The excitement from bringing a newborn home can quickly turn into an exhaustion. Your schedule will be dictated by your newborn’s sleep patterns, so the sooner you start a safe daytime and nighttime routine with your newborn, the sooner you’ll be enjoying more restful night.
Newborns can sleep 10-18 hours a day, but pediatric experts recommend developing a regular schedule to help your newborn recognize cues for sleep and wake time. Keeping your baby active with play during the daytime will help him connect daylight with activity. Slowing down in the evening by decreasing the volume in the house, dimming the lights, and participating in quieter activities will signal a calmer feeling in your newborn.
A soothing bath can help a baby relax, followed by quiet activities such as feeding, singing lullabies, or rocking before bedtime. When your newborn starts acting drowsy, put him in his crib. This will encourage him to fall asleep in his crib. As your newborn grows into an infant, start regular nighttime routines to reinforce a steady sleep schedule. If your infant starts crying after putting him down, wait a few minutes to see if he quiets down by himself. If you do check in on him, do not disrupt the environment; stay quiet and keep the lights off.
A good nighttime routine should be supplemented with a good daytime nap routine. Pay attention to when your newborn gets fussy or rubs his eyes. Create quiet, soothing environments during those times to encourage a routine nap time. While life will often get in the way of scheduled nap times, try to stay as true to a schedule as you can to help your baby sleep better in the day and the night.
A constant concern of parents of newborns is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. SIDS mostly occurs when an infant is asleep and can happen because of a blanket or pillow covering her mouth or overheating. SIDS has decreased by 50% in the last 20 years. This is due in part to strict guidelines for infant sleep routines, including the following:
- Place your baby on her back
- Make sure your baby spends enough time on her tummy when she’s awake so she can strengthen her neck muscles
- Do not place your newborn in bed with you; she should sleep in a crib with a firm matters and fitted sheets
- Leave all pillows and toys out of your baby’s crib
- Dress your baby in light clothes for bed so she doesn’t overheat
- Talk to your infant’s caregivers about placing your infant on her back for sleep
Above all else, talk to your pediatrician about safe sleep practices with your infant. Observe your infant’s sleeping patterns and ask your doctor questions.
Each baby is different and may not respond to every suggestion the experts, or your friends, might recommend. Listen to and watch how your baby sleeps. Your baby may not sleep through the night for many months, so make sure you are receiving the support necessary to help you rest. Creating good bedtime routines for your baby may help you have a more restful life.