How Much Do Newborns Sleep?
One might argue that the first few months after a baby has been born are the most challenging part of parenting. We wouldn’t agree. In fact, we think that it is the most beautiful one, and as long as you have good organization, there shouldn’t be a problem. The reason? Well, unlike toddlers, newborn babies (up to 3 months) sleep a lot, which makes coping with their needs much easier.
On the other hand, the sleep schedule of a newborn baby is not as simple as it may seem. Yes, they need up to 17 hours of sleep a day, but unlike us, they aren't able to maintain too many hours at a time. The reason? While we enjoy much more non-REM deep sleep, babies go through intensive periods of rapid eye movement that is critical for brain development.
With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they end waking up in the middle of the night. It is a fact that the first few months may be pretty tiring due to the irregular sleep schedule, but if you have good communication with your partner, you two may figure out a good regime, so everyone gets rested, and the baby isn't left without attention.
The Baby Sleep Miracle website offers great tips on how to put your baby to sleep and maintain a healthy routine.
So, how much do newborns sleep? More than you, we can guarantee that! But in order to understand this, we need to get into details on why do they need so many hours and how to know if they are oversleeping.
Newborn Sleeping Routine
As mentioned, newborn babies sleep a lot, but there is a good reason for that. While there is a more complex answer, the simple one is that they need it. Unlike adults that are used to being up for 16 to 18 hours a day, newborn babies just came out of the womb, where they were inactive for most of the time and in a soothing and warm atmosphere. That is what their body is used to, and so, sleep is necessary for further development of the brain and other organs.
Still, this doesn’t give us an answer as to why babies are ready to eat as soon as they are awake. Because their bodies are tiny, they can’t eat a lot at a time, and their digestive system works efficiently to process all the liquid nutrients, making the baby hungry every couple of hours.
Now, as the Baby Sleep Miracle guide suggests, the reason newborn babies sleep irregularly is due to longer REM periods. As mentioned, this is critical for brain development, and while we get to enjoy more deep sleep, it will take a few months until babies are able to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. While this is the case, you as a parent should still do your best to teach them the difference between night and day.
Yes, a newborn’s sleeping schedule mostly comprises 3 naps during the day and 3 naps during the night, all of a duration of around 2.5 to 3 hours but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to distinguish the different time. You can expect that by 8 weeks, your newborn baby will already be able to achieve more than 3 hours of continuous sleep at a time. By 6 months they will be able to, much like our sleep, even sleep up to 12 hours during the night.
Detect Sleeping Time
Most parents have trouble ensuring an adequate sleep routine for their baby, mostly due to the fact that it is so irregular. Still, there is nothing hard about it, as long as you know the signs of sleep readiness, and how you can help your baby fall asleep. The thing is, newborns may not be able to fall asleep on their own, which means you are the one to determine when it is bedtime.
How? By looking for red flags. If your baby seems to be fussing, yawning, or rubbing their eyes, it means they are probably tired, and it is time to put them to bed. Still, what you should know is that allowing your baby to fall asleep in your arms, may establish a bad routine. If you want to get your baby to sleep, make sure to put them in their bed straight away before they fall asleep. This way, you will calm them and still let them know that bed is for sleeping and not your arms.
The most comfortable position for a newborn baby? Lying on their back with no pillows or any other soft supports. Also, you should always leave the head of your baby uncovered, and if you have decided to use a blanket, be sure to start by covering the feet of your newborn baby and going only up to the chest.
As mentioned, there are a number of reasons why your baby may have trouble falling asleep. Apart from ensuring that they have a healthy sleep schedule, you may want to invest extra time in providing them with the necessary environment to fall asleep. Whether it is dimming the lights, adjusting the temperature, or playing soothing music, it depends on what your newborn baby is comfortable with.
Overstimulating your baby right before bedtime may result in fussing and them having trouble falling asleep, hence you might want to allow them to wind down a little before getting serious about putting them to bed.
We always like to emphasize the importance of a healthy sleep routine for a newborn baby. Bearing in mind that they may sleep up to 17 hours, mostly through shorter naps, you as a parent should do your best to ensure the best possible conditions.
The Baby Sleep Miracle site offers great tips on how to put your baby to sleep and keep their naps effective. Solving a ''baby-won’t-sleep problem'' is not that hard, as long as you do your research and have the patience for it!