Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby’s Sleep.

Sleep can be one of the most puzzling challenges for new parents. As many of us discover through exhausting nights and zombie-like days, babies simply don’t snooze like the rest of us. Here’s why.

Newborn babies sleep up to 18 hours per day.

Parents of newborn babies often complain about a lack of sleep. However, this is more about the parents’ experience than the baby’s. Newborns require a substantial amount of sleep, ranging from fifteen to eighteen hours each day. The challenge for us is that they divide this sleep into chunks throughout the entire 24 hours of the day and night. The good news is that over the early months, their biological clock begins to kick in, and they start consolidating more sleep during the night.

Newborns can only stay awake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Brand new babies can only stay comfortably awake for very short periods of time—about an hour or even less. This gradually increases, and by six months, most babies can stay awake for two to three hours. However, even that is a relatively short span of awake periods. If your baby surpasses this “happily awake time,” they can quickly become overtired and fussy. They’ll find it difficult to sleep while also struggling to stay awake. This pattern can disrupt sleep, growth, and temperament. If you want your baby to cry less and sleep better, keep an eye on the clock and your baby’s behavior. It’s easy to miss the tired signals of newborns and keep them awake for too long. So, carefully observe your little one and help them sleep whenever they appear tired. More sleep equals a happier baby.

Newborns are noisy and active sleepers.

Newborns are not quiet, still sleepers. They grunt, groan, coo, moan, twitch, and shift during sleep. Some newborns even cry or nurse while sound asleep. These noises and movements don’t always indicate waking up, nor do they always require immediate action on your part. When you are awakened by your baby’s sounds or movements, take a minute to observe and listen. You might notice that all the commotion is occurring during sleep. If your baby is sleeping, resist the urge to pick them up and wake them—let them sleep! Excessive motion can also lead to a baby’s fall. To prevent this, always use an anti-roll pillow for newborns, ensuring that they can sleep comfortably and safely. Comfortable clothing and cozy booties also help; babies tend to sleep longer when they are snug and warm.

Newborns don’t like sleeping in a completely quiet room.

The environment your baby enjoyed in the womb was accompanied by a constant symphony of sounds. As a result, many newborns find a completely quiet room unsettling. However, loud noises like clinking dishes, barking dogs, or sounds from the television can wake a sleeping newborn. These sharp sounds can startle your baby awake. To counteract this, you can use a continuous background noise known as “white noise” to mask household noises. The best sounds actually fall in the “pink noise” spectrum. Pink noise is a variation of white noise that sounds full, deep, rich, and monotonous. Examples of pink noise include the sound of a heartbeat, a humidifier, ocean waves, or the gentle patter of rainfall. This special bedtime noise should be at a volume that masks sharp sounds but isn’t so loud as to harm your baby’s delicate hearing.

Newborns don’t have their days and nights mixed up; they think you do.

It’s a common observation, but newborns don’t distinguish between day and night because there was little difference in the womb. The concept of day and night compartmentalization is entirely new to them, and they probably think it’s you who’s mixed up! It will take some time for your baby’s biological clock to align with your 24-hour pattern. Unlike adults who sleep in one long nighttime stretch, newborns break up their sleep into four to seven (or more!) periods spread throughout the day and night. This is a natural pattern of newborn sleep that gradually matures over the early months.

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