Getting Baby to Sleep Regularly

Fran
Lucy Lazarony
November 6, 2020

Here’s some bad news for new parents. Babies do not have regular sleep cycles until about six months of age. That’s a lot of sleepless nights. Newborns sleep plenty just not solely at night, about 16 to 17 hours a day. But they may only sleep one or two hours at a time. Have no fear, however, because this doesn’t go on forever. As babies get older they need less sleep. In addition, each baby has their own sleeping patterns. For example, a six-month-old baby may wake up during the night but then fall asleep on their own after a few minutes. So be patient as you learn your baby’s own sleep patterns. Does he or she fall asleep easily or do they need some quiet time first? These patterns will change as the baby gets older and needs less sleep. Get through those first six months of frequent sleeping, frequent wakeups every one to two hours the best you can. They may be the toughest for new parents but things will get easier as the baby is awake more during the day and asleep more at night.

Here are a few tips for helping a baby to sleep at night.

Keep Your Baby Calm and Quiet

Do everything you can to keep your baby calm and quiet when you feed or change him or her during the night. Try not to stimulate or wake your baby too much in those early morning hours.

Limit playtime

Limit your baby’s playtime to daytime hours, so your baby will know nighttime is for rest and sleeping. Talking and playing with your baby during daytime will lengthen his or her awake time and this will help your baby sleep longer at night.

Put a Drowsy Baby to Bed

Put your baby to bed when he or she is drowsy but still awake. Give him or her time to settle into sleep. Holding or rocking a baby until he or she is completely asleep may make it harder for the baby to go back to sleep if the baby should wake up during the night. So let your baby fall asleep on his or her own.

Let Babies Cry

Wait a few minutes before responding to your baby’s fussing. The baby may settle down all on their own. So give your baby a few minutes and see what happens. If he or she continues to cry, check to see if they are hungry or have a dirty diaper. They may be letting you know they are uncomfortable. A fresh diaper or a bottle may do the trick.

When Will Babies Sleep Through The Night?

Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night, for 6 to 8 hours, until they are about 3 months olds or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds. About two-thirds of babies are able to sleep through the night on a regular basis by age six months.

Babies have different sleep cycles than adults. Babies spend much less time in rapid eye movement sleep, which is dream time sleep, than adults. And a baby’s sleep cycles are shorter than adults.

Signs of Sleep Problems

Once a baby begins to sleep through the night, the baby may start waking up at night. The reason is separation anxiety. This is a normal part of a baby’s development and often happens when a baby is about six-months old. The baby doesn’t understand that separation from Mom and Dad is temporary. In addition, a baby may have trouble sleeping because he or she is overstimulated or overtired.

Common Sleep Problems

Here are some common sleep problems that a baby may experience. Waking up and crying one or more times in the night after sleeping through the night. Crying when a parent leaves the room. Refusing to sleep without a parent nearby. Clinging to the parent at the time of separation. Sleep problems may also happen with illness. So speak with your baby’s doctor if your baby has trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.

Signs Your Baby May Be Ready for Sleep

Rubbing eyes, yawning, looking away, fussing are all signs your baby may be ready for sleep. Recognizing these signs will help parents know when it is time to allow their son or daughter to drift off to sleep.

Create a Bedtime Routine

When it is time for bed, parents often want to rock or breastfeed a baby to help him or her fall asleep. This is a good routine to establish. But don’t let your baby fall asleep in your arms. This could become a pattern and your baby may begin to expect to be in your arms in order to fall asleep. And when your baby briefly wakes up during the sleep cycle he or she may not be able to go back to sleep on their own. Babies who feel more secure are better able to handle separations at night. Comforting and cuddling your baby during the day will help him or her feel more secure.

Here are some other tips for teaching your baby how to sleep.

  • Allow for naps each day as appropriate for your baby’s age.
  • Create a bedtime routine such as a bath, reading books and rocking.
  • Play soft music when the baby is getting drowsy.
  • Tuck your baby in when he or she is drowsy but before going to sleep.
  • Comfort and reassure your baby when he or she is scared.
  • For night awakenings. Comfort and reassure your baby by patting and soothing. But don’t take your baby out of the bed.
  • If your baby cries, wait a few minutes before returning. Reassure and pat and soothe your baby. Then say good night and leave. Repeat this pattern as often as necessary.
  • Stay consistent with your routine and your responses. Doing so will help establish a healthy sleep pattern for your baby. And it is easier on the parents as well, when the baby sleeps more at night.
  • Remember too that you can buy baby health insurance any time during baby's first new year. Compare rates below to get the best value for the best care.

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