Immediately after birth, the life of each mother is changing in a great way. Now the first thing she needs to do is take care of the little human, her child. After the first birth, a young mother may be worried that her baby sleeps almost all the time. In this article we will try to answer this frequent question – how much do newborns sleep? Read on to find out.
How much do Newborns Sleep?
The first month after birth, children spend most of their time in their sleep. It is possible to give an answer to the question- How much do newborns sleep? – only by stating the general average data – 16 -20 hours. Indeed, in fact, every child is individual. And the duration of sleep is sometimes not the main indicator to find out if the baby is growing well and developing or not.
If your child does not show signs of anxiety, has a good appetite, permissible body temperature, a regular stool, etc., then, this means that everything is in order. Let your baby sleep as much as his body requires. With a good state of health, it is quite acceptable that the sleep of a newborn child will be only 16-17 hours a day, and the rest of the time he will be awake. This is all part of the norm.
Normally, a baby’s sleep at night can last 8-9 hours, provided that you feed him on demand.
How much do Newborns Sleep? Month by Month
From 0 To 3 Months
At this age, the newborn sleeps quite a lot – from about 17 to 18 hours a day for the first few weeks and 15 hours a day by three months of age.
Children almost never sleep more than three or four hours in a row, day or night. And that means that you will not be able to sleep for many hours in a row as well. At night you will have to get up to feed and swaddle your baby; during the day you will play with him. While some babies sleep all night long at the age of 8 weeks, many babies do not reach this figure until they are 5 or 6 months old. You will help your child quickly achieve this result by instilling good sleep skills from the very beginning.
How to Instill Healthy Sleep Habits?
Here is what you can do at this age to help your child acquire the right sleep skills:
Study the Signs of Child Fatigue
For the first 6 – 8 weeks, your child will not be able to stay awake for more than two hours in a row. If you do not put him to sleep longer than this time, he will feel tired and will not be able to sleep well. Watch until you notice the baby is getting sleepy. He rubs his eyes, tugs at his ear, faint dark circles appear under his eyes? If you see these or any other signs of drowsiness, put the baby to sleep. Soon you will learn your child’s daily rhythms and behavior and will instinctively know when he is ready for bed.
Start Explaining the difference between Day and Night
Some babies are owls (you may have already noticed some hints of this during pregnancy). And while you want to turn off the light, the child can still be very active. In the first few days, you can’t do anything about it. But as soon as the child is about 2 weeks old, you can start teaching him to make difference between night and day.
When a child is active during the day, play with him, turn on the lights in the house and in his room, do not try to reduce the usual daytime noises (phone, TV, or dishwasher sounds). If he falls asleep while feeding, wake him up. Do not play with the child at night. When you enter the feeding room, dim the lights and noise, do not talk to him for too long. Not so much time will pass, and your baby will begin to understand that nighttime is for sleeping.
Give your baby a Chance to fall Asleep by Himself
When your child is 6 – 8 weeks old, start giving him a chance to fall asleep on his own. How? Put him in bed when he is sleepy, but still awake. Parents think that if they start teaching the child too early, it will not have an effect, but this is not so.
What Difficulties May Arise?
By the time your child reaches 2 or 3 months, he can already wake up at night more often than necessary, and also develop negative associations connected to sleep.
Newborns must wake up at night for food, but some may accidentally wake themselves before they really need to be fed. To avoid this, try swaddling your baby (snug him comfortably in a blanket) before putting him in a bed for the night.
Avoid unnecessary bedtime associations. Put the baby in bed before he falls asleep and let him fall asleep on his own.
3 – 6 Months
Typical sleep at this age
Congratulations! Now all your nightly get-ups every two or three hours are behind (we hope). By 3 or 4 months, most babies sleep 15 hours a day, 10 of them at night, and the rest of the time is divided between three daytime dreams (their number will decrease to two when your child reaches 6 months).
At the beginning of this period, you can still get up once or twice a night for feedings, but by 6 months your baby will be able to sleep all night. Still, it will depend on whether you develop healthy sleep skills in your baby.
How to Instill Healthy Sleep Skills?
Set a Clear Night and day Sleep Mode and Stick to it
While your child was a newborn, you could decide when to lay him to sleep during the night, watching for signs of drowsiness. Now that he is a little older, you must set him a certain time for night and day sleep.
In the evening, a good time for a child is between 19.00 and 20.30. Later, he is likely to be too tired and it will be hard for him to fall asleep. Your child may not look tired late in the evening – on the contrary, he may seem very energetic. But still, it is a sure sign that it’s time for a child to sleep.
Likewise, you can set the time for daytime sleep – plan it at the same time every day, or you can put the baby to bed when you see that he is tired and needs to rest. Any approach is acceptable if the baby is sleeping enough.
Start Setting Bedtime Ritual
If you have not done this yet, then at the age of 3-6 months it is already high time to do it. The ritual of bringing a child to sleep may include the following actions: make him a bath, play with him in quiet games, read one or two bedtime stories, sing a lullaby. Kiss him and wish him good night.
No matter what the ritual of your family includes, you must perform it in the same order, at the same time every evening. Children need consistency, and sleep is no exception.
Wake up your Baby in the Morning
If your child often sleeps more than 10 hours at night, it is advisable to wake him up in the morning. Thereby you will help him to restore the mode. Compliance with the schedule of night sleep may not seem to you difficult, but remember that your child should sleep on the regime during the day as well. Awaking at the same time every morning will help.
What Difficulties May Arise?
Two problems — nighttime awakenings and the development of negative associations connected to sleep, affect both newborns and older children. But by about 3-6 months, another problem may arise – difficulty falling asleep.
If it is difficult for your child to fall asleep in the evening, first make sure that he does not go to bed too late (as we mentioned, the exhausted child has difficulty falling asleep). If this is not the case, then he may have developed one or more associations connected to sleep. Now is the time to get rid of them. The child must learn to fall asleep himself, without your hands, breasts, or pacifier.
What tactics of getting rid of associations to choose are up to you. But, please, keep in mind, that the easiest option to wait until the child “cries out and falls asleep”, is not for everyone.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.