Having a newborn in the house is unquestionably exciting yet overwhelming, especially for a first-time mum. More often than not, a newborn baby spends their time sleeping and nursing. At times, it can be challenging to monitor the sleep patterns of the baby. They can wake up at any time of the night or day. So, how long should a newborn sleep or remain awake?
Newborn Sleep Patterns
On average, child experts report that newborns sleep for approximately nine hours during the day and eight hours at night. However, they tend to wake up in between their sleeping time to feed. Young infants have small stomachs; hence they have to eat frequently.
Your newborn won’t be able to sleep for six to eight hours consecutively without feeding until they get to three months. Nonetheless, this depends on your child. Some children generally have trouble sleeping consistently throughout the night until they get to one year. Ultimately newborns should be awake for about three hours during the day and four hours during the night.
Most babies will need to feed after every three hours. This time varies depending on what you feed your baby. For instance, if you are feeding the baby with formula, they are likely to stay full for longer. Consequently, they will sleep longer.
On the other hand, breastmilk is digested easily; therefore, your baby will wake up more frequently to feed. Parents can also wake their newborns to feed when necessary. You need to monitor your baby’s sleep patterns. This way, you’ll easily notice anything unusual with the baby’s sleep patterns.
If your baby starts waking up more frequently or starts sleeping for longer hours, there might be a problem with their health. So, it would be best to take them to a pediatric expert. Nevertheless, note that some changes in your baby’s sleep patterns are simply because of the developmental changes they usually go through.
The Different Alert Phases of a Newborn
When your newborn baby is awake, they tend to experience different alert phases. These phases are outlined below.
Quiet alert phase
Once a newborn baby wakes up, they stay still and remain quiet for a certain period. During this period, the baby will look around and respond to the environment. Typically, they are trying to recharge from their sleep. However, note that they will notice all movements and sounds in the room.
So, when you enter the room, they will recognize you. A good percentage of newborns experience the quiet alert phase immediately they wake up.
When the quiet phase is over, babies undergo the crying phase. Here, babies start crying mostly because they feel alone and crave attention. Keep in mind that babies can cry uncontrollably and loudly. Thus, it would be best to find a good way of calming them.
Once the baby starts crying, hold them in your arms. Alternatively, dance around the room with them and look for something to distract them; it could be a bright-colored toy or power button. Doing this helps them relax.
At times, babies cry because of hunger. So, always feed the baby during the quiet phase to prevent them from throwing tantrums. Note that it is challenging for your child to feed well if they are already in the crying phase.
Six tips to help your baby sleep
Occasionally, newborn babies find it hard to sleep on their own. Therefore, parents should research the best ways to help their baby fall asleep faster. Typically, if you want your baby to fall asleep faster, you have to maintain a comfortable environment for them. Below are some ways to help your baby sleep.
The first way of making your baby sleep is swaddling. Babies find swaddling soothing and comforting. However, you have to be careful if you decide to incorporate this practice. Also, do not use this technique if your baby is more than two months old.
Massage the baby:
Another way to make your newborn fall asleep is by massaging them. Consider massaging them gently on the back. Doing this calms their nerves; hence enables them to fall asleep much faster.
If your newborn is having trouble finding sleep, swing and repetitively sway them. Do this gently for your baby to enjoy.
Nurse the baby:
Feeding a baby with breastmilk or formula helps them fall asleep faster. When newborns are full, it is much easier for them to fall asleep.
Reducing the light in the room:
Switch off any bright light in the room to help your baby fall asleep. Too much light can distract the baby from focusing on their sleep.
Sing to the baby:
Singing soft lullabies to your baby will help them fall asleep quickly. Alternatively, play soft music that will help your baby sleep. Always switch off the TV or radio to avoid loud noises.
Caution on swaddling
Newborn parents often swaddle their babies to make them feel safer. This is the act of wrapping your baby in a cozy blanket to prevent their legs and arms from hanging. Swaddling makes your baby fall asleep faster. Always purchase a quality swaddling blanket to provide more comfort for your baby.
- Although swaddling is a good practice, avoid using it on babies who are more than two months. If a baby can roll over on their own, avoid using this practice. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. You are better off snuggling the baby.
- Another risk of swaddling your baby is that it can hinder physical development. Generally, swaddling does not give your baby maximum room to move their legs. As a result, the hips and legs of your baby may fail to grow if you swaddle them frequently. Dislocation problems can also arise from swaddling.
- When it is hot, avoid swaddling the baby. Swaddling blankets are usually warm. Wrapping your baby in one can cause overheating. You would rather use a light swaddling blanket during hot sunny days.
Three signs of sleep readiness?
Usually, you can always tell whenever your baby is sleepy. Let’s take a look at some of the signs of sleep readiness in your baby.
- Rubbing eyes is a common sign of sleep readiness in babies. When you observe this sign in your baby, rock them to sleep.
- Yawning. Yawning can also be a sign of hunger babies. If you are just feeding your baby and they are still yawning, it could be a sign of sleepiness.
- Being fussy. If your baby is suddenly fussy out of the blues, it could be because they are sleepy. Being fussy and throwing tantrums indicate that your child is tired and asleep. So, hold the baby in your arms and rock them to sleep. Fussing could also be a sign of hunger in babies.
Helping your baby to sleep after the newborn phase is over?
Pediatric experts often advise letting your baby sleep in their own bed or cradle once the newborn phase is over. The newborn phase is usually the first three months. After that, you can place the baby in their bed to fall asleep. Doing this helps them to find sleep on their own.
Also, this is a form of sleep training. When your baby gets used to this routine, you will never have trouble rocking them to sleep again. Place dreamy hanging toys over the baby coat to encourage the child to fall asleep faster. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to monitor your child during this process.
Luckily, there are several child monitoring devices you can use to ensure your baby is okay on their own as they sleep.