In the first days and weeks that your baby joins your family, you will notice he sleeps quite a bit. It is quite a shift coming from the cozy, predictable environment of your womb to the busy and ever changing world we all live in. Let’s discuss how you can help your newborn begin healthy sleep habits early on.
Newborn Healthy Sleep
A successful feeding session might be all it takes to tucker your little one out and lull him back to sleep. During this time, it is important to keep feeding as consistently as possible. It is okay to wake your newborn in order to ensure he is eating every 2 – 4 hours throughout a 24 hour period. Your baby might also have times where he prefers to cluster feed and is eating more frequently than usual intervals. This is common in the late afternoon or early evening time and particularly around Day 7 when babies tend to go through a growth spurt.
Watching the Wake Window
Around weeks 2 to 3, you may start to notice your baby is not falling asleep quite as easily as before and is able to stay awake a bit longer. This is an exciting time because you have more opportunities to interact with your baby, but it is also a good idea to start watching his wake window when this happens. On average, babies have the stamina to be awake about two hours at a time before becoming overtired. Some babies have less stamina, particularly during the newborn stage, and may only be capable of an hour to an hour and a half of wake time before showing sleep cues. Once you start to see these cues, start planning on soothing baby to sleep.
- Glassy eyes
- Rubbing of eyes
- Increased fussiness
- Baby looking more tired than alert
Routine & Consistency
Babies thrive on consistency and routines from even the early days. Healthy sleep habits come from caregivers giving cues for what is to come next as they learn to navigate their new environment.
Suggested Newborn Schedule
- Change and feed baby when he wakes for the day around 6 or 7am. Often this is all he will have energy for and may immediately fall back to sleep after this feeding.
- When he wakes next, note the time. Plan for him to be back in bed in about 2 hours.
- During the two hour wake window, you’ll want to change him, interact and play with him, as well as feed him.
- When you start to see baby show sleep cues, begin a nap time routine. Swaddle him, bring him to a dark and quiet room, and help soothe him to sleep. You may offer him a small feeding, a pacifier, or use a white noise machine to help calm him.
- Ideally, baby will sleep 45 minutes to an hour or possibly more, but you probably want to wake him if he is sleeping longer than 2 hours in order to differentiate between day and night sleep.
Much of your day when caring for baby is repetitive. As he wakes each time from a nap during the day, you’ll want to note the time and try to have him napping again within two hours. Including a bath during one of these awake times is a great activity. Baths can be especially helpful as a healthy sleep transition cue before bedtime. Towards the end of month one, you may start seeing your baby sleeping longer 3-4 hour stretches at night before needing a feeding as he slowly starts to determine the difference between day and night sleep.
If you are looking for newborn sleep guidance, Boston Baby Nurse and Nanny is here to help. We have Sleep Consultants and Newborn Care Experts for day and night time. Give us a call today! If you are ready for the next age range, check out our blog article on infant sleep for 4-6 month olds.
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About The Author
Courtney Poirier is a veteran Newborn Care Expert with Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She has many years of experience with sleep conditioning and coaching in daycare & home settings. Prior to working with babies, she was an elementary school teacher. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their two sons. One is seven years old and the other is nine years old.