

It takes awhile for newborns to develop a sleep schedule. During the first month, babies usually sleep and wake round-the-clock, with relatively equal periods of sleep between feedings.

As babies get older, baby nap times typically lengthen and become more predictable. For example:

  • Ages 4 months to 1 year. After the newborn period, your baby will likely nap at least twice a day — once in the morning and once in the early afternoon. Some babies also need a late afternoon nap. Many babies nap a total of three or more hours during the day.
  • Age 1 year and older. Around this age your baby will likely drop his or her morning nap and only nap in the afternoon, often for a period of two to three hours. During this transition, consider moving up your baby's naptime and bedtime by a half hour to help him or her adjust. Most children continue taking an afternoon nap until ages 3 to 5.

Remember, however, that every baby is different and baby nap schedules can vary considerably.

What's the best way to put my baby down for a nap?

To ease your baby into nap time:

  • Set the mood. A dark, quiet and comfortably cool environment can help encourage your baby to sleep.
  • Put your baby to bed drowsy, but awake. Drooping eyelids, eye rubbing and fussiness might be signs that your baby is tired. The longer you wait, the more overtired and fussy your baby might become — and the harder it might be for him or her to fall asleep.
  • Avoid holding, rocking or feeding your baby to sleep. Eventually, this might be the only way your baby is able to fall asleep. If your baby tends to fall asleep in your arms after a feeding, do something gentle right afterward — such as changing his or her diaper or reading a short story.
  • Be safe. Place your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.
  • Be consistent. Your baby will get the most out of daytime naps if he or she takes them at the same time each day and for about the same length of time. Occasional exceptions are inevitable, of course, and won't harm your baby.

What if my baby sounds fussy after I put him or her down?

It's common for babies to cry when put down for sleep, but most will quiet themselves if left alone for a few minutes. If the crying lasts longer than a few minutes, check on your baby and offer comforting words. Then give him or her time to settle again.

If your baby wakes shortly after you put him or her down for a nap and isn't wet, hungry or ill, try to be patient and encourage self-settling. You might gently pat your baby, offer a massage or breast-feed for a short time.

Also, keep in mind that babies are often active during sleep — twitching their arms and legs, smiling, sucking, and generally appearing restless. It's easy to mistake a baby's stirrings as a sign that he or she is waking up or needs to eat. Instead of picking up your baby right away, wait a few minutes to see if your baby falls back to sleep.

Should I limit the length of my baby's naps?

It depends on how well your baby is sleeping at night.

Some babies confuse their days and nights — sleeping more during the day than at night. One way to set your baby straight is to limit daytime naps — especially those in the late afternoon — to no more than three or four hours each. If your baby is napping for too long at the end of the day, it can make it harder for him or her to fall asleep at bedtime.

What should I do if my baby suddenly resists napping?

Some babies and older children go through periods during which they refuse to nap — even though they still need the rest. If this happens, try adjusting your baby's bedtime. Making bedtime a little earlier or later can sometimes help a baby nap better during the day.

Helping your baby get the right amount of daytime sleep isn't always easy. Don't feel bad if some days are more challenging than others. Remember to look and listen for the signs that your baby is tired and try to keep his or her nap routine consistent.

If you have questions or concerns about your baby's napping schedule, talk to his or her doctor.


This article was from Mayo Clinic Health Information Library and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image : Getty

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4 Tips for Helping Your Child Ease into Fall Daylight Savings

With the fall upon us, daylight slips away from us even earlier. As much as I enjoy the fall season, I despise the time change. The extra hour of morning light does not help make me feel less annoyed when I drive home from work in the dark. A recent survey showed that on average it takes a person 3.5 days to adjust to the time change.

No matter how prepared I feel for the time change, it still disrupts my kids’ sleeping schedule. As a mom of three, a full night of uninterrupted sleep is rare for me. Here are some tips I will be following this daylight savings time change.

Later to Bed

A few nights before the time change, move bedtime back by 15 to 30 minutes. This slow adjustment will, hopefully, help with the hour time difference. If your little one has daily naps, it’s also a good idea to adjust those in the same increments. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer than a few days for them to adapt to this new schedule.

Set the Sleep Environment

Since the sunlight will be pouring into your child’s room an extra hour earlier on Sunday morning, invest in some good black-out shades or blinds. This may encourage them to sleep a bit longer. My boys all have black-out curtains in their rooms, and they work wonders — especially for early-morning wake ups.

Find the Silver Lining

Since the chances of them waking up at their normal wake-up time on Sunday morning are pretty high, put yourself to bed a bit earlier on Saturday night. Enjoy that extra hour you have with your child in the morning, well rested and ready to go. Years down the road, the time change won’t bother them since they will want to sleep all morning. Enjoy the extra snuggle time and hugs. You will never regret those extra giggles and hugs.

Remind Yourself that This too Shall Pass

If you find yourself getting frustrated because your 3-year-old is jumping on his bed at 9:30 p.m., remind yourself that he will eventually get used to the time change. There is no sense in becoming frustrated with the situation. Thankfully, it only happens twice a year. You will get through this, and everyone will fall back into a normal routine again.

How do you get ready for the time change in the fall?


This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image : Getty

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Toddler and baby brother falling asleep together with cat in the middle

Tips to Get Baby & Toddler to Sleep at the Same Time

Sleep is essential for your child’s healthy mental and physical development, but ensuring sound slumber can be difficult when your family dynamic—parents + toddler—changes overnight. Here’s some expert advice on how to lull your newborn and your firstborn to sleep from the start.

The Basics of Sleep

Your newborn will spend the first few weeks of life trying to acclimate to the world outside of the womb, so he or she may follow an irregular schedule, sleeping between 10 ½ and 18 hours a day. By three months and throughout the first year, baby will sleep between 14 and 15 hours daily (including two to three hours of daytime sleep).

Sleep needs vary by age, so your toddler (12 to 36 months of age) may only sleep between 12 and 14 hours daily (including two small naps, or one longer nap); however, the introduction of a new sibling may temporarily disrupt your eldest child’s sleep schedule.

Creating a Bedtime Routine

At a young age, children learn to crave structure, so it’s vital to establish (and stick to) a comforting and loving bedtime routine once baby begins to follow a more consistent sleep schedule. Every night, about 30 minutes before bedtime, begin your wind down/bedtime routine, which may include: a warm bath, story time, breast- or bottle feeding, and some gentle baby massage. Before summoning the Sandman, change your little one into a Huggies® OverNites Diapers [HYPERLINK TO https://www.huggies.com/en-us/diapers/overnites] to help protect baby’s skin during the night by keeping him or her comfortable and dry, thanks to the SnugFit waistband that will stay in place throughout the night, no matter how baby tosses and turns. Feel secure knowing that Huggies® OverNites Diapers —the #1 selling nighttime diaper—eliminate middle-of-the night diapering, as they offer up to 12 hours of protection.

Place your little one in a safe, comfortable crib when baby begins to show signs of drowsiness—yawning, crying, eye rubbing—but, most importantly, while he or she is still awake. If you want your child to sleep through the night, he or she has to learn the skill of falling asleep (and falling back to sleep, if he or she awakens during the night) without assistance, so you must make sure that your baby is not asleep when entering the crib. This skill can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to master, and, although the process may be tear-filled (for both of you), the result will be less fragmented sleep for everyone in the home.

Your toddler most likely has a consistent bedtime routine in place—including slipping into Pull-Ups® Night*Time Training Pants to help him or her stay consistent with potty training both day and night—but adjustments may need to be made now that baby makes four. Your firstborn should continue to be placed in bed while awake at the same time each night to reinforce the importance of sleep, but feel free to add a new component into the bedtime routine to allow your toddler more quality time with you and to feel just as special as his or her new sibling.

If either child wakes during the night, have an agreed upon plan with your partner in place on how to handle the situation—perhaps you pop into your child(ren)’s room to reassure him or her that everything is alright, or maybe you choose to leave him or her to self-soothe. Any deviation from the plan, especially from one parent to another, will cause confusion for your child(ren) and may result in more sleep disruption.

Navigating a Shared Bedroom

If you and your partner decide to have your baby and your toddler share a bedroom, whether due to space constraints or the desire for them to use the experience to bond, ensure that the space is conducive for good quality sleep. You can hang heavy, blackout curtains to reduce both light and noise, as well as set the thermostat to approximately 65 degrees to slightly lower your children’s body temperatures and promote sleep.

Allow your children to connect with their shared space by diapering, playing, and preparing for both naptime and bedtime within the room. As your toddler’s bedtime may differ from your baby’s bedtime (staggering the times allows for more one-on-one time with your eldest child), teach your firstborn to remain quiet as he or she falls asleep, awakens to use the restroom in the wee hours of the morning, and arises to begin his or her day.

You and your children will need time to adjust to your new normal, so don’t forget to give yourself some grace as you work to create a healthy sleep situation for the whole family.

Image : Thinkstock

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3 Ways I Got Through Sleep Deprivation as a New Mom

One thing that I heard several times during my pregnancy with my first was to “sleep before the baby comes, because you won’t sleep for a long time after.” I always laughed at the statement. How bad could losing a little sleep be? It wasn’t until the first night home with her that I laughed at myself for thinking that. Getting up every two hours and then not having a baby that wanted to go back to sleep was completely and totally exhausting.

Every day for the next few months, I felt like a walking zombie. The lack of sleep was really getting to me, and sometimes I just begged for a quick five-minute nap. You know it’s bad when you just want to close your eyes for five minutes.

Six years later, I get a little bit more sleep than I did, but now I’m used to the lack of sleep that comes with motherhood. Thankfully, there were things that I’ve done over the years that have helped with the sleep deprivation.

  1. Ask for help.
  2. This is probably the best thing you can do for yourself, especially if you are exhausted. Ask a family member to come over between feedings so you can catch some zzz’s. If you don’t have family nearby, ask a friend to do the same, or even think about hiring a babysitter. There is no shame is asking someone to help you with your baby. In fact, I recommend it to every new mom I know. It’s a lifesaver, and you will be so surprised what just one extra hour of sleep will do for your morale and your energy.

  3. Never underestimate the power of baby gear.
  4. One of the reasons I never got any sleep when my kids were newborns was because they had no interest in sleeping in their cribs. Every time I’d lay them down (even if they were already asleep), they’d wake right up the second I put them in their crib. It wasn’t until I tried a swing like this Minnie Mouse Bows and Butterflies Baby-to-Big Kid Rocking Seat, or a bouncer, like this Geo Pooh Bouncer, that my kids immediately fell asleep. I remember putting my daughter in the swing for the first time and then laying on the couch next to her. As soon as I saw her eyes close, I immediately closed mine and was asleep within minutes. On those days that I couldn’t get them to sleep, baby gear like a swing or bouncer really saved me and allowed both my baby and I to catch up on our much needed sleep.

  5. The stuff can wait.
  6. We always hear the saying “sleep when baby sleeps,” which sounds nearly impossible. But the truth is, you need to do it. I used to think that when my baby was sleeping was the perfect time for me to catch up on things around the house. I’d clean, do laundry, wash dishes, catch up on emails, etc. But once when baby woke up, I found myself even more exhausted. Realistically, most of the things I did when my baby was sleeping could have waited for later when she was content and playing on the floor. I needed sleep and I definitely should have taken advantage of the time she was sleeping. Let your brain take a break for a while and use that time when baby is sleeping to catch up on sleep for yourself too.

Sleep deprivation can get the best of you. It’s exhausting to be a new mom. And you never really truly know the depths of lack of sleep until you live through those newborn days with your brand new blessing. Use these tips to help get your sleep back on track so you and your baby can spend many more awake and happy magical moments together.

Image: DisneyBaby

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FAQ Sleep Questions

The key to helping your little one fall asleep is creating a comfortable and safe environment. We polled several sleeping experts to find out what essential must-knows can help your baby boy or girl finally calm down and enter the Land of Nod.

How can I help my baby fall asleep?

“The best thing you can do to help your baby fall asleep at night is to create a great sleep environment,” says Haleigh Almquist, Certified Lactation Counselor, Advanced Certified Newborn Care Specialist, Post-Partum Doula and Founder and CEO of Hush Hush Little Baby Newborn Care.

How to create a comfy sleeping space:

  • Make sure the room is completely dark.
  • Have a source of white noise (a fan, pointed away from baby; a white-noise machine, or a radio set to static all work well).
  • Adjust the room temperature to 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your nighttime routine can also help baby fall asleep. “Create a routine that prepares your child to unwind, settle and let go of the day,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”

For a healthy and helpful bedtime routine, try the following:

  • Give baby a bath.
  • Give baby a massage.
  • Cuddle with baby and read a book or sing a song.
  • Put baby to bed slightly awake.
  • Introduce a transitional, self-soothing object like a pacifier.

How much sleep does my baby need and when will my child sleep through the night?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), newborn babies from birth to 3 months require 16-18 hours of sleep each day. By 4 months, your baby should be able to go eight or more hours without eating, and should be ready to sleep through the night. And, by 5 months, baby should only need about 10 hours total of sleep (often spread throughout three sleep sessions daily: two naps and nighttime sleeping). “Sleeping through the night means something different for each family. I consider a period of 6-8 hours of continuous sleep a success. Some babies sleep through the night at 4 months, but for others it may take up to a year,” says Almquist.

How many naps should my baby have — and when?

“Newborns spend more time asleep than they do awake,” Almquist says. “But after 4 months, they should maintain two or three scheduled naps spread throughout the day.”

How do I keep my baby safe while sleeping?

The AAP recommends the following:

  • Always put babies to sleep on their back, never on their stomach.
  • Only put baby to sleep on a firm surface, and remove any objects from inside the crib, particularly crib bumpers.
  • Put newborn babies to sleep in the same room where you will be sleeping, within arm’s reach.
  • No smoking.
  • Let baby sleep with a pacifier. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier.

How can I help my baby fall asleep?

  1. Shushing: Also, the womb is 80-90 decibels (louder than a vacuum cleaner) thanks to the whooshing of maternal blood flow,” says Melissa Gersin, a maternity RN and infant crying specialist with the Massachusetts Department of Health..“‘Shh-ing’ or white noise (can help), as these mimic the comforting sounds of the womb.”

  2. Rocking and swaying: Rocking or swaying baby mimics the gentle motion of the womb, and can act as a sleep aid.
  3. Sucking: A pacifier or nursing before putting baby down for the night help your little one relax and prepare for a nice, long rest.

About Our Experts:
Dr. Fran Walfish is a Beverly Hills, California-based child, parenting and relationship psychotherapist, and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” Haleigh Almquist is a Certified Lactation Counselor, Advanced Certified Newborn Care Specialist, Post-Partum Doula and founder and CEO of Hush Hush Little Baby Newborn Care (hushhushlittlebaby.com/). Melissa Gersin is a maternity RN and Massachusetts Department of Health infant crying specialist.

Photo: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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The Basics of Newborns and Sleep

Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day!

This may come as a surprise to any new parents who feel like their newborns need them every minute of the day. These 16 hours, however, are broken up into periods of 3-4 hours.

Newborns normally don’t (and shouldn’t) sleep through the night. Their digestive system is so small that they need to eat every few hours, and they should be woken and fed if they haven’t eaten for 5 hours.

In the beginning, you should try to get as much sleep as you can while they are sleeping. Grabbing an extra hour or two during the day will help combat sleep deprivation from all sleep interruptions at night.

Be sure to remove all fluffy bedding, quilts, stuffed animals, and pillows from the crib to ensure that your baby doesn’t get tangled in them while they sleep.

Your child should start sleeping through the night at around three months of age. In fact, 90% of 3 month olds sleep 6-8 hours a night. If your infant is not yet sleeping through the night, don’t worry. Some babies just take a little more time to develop their own sleep cycles.

Image: Getty

This article was written by EverydayFamily from Everyday Family and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Sleeping Through the Night

With a little bit of know-how (and a lot of luck), a full night's sleep might happen sooner rather than later. When can you expect your baby to start sleeping through the night? It depends, since sleeping through the night means different things at different ages:

  • For a newborn (especially a breastfeeding newborn), three hours is about as long as you can expect him to sleep, since newborns need to refuel often.
  • For a two- or three-month-old, sleeping for five- or six-hour stretches is what you can expect. While there may be babies who start skipping that two a.m. feeding by the third month, most three-month-olds still need a feeding (or two) during the night, especially if they're nursing.
  • By four months, you can expect your baby to sleep seven or even eight hours at a stretch. That’s because most four-month-old babies have reached that magic weight of 11 pounds, which means, metabolically speaking, they don't really need a nighttime feeding (though they may well demand one!).
  • If your baby is still waking to eat into his fifth or sixth month, you can be pretty sure he's not really hungry. He's just used to his midnight snack and the sweet dose of Mommy that comes with it.

You don’t have to wait until your baby hits his half-birthday mark to start encouraging longer nighttime snoozes. In fact, at around three months old you should be able to (slowly) cut down those middle-of-the-night feedings with the ultimate goal of (drum roll, please!) — sleeping through the night. You can take the first (baby) steps toward that holy grail by following these dos and don’ts:

DO wake your baby up before you go down.

Just before you’re ready to turn in for the night, try topping him off with a late-night nibble. Even if he’s too sleepy to eat much, a few sips might be enough to give all of you an extra hour or two of sleep. But if this tactic prompts your baby to start waking more often — and it might — ditch it. In that case, do your best to give your baby a heaping helping during his last feeding before bed. If he nods off before he’s taken in a decent amount of milk, try rousing him (burping may do the trick) and offering him another shot at the breast or bottle. He’ll be more likely to fill up before he turns in and you’ll have a better chance of your baby sleeping through the night.

DO stretch out the feedings.

While newborns need to eat every two to three hours or so, by the time babies are three or four months old, you can start stretching the times between feedings. At nighttime, introduce this concept gradually by adding a half hour or so between feedings every other night. With any luck, you’ll stretch out the feedings to the point that your baby is sleeping through the night.

DO shorten nighttime feedings.

Another way to wean your baby from a nighttime feeding is to gradually put a little less in his bottle or spend a couple of minutes less on each breast during his night wakings. Keep decreasing the amount of milk (or the nursing time) over the course of a week or so until your baby’s ready to give up this meal.

DO start establishing a bedtime routine.

Nope, it’s not too early to start telling tales and singing songs before bed. A bedtime routine sends your baby the signal that it’s time to drift off to dreamland for a solid night’s sleep. Some tried-and-true sleepy-time strategies to prime your baby to sleep through the night include a bath (warm water is soothing — and sleep-inducing), a story, and cuddles.

DON’T rush to feed him at night.

When your little one wakes crying, wait before offering the breast or bottle. He might even doze off again or entertain himself for a while. If he starts protesting loudly, try soothing him with a quiet song or gentle caress first. The sooner you teach him that night wakings won’t result in feedings, the more likely he’ll be to sleep through the night. (Eventually, you’ll be able to nip those night wakings.)

DON’T skimp on calories during the day.

Your baby will be less hungry at night (and better able to sleep through the night) if his tummy gets filled during the day. Try nursing a bit longer (or adding an ounce or two more to his bottle) during those daytime feedings.

DON’T put cereal in his bottle or be tempted to start solids too early.

Not only won’t it help him sleep through the night, it could also be detrimental to his health. Introducing solids too early may trigger food allergies, plus there is a danger that your infant could gag or inhale the thickened mixture into his lungs, which could cause pulmonary trouble. What’s more, adding cereal to the bottle can lead to overfeeding. Babies instinctively know how much milk they need based on volume (not calories), so if you up the calories in your baby’s bottle, you’ll be forcing him to ingest larger amounts of calories than he normally would.

DON’T do diapers in the middle of the night.

Unless your baby is an absolute mess, skip middle-of-the-night changes. Diapering him will wake him right up (the last thing you want when you’re trying to get your baby to sleep through the night). If you really need to tackle a dirty diaper at night, do the deed with the lights dimmed, and with as little talking and interaction as possible. That way, your baby won’t get the message that it’s time to wake up and party.

DON’T keep him as close anymore.

If your baby is sharing your bed or your room, this might be a good time to consider an amicable parting. The very nearness of you (and the sweet, baby-enticing aroma of your body and boobs) might be why he’s waking so often. Of course, if you’re still committed to co-sleeping, skipping this piece of advice is totally fine.

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