While nothing can fully prepare you for the addition of a new baby into your life, it can help to understand what’s normal sleep for a newborn.
A newborn baby requires a lot more sleep than an adult – up to 16-17 hours every day. Your baby spends much of this sleep time in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which is essential for developing their brain.
However, your baby won’t take all this sleep in one uninterrupted chunk, the way we do. Instead, they sleep for short stretches at a time – usually 2-4 hours – and wake up when they’re hungry, scared, or need a nappy change.
This means that as a parent, you’ll be up every few hours changing, feeding, and holding your baby. During these early stages, establishing some good sleeping habits may help your child to learn to sleep through the night faster.
Tips for good newborn sleep habits
Is your baby tired? When a baby is sleepy, they’ll rub their eyes, pull their ears, or become grizzly and fussy. When you notice these habits, try putting your baby down to sleep. This will help you learn where your baby’s natural sleep periods are, and may help you to get them to sleep better.
Establish a bedtime routine. A routine that happens every night before your baby goes to bed helps them to learn structure and to settle when you want them to. We’ve written a useful article to help you establish a schedule for your baby.
Start teaching your baby the difference between day and night. A baby’s brain is hardwired for learning, so use different cues to help them understand that nighttime is for sleeping and day is for playing. Spend lots of time during the day playing with your baby, and don’t make any attempts to minimise normal daytime noise like the TV or dishwasher running. At night, keep everything dark and don’t play with your baby when they wake up.
After 6-8 weeks, most babies will start to sleep less during the day, and by 4-6 months, many babies will sleep through the night without waking.
Good sleep habits may help your baby reach these milestones faster, but every baby is different, and it’s important to remember that how your baby does or does not sleep is no reflection on you as a parent or them as a person. Eventually, your baby will get the hang of sleeping. Good luck, and sweet dreams! Try WaterWipes today NZ or AU.