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Newborn sleep tips

Newborn baby wrapped in a swaddle and yawning.

Bringing a baby home is one of the most incredible feelings. All that time waiting for this precious little person and then, they are here. And awake! Here is the real talk about newborn sleep, so you can sleep sound, too.

How long should babies sleep

Newborns don’t yet know daytime and nighttime. A baby’s stomach and bladder are small, so they’ll need to wake up every 2-3 hours to feed and change their diaper often. In general, a newborn should sleep 14-17 hours daily.

Where should babies sleep

Here’s a simple way to remember where a baby should sleep – ABC. This acronym created by the American Academy of Pediatrics means Alone, Back and Crib.

  • A – A baby should sleep alone, meaning not co-sleeping with parents or anyone else and no other items in the crib. Do not place any blanket, pillow, bumper, sheet or toy in with a sleeping baby.
  • B – A baby should sleep on its back. Always lay baby down to sleep on their back, not their stomach or side. At this young of age, a baby doesn’t have the strength to lift their neck, turn or roll over if they accidentally get their nose or mouth covered.
  • C – A baby should always sleep in a crib, bassinet or pack and play. A separate sleeping area like a crib will let the baby stay safe during sleep.

Ways to help a baby sleep

For any parent who has a newborn, sleep in the first few months can be hard. There is no golden ticket to newborn sleep, but here are some tips.

  • Keep a routine. A baby will keep their own sleep schedule, but you can try to trigger the baby to relax and know it’s time for sleep by following a routine right before bed. For example bottle, diaper change, lotion, swaddle and then a song.
  • Try a dark room. Keep the room dark with no daylight or lighting so there will be nothing to distract the baby to waking.
  • Try a red light. Using a red lightbulb or nightlight with a red setting instead of bright light fixtures will allow for a small amount of dim light to let you see in front of you without waking baby. 
  • Dress baby in the same number of layers to sleep that you would to keep them comfortable. 
  • Try a pacifier to help baby soothe themselves when sleeping. If it happens to fall out, you do not have to try to put it back.
  • Try a swaddle. A swaddle sleep sack or tightly wrapped swaddle will help baby feel safe, giving them the same tight feeling of being in the womb. Discontinue swaddling when your baby starts showing signs of rolling over on their own.

It will take some time until baby will sleep through the night in larger periods of time. As their stomachs grow and they start to know the difference between day and night, they will begin to be able to sleep longer. Just know, it won’t last forever. Your baby will learn to sleep and you will get sleep, too.

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