One of the many joyful things about having a newborn is that we get to experience everything for the first time through Baby. Like sleep! Sleep is something that comes so naturally to many of us, something we don’t even have to think about. Teaching your infant to get accustomed to a “normal” sleeping schedule will be one of the most crucial things in these early stages.
What’s the normal amount of sleep my baby should be getting?
“Normal” sleep will be relative in this early stage (about three months) as newborns cannot distinguish between day and night since their internal clocks are not yet well-developed. On average they sleep for most of the day (as much as 16-20 hours) in 2-4 hour stretches, waking up for meals and diaper changes.
Your baby may cry or make soft noises when in light sleep. They may even wake up momentarily during the night. In these cases, it is best to let your baby learn how to get himself back to sleep without interfering.
If he cries continuously for several minutes, then that is the time to see what needs of his should be attended to. He could be hungry, wet, cold or sick. Attend to his needs quickly and quietly, without overstimulating him before putting him back to sleep.
What’s the best sleeping position for my baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants sleep on their backs rather than on their stomachs or sides. Exceptions may be made for babies with deformities of the head or any other deformity which obstruct their airway when lying on their backs.
Where’s the best place for my baby to sleep?
The Ministry of Health recommends the following, in terms of infant bedding:
- Place baby on his or her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a cot that meets current safety standards.
- Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib.
- If using a blanket, put baby with his or her feet at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, only as far as the baby’s chest.
- Make sure baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep.
- Do not place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow or other soft surface to sleep.
- To prevent overheating, the infant should be lightly clothed for sleep and the room temperature kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
- Avoid over bundling and check the baby’s skin to make sure it is not hot to the touch.
- While babies should sleep on their backs, other positions can be used during the time babies are awake. Babies can be placed on their stomachs while awake to help develop muscles and eyes and to help prevent flattened areas on the back of the head.
According to this report, bed – sharing or co-sleeping may be hazardous for babies in certain conditions. The report advises the following :
- Place the infant’s crib near parent’s bed for more convenient breastfeeding and parent contact.
- If you choose to have your baby sleep in your bed to breastfeed, make sure the baby sleeps in a non-prone position, soft surfaces or loose covers are avoided, and the bed is moved away from the wall and other furniture to avoid the baby becoming entrapped between them. Ensure that you do not fall asleep while breastfeeding as you may accidentally suffocate your baby.
- Adults other than the parents, children or other siblings should not share a bed with an infant.
- Parents who choose to share a bed with their infant should not smoke or use substances such as drugs or alcohol that may impair their ability to care for their babies.
How else can I help my baby sleep?
It’s important to provide the right environment for your baby to have a comfortable and safe sleep. According to the Ministry of Health, it is important to:
- Avoid overstimulation during nighttime feeds and diaper changes.
- Try to keep lights low and the room quiet.
- Allow your baby to become sleepy in your arms, but place him or her in the bed while still awake. This way the baby can learn how to go to sleep on his own.
- Singing a lullaby or playing soft music while your baby is getting sleepy can help to establish a bedtime routine.
Always keep in mind that these are all general rules to use as a guideline. Every baby has their own distinct sleep requirements and patterns and you should always consult your pediatric physician with any concerns.