Sleeping solutions: how to get a healthy, goodnight’s sleep
As a new parent, it may seem like your baby needs you every second of the day, but actually he/she sleeps about 16 hours or more.
Even though newborns typically sleep for 2-4 hours at a time, they usually don’t sleep through the night for a few months. This is because their digestive system is so small that they need nourishment every few hours. To make sure your baby’s getting enough to eat, we at Westchester Health Pediatrics recommend waking your baby if 4 hours have gone by without a feeding (more frequently if your doctor is concerned about weight gain).
When will your baby sleep through the night?
Many babies can sleep through the night (between 6-8 hours) at 3 months of age, but if yours doesn’t, don’t stress. Just like adults, babies must develop their own sleep patterns and cycles, so if your newborn is gaining weight and appears healthy, don’t worry if he/she hasn’t slept through the night yet at 3 months.
How to achieve sleeping success
Once you learn to anticipate your baby’s natural sleepy times (at nap time and bedtime) and can tell when he/she is tired, you’ll know when he/she needs to sleep. Establish a soothing bedtime routine at least 20 minutes before you put your infant down to sleep, such as a warm bath and a final feeding—and be consistent. You’ll find that by putting your baby down in a tired but not overtired state, he/she will sleep more deeply and without interruption.
If your newborn wakes in the middle of the night, he/she is probably hungry and needs a feeding.
Once your baby is several months old and wakes in the night, we recommend that you or your partner briefly go in to visit, offer a quick pat, then leave and let your baby fall back to sleep on his/her own. This may require a little “crying it out” which may be hard on you, but trust us—it leads to better sleeping for everyone.
How to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Approximately 2500 babies in the U.S. die from SIDS each year. You can significantly reduce the risk of SIDS by following these important guidelines:
- Always put your infant to sleep on his/her back. Make sure all caregivers do this, too.
- Use a firm mattress and tightly fitted sheets for your baby’s crib.
- Remove all comforters, fluffy blankets or pillows.
- Consider not using a crib bumper pad which can restrict your baby’s breathing when his/her nose or mouth is pressed against it.
- Keep your baby from overheating: no hats, extra clothes or woolly blankets while sleeping, and keep the room cool (68-72 degrees F).
- Keep your baby’s room well ventilated. A recent study found that using a fan in an infant’s room that has poor ventilation could reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Use a pacifier: A recent study found that putting your baby to sleep with a pacifier at night could decrease the incidence of SIDS.
- Never allow anyone to smoke near your baby.