Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns
Survival Guide for New Parents
by: Madeline Blom | Mommas Organics
IT IS AN EXCITING AND SCARY TIME to bring home your newborn baby, especially if you don’t have much experience with children. Most parents have idealistic goals to have their child sleeping through the night before long, but they are disappointed to find that the baby’s sleep patterns are irregular and unpredictable.
Don’t stress if you feel like you aren’t getting enough sleep! There are several things you need to understand about newborn sleep patterns.
Eat and Sleep… and Repeat!
The average newborn spends most of their day alternating between eating and sleeping, and this pattern continues throughout the night. Newborns need to eat frequently, and they will often sleep between feedings and wake up every few hours to eat again.
Many times, sleep happens in short intervals, and it can be hard to predict when the baby will wake up again. The baby might sleep for 30 minutes or 4 hours, making it hard for a parent to set a schedule based on the baby’s sleep time. Generally, newborns sleep between 16 – 18 hours a day, and that time decreases to about 14 hours a day by the time they are one month old.
Differences between Baby and Adult Sleep Patterns
Just because you are ready to go to bed at the end of the day, doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby is also ready to sleep. Adult sleep is impacted by circadian rhythms, which are changes that occur in the body within a 24 hour period of time. These circadian rhythms are affected by light. Light in the morning helps an adult to wake up, and the decreased light in the evening help you to feel more relaxed and ready to sleep. The impact of light actually changes the hormones that regulate your sleeping patterns.
Newborns don’t necessarily have these same sleeping patterns though. As a fetus, the baby naturally responds to the mothers’ cues about the time of day. But, the hormone connection is broken after the baby is born, and it takes time for them to develop their own circadian rhythms.
How to Improve Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns
Even though your baby might be having a hard time with regular sleep patterns, there are a few things that you can do to help them regulate. Here are a few tips to consider for your newborn:
- Create a Daily Routine: Setup a schedule and stick to it. Make sure that your baby is with you throughout the day, to keep them active during the daylight hours. The daytime activity helps the baby to adapt to the schedule so they are more prone to sleeping through the night.
- Reduce Light Exposure at Night: Make sure that your child has a dark, quiet space to sleep at night. Newborns often wake up to even the smallest sound, and it can be beneficial to create a space that will support restful sleep throughout the night.
- Minimize Nighttime Activity: It is inevitable that the baby will need to eat during the night, but try to minimize the activity. Keep the lights low, stay quiet, and avoid moving the baby too much. Allowing the baby to eat while they are drowsy makes it easier for the child to quickly fall asleep again.
- Establish a Bedtime Routine: Create the same routine or pattern of activities that you follow before the baby goes to bed. For example, if you like to bathe the baby in the evening, then try to keep the timing the same so that you can follow the same steps right before bedtime.
- Watch for Signs of Sleep Readiness: Understanding sleep readiness signs can help you put the baby to bed at the right time. When these signs are present at night, avoid keeping the baby awake because the delayed bedtime might disrupt newly forming sleep patterns. Common signs include yawning, fussing, rubbing eyes, or looking away.
- Consider Feeding Habits: If you are breastfeeding your baby, keep in mind that breast milk contains tryptophan, which impacts a baby’s sleep cycle. If you pumped the breast milk at night and then fed it to the baby during the day, then it is possible that the higher tryptophan levels from the milk will make them sleepier during the day.
You will learn your babies cues. Trust your instincts, moms. They won't fail you. Sleep patterns are an adjustment for both the family and the newborn.
is a Special Education teacher in Brentwood, NY. She is also a wellness blogger, and the Founder of
dedicated to the organic lifestyle.
Her other passions are in health, fitness, and overall wellness. In 2015, Madeline became a Health Coach through the
. Madeline is an educator at heart and her mission in life is to inspire, teach and enlighten all those in her path. Her goal is to bring awareness, educate, and coach moms and consumers, just like YOU, on the benefits and core principles of an organic and toxic-free lifestyle. As a new mother, her motto is
"Healthy mothers raise healthy children."
Like what you've read? Be the first to know (always private | never shared)