What can I do to get my baby to sleep?
Babies do not have regular sleep cycles until about six months of age. Newborns sleep an average of 16+ hours a day, typically for two to four hours at a time. Don’t expect a newborn to sleep through the night. They need to be fed every few hours and should be awakened at night if they haven’t been fed for five to six hours. Many babies will start sleeping through the night (six to eight hours at a time) when they are about four to six months old and weigh at least 10 pounds; however, if your baby is not sleeping through the night by then, don’t be concerned. Every baby develops their own sleep patterns and cycles.
While your baby does not know what time it is, they are aware of routines, which can help make bedtime easier. Try soothing routines like bathing or feeding, rocking, reading stories, or singing lullabies in the same sequence each evening to help your baby know it is time to wind down to sleep for the night. Use dim lighting and a slow, soothing tone of voice to help relax your baby.
Days and nights
Some babies have their days and nights confused. Some sleep better at night if they spend more time awake during the day. The following tips may help:
During the day:
- Keep the house bright even during nap times.
- Wake baby for feedings about every three hours if they do not wake up on their own.
- Play, sing and talk to your baby.
- Make eye contact and talk to your baby during feedings.
- Do not keep the house quiet; allow normal household noises during the daytime.
- Keep the lights dim when your baby wakes for feedings.
- Limit distractions and stimulation. Do not play with your baby during the night.
- Keep the room quiet, no TV/radio, etc., as TV light and movement are very stimulating to baby.
- Cuddle and soothe a crying newborn to help them return to sleep.
- All healthy infants should be placed on their backs to sleep.
- All infants should be placed in a separate, but close sleeping environment (in a safety-approved crib, infant bassinet or play yard).
- All infants should be placed on a firm sleep surface. Remove all soft, loose bedding, quilts, comforters, bumper pads, pillows, stuffed animals and soft toys from the sleeping area.
- Never place a sleeping infant on a couch, sofa, recliner, cushioned chair, waterbed, beanbag, soft mattress, air mattress, pillow, synthetic/natural animal skin, or memory foam mattress.
- Avoid bed sharing with the infant.
- Note the risks of bed sharing:
- Adult beds do not meet federal standards for infants.
- Infants have suffocated by becoming trapped or wedged between the bed and the wall/bed frame.
- Infants have been injured by rolling off the bed.
- Infants have suffocated in bedding.
- Infants have died from suffocation due to adults rolling over on them.
- Sleeping with an infant when fatigued, obese, a smoker, or impaired by alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal) is extremely dangerous and may lead to the death of an infant.
- If a blanket must be used, the preferred method is to swaddle/bundle the infant no higher than the axillary or shoulder level.
- Swaddling should be discontinued when the infant shows signs of rolling over.
- A “wearable blanket” may be used in place of a blanket.
- Avoid the use of commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Avoid overheating. Do not over swaddle/bundle, overdress the infant, or overheat the infant’s sleeping environment.
- After breastfeeding has been well established, consider the use of a pacifier at sleep times during the first year of life. Do not force an infant to take a pacifier if he/she refuses.
- Avoid maternal and environmental smoking.
- Avoid alcohol and drug use.
- Home monitors are not a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS, this includes both medical grade and direct-to-consumer devices/monitors.
- Encourage tummy time when the infant is awake to decrease positional flat spots on head.