Help your newborn stay well rested with this routine for infants up to three months old.
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
- From birth until three months, babies sleep around 14 to 17 hours per day.
- Newborns typically stay awake for two to three hours at a time.
- Parents should focus on putting a newborn to bed while drowsy (but awake) and establishing a routine that teaches the difference between night and day.
After months of planning, excitement, and anticipation, the newest addition to your family is finally here. Congratulations! Now comes the challenge — trying to understand your newborn’s sleep needs, because an effective sleep routine is the key for both baby and parents to recharge their batteries for the fun days ahead. Start with these tips.
Follow Your Newborn’s Lead
In your baby’s early weeks, he’ll set the sleep schedule (sleep training will wait until he’s three to six months old). You can expect your baby to sleep anywhere from 14 to 17 hours a day, in increments of two to three hours. As your baby gets older, those increments will stretch to three to four hours. He may sleep through the night as early as eight weeks old; however, many newborns don’t reach this milestone until five or six months.
Learn a Newborn’s Cycle
At this early point in their life, babies alternate between two stages of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Newborns spend half their time in each stage, with a sleep cycle of about 50 minutes in length.
Identify a Baby’s Cues
While it’s still too soon for sleep training, parents can do plenty to instill healthy sleep habits in their newborn. First, take note of what your baby does when he or she starts to get tired. For example, getting fussy, crying, or rubbing the eyes can all be cues it’s time for a nap. By putting your newborn in the crib before sleep completely sets in, you are teaching your little one how to fall asleep without assistance. This will be key in limiting nighttime wake-ups later on; infants as young as three months are capable of self-soothing and putting themselves back to sleep.
Start Making a Routine
Parents can begin teaching their newborn the difference between night and day to help reinforce the body’s natural circadian rhythms. For example, when your baby wakes up in the morning, you can make the connection to daylight by opening the shades or going for a walk right away. Encourage a sense of “awake time” by stimulating your newborn with lively music, toys, and conversation.
In the evening, create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal that it’s time to wind down. Give your baby a warm bath, read books in a soothing voice, and keep lights and noises low. Repeat this calming sequence around the same time every night to introduce consistency into an infant’s sleep schedule.