Baby’s first nights
The first night home may feel overwhelming, but to try and help ease you into it – watch our how-to video and read our helpful guide.
- Every Baby Is Different
- Distinguish Between Day and Night
- Establish a Bedtime Routine
- Catch Up on Your Sleep
When you welcome your newborn baby into your home, you'll discover that his sleeping patterns are very different from your own. Newborns sleep a lot - in fact most sleep up to 16-18 hours a day – but never for more than three or four hours at a time. For the first few months, your baby will fall asleep and wake up at all hours of the day (and night!). Waking frequently is normal. During the first weeks, you should respond to your newborn quickly – in about 30 seconds to a minute. Most newborns are unable to settle themselves back down.
Later, when your baby is older – approximately two to four months old – you can give him a chance to comfort himself.
Your newborn baby may awaken for many reasons, but most often because he is hungry or needs to be changed. As you get to know your baby, you'll know when and how quickly to respond. And you should respond quickly to a sudden change in your baby's established sleep pattern – it may signal illness, a hunger-inducing growth spurt or teething pain.
Learn your baby's signs of being sleepy. Many babies become fussy or cry when they get tired, while others will rub their eyes, pull on their ears, or even stare off into space. Put your baby down for bedtime or a nap when your baby first lets you know he is tired.
Back to Sleep
To lessen the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) always put your baby down to sleep on his back, not his tummy. A baby should sleep on a firm mattress, with no fluffy or loose bedding, no stuffed animals and no pillow or cot bumper.
Although your baby is highly unpredictable during the first few weeks, you can help him learn that nighttime is sleeptime and daytime is playtime. When your baby sleeps during the day, keep the lights on and keep sounds at normal levels. After feeding your baby or nappy changing, stimulate his interest by speaking to him warmly and expressively, moving his arms and legs, or showing him toys. At night, on the other hand, turn off the light or use a night-light, feed and change your baby as calmly and quietly as possible, and limit your interactions to holding him gently. Soon you will notice your baby's longest periods of sleep occur at night.
Babies are comforted by routines. You may wish to begin establishing a bedtime routine even at this tender age, to lay the groundwork for later months. For example, try regularly giving your newborn a warm bath, a gentle, soothing massage and quiet time before bed. This can help to relax your newborn for easier sleep.
Finally, use your baby's naptime as a time to catch up on sleep yourself. As tempting as it is to use naptime to get things done, you'll be able to cope better if you nap when your baby does.