Nighttime can often be the most challenging time for new parents. Newborns do not follow the same sleeping schedule in which you are accustomed. It is important to remember that it is normal for babies not to sleep through the night. Babies are constantly growing and need plenty of nourishment to help them develop. In addition, babies stomach's are very small and can only hold a small amount of food at a time, and need to eat more often. Therefore, a baby may wake up several times per night to be fed. A newborn may also wake up in the middle of the night because he or she does not know the difference between night and day.
Tips for Nighttime
Below are some tips to help you and your newborn through the night.
- Place your newborn's crib in your room, close to your bed.
- Make sure you can hear any cries or noises your newborn makes. (This is his or her way of telling you it is time for another feeding.)
- Bring your baby into your bed for a feeding, so you will have an easier time going back to sleep after the feeding.
- Keep the lights low and avoid playing or talking with the baby so you can begin establishing "nighttime".
- Begin nighttime rituals such as giving your baby a bath before putting him or her to sleep. This may help relax the baby and as your baby gets older, can help establish a "bedtime" routine.
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Take a Nap
If your baby takes a nap in the afternoon, you should also take a nap. Rather than use the time to work around the house, take advantage of the quiet time to get some much needed sleep. Accept help from your friends and family members – if they offer to bring you dinner, clean the house or run errands – take them up on the offer! You'll be better rested to continue taking care of your baby throughout the day and into the night.
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SIDS – Sudden Infant Death
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month of age and one year. The following precautions listed below can reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Babies that sleep on their stomach are more likely to die from SIDS.
- Make sure your baby is sleeping on a firm mattress. Soft, fluffy items including pillows, quilts and stuffed animals should not be in the crib when the baby is sleeping.
- Always maintain a smoke-free environment around your baby. Do not allow anyone to smoke near your baby. Do not take your baby to places where people may be smoking.
- Breastfeeding can help protect your baby from many illnesses, including SIDS.
- Babies should be kept warm, but not too warm so as to cause the baby to overheat.
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What To Expect
Although every baby is different, below is general information on what you can expect from your newborn's sleeping patterns.
- Newborns typically have one four- to five-hour sleep period, often occurring during the day. Parents can gradually shift the sleep period from day to night by keeping stimulation to a minimum during normal sleep hours and lights low during nighttime feedings.
- Many newborns can sleep five consecutive hours once feeding is well established.
- Your baby may still sleep much of the day but during waking hours, he or she is definitely becoming more alert and noticing his or her surroundings.
- By one month old, the three- to five-hour sleep period may have shifted to the night.
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