Though newborns sleep a lot when they first come home, newborn sleep patterns can be quite erratic, interrupting new parent’s normal sleeping routines. New moms and dads, accustomed to sleeping soundly through the evening, now have to adjust to feedings and soothing their little ones all hours of the day and night. The small stomach of a newborn needs frequent feedings, and they wake every few hours, needing to soothe their hunger.
Typical Newborn Sleep Patterns
A newborn typically “sleeps” 16 hours in a 24 hour period, divided between day and night. However, it isn’t solid sleep, with wet diapers, a startling noise waking him or her up or a hungry tummy. It isn’t until approximately 3 months of age when parents can often count on at least a six hour period of uninterrupted sleep during the night. When your baby first arrives home, however, do not count on any type of pattern. Some newborns are out of sync, staying up more in the evening and sleeping longer during the day.
It is so important for a new parent to try and catch necessary naps, breaks and rest while their infant is sleeping, while mom, dad and baby all get adjusted to this new environment. Often parents make the mistake of trying to use time while their little one is sleeping to catch up on chores or engage in other duties, until their newborn awakes from sleep once again. This results in extremely tired parents, because they only time they are getting rest is sporadically during the evening.
Remind yourself that this initial adjustment phase is temporary and that, for now, the best gift you can give to your beautiful new child is to be rested and healthy for the times when he or she is awake. The other duties can wait for another day. If you have a difficult time with letting household cleaning go, consider treating yourself to a house cleaner during this period if your budget will allow, so you can relax and let those stresses go.
Creating Good Newborn Sleep Patterns
There are things you can do to help create more consistent newborn sleep patterns, once everyone has settled in. If your baby is tending to sleep more during the day and is up all night, though tempting to let your bundle of joy continue sleeping, wake him or her up if more than a few hours have passed. This will help your newborn sleep in a more normal pattern during the evenings rather than sleeping most of the daytime hours.
Also, though nothing feels better than having your child asleep in your arms, you are creating a potential problem where your baby might not want to sleep anywhere else but in them! Whether your baby drifts off when you hold him or her, or whether you rock, sing or bounce your little one to help soothe when fussy, once relaxed, place your little one in the crib or bassinet while still awake, and let your child drift off to sleep.
In very little time, your beautiful new baby will be on a more regular schedule and sleeping through the night. Newborn sleep patterns take a little adjustment period for both parents and child, but it is temporary, and all family members will be sleeping more consistently in the near future. Until then, get plenty of rest during the day and evening and a little extra help around the home until nighttime rest is more consistent.