Are you the new parent of a newborn baby? Congratulations! A lot of parents find caring for their new bundles of joy to be stressful. But don't worry, because here are some helpful sleeping tips for newborns that will make your job as a parent easier.
First off, it is important to understand how babies sleep. During sleep cycles, newborns experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when babies dream. Sleeping during REM sleep helps newborn babies grow, mature cognitively, and stay healthy.
According to Dr. Jim Mwangi, a pediatrician at Mercy Medical Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, newborn babies can spend about two and a half hours during REM sleep per day.
Newborn babies need between 14-17 hours of sleep per day (including naps) in order to feel rested. So, if your baby is fussy, chances are that he or she has not gotten enough sleep.
Along with eating and changing diapers, the number one priority for any new parent should be helping their newborn baby get enough sleep.
Dr. Mwangi recommends that parents let their new baby sleep as long and as much as they need to in their first few months of life.
"This is the time for parents to get plenty of sleep themselves so they can care for their baby," he said. "Problems sleeping should only be seen after the first month."
A common misconception is that babies should not sleep with their parents, but Dr. Mwangi confirms, "It's perfectly fine to have them in your room. Many infants sleep better if they can hear their parents' voices."
Parents should make sure that the sleeping environment is safe and comfortable. All blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals should be kept out of the crib because infants lack the coordination to move them away from their face. Also, babies should always sleep on their backs to prevent suffocation.
For the first couple months, Dr. Mwangi recommends that parents sleep with their babies in the same room to help them get used to sleeping alone.
"It's a great time for bonding," he said. "But after two or three months, it is important that they separate and learn to sleep on their own."
Here are some tips and tricks for ensuring that your newborn baby gets the rest they need:
1. Keep in mind that colicky babies will probably not sleep well.
2. Don't depend on rocking your baby to sleep — it may work at first, but he or she will get used to it and then you will be stuck in an endless cycle.
3. If your baby does not nap well during the day, he or she may need to sleep more at night (and vice versa).
4. Do not wake up the baby if they fall asleep while eating — it is important that they learn how to associate nighttime with sleep rather than eating.
5. Try to put your baby down to sleep as soon as they start looking sleepy — this will strengthen their internal "sleep clock."
6. If your baby wakes up and cries, but is not hungry and has no dirty diaper, resist the urge to pick him or her up — you want them to learn that at nighttime they are expected to sleep.
7. Do not allow your baby to "cry it out" for too long — the American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that more than ten minutes of crying can cause harm.
8. If you are worried about disturbing the neighbors, try singing or rocking your baby gently until he or she falls asleep — this can help them doze off without making as much noise.
By: April Carson