Understanding Newborn Sleep

Newborns younger than four months have very different sleeping routines and needs as compared to older babies. Parents should have a better understanding of their baby’s newly developing sleep patterns, which can help them develop better expectations when it comes to their baby and sleep.

Newborns sleep

Everyone has different opinions on how to handle their new baby’s sleep issues. One thing parents (especially new parents) need to beware of is the danger of being misguided or being badly advised by people. No matter how well intentioned some advices may be, they end up having a negative effect on parenting skills and ofcourse the baby’s development. This makes it important for every parent to know the facts.

Once parents have their facts in order, they can develop effective parenting plans and thus having confident approaches to handle their newborn’s sleep routine. So, the first thing to do is to have a clear perspective of what parents need to do, why to do it and how to do it. There are various classes or support sessions for parents these days, as well as numerous books and magazines to better enlighten parents on newborn sleep.

The Natural Science of Newborn Sleep

Every baby sleeps when he’s tired during the early months of his life. It is really that simple. There is nothing much parents can do to force a new baby to sleep when he really doesn’t want to, and likewise, there is very little that can be done to wake a newborn up when he’s sound asleep. One very important point to remember and understand about newborns is that they have very tiny tummies. As a result of this, the food they take gets digested very quickly, because they are on a rapidly growing course and are majorly on a liquid diet.

Although it is every parents wish to lay their little bundles down to sleep at predetermined timings and not have to worry about them waking up throughout the night, let’s face it, it is not a realistic goal. Newborns need to feed on every two to four hours and sometimes even more.  Babies have remarkable growth spurts during the first few months that affect both the day and nighttime feeding routines. This often pushes the feeding hours from the two to four hours schedule to a one to two.

It is a common believe that babies start sleeping through the night at around two to four months of age. However, parents need to understand that a five-hour sleep is usually a full night sleep for new babies. Most babies at this age usually have uninterrupted sleeps from midnight to around 5 am, which sounds like an understatement for “sleeping through the night”. To top it up, these “sleep-through-the-nighters” often suddenly begin to wake up more frequently during the night. Babies only begin to settle into the all-night pattern until a full first year or even two.

Factors That Prevent a Newborn from Going to Sleep

how much do newborns sleep

There are some factors or points to check in a newborn sleep routines that sometimes prevent babies from going to sleep at all, such as the environment and diet, as well as the following:

  • Is the baby over stimulated? – Parents can start sort of a calming routine or act at every sleep time, which gets the baby to recognize the feel of sleep times.
  • Is the baby too cool or warm? – A baby definitely lets his parents know when he’s  too cool or warm by showing signs of irritation or uneasiness.
  • Is the baby dehydrated? – If the soft spot on a baby’s head is more pronounced, it means he may be dehydrated. Parents should be very careful at every seasonal change. For example, in winters, using heaters dries up the air, making it necessary to give the baby water or liquids on good intervals.
  • Is the baby hungry? – It is always necessary to ensure that the baby has a full tummy before attempting to get him to sleep. This ensures that the baby sleeps a longer and possibly uninterrupted sleep because he will not be waking up out of hunger.
  • Is the baby comfortable? – It should be ensured that the baby’s nappy is dry, clean and correctly put on, so that the baby is comfortable. Wet and unclean nappies result in baby rashes and itches, which becomes extremely uncomfortable for babies and therefore necessarily need to be attended to.

It is possible for parents to have the joyful days and restful nights that they so much wish for with their newborns. Creating constant, strong routines and having a secure and peaceful environment assists in having and maintaining good newborn sleep routines.