How long after feeding to put baby down
0-3 Month Newborn Sleep Guide ~ My Baby Sleep Guide
*Baby older than 3 months? Check out the 3-6 month sleep guide.*
As much as the idea of snuggling up with a newborn all day long for days (err, months) on end sounds kind of nice at first, when you get in the thick of it (i.e. you haven't brushed your teeth since yesterday, your stomach has been making sounds that would scare a bear away and the last time you showered was, well, you can't even remember when) you start to think that while this was nice for a few days or even weeks, now it's lost a bit of it's charm.
We all have things to do and we all have our own personal insanity beeper that starts to go off when we've done nothing outside of care for a newborn for so long. Add in an extreme lack of sleep to the picture and you've got
a worn out parent who could really use a break. My insanity beeper goes off pretty early on, but some people can go on for quite a while before they feel like they're about to loose their mind.
My goal is to help you not get to that permanent-shoulder-injury-from-holding-a-sleeping-child and can't-walk-without-running-into-the-wall you-are-so-tired state. Ideally, you'll also avoid any extreme crying at a later date from sleep training. I know many of you will snub my advice here. I get that some people don't like to enforce any sort of structure into a newborn because they either don't feel like it, or they don't agree with it. I'm not offended. You don't want to do something as much as I DO want to do something during this time! And I know some of you will take some of my advice but not all of it and that is totally fine too. Something I've learned from working with thousands of parents over the years is that we are all different and our children are all different. You do what you feel comfortable with, and you make changes along the way if you need to. And don't forget, if you pass this newborn window and sleep isn't going so great for you, there is still plenty of hope. It is never to late to get a full nights rest, for you or your child :)
Most of the info I'm going over has already been covered in various posts (like this one) but I know many of you would appreciate a newborn specific approach to these gentle sleep training methods (see what I consider sleep training here). I can only go into so much detail here without making this post 20 pages long, but there are plenty of links throughout the post that'll give you more info on a subject if you need it. Be sure to check out the Newborn Survival Guide too if you haven't already. And if your baby is over 3 months of age, check out the 3-6 month sleep guide.
How do I encourage my newborn to be a great sleeper?
A WORD ON HABITS
You've probably heard the phrase "you can't spoil a baby" about a million times by this point. I know I have. Just throw this phrase out the window. It isn't remotely helpful. I expect all of you to be holding and cuddling your baby plenty, but the idea that whatever you do right now doesn't matter isn't on par. You are creating habits all the time with your baby, yes, even a newborn, and those habits will make a difference in the future. That's why I'm working on helping you establish eating and sleeping habits that you can live with right now, and in the future.
AND A WORD ON CONSISTENCY (yours and baby's)
Children thrive on routine and consistency. They learn what to expect which helps them feel more secure in their environment. When you are inconsistent (this is especially important as your child gets out of the newborn stage) you get inconsistent results. So if you want sleep to go as smoothly as possible, be as consist as possible. Your child won't know how to react to a situation if you keep changing all the rules. There will be times when things will be off for various reasons (vacations etc), but try to make it more the rare occasion, rather than the norm.
Another reason it's so darn important to be consistent is that children are totally inconsistent. The only consistency with children is change! One day he goes to sleep easily, the next he doesn't. One week he sleeps through the night then suddenly he starts waking frequently. Inconsistent! Keeping things consistent on your end, while changing with your child when needed (like increasing how long they are awake between naps as they get older), will help things go more smoothly for all of you.
BABY'S HEALTH, YOUR INTUITION AND TAKING THINGS TO THE EXTREME
Always monitor baby's health, follow your pediatrician's advice and have regular pediatric well visits. Baby should be growing well, eating well and having plenty of full diapers on whatever feeding and sleeping method you choose.
If at any time something doesn't seem right to you then stop doing it. Although I'm suggesting methods that have worked well for many families, I firmly believe there isn't a one-method-fits-all approach. Do what seems right to you and listen to your baby and your gut feeling at all times.
Lastly, please, please try not to take things to the extreme (like only feeding if it's been at least 3 hours even if baby is hungry much sooner) and try not to get set on the averages and estimates I give below. Your baby is unique and will have her own averages and she'll also likely vary a bit from what I say below. She isn't a robot after all. Having some sort of guideline can be helpful, but it shouldn't run your life. Always try to follow your baby's lead too.
BABIES ARE UNIQUE
Some babies are born naturally good sleepers while other are not, regardless of what you do. I can't emphasize this enough! If your baby isn't sleeping as good as your best friend's baby (although, research shows that quite a few people lie about how well their child is sleeping!), don't get frustrated. Truly look at what is going on to see if you could be contributing to things (it happens quite often but can be hard to admit) and troubleshoot. After that, all you can do is try to be happy with the unique baby you have, even if all characteristics are not so easy to live with. All children have tough and easy characteristics to work with, your baby's tough area may just be sleep.
SLEEP GUIDE AT A GLANCE
Because this post is really long and because things are listed in steps (sort of), here's a quick list you can reference. Some of you will have to take things one step at a time. Some of you will be able to tackle most or all of it at once. Just move as quickly or slowly as you need to without overwhelming yourself.
- FULL FEEDS
- HOW OFTEN TO FEED
- A WORD ON DAY/NIGHT CONFUSION
- E/W/S CYCLE
- MORNING WAKE TIME
HOW MUCH SLEEP TO EXPECT AT NIGHT
- NAPS AND THE E/W/S CYCLE
- SLEEP LOCATION
- SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
- PRE-SLEEP ROUTINE
- TANKING UP
- PUTTING BABY TO SLEEP DROWSY, BUT AWAKE
- SLEEP PROPS
- DON'T RUSH IN
- YOU'VE PUT BABY DOWN AWAKE AND DROWSY, BUT SHE IS CRYING. WHAT NEXT?
You're first goal will be to get full feeds in so baby will spread out her feeds both day and night and not snack constantly. This will give you a break during the day and help you both sleep longer at night. To do this, you'll need to keep baby awake during her feed so she'll have more than a snack and not wake up 20 minutes later starving and ready to eat again. This can be a pretty hefty task at first for such a sleepy head, but it'll get much easier as she gets older (find tips on keeping her awake here). Don't kill yourself over this, if you can't get her to eat more, let her snooze for a few minutes then try again. If you are breastfeeding a very sleepy baby and worried about your supply, look here for some helpful info.
In my opinion, the eat/wake/sleep cycle (see below) makes giving full feeds much easier to do.
HOW OFTEN TO FEED
If you are breastfeeding, you will probably be feeding baby pretty darn often for at least the first few days while your milk comes in. If you are bottle-feeding, baby will probably be eating every 2.5-3 hours (from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed--you'll end up with a couple hours break between feeds). She may be eating a bit more often and that's ok. You want to feed her when she's hungry. Just keep encouraging those full feeds. She may need more frequent feeds at first, especially if she is a small baby or a premature baby (listen to your pediatrician's feeding advice here please!) And remember to keep in mind that babies cry for many reasons other than hunger. If it hasn't been very long since her last feed, before offering a feed, first check to see that something else isn't bothering her, like a burp.
A WORD ON DAY/NIGHT CONFUSION
Many newborns like to sleep all day and stay awake all night. This will switch on it's own eventually, but some of the suggestions below, like the e/w/s cycle, will help this switch sooner and also usually lead to longer night sleep sooner.
I like to start off doing a eat/wake/sleep cycleapproximately every 2.5-3 hours during the day (baby will just eat and sleep at night). This means you'll feed baby, have her awake for a bit, then she'll go down for a nap and repeat. You can find example newborn schedules on this post. Working on full feeds at first usually leads to baby falling naturally into this spaced pattern of eating. If baby hasn't woken up after 3 hours (from the beginning of their last feed), you will wake baby up to offer her a feed and start the e/w/s cycle over again. Waking baby up ensures she has enough food and is awake enough during the day (see PDF feeds for more on this). For the first couple weeks you'll very likely have more of a eat/sleep cycle, but by week two or so you'll probably get some waketime in there. I like the eat/wake/sleep routine mainly because it gives some structure to your day, encourages full feeds, helps with longer night sleep and helps baby go to sleep without a sleep prop--you can find out all the nitty and gritty out it on the e/w/s/ post.
During the first couple weeks, it isn't uncommon for many parents to just work on helping baby take full feeds and get into a routine. In terms of naps, this means that they try to encourage long naps (you can often easily get a newborn to fall back asleep after a short nap), but don't necessarily work hard to put baby down to sleep for a nap awake (unless he goes down really easily). In terms of night sleep, this means that the main emphasis is on helping baby distinguish night from day (see below) but not falling asleep by himself at night (once again, unless he goes down easily). This approach is totally fine. Getting baby into a routine of long naps and long night sleep is very helpful in the future. Just remember that if you don't work on having baby go to sleep on his own somewhat soon, you'll likely have some habits to break.
Also keep in mind that the e/w/s/ cycle is there to help you and your baby out. If you've given it a good try and it is simply making life a nightmare, then do something else. This doesn't mean I'm suggesting you give up after 3 days. The thing about babies is that a lot of the habits that people get themselves and their babies into at first are done because they make life easier-- but they very often make life harder in the long run. I'm trying to make things easier in the long run and that sometimes means more work upfront, but there is a limit to how much work up front everyone can handle. If you've reached your limit, don't worry. There are plenty of other things you can do to encourage your baby to sleep well. And you don't have to start off at the newborn stage--it can be done at any stage down the road too (you just may get more resistance from your baby).
With the e/w/s routine always remember that it is important to monitor when baby is hungry, not just how long it has been since the last feed. Babies go through growth spurts and cluster feedings and various other things. The 2.5-3 hour suggestion is just an estimate. You do what your baby needs! Don't get overly strict with following a perfect schedule--it won't happen easily with most babies (remember how they're not robots?)
MORNING WAKE TIME
Whether or not you are doing the e/w/s cycle, having a consistent morning wake time (baby gets up at around the same time each day, give or take 30 minutes) will help your day be more consistent and will help baby's sleep organize itself better. Also make sure to expose baby to light first thing in the morning and darkness at night to help set her body rhythms.
Bedtime can be a bit tricky with a newborn. Some newborns get really alert in the evenings and fussy and will not fall asleep until late (remember that witching hour I mentioned in this post?). Getting them to bed for the night between 6-7 pm can help you avoid this fussy period entirely. Sometimes though, you simply have to deal with the fussy period and get them to sleep when they'll finally go to sleep--fighting it and getting discouraged over the late bedtime only makes things that much harder. There are also some babies that do better with some extra cluster feeds in the evening (which moves bedtime a bit later than the usual suggested 7 pm ish) or parents that have their babies go to sleep a bit later at this age for various reasons. I suggest trying to keep bedtime not much later than 7, but at this age, an early bedtime usually won't make or break things unless it helps decrease evening fussiness or if baby is very tired in the evening. An early bedtime will be come much more important as baby gets closer to 3 months though. It can be the difference between a good night's rest and frequent night wakings.
HOW MUCH SLEEP TO EXPECT AT NIGHT
With a newborn, you will probably feed baby every 2-4 hours at night. As baby gets closer to three months of age, baby will probably sleep 10-12 hours at night with 1-2 feeds. These are averages for a baby with very good sleep habits, so please don't freak out if your little one isn't in the 'average' category.
NAPS AND THE E/W/S CYCLE
Ideally naps will happen after your baby has eaten and had some activity and last until the next routine eat time. This means that they'll last naps around 1.5-2.5 hours. It isn't uncommon to have baby take short naps, even after you attempt to extend them out. If long naps are not happening, you can look at the short naps post for tips. If you still cannot get long naps going, and you want to have feeds that aren't closer together than baby is requiring, then consider changing the cycle around to what fits your situation. People often end up with eat/wake/sleep/wake/sleep/eat/ or something along those lines. The point is to try to have something that is somewhat consistent and doesn't have baby feeding to sleep. And try not to stress yourself out!
The last nap of the day is often a short one, if it happens at all. Some babies will get pretty fussy in the evenings and have a hard time being happy at all, nevermind sleeping. Some babies simply won't sleep well in the evenings for the first few months even if they aren't very fussy. As I suggested above, try out an early bedtime to see if this fixes the issue. If that doesn't work, don't worry. Stop trying to force the impossible and go along with it. Get some extra snuggles in during this time (a baby carrier can be very handy) and even consider going out during baby's sleep time since he won't sleep anyway.
Baby's naps and the length of time they can stay awake between naps are always changing. It can be tricky to keep up with all the changes, especially as a first time parent. Find out more about dropping naps here and here. You can find some example newborn schedules here.
When you put your little one down to sleep, there are several things you can do to increase the chance that she'll go to sleep easily and stay asleep with no crying or further assistance from you, now and in the future. We'll start by going over one of the most important things, how long your child is awake between naps, also known as waketime.
A big thing to keep in mind if you are doing the EWS cycle or simply have a newborn, is that newborn's have very little waketime --they are hardly awake at all! It's important that you let them get the rest they need and keep them awake very little between eat feed. Watch closely for their tired cues and put them down right when they start displaying them (during their sleep window). On the EWS cycle you can even predict when they will get tired and start getting them ready for sleep before they start to show their tired signs, helping to prevent them from getting too overtired by the time they get to sleep. Keeping a baby awake longer in hopes to make them sleep longer rarely works, in fact, it usually results in overtiredness that makes falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult for them. You can find a chart with average times newborns are awake and other info to troubleshoot waketimes here. Keep in mind that a baby that has a too sleepy of feed may end up needing more waketime than usual for them to go down well for their nap.
Newborns get overstimulated very easily. Looking at a blank wall is stimulating to them, imagine how some of them do having grandma's energetic face two inches from theirs for 30 minutes straight! You get the same effect as putting them to bed way past their sleep window--bad sleep! There will be lots of time to play with baby soon, but for now, if your baby seems extra sensitive, keep things pretty calm. With brand new babies I often change their diaper in the middle of the feed to help keep them awake during the feed. As they get a bit older and more awake, I often change the diaper at the beginning of a feed to prevent overstimulation after the feed (this is just for newborns, older babies can generally handle a diaper change without getting overstimulated).
Most parents prefer to have their new little bundle sleep in the room with them for a while at night. I generally recommend having baby sleep in a basinnett/crib/co-sleeper next to you--it's simply more practical than co-sleeping for most parents in the long run, and you'll probably end up with less night wakings in the long run his way too. If you do decide to co-sleep, there are still plenty of things you can do to encourage good sleep habits, they'll just be a bit more tricky to carry out.
For naps, I recommend having baby sleep in his own private space away from the craziness of every day life. By 6 weeks, 3 months at the latest, I would try to move baby in to his own sleeping space for naps and, if you feel comfortable, night sleep. After this time, the move can be much harder to make (especially if you are co-sleeping).
Make sure your baby's sleep environment is safe and that she is dressed safely. Before you had a child you may have thought, well of course I'll follow all those AAP regulations and not have blankets in the crib and not have my baby sleep on his tummy etc, but once you're in the thick of it and horribly tired, you can feel tempted to try almost anything. There are some other alternative, like a swing, that can be useful when you feel tempted to try something unsafe. If tummy sleeping is still happening, I at least recommend getting some sort of movement monitor for sense of mind (my favorite is the snuza).
Most newborns aren't very sensitive to light and sound--they'll sleep through anything. As they get closer to 3 months, most are going to have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep if it is noisy or light. I always suggest having children sleep in a dark room--it simply results in better sleep at almost any age, especially mid nap and in the early morning hours. I also suggest the use of a white noise machine. It helps most newborns sleep better by imitating their loud womb and by blocking out outside noise.
Before baby goes down for naps and at night, it's a good idea to do something I call a pre-sleep routine. This consists of ritual of things you do every time (same order, same things) before baby goes to sleep. They can include singing a song, reading a book, saying some comforting words ("its time to sleep now"), etc. Usually the nap routine is a shorter version of the bedtime routine. It's a good idea to start this pretty early on--even within a couple weeks of birth. Babies start to fall into habits pretty quickly and a pre-sleep routine helps to signal to their body that it is time to relax and go to sleep. You can find more ideas of what to do at this pre-sleep routine link. The 4 S Routine is a common pre-sleep routine that people do.
During the pre-sleep routine it's usually a good idea to swaddle your baby. Swaddling helps most babies fall asleep better and sleep more soundly. It gives them a bit of the crammed, womb-like feeling and security they are used to. I prefer to use blankets made just for swaddling (like the miracle blanket, but you can also use any old blanket. Just make sure to give baby freedom of movement at the hips and keep the blanket out of baby's face. I also attempt to burp baby again after I swaddle--you can often get another burp out.
Tanking your baby up before bed can help her sleep a longer stretch at night. This can be done by cluster feeding (generally for babies under a couple months) and by doing the dreamfeed. Cluster feeding involves feeding baby a bit more often before she goes to sleep at night. So instead of every, say 3 hours, you might feed every 2 hours for the last couple feeds. Just make sure you aren't force feeding and overfilling baby. That can just lead to stomach upset and lots of messy spit up.
I find that cluster feeding isn't always helpful. So if it isn't working for you, don't worry about doing it (unless baby is cluster feeding on her own, of course).
With a dreamfeed, you will feed baby a few hours after you put her to bed for the night, right before you go to bed. So say she goes to bed at 7 pm, you'd get her up while she's pretty much still asleep and give her a feed (which is why it's called a dreamfeed, she's still kind of dreaming) so that you can get a longer stretch of sleep yourself and not go to sleep only to awaken to a hungry baby 30 minutes later. You can read up more on clusterfeeds and dream feeds on the links above.
If you are only going to do one of the above methods, choose the dream feed. A cluster feed without a longer stretch right before bed can lead baby to eat less right before bedtime which often means less of a stretch than if she'd gone say, 3-4 hours right before bedtime. A baby that has eaten just 2 hours before isn't going to take as big a feed as one who hasn't eaten for 3-4 hours. The same holds true for the dreamfeed. You want at least 3 hours before offering it unless you are in the process of dropping it.
PUTTING BABY TO SLEEP DROWSY, BUT AWAKE
It's time to work on putting baby to sleep drowsy, but awake. You were probably all wondering when I was going to get to this part. You knew it was coming, didn't you?! It couldn't be just as easy as the stuff I mentioned above.
Believe it or not, but doing what I suggested above will nicely extend night sleep out (so you all get a consolidated chunck of sleep!) for most babies without doing anything else. And many babies will even go to sleep at bedtime without much of an issue. But naps are a different story. There are the occasional babies that will go to sleep easily, but most will fight sleep and/or get upset when you try to put them down to sleep. I'm going to go over a couple things that will help you do this successfully and with as little drama as possible. But keep in mind that changes don't happen over night. This is a process that will take some practice and time, for everyone involved.
We can't really go on much further without talking about sleep props. Sleep props are the eventual cause of most sleep issues. A sleep prop is something your baby associates with falling asleep, like the bottle or breast or being rocked. These don't seem like such a big deal when you've got a brand new baby, but if she wakes up the second you ever put her down or the second you stop nursing, it can be pretty frustrating, especially if it's the middle of the night and you are utterly exhausted, or she's several months old and you are even more exhausted. So while many people prefer to keep up sleep props for some time, like until they become an issue or until they feel they can't keep it up anymore, I recommend trying to avoid them as much as possible to prevent sleep issues.
Take note that I say as much as possible. This is very important to keep in mind. Sometimes you'll use sleep props, even if it isn't in your future plans. You can't exactly go through having a newborn without ever holding them while they sleep. That is just too precious to miss out on, and sometimes, like if you are out and about or your baby just will not sleep, it is necessary. Sometimes, you simply don't have the physical or emotional energy to help baby sleep without sleep props, and that's OK too. There are many things worse than a baby with sleep association issues--like a baby who has zero sleep or a mom who's going half insane caring for herself and family. You do what you need to do in your unique situation. You can always break a sleep prop addiction at a later date.
You've probably heard of someone who's held their baby to sleep or nursed their baby to sleep for months without any problem--no hourly night wakings at 9 months of age and no holding baby for his entire nap, every. single. time. The tricky thing is, you don't know what sleep prop will or will not cause an issue in the future. Most props will end up resulting in an issue, if not by 3/4 months, then almost always by 9 months. But there is always that baby out there who can have every sleep prop done in the world and they will still sleep like an angel. I wish I could tell you if that was your baby (and I wish I could give you or myself that baby!), but I can't. So that's why I suggest trying to prevent sleep issues form using sleep props, rather than fixing them down the road (which is quite possible, just not particularly fun or easy to do!)
DON'T RUSH IN
When baby starts to make sounds or even cries, follow the old crossing the street saying: stop, look (if you have a video monitor), and listen. It'll take some time, but you'll get better at determining what your baby is "saying". Is he in pain? Is he just making a sound in the middle of his sleep? Is he settling himself to sleep? Even before you've figured out what baby is trying to tell you, it is almost always a good idea to wait a few moments before going in to baby. If he is hungry, it'll be much eaiser to feed him and get a full feedig if he's wide awake, and if doesn't need something, he may fall asleep if you give him a minute. Much of the time parents rush to the aid of their children they are just going through a sleep transition--but before you know it, it turns into a habitual waking reinforced by the parents.
YOU'VE PUT BABY DOWN AWAKE AND DROWSY, BUT SHE IS CRYING. WHAT NEXT?
Now comes the especially tricky part. Since there's no way I'll ever be able to work with each of you individually to see what would best for you, I'm going to give you some of my favorite options to choose from to see what works best for you--everyone has their own personal preferences and comfort levels. Some people feel comfortable starting these methods from day one, other people like to wake several weeks or even months before working on this.
SLEEP TRAINING FOR NAPS
For naps, you will limit your time helping baby fall asleep. If baby is still awake after trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes, you will help her fall asleep so she doesn't get too tired. If you and baby feel up to it, you can attempt sleep training up to an hour for a nap, but most likely this will be a little tough for the two of you, especially if she's under 6-8 weeks. Once again, these guidelines are just for healthy babies that are growing well, and once a mother/baby pair are breastfeeding well.
Sleep Training Options For Naps:
- When baby starts to fuss, after giving him a few minutes to see if he'll go to sleep on his own (if you feel ok with this), pick him up and do what I call an extended pu/pd. You pick up baby when he cries and try to comfort him. You can walk around the room to do this or give some jiggles, but getting him used to less movement is helpful for the future, so only move around if you have to. Once he is drowsy, lay him back in his bed. Repeat as needed up to a max of 15-20 minutes. At this point, you will fully help baby go to sleep so he doesn't get too overtired. If you think you and your baby can handle doing it for longer (limit of an hour), then you can try this. Just don't do it for more than two naps in a row without making sure he gets a good nap in, however you have to make that happen (with feeding being a last resort).
- Ideally when baby starts to fuss, you will wait a few minutes before rushing in to see if she can settle herself to sleep (I call this "fussing it out"). If you don't feel comfortable waiting (or if it always backfires), you can go in right when the fuss turns into more of a cry, or when you hear the first fuss. Keep baby in her bed and comfort her in whatever way works--pacifier (stay for a minute to make sure she's got a hold on it), shush-pat, comforting words, head stroking. Try to stay out of her site. She probably won't notice you early on, but you'll start to be a distraction as she gets older. Once she is comforted, leave. Repeat as needed up to 15-20 minutes into the nap. After this time, help her get to sleep in whatever way you can, avoiding feeding if possible.
- When baby starts to fuss, leave her for 3-5 minute intervals, calming her each time you go in (calming, not putting her to sleep). Calm her in anyway that, works, trying to keep her in her bed. The limited crying solution suggests starting an approach like this closer to 4-6 weeks. I find it works fine at this age with a time limit. I wouldn't' keep it up for more than a total of 15-20 minutes. At that point, you will help baby to sleep in whatever way works, outside of feeding to sleep (unless you really, really have to). You are helping her to sleep so she doesn't get too sleep deprived which will likely frustate further attempts of sleep at this age--and be a little too warring on a mom who's just had a baby. If you feel your baby can handle more than 20 minutes, feel free to try it for up to an hour, but I wouldn't do this for more than two naps without helping her get a good nap in.
- When baby starts to fuss, leave her for a max of 15-20 minutes before going in and helping her go to sleep. Some babies almost always fall asleep by this time, others don't. If your baby rarely falls asleep after 15-20 minutes, I suggest another method right now.
SLEEP TRAINING AT NIGHT
You can treat bedtime similar to how you treat going down for naps, helping baby go to sleep after about 20 minutes. If you feel up to it, you can work for longer (there is no 1 hour limit at bedtime like there is for naps). It's also a good idea to double check that baby isn't hungry (especially if she was sleepy during the bedtime feed) if she is taking a little while to fall asleep.
I personally don't have the stamina to work on bedtime much with a brand new baby. I will hold or nurse to sleep at first (unless baby goes to sleep easily on her own) and put baby to bed more and more awake as the weeks go by. As long as baby is going to sleep not held/nursed most of the time by 2-3 months, this method usually doesn't cause issues with extra night wakings for people. If it does, then it's time to change the method and not hold/nurse to sleep anymore :)
It the middle of the night when baby wakes, give baby a few minutes to see if she will fall back asleep on her own ( I know, this is hard to do, especially if you are wide awake right by her!). If she doesn't, go ahead and offer a feed. If it hasn't been very long since she last ate, try to help her go to back to sleep in whatever way you can outside of a feed. If she won't go to sleep or wakes up again shortly after, assume she is hungry and feed her. As baby gets older, if she is having frequent night wakings not due to hunger, then you may also want to work on night wakings the same way you handle bedtime (see above).
Guess what, I'm going to tell you one other lazy thing I do in regards to sleep with brand new babies. :) When I give my babies middle of the night feeds, if they don't fall back asleep easily, I hold or feed until very drowsy, sometimes even until they are asleep. I do not have the energy to spend tons of time soothing a newborn to sleep in the middle of the night so this is how I handle it. For me (and many others), as long as you are working on day sleep and bedtime (eventually), it doesn't usually cause any issues and baby will start going to sleep easily during the night with time and no extra work. The plus side of this is that just like getting baby used to sleeping at certain times during the day makes her feel sleepy at these times, ensuring she sleeps well at night will help her feel sleepy at this time and make future sleep easier then.
With diaper changes, I change the diaper in the middle of the feed the first couple weeks. Once a couple weeks have gone by and baby is less sleepy, I change the diaper at the beginning of the feed to make it easier for her to fall asleep after the feed. I try to avoid changing diapers early in the morning (like at 5 am) since this can wake up baby a bit and possibly even lead to some future issues with early morning wake ups (she gets used to being awake at this time as a newborn and keeps up the habit for months). I also try to get most of the burping done before I finish up a feed so that baby can be nice and relaxed before being put back down to sleep.
ONE OF MY TOP TIPS FOR EXTENDING NIGHT SLEEP WITH A NEWBORN:
This is a touch similar to the core night method, but imo a lot easier for mom/dad and baby. After about 2 weeks (I generally feed every 3 hours at night before this time to make sure baby is gaining weight well and to make sure my milk supply is good) if baby is growing well, I start to monitor how long she is going at night. If she goes longer than the usual 3ish hours a few times, then I will start working with that time.
So let's say baby goes 5 hours a few times. From now on, if she wakes sooner than 5 hours, instead of feeding her right off, I will see if she will easily extend out to the 5 hours. This usually involves me doing the easiest thing possible in the middle of the night--popping a pacifier into her mouth (I have a love/hate relationship with pacifiers and this is one reason I LOVE them!). If this doesn't work, I will pick up baby to see if she'll easily fall asleep in my arms (you can do whatever normally helps baby fall back asleep). Most of the time baby will quickly and easily fall right asleep and we'll get 5 hours between feeds in there, sometimes longer. If baby doesn't fall asleep after trying for a short time, I will give a feed and try again the next night.
Keep in mind that I am not pushing her to sleep longer, I am working with how long she has shown me she can comfortable go on her own. At this age, my goal isn't to push baby to cut out extra feeds. If she doesn't easily go X hours with some gentle encouragement, then I will not push her to do it--she may need the feed. That said, with the ok from your pediatrician, you can try to extend out middle of the night feeds with this method around 1 month of age if baby is not extending them out on her own.
Don't fret too much about backtracking at this age. You may take a step back here and there, but overall you'll be taking steps forward. I keep doing this method as sleep continues to extend out. I also use this method to extend a feed if baby eats very little for a feed a few nights in a row and seems to be waking out of habit or because they don't sleep well on their own yet, rather than hunger.
Some important things to point out about this
- I often don't go more than 5-6 hours the first 4 weeks, you'll want to see what your pediatrician suggests
- When picking a feed to extend out, you need to work with the same feed (2 am one, 5 am one etc.), not just any feed throughout the night. Babies fall into patterns of sleeping longer and shorter at different times of the night.
- You need to have some sort of daily routine in place with a set morning wake time and bedtime hour in place. Unless baby is eating around the same amount each day and night and going to sleep around the same time, you can't expect her to sleep predictably long at night. Check out example newborn schedules here.
- It is common for a baby to do a longer stretch of sleep at night followed by a shorter stretch of sleep
- Just because your baby takes the pacifier, it does not mean she has gone back to sleep and wasn't hungry. It is possible that she is sucking on it unsettled and hungry and not asleep. At this age, you don't want to offer a pacifier instead of a feed if your baby needs it. So if you offer the pacifier and she doesn't seem settled or she wakes shortly after, assume she needs that feed for now. Keep in mind that if she has been awake sucking at the pacifier for some time, she'll very likely be overtired and not take a good feed. This means that she may wake 1-2 hours later hungry again. So the pacifier can definitely backfire if you don't use it right. Sometimes, like if you are trying to drop a feed with an older baby this will simply be part of the struggle short term but will resolve long term.
- While this method is often pretty painless for me and involves me being awake for a matter of seconds, sometimes if baby is really stuck in a feed (that she obviously no longer needs--eats very little etc.), it can take a bit of work short term. But the good news is that persevering for a few nights (at most several nights) will give you a longer stretch of sleep long term. Once the feed is dropped, the waking often goes away on its own (assuming there aren't other big sleep problems).
- I started having my son Jacob sleep in the rock 'n play sleeper (now recalled) when he was a few weeks old (due to him hating sleeping flat on his back--reflux being part of the problem). He immediately started to sleep an extra two hours at night. I tried this sleeper at night with my next child, Stella, and I had similar results. So yeah, I'm kind of in love with this sleeper since it gives me extra shut eye at night! The transfer from sleeper to flat bed at a later date is easy-peasy for most babies too.
IF NONE OF THE ABOVE METHODS SEEM TO WORK, LOOK AT THE COMMON QUESTION SECTION BELOW.
Common Newborn Issues
- Painful reflux: If your baby appears to have reflux that is bothersome (some spitting up is common and normal due to a newborn's immature stomach sphincter) then let your pediatrician know. Some reflux medications can make a world of difference. Also, try to keep baby in an upright position for approximately 30 minutes after a feed. I haven't had good luck with using wedges to keep babies propped up while sleeping, although I have had good luck with the Rock 'n Play Sleeper .
- Dirty diaper: Most babies this age do not care much about a dirty or wet diaper. Lots of parents connect wet diapers with night wakings, but most likely this is not what is causing the waking, now or in the future. But you never know, so it worth considering. If you are having issues with leaking diapers, check out this post for tips.
- Growth Spurts. Newborns have loads of growth spurts, or times they will eat/grow more and possibly sleep more or be fussy.
- Colic. If your little one has colic you'll probably be holding and bouncing and doing all kinds of things to help her be happy and, if you're lucky, sleep. These things can and often do result in a baby having sleep issue when she gets older because, well, she's always had them to go to sleep so that's what she keeps needing to go to sleep. Don't worry about it. You have your hands full as it is. You can tackle sleep issues when the colic improves. You'll get a bit more protesting during the process, but it is never too late to improve on sleep.
- Ear Infections. Ear infections and babies are not fun, but unfortunately they go together quite a lot with some babies. Breastfeeding, holding upright while bottle feeding and not smoking around your baby can reduce the risk of ear infections. If your baby has recently had a stuffy nose and suddenly gets a fever, is extra fussy or cries shortly after being layed flat, suspect an ear infection. Actually, regardless of what is wrong, any fever at this age warrants an immediate call or visit with your pediatrician.
- Gas. Your baby's digestive system is still trying to figure things out, and until that happens (and even maybe after :) you've got a little gas monster on your hands. Be sure to burp 2-3 times during a feed and if needed, try out different bottles if you're bottle feeding. If you're breastfeeding, you may want to adjust your diet a bit, although most of the time this doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Getting gas somewhat under control will help your little one sleep more soundly. If he wakes up suddenly with a high pitched scream, you might be dealing with gas. I also always recommend probiotics to help with gas, especially for formula fed babies. Refrigerated ones (I highly recommend this one for babies) are the best, but this one seems to still have decent results and is easy to find online and in stores.
Do I really need to wake my baby up to eat during the day?
If your baby is growing well and not going an abnormally long period between day time feeds, then no, of course you don't need to wake baby up. BUT, not waking baby up during the day for feeds may lead to 1) not enough food/feeds during the day which means more feeds at night and 2) an extension of day night confusion--baby will be getting her long sleep stretches during the day and waking more at night. The above two things don't always happen, but from my experience, most newborns will sleep longer at night at a sooner age if they are woken during the day every 2.5-3 hours for a feed and some waketime. What you do is up to you. If it feels wrong to wake baby up during the day for a feed and she's growing well, then don't do it. Just realize that an extended night sleep may take a bit longer for your little one.
Won't fully assisting my baby to fall asleep (say, after you've tried extended pu/pd for some time and it has failed or in an attempt to make a nap last longer) end up backfiring? I thought I was trying to teach her to fall asleep on her own? Wont' she start to depend on me if I don't let her do this?
Great question! If this has occurred to you, then high five, you're starting to understand this whole sleep prop and habits thing I've been talking about. I admit it does sound a bit odd to suggest helping baby to fall asleep on her own when you're trying to teach her to do it on her own, but it is necessary. With a baby this age, if she gets too overtired, you will get nowhere. Sleep will just keep getting worse and worse. And you know what, so will mom's patience. She has just had a baby! She needs some rest right now too. I don't expect she can handle helping baby sleep all. day. long. It is emotionally and physically exhausting. Believe it or not, but at this age, all the practice baby gets trying to fall asleep, even if it is just for several minutes at the beginning of each nap, really adds up. Most will get better at falling asleep on their own even if you end up helping them at times. By the time they are 3-6 months old, you'll stop helping them fall asleep when needed (it really backfires), but for now, it is in their best interest.
Can I successfully breastfeed while encouraging my newborn to be a good sleeper?
Why yes, yes you can! The idea that breastfeeding automatically leads to terrible sleep and that there is nothing you can do about it a common myth. I've successfully breastfed past a year with my children and I've talked with hundreds of other parents who have done it successfully too--all while on a routine. You can find out more about breastfeeding and routines here.
Should I give my baby a Lovey?
At this age, babies will not respond much to any sort of lovey, and most of them are not very safe for their age anyway. Wait a bit longer before introducing them, usually not before 4 months.
I've tried putting baby down drowsy but awake and have tried one of your four methods listed above, but it just isn't working. Baby is never falling asleep for naps or at night and is a mess. And, coincidentally, so am I!
Some babies are pretty crummy sleepers early on. They just are. You can be the Queen of Babyopolus and this baby will still not sleep well for you! Yes, experience and your natural ability can help things along, but I've been around enough babies to know that there is a lot more to it than just this. So what to do if you've got one of these sleep resisters?
First off, make sure you have really given this some time and consistent effort and that you are not expecting too much from your baby. Unless she's naturally a great sleeper, you probably won't have a totally awesome sleeper at this age (but I'll help you get that awesomeness eventually!). She'll have some good days and some bad days. That's expected.
Next, give yourself a break. You are still a great parent! You have not done something wrong and you are totally fine to use a sleep prop if you need to! It's really ok! One of the main reason I wrote the post on how to get your baby to like a swing is that I know some of you simply have to use a swing frequently to survive these first few months. Baby needs to get some sleep and you need to get some sleep. It's ok. It really is! Sleep training will still work out marvelously down the road and you'll get your awesome sleeper, you'll just have more of a transition at this time.
Do I need to worry about limiting naps at this age?
Too much day sleep can rob night sleep. I know, most of you are thinking what, there's a baby out there that sleeps too much during the day! I can't get mine to sleep at all! Too much sleep in the day does happen sometimes though, and the result can be less sleep at night. With newborns, if you wake them around every 3 hours during the day and try to give them a little bit of awake time before they go back to sleep, you rarely have a problem with too much daily sleep.
When will my baby start to sleep through the night?
The all too common question! I've outlined when babies often start sleeping through the night on this post. After helping countless parents with sleep, I can tell you that following the suggestions above will help you get there sooner rather than later. Remember to keep in mind that every baby is different and sleeps through the night at a different age.
Every time I lay my baby to sleep she suddenly pops right awake again. What can I do?
This is pretty common. Your baby, while drifting off to sleep, notices something different (being put down) and wakes right up again. And sometimes, because she's somewhat startled awake or has just had some of her tiredness knocked off by sleeping a few minutes, she'll be wide awake and not seem the least bit tired at all. There are a couple ways to deal with this. One way is to make sure she's in a deep sleep before you put her down, that means you'll have to wait 5-20 minutes before setting her down. Check to see if her arm is limp before setting her down and set her down slowly, step by step, possibly staying cuddled up with her for a moment in her bed before taking all contact away. This works with many babies, but not all. The other way is to put her to sleep before she gets so drowsy (or falls asleep) and work on having her fall asleep there alone, or with your help.
My baby wakes up 15 minutes after I put her to sleep (or some time around that). Help!
Check to see that gas or a remaining burp isn't a problem. I always burp baby before putting her to sleep just to make sure there's nothing there. Make sure she wasn't overtired or overstimulated before going to sleep since this can lead to super short naps. She may have also been put to sleep too drowsy or fast asleep and is waking up wondering where you went. You may want to check out the short nap post.
Some babies will be quiet after you put them down and then start to cry several minutes later. If you look in a monitor, you may see that they either never fell asleep or that they started to fall asleep (or got into the early stages of sleep) for several minutes then popped wide awake crying.
My baby wakes up from a nap after being asleep for 45-60 minutes. How can I get her to sleep a bit longer?
Make sure to give her a few minutes to see if she'll go back to sleep on her own. If she won't go back to sleep on her own, try helping her go back to sleep (avoid a feed if possible). If, after about 20 minutes she still isn't asleep, get her up and plan on putting her down for another nap pretty soon. Check out the short naps and extending naps posts.
My baby always fights sleep. She gets upset the second I start getting her ready for bed.
Some children are just like this. They don't like to shut out the world. Keeping things extra calm a short time before their nap can help. Making sure they don't get overtired can also be helpful.
What if my baby won't fall asleep after putting her down awake?
If you've gone through one of the four options above and it has been more than 20 minutes, I would probably help her go to sleep so she doesn't get too overtired. If you and her feel up to it (and, preferably, she's over 6-8 weeks), you can keep working on helping her go to sleep on her own her entire nap (limit of 1 hour per nap of trying). If she doesn't fall asleep after 1 hour, get her up and put her down again when she starts to get sleepy (this will be pretty darn soon). Try not to have her fall asleep on you if you can help it. Make sure she at least gets a good nap in every 2 naps or she'll for sure be an overtired mess.
What if it's time to feed her but she either hasn't fallen asleep yet or is about to go to sleep?
If it is almost time to feed her but she still hasn't fallen asleep for a nap, go ahead and get her up, feed her, doing your best to keep her awake. Then put her down again for a nap after the feed is through. If she falls asleep eating, it isn't the end of the world. As long as this isn't happening all the time, it isn't a huge deal. As she gets closer to 3 months of age, it's a good idea to not have this happening much or it can turn into a big habit.
If you're about to put her down for a nap but she needs to eat soon (maybe your e/w/s/ routine is a bit off because she's been struggling falling asleep for naps), go ahead and feed her right now, trying not to have her fall asleep while eating.
How should I handle early morning wakings?
If baby is waking early in the morning at this age, most likely she needs a feed. If that isn't the issue (and you've given her a moment to settle and haven't rushed in), then after making sure there isn't something else going on (a poopy diaper, too cold, gassy etc) help baby go to sleep by any means necessary while keeping things as much night-like as you can (dark, quiet etc). You want her to get used to sleeping during this time so she doesn't continue to wake up early and alert. Two of my newborns have gone through a short period where they wanted to go for the day at 5 am. It passed, but it was super tiring. Just keep things nice and boring and sleepy and you'll get past it!
Let me know if I missed any questions you may have!
Helping your baby to sleep
Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon sleep through the night, while some don't for a long time.
Your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it's unlikely to be the same as other babies you know.
It's also unlikely to fit in with your need for sleep. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
If you're breastfeeding, in the early weeks your baby is likely to doze off for short periods during a feed. Carry on feeding until you think your baby has finished or until they're fully asleep. This is a good opportunity to try to get a bit of rest yourself.
If you're not sleeping at the same time as your baby, don't worry about keeping the house silent while they sleep. It's good to get your baby used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.How can I get my baby used to night and day?
It's a good idea to teach your baby that night-time is different from daytime from the start. During the day, open curtains, play games and don't worry too much about everyday noises when they sleep.
At night, you might find it helpful to:
- keep the lights down low
- not talk much and keep your voice quiet
- put your baby down as soon as they've been fed and changed
- not change your baby unless they need it
- not play with your baby
Your baby will gradually learn that night-time is for sleeping.Where should my baby sleep?
For the first 6 months your baby should be in the same room as you when they're asleep, both day and night. This can reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Particularly in the early weeks, you may find your baby only falls asleep in your or your partner's arms, or when you're standing by the cot.
You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they've just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer.
If you use a baby sling to carry your baby, make sure you use it safely. The Lullaby Trust has information about swaddling your baby and using slings safely.Establishing a baby bedtime routine
You may feel ready to introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is around 3 months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be a great opportunity to have 1-to-1 time with your baby.
The routine could consist of:
- having a bath
- changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy
- putting them to bed
- reading a bedtime story (see more in Baby and toddler play ideas)
- dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle
- singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you've put your baby to bed
- brushing their teeth (if they have any)
As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.How much sleep does your baby need?
Just as with adults, babies' and children's sleep patterns vary. From birth, some babies need more or less sleep than others. The list below shows the average amount of sleep babies and children need during a 24-hour period, including daytime naps.Newborn sleep needs
Most newborn babies are asleep more than they are awake. Their total daily sleep varies, but can be from 8 hours up to 16 or 18 hours. Babies will wake during the night because they need to be fed. Being too hot or too cold can also disturb their sleep.Sleep requirements at 3 to 6 months old
As your baby grows, they'll need fewer night feeds and will be able to sleep for longer. Some babies will sleep for 8 hours or longer at night, but not all. By 4 months, they may be spending around twice as long sleeping at night as they do during the day.Baby sleep at 6 to 12 months
For babies aged 6 months to a year, night feeds may no longer be necessary and some babies will sleep for up to 12 hours at night. Teething discomfort or hunger may wake some babies during the night.Sleep requirements from 12 months
Babies will sleep for around 12 to 15 hours in total after their first birthday.2-year-old sleep needs
Most 2 year olds will sleep for 11 to 12 hours at night, with 1 or 2 naps in the daytime.Sleep requirements for 3 to 4 year olds
Most children aged 3 or 4 will need about 12 hours sleep, but this can range from 8 hours up to 14. Some young children will still need a nap during the day.Coping with disturbed nights
Newborn babies invariably wake up repeatedly in the night for the first few months, and disturbed nights can be very hard to cope with.
If you have a partner, ask them to help. If you're formula feeding, encourage your partner to share the feeds. If you're breastfeeding, ask your partner to take over the early morning changing and dressing so you can go back to sleep.
Once you're into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could occasionally give a bottle of expressed breast milk during the night. If you're on your own, you could ask a friend or relative to stay for a few days so you can get some sleep.Dealing with baby sleep pattern changes
All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you've all had a good night's sleep, the next night you might be up every 2 hours.
Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.
If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor.
Video: How much sleep should my newborn baby have?
In this video, a midwife talks about how much sleep a newborn needs and how every baby is different.
Media last reviewed: 4 October 2022
Media review due: 4 October 2025
REMINDER FOR PARENTS WITH CHILDREN IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE • GBUZ SK "City Clinical Polyclinic No. 5" of the city of Stavropol
bodies, suffocation, drowning, etc.):
• Never leave a child alone in the house.
• Feed the baby in a sitting position. Make sure that the child's nasal breathing is not difficult due to strong pressing against the mammary gland. If the baby is formula-fed, feed him in your arms, make sure that the baby does not swallow air.
• After feeding the baby, hold him upright to spit up air, and only then put him on his side in the crib.
• Do not give your baby bread crusts, bagels, bagels, pieces of fruit and vegetables, seeds, nuts, or other foods as they may cause food to be inhaled.
• You need to supervise the baby while feeding. Coughing, noisy rapid breathing, or an inability to make sounds are signs of breathing problems and possibly choking, which can lead to death.
• Choose a crib with a space between the bars so small that the baby cannot stick his head between them.
• Do not use pillows in a crib, on a changing table. Never put your baby to sleep on a pillow, he may roll over, which will lead to the closing of the baby's airways and suffocation.
• The crib should be free of foreign objects (pillows, blankets, diapers, plastic bags, toys, cords, ribbons, bows, etc.) that can cause entanglement or suffocation.
• When sleeping, the baby should be placed in the crib on its side.
• Never put an infant to bed with you. You can fall asleep and, if you involuntarily turn, crush the child and block his air supply, which will lead to tragedy.
• When laying the baby on his tummy, be sure to be close to him, remove all objects that can block the baby's air supply (diapers, toys, pillows), lay the baby only on a flat, hard surface. Don't put your baby on your tummy to sleep.
• In the child's field of activity there should be no small objects (parts of toys, batteries, buttons, coins, balls, sweets, etc.) that the child can take into his mouth, risking choking.
• Soothers with strings, ropes, hanging toys, rope swings can cause suffocation to a child.
• Never leave your baby alone in the tub while bathing, even for a second, babies can drown in less than two minutes even in a small amount of water.
2. TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY A CHILD FALLING
• Never leave your child alone in the house, even if you have put him to bed.
• Don't trust older children to take care of your child.
• When placing the baby in the crib, check that the sides of the crib are well secured.
• Choose a crib with high sides to prevent falls.
• Do not leave the baby alone on the changing table or other furnishings (bed, sofa, chair, etc.), as the baby may fall to the floor.
• Do not put the child to sleep anywhere other than a cot (avoid sleeping on a bed, sofa, etc.).
• In the stroller, the child must be secured with special fasteners.
• Make sure that access to the window, the window sill for the child is not possible.
• When using a walker, keep a close eye on the child (avoid obstacles: thresholds, steps, the possibility of going onto stairs, etc.). The walker could tip over and the baby could be seriously injured.
3. TO PREVENT HOUSEHOLD ACCIDENTS WITH CHILDREN (poisoning, burns, cuts, etc.)
• Always measure the temperature of the water with a thermometer (not your elbow!) before placing your child in the bath tub - the child may be burned .
• Do not add hot water to a baby bath.
• A small child can also get burned when using a heating pad if the temperature of the water in it exceeds 40-60°C;
• Protect your child from sunburn, sunstroke and heatstroke.
• Baby toys must be made of safe, non-breakable materials (risk of injury or choking on small pieces).
• Remove tablecloths, napkins hanging from tables - they can contain heavy, sharp, hot objects and drinks (the child can pull the edge of the tablecloth, tip over objects, injure or burn themselves).
• Do not allow pets to sleep in a crib or stroller.
• Keep your child away from electrical appliances, electrical outlets, cords, and extension cords.
• Do not leave piercing or cutting objects, such as needles, scissors or knives, within reach of the child. This can cause big trouble.
• Keep medicines and household chemicals, acids and alkalis, poisons for rats and insects, and other toxic substances out of the reach of a child. Poisons are dangerous not only when swallowed, but also when inhaled, in contact with the skin, eyes and even clothing, they can cause severe poisoning and death.
• Carbon monoxide poisoning - extremely dangerous for children and fatal in 80-85% of cases - strictly follow fire safety rules in all places where children are, especially where there is open fire (stoves, fireplaces, baths, etc.). ).
Dear parents, remember -
accidents with children of the first year of life (sometimes fatal) - occur through the fault of adults.
Putting your baby to bed: tips and tricks
Author, editor and medical expert - Muraeva Yulia Yurievna.
Views: 189 544
The date of the last update: 06/23/2022 G.
Average reading time: 12 minutes
rhythm sleep baby
How to help your child fall asleep
How to teach a child to sleep in his own crib?
What are the bedtime rituals?
Sleep is an important part of life, so it must be regular and of high quality 1 . But often the first year of a child's life becomes a real test for parents. Even such a seemingly simple action as putting a newborn to sleep sometimes turns into a task of increased complexity.
The difficulty is that in infants, sleep is still being formed, and circadian rhythms differ from those to which parents are accustomed 2 .
Rhythms of baby sleep
Before birth, the alternation of sleep phases in the fetus is subject to circadian (daily) rhythms and fluctuations in the hormonal background of the expectant mother. After giving birth, it takes time for the child to mature its own regulatory system 2 .
A full-term newborn sleeps an average of 16-17 hours 2 , and the total duration of sleep is not affected by dark and daylight hours 3 .
Babies up to 2 months old have 2 sleep phases 2.3 :
- Active sleep. Starts after falling asleep. This phase is important for the stimulation and development of the central nervous system. During active sleep, you can observe the baby's mobility, rapid eye movements and a weakening of reactions to external stimuli (light, sound, touch).
- Peaceful sleep. Follows the active phase. During restful sleep, the heart rate slows down, the movements of the eyeballs stop, and the baby stops moving his arms and legs.
Together these 2 phases form a cycle. Each cycle begins with active sleep followed by restful sleep. The duration of such a cycle is approximately 45-60 minutes 3 .
But the sleep-wake cycle lasts longer. For breastfed babies, it is approximately 1-3 hours, and for "artificial" children, it is 2-5 hours 3 .
Gradually, periods of wakefulness lengthen, and most of the sleep occurs at night 2 :
- By the end of 3 months of life, an uninterrupted night's sleep can be about 5 hours 3 .
- From 2 to 12 months, babies sleep 9-10 hours at night 3 , with daytime sleep divided into 1-4 episodes that can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours 3 .
Sleep regularity and sleep disturbances can be assessed after 6 months, when the child's circadian rhythms are formed 3 .
Although the night sleep becomes longer, each cycle is still accompanied by micro-awakenings (wakings) 2.3 , after which the baby can fall asleep quickly enough. This is a short-term activation of the central nervous system, which must be distinguished from a full awakening 2 . It is good if at this moment the mother is nearby and helps the child fall asleep again.
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How to Put Your Baby to Sleep
The American Pediatrics Association has developed guidelines for safe sleep for babies. Below are some of them (the full list of recommendations can be found at the link) 4 :
- The best sleeping position is on your back.
- The mattress should be hard enough, and the crib should not be cluttered with things, blankets, pillows.
- No smoking in the nursery.
- If the child sleeps in a cool room, it is better to dress him warmly or put him in a special sleeping bag for babies. He should be warm, but not hot, so it is not recommended to wrap him with a blanket. And in order for the baby to breathe freely, in no case cover him with a blanket with his head.
Babies up to 12 months still need to feed at night, so sleeping in the same room with the mother may be necessary to optimize breastfeeding and closer contact 4 . Co-sleeping in the same room with parents does not mean that the child will sleep with them in the same bed, because it does not meet the safety requirements 4 .
Before putting your newborn to bed, also remember that:0081 4 . There are babies who find this soothing, but swaddling can interfere with the baby's breathing because the chest is compressed and the baby cannot take a deep breath 4 . Tight swaddling also increases the risk of a lung infection and can aggravate hip dysplasia. Do not swaddle a baby who is already rolling over from his back to his stomach 4 .
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How to help your baby fall asleep
As the baby develops, fears, anxiety, anxiety may appear when he refuses to sleep separately from his parents and resists falling asleep 2 . The maturation of biological rhythms is facilitated by the environment of the child, the behavior of parents, compliance with the regimen and rules of sleep hygiene 3 .
To ensure quality rest and proper development, parents need to follow the recommendations. Specialists advise following these rules 4 :
- Put the baby to bed in the evening and wake up in the morning at about the same time, despite weekends and holidays 4 .
- Avoid physical activity before bed 4 .
- Limit activities in bed that are not related to falling asleep (playing, feeding), as this interferes with the baby's understanding of sleep 4 .
- Keep the bedroom comfortable - moderate temperature, low light, minimal noise, comfortable pajamas 4 .
- Form a laying ritual 5 .
- Follow the diet - the baby should not be hungry or overeating. Before going to bed, you can feed him a little 5 .
- Keep an activity diary so that you can analyze and understand what interferes with your child's sleep 4 .
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How can I get my baby to sleep in his own crib?
There are various techniques to help a child fall asleep on their own, without the help of their parents. They are often used as a non-drug treatment for insomnia (sleep disorder) in young children aged 1 to 3 years 4 . Examples of such techniques are described below. Choosing the right one for your baby should be discussed with a baby sleep specialist.
One way to overcome sleep disorders is through behavioral therapy. It helps to change wrong associations and sleep patterns in a child 4.7 . In behavioral therapy, the abandonment method is used. With him, parents immediately leave the child in the crib and leave the nursery. However, they do not return when they hear his cries or call, giving him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own 4 . But psychologists do not recommend using this approach if the baby is not yet 6 months old and is breastfeeding 4 , as this may adversely affect the baby's condition.
In addition, the abandonment method is not suitable for all parents. For those who want to be near or to calm a crying baby 4 experts recommend other methods - "check and hold" or "gradual repayment" 4. 7 .
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"Checking and Holding"
When getting ready for bed, the parent spends some time with the child, then puts him to bed and leaves the room or goes to bed if she is in the nursery. At the same time, they do not approach the baby for 15-20 minutes and do not react to his crying or screaming. This period is called "hold" 7
When the allotted 20 minutes are up, the parent goes to the child, straightens his bed and returns to himself. This part is called checking 7 .
It is very important not to take him out of the crib and feed him when he wakes up. The exception is children who require night feedings for age or medical reasons. In all other cases, the parent simply comes to the crib for a short time to check, and then leaves again for a 15-20 minute “hold” 7 .
Gradually - over several nights - increase the "hold" interval to 30 minutes 7 .
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This technique is designed to “repay” the child's protests and manipulations 7 . There are 2 options for "gradual repayment" - with and without the presence of a parent 4 .
The classic option is to leave the baby alone in the bedroom for a certain amount of time, gradually teaching him to fall asleep on his own. Unlike the “check and hold” method, the child can be calmed down. But you need to return to his bed not at the first call, but after a certain time. After the child calms down, you need to leave again, increasing the intervals when he tries to fall asleep without you 7 . This option is suitable for babies over 6 months old 4 .
Until the age of six months, use the “gradual repayment” method in the presence of a parent. It is carried out in stages 4 :
- The parent puts the baby to bed and sits next to it. If the bed is large, you can lie down next to the child.
- On subsequent nights, mom or dad still stays with the baby, but gradually reduces the amount of touching, communicates less with him, showing him that they are busy with something, for example, reading or cleaning the room.
- When putting the child to bed, the parent does not lie down next to him, but sits on a chair not far from the bed, about 5 meters from it, continuing to sit until the baby falls asleep.
- In the next step, the distance between the bed and the chair is increased, gradually moving it away.
- A little later, you can leave the nursery for a while, but be sure to return before the baby cries.
If the child wakes up, repeat the same steps as in this step of the procedure. The stages can be stretched over several days so that the baby has time to get used to each 4 .
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Forming a bedding ritual is considered to be an effective method 4 . It can complement the "repayment" technique, but sometimes it works quite well on its own. Suitable for all ages, but the earlier it is started, the less likely babies are to develop sleep problems - they fall asleep faster and sleep longer 4 .
The ritual begins at the moment the child is drowsy. Before you put the baby to sleep, you need to perform a number of actions. They should be predictable, regular, relaxing and positive. The total duration of the ritual is 20-45 minutes 4 . If it was not possible to meet the set time, most likely, you need to shift the ritual to another time and wait for drowsiness. It may manifest as loss of interest in surrounding toys and people, reddening of the eyelids, rubbing of the eyes, yawning 4 .
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What are the rituals for falling asleep?
Experts recommend preparing for sleep, which consists of consecutive, daily repeated actions, the so-called routines 5 . They help to fall asleep faster, improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce the number of night awakenings 5 .
The most typical nightly rituals 6 :
- Bathing in warm water with your favorite foam or bath product, light massage.
- Soothing sounds - "white noise". This is a monotonous noise that does not carry a semantic load, soothes and helps to forget, for example, flowing water, a metronome, ticking clocks or recordings of nature sounds.
- Lullabies and fairy tales.
- Wishes for "good night", "sweet dreams" or other phrases that are said only before going to bed.
Sleep experts recommend a three-step ritual that includes bathing, massage and quiet time in the crib 8 .
- Bath foam can be used during bathing. For babies from 6 months, JOHNSON’S ® Baby Bath Foam "Before Bed" is suitable. It has a soothing scent to help your baby get ready for bed 8 .
- Immediately after a warm bath, a milk can be applied to the skin, such as JOHNSON’S ® Bedtime Milk Milk 8 , for children over 6 months of age, by lightly stroking the skin. Such a massage will calm the baby even more and prepare him for sleep, especially thanks to the pleasant smell of milk 8 .
- At the third stage, you need to change the child into pajamas, read a bedtime story or sing a lullaby 4,8 .
As a rule, a few days are enough to form an association between the evening routine and falling asleep 4 .
As you can see, pediatricians and psychologists have developed various methods for healthy children's sleep and fast falling asleep. But you need to use them, taking into account the age of the child, his habits and characteristics of the nervous system. The task of parents is to organize the baby’s daily routine and prepare him for sleep, calming and creating positive associations with the process of falling asleep. With the correct implementation of the recommendations of a specialist, the child will gradually learn to fall asleep independently and faster, will sleep longer and sounder.
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The information in this article is for guidance only and does not replace the professional advice of a physician. For diagnosis and treatment, contact a qualified specialist.
- E.S. Sakharova. What worries the baby? Pediatric pharmacology, 2010, volume 7, No. 2, pp. 143-148.
- I.A. Kelmanson. Formation of the state of sleep in ontogeny and the problems arising from this. Neurology and psychiatry. Special issue "Sleep and its disorders-5". Effective pharmacotherapy, 2017, No. 35, p.4-13
- M.G.Poluektov, P.V.pchelina. Sleep in children: from physiology to pathology. Medical Council, 2017, No. 9, pp. 98-103.
- P.V.Pchelina. M.G.Poluektov. How to treat insomnia in early childhood. Neurology and psychiatry. Special issue "Sleep and its disorders-4". Effective pharmacotherapy, 2016, No. 19, pp.52-60.
- Jodi A. Mindell, PhD; Lorena S. Telofski, BA; Benjamin Wiegand, PhD; Ellen S. Kurtz, PhD. A Nightly Bedtime Routine: Impact on Sleep in Young Children and Maternal Mood. (The Nightly Sleep Schedule: Effects on Young Children's Sleep and Maternal Mood) SLEEP (Sleep), Vol.