I know every baby has a different sleep pattern but I’ve learned that newborns, generally sleep for a total of 15 to 17 hours a day and tend not to sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours at a stretch. For the first few weeks, my baby was able to sleep long stretches, at least 2 hours and can go up to 3-4 hours, if we get lucky. When he turned 1 month, his naps were getting shorter and we found it challenging to put him to sleep. According to sleep consultants, recreating an environment similar to being inside the womb can help promote better sleep. Measures could include using white noise machine- they weren’t used to silence as they were accustomed to hearing noises inside the womb such as mom’s heartbeat, etc.; swaddling, and darkening the room. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about newborns’ sleep pattern.
Usual sleep pattern of newborns
Newborn’s sleep, to a parent, can seem completely disorganized and is characterized by:
- Newborns never sleep for long
They randomly sleep for short intervals of between 30 minutes to 4 hours throughout the day and night
- Newborns awaken easily
Newborns spend most of their sleep time in active-sleep which is characterized by fluttering eyelids, body movements, vocalization, and irregular breathing.
- Newborn sleep time can vary widely
On average, a newborn sleeps for 16 to 18 hours a day. After a month they sleep for approximately 14 hours. Some babies of the same age, out of 24 hours, can sleep for 9 hours only.
Causes of interrupted sleep or fussiness
Sometimes a newborn experiences trouble sleeping due to a medical condition. Some of the non-medical reasons can include:
- Newborns internal clock is not in sync with the 24-hour day
- Lack of routine
- Newborns bedtime being too early or too late
- Intervening when you think your baby is awake
- Making midnight care sessions too interesting
Normal sleep pattern and things to do to promote good sleep in newborns
Newborns sleep for 3-4 hours at a time until they reach 3 months old and there are measures you can take to improve that, they include:
- Make your baby a part of your daily routine
- Reduce stimulation at night
- Expose your newborn to natural lighting patterns
- Try infant massage
When to start sleep training
Experts recommend training your baby between the ages of 4 to 6 months. At this age, they tend to have developed a regular sleep-wake cycle and reduced their night feeding.
Parenthood is quite tasking with newborns. It is important that you are hands-on to ensure you nurture and train them as they grow. If you believe that your baby’s sleep is being interrupted by medical reason, seek medical advice.
The first few weeks was really challenging. I felt like a zombie all the time. People told me to sleep when my baby sleeps but it wasn’t easy. I found a better piece of advice “Do the laundry when the baby does the laundry” lol. There were times when I can’t do anything because he wanted to be held and wouldn’t sleep when I put him down. At that time, I thought it was always going to be like that but it does get better. My sister tells me to enjoy cuddling and holding him because there will come a time that he wouldn’t want to be held anymore (eyes welling up).
So just enjoy every phase with your child because it’s not permanent. Here I am staring at him while he sleeps and wishing for time to slow down. Someday, this tiny face would outgrow my arms but never my heart.