The Journey Begins

Newborns – Sleep & Sleep Routines

When we become a parent, we are filled with joy, happiness, excitement at the new chapter beginning, but also a little trepidation. After all, this gorgeous little bundle in your arms did not come with a How To Operate Manual !

The following may offer some help and comfort during the first few months with your new baby.

Sleep – Understanding the Newborn

Babies need sleep to grow and develop well. For newborns this is usually 14-17 hours in every 24 hours. But sleep patterns can vary a lot.

Newborns usually sleep in short bursts of 2-3 hours each. Some newborns sleep for up to four hours at a time. Newborns wake frequently to feed because they have tiny tummies. Your newborn might go straight back to sleep after feeding or they might stay awake long enough for a short play.

Some newborns get tired after being awake for 1-1½ hours. Some stay awake and alert longer.

Newborns sleep during the day and night. They don’t know that people sleep at night. The parts of their brains that control day-night sleep cycles haven’t matured yet.

Newborn sleep cycles

Newborns have two different kinds of sleep – active sleep and quiet sleep.

During active sleep, newborns move around a lot and make noises. They can be woken easily during active sleep. During quiet sleep, newborns are still. Their breathing is deep and regular. They’re less likely to wake during quiet sleep.

Each newborn sleep cycle has both active sleep and quiet sleep, and takes about 40 minutes.

At the end of each cycle, newborns wake up for a little while. When they wake, they might grizzle or cry. If your baby wakes at the end of a sleep cycle, you might need to help baby settle for the next sleep cycle.

The first few months of your baby’s life is the time to get to know your baby, and learn about your baby’s needs for sleep, feeds, play and settling.

You might find that a very simple, flexible routine seems to help your baby, and helps you feel more in control. But this isn’t the time to worry about getting your baby into any kind of rigid routine.

Your baby might show tired signs soon after a feed. This means that it’s time for your baby to sleep. Your baby will sleep better with a full tummy. Or your baby might have an extra-long sleep every now and then. That’s OK too.

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