Your newborn’s sleeping and waking cycles can be unpredictable. During the first three months of your baby’s life, it’s best to accept the fact that you’ll be getting very little shut-eye. But know that soon enough, your baby will settle into a sleeping routine that’s more manageable for the whole family. For now, check out some baby sleep solutions to help you manage the early months while setting your child up for sleep success in the future.
1. Master the signs of sleepiness
During his first month, your baby will probably sleep at least 16 hours a day. After about 4 to 6 weeks, you might start to notice a pattern in his sleep, and you’ll be able to better anticipate when he needs to nap -- usually, a few times a day. However, his timing won’t be consistent yet, so be alert for signs that he’s getting sleepy, such as fussing or crying, rubbing his eyes, or staring off into space.
2. Avoid day and night reversal
A common newborn sleep issue is mixing up days and nights. This happens when your baby gets the bulk of her sleep during the day and then wants to stay up longer at night (and play) while everyone else is trying to snooze. There’s no overnight fix for this, but you can help get your baby back on track sooner by clearly differentiating night from day. Encourage wakefulness during the day by keeping the shades open to allow bright light in. Then, during the evening, use a soft, calm voice and keep the lights dimmed.
3. Start a bedtime routine
By the time your baby is about 6 weeks old, you can establish a consistent and calming bedtime ritual. Keep it simple, short, and sweet. Read and sing to your baby, feed him, and gently rock him. After the first month, try to move him to his crib -- instead of letting him fall asleep in your arms -- while he’s sleepy but still awake so he can get accustomed to falling asleep in his own bed.
4. Consider baby sleep safety
The greatest risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) occurs in the first few months of life. You can help reduce this risk by making sure your baby is always placed on his back to sleep and that he sleeps on a firm mattress -- either in a crib or bedside bassinet. Because blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals can pose a suffocation risk, keep them and other soft objects out of the crib. Also avoid using crib bumpers.
Remember: Your sleep is just as important as your child’s! A good rule of thumb is to nap when your baby naps. This way, you’ll both wake up refreshed and ready to go.