It’s not unusual for newborns to have unusual sleeping habits, particularly for them to want to sleep during the day, and stay awake at night. Remember, in the womb its dark all the time, so night and day mean nothing to them. If your baby’s sleeping habits need some adjustment, here are some ways to get him on track.
- Don’t keep quiet during the day when he’s sleeping – When he sleeps during the day (and all babies will) leave the door to his room open, and go about your normal daily routine. Keep the television or stereo on. This will accomplish two things. First, he will learn to sleep even through noise, which is important, since this child will be taking naps in your home for four or five years. Secondly, he will get the idea that the daytime is not the right time for long periods of sleep.
- If he sleeps more than three hours at a stretch, wake him. Babies should nap during the day, of course, but more than three hours is not a nap. To get him awake, try holding him upright and tickling his feet. If that doesn’t work, take off his shirt. The chill will wake him. Don’t leave him uncovered for long, though. Once he is awake, sing or talk to him to keep him that way for a while. This is a great time to put him on a mat for some tummy time if it’s not feeding time. Now, of course the second half of this problem is the staying awake at night. This is going to take some time, and babies usually make some significant adjustments within about three weeks, though you will be getting up for feedings at least once at night for a bit longer.
- Put him in bassinet or cradle for the first few weeks. A crib can seem huge to a newborn, so you might find that he sleeps much better in the coziness of a smaller space.
- Give him some soothing sounds. Not only will this act as a sort of “white noise” to block out other sounds, it will also be soothing to him. Soft, classical music works well, but so can the constant hum of a fan.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. If he’s too cold or too warm, just like the rest of us, he won’t sleep as well.
- Establishing a routine. Your child will sleep better if he has an established sleeping routine for day and night. Put him down for naps at the same time each day, and put him down for bed at the same time each night. Create some bedtime habits that will signal to the baby that bedtime is near. A bath or a story can be a nice way to wind down and get ready for restful sleep.
Sleeping habits are a challenge for most new parents, primarily because you’re so tired yourself. One word of advice – don’t try to make baby sleep at night by not allowing him to nap during the day. It will backfire. Babies need lots of sleep, and naps are a critical part of this. Just don’t let him sleep for too long at a stretch during the day. Give it some time, and take some naps yourself, and before you know it, everyone will be sleeping soundly through the night.