Newborn sleep in first months of life

We get many questions about the schedule in the early months. How long shall my baby sleep at night? Are short naps ok? My Little One doesn’t take longer stretches at night, what shall I do? Our child falls asleep only on the breast, do I teach her bad habits?

These are only examples of questions we get on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to those questions. Newborn babies don’t have a typical schedule. Their sleep is not organized yet and they sleep on the average between 14-17 hours in 24 hours. They need to sleep a lot as their brain process all new information from the “outside” world.

Sleep organization

In the first three months of life, babies sleep is spread evenly between day and night. Children have short sleep/wake cycles. Some babies might have already longer stretches of sleep at night but for most babies, it takes a couple of weeks or months before longer sleep is developed at night. Babies have very small stomachs, they need to wake up often to feed. But this is not the only reason. They wake up because they are cold or too hot, they don’t feel comfortable or they want to feel the closeness of caregivers. All those behaviors are important for surviving. Remember short sleep intervals get longer closer to six months. It is only temporary! 🙂

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Day and night confusion?

Did you know that when your baby was born he didn’t know how to distinguish day from night? That is the reason also why babies in the first months sleep evenly around the clock. It takes around 3-4 months to develop an internal clock – the circadian rhythm. Some babies sleep soundly during the day and “party” at night! To help your Little One reverse the clock go outside for a walk, open curtain in the morning, let some sunshine in. Make sure you expose your child to daytime noises and sounds.

Towards the late afternoon and evening slowly prepare your child for longer rest. Make the room darker and quieter. Eliminate active play and replace it with calm cuddles. This will give a sign to your child’s brain that is time to slow down and get ready to rest.

How to respond to a newborn at night

Newborn babies need quick reassurance from caregivers. Their self-soothing mechanism is not developed yet and they rely on you to comfort them. They feel safe in parents arms. By replicating the womb environment you can help your baby to relax and fall asleep soundly. This doesn’t create any “bad habits”, on the contrary, your baby needs your closeness to feel secure. Take advantage of it and enjoy sweet cuddles 🙂

Sleep tight!
Ola & Dorota

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