As a new parent, it’s easy to devote all your attention to your baby’s sleep so that if they’re on schedule, so are you. A full night of shut-eye is in your future, but newborns are generally all around the clock with their schedules. While your baby is on their own sleeping agenda, remember to never compare theirs with another baby’s. Your baby is unique, and so is their sleeping patterns!
If you remain curious about how much sleep a baby actually needs, what the baby should wear to sleep, and how to help baby sleep at night–you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how many hours a day your baby needs to be sleeping and how to find out if they’re sleeping too much or too little. May a full night of rest be in your near future.
How much sleep do babies need?
Your baby’s sleep depends on their age and unique needs. Here are some stats on what kind of sleep your child needs in the first year:
- Newborn to 3 months.
- 4 to 6 months.
- 7 to 11 months.
Keep in mind some other factors that may keep your baby from sleeping the average amounts:
- Premature birth.
- Feeding methods.
When setting up a sleep schedule for your baby, remember that the first two months must be routine-free. Your baby will be nursing or sucking a bottle every couple of hours in their newborn infancy, so wait to form a set schedule when your baby is around 3 to 6 months in age.
Is It Safe for Babies to Sleep on Their Stomach?
Sleep safety is paramount in the first year of living, so always place your baby on their back and never their stomach for sleeping time and naptime. Your baby needs a firm crib and surface to sleep on free of objects and materials, including blankets, pillows, toys, and bumpers.
Putting an infant under 1 year old on their stomach as they sleep is highly discouraged as this can leads to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Allowing the infant to sleep on their back until they’re 1 year of age is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This applies to daytime naps as well. After 1 year old, they can be positioned anyway.
Discuss any specific questions or concerns about sleeping positions with your baby’s pediatrician.
Once they begin to gain some upper body strength, your baby will start to switch positions in their sleep and roll over around 4 months of age. When they’re 9 months, expect them to position themselves fully upright, although this varies in each baby. Your baby is best suited to starting off on their back, and even though they move, they’ll need to return here–that’s where sleeveless sleep sacks come into play.
Are Sleep Sacks Safe?
Sleep sacks are safe for a number of reasons, allowing you as the parent to shed worry and get going with your day. Here are some benefits listed below.
Warmth minus the risk
While soft and warm blankets are great gifts, your infant can’t use them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highly discourages them until your infant is at least 1 year old. Loose bedding is better out of the crib.
Sleep sacks can provide the same comfort and coziness as blankets without the risk of suffocation. Save the blankets for when your baby is older and for picnic or tummy time under your parent’s supervision.
Rolling over made easy
Sleeveless sleep sacks are great for safety reasons. Infant arms can be free, so they can use them to roll themselves to their backs if they roll over. If a baby is face down, SIDS is more likely–but with sleep sacks, the baby can turn themselves over.
Babies need circulation and movement to strengthen their muscles and body parts. Sleep sacks allow babies to stay warm while still moving around–benefiting their hips. If they’re wrapped or swaddled too tightly, they’re prone to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia.
How much sleep is too much sleep?
Babies can sleep too much even in infancy when they’re sleeping most of the day. At one month of age, your baby needs to be getting nutrients at least eight to twelve times in a day. Letting your baby sleep the whole 24 hours isn’t going to allow feeding time, which makes them miss out on necessary nutrients. Expect 17 hours of sleep time in that first month–no more.
If your baby is sleeping longer than four hours during the first weeks of life, wake them up gently. If your baby isn’t awake to eat at least eight times a day, contact your pediatrician for some help.
Is my baby sleeping enough?
It’s possible that your baby isn’t sleeping enough for his or her age group. If your baby’s daytime and nighttime sleep hours are slacking on the 24-hour period sleep requirements, and you’re noticing that they’re overly tired, then talk to your pediatrician for advice. Overtiredness includes difficulty putting your little one to sleep, short naps instead of full ones, and persistent difficulties or fussiness.
A consistent sleep routine can help, especially in the later months. Getting specific tips from your pediatrician can help as well. Trust that your baby is getting the sleep they need and in time so will you.
Helping Your Newborn Sleep
Newborns sleep to the tune of their own drum–but keep in mind that as days turn into weeks turn into months, you and your child will start to develop consistency–a routine.
Your baby’s brain is slowly adjusting to the time differences and knowledge of night versus day. Be patient in this period as this is a necessary adjustment. What may help is to maintain an atmosphere of calm and quiet awareness during nightly feedings and diaper changes. Low lighting and less play are better around nighttime to avoid overstimulation. These tactics will point your baby to the signal that night is for sleeping. Let your baby sleep in their crib for safety and to adjust to sleeping cues.
While it’s tempting, allow your baby to sleep during the day and take naps so that night’s sleep is full and delicious. Overly tired babies have difficulty sleeping at night.
If you’re having difficulty putting your baby to sleep–feel free to cuddle, rock, and sing to them to help them feel calm enough to sleep. Swaddling may help them from crying too much. If they begin to roll over, however, stop swaddling them. Holding and carrying them throughout the day is proven to reduce colic and fussiness.