Having a baby is magical, but that thing everyone tells you about sleep? It’s true; it’s all true. You won’t get any sleep, and you’ll wonder how your baby can sleep so peacefully in your arms then scream the moment you place them into their crib. Baby sleep isn’t an exact science, but here’s our advice on what to do to help you understand the way your baby sleeps, and to help set your mind at ease.
How Many Hours Do Newborns Sleep?
How long do babies sleep? About 75% of the time just after they’re born, and maybe 18 hours a day. Newborns pretty much sleep and eat, with small periods in between where they are awake and alert. A good rule of thumb is that your baby will want to eat every three hours; however, this can vary greatly. This is especially true in the early days of breastfeeding when the milk supply is still being established.
But why do babies sleep so much? Being born is exhausting. They’ve had a traumatic experience, and now they’re constantly growing and learning. They need sleep to recover and to build the pathways in their brains that will store all this new and amazing information they’re absorbing.
How Much Should a 2 Month Old Sleep?
By two months old, your baby might be sleeping 15 or 16 hours a day. This will still include lots of daytime sleep and regular wakes in the night for feeding.
How Much Should a 3 Month Old Sleep?
Short answer: No. Trying to create a baby schedule could just end up making you miserable. It is as if there’s one person in your family who refuses to cooperate with what you’re trying to do– your baby. There’s no specific newborn schedule that works for every baby.
Many authors have tried to claim that a happy baby is a baby that is in routine, but most newborns don’t even run to a diurnal (night and day) clock until they’re at least 8 weeks old. Remember, they’ve been living their lives in the perpetual darkness of the womb.
Help! My Newborn Won’t Sleep
A newborn, not sleeping, can feel like the worst thing in the world, especially if you’re a first-time parent.
Reasons your baby isn’t sleeping:
- They’re a baby! Babies take differing times to get into sleep routines.
- They might be hungry. Your baby’s tummy is tiny and doesn’t take long to empty. If you’ve just fed from one breast, try offering the other breast.
- They might be lonely. Your baby has been inside mom for months. They’re not used to being in the outside world. Try putting a piece of clothing you’ve worn under their mattress so that your smell is nearby. Don’t leave loose items of clothing in the crib as this is a safety hazard.
- They might be too warm. Try removing a layer or changing to a thinner blanket.
- They may be too cold. Try changing what they wear at bedtime or switching to a thicker blanket. Don’t add additional blankets as these are suffocation risks.
- They may have gas and need their back rubbing.
- Their diaper may be soiled.
- They could be teething. Look out for chewing, drooling, or a flushed cheek.
- They might need to poop.
- They could be sick. Invest in a thermometer, and keep an eye out for any rashes or sudden changes in routine or behavior. Always speak to a medical professional about any concerns.
Ideal Sleeping Position
Your newborn’s sleeping position is very important. Newborns should always be on their back to sleep. Never place a young baby on their front as this may affect their breathing and contribute towards SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, previously known as crib death.
Once your baby starts rolling by themselves, you may suddenly find them on their front or side in bed. By this stage, the risk of SIDS has dropped off significantly, and the baby should be fine like this. Of course, if you’re unsure, speak to a pediatrician.
Do Newborns Dream?
Listening to a baby crying in their sleep can be heartbreaking. Those baby cries in sleep time or at bedtime can lead to parents wondering, “can babies have nightmares?” It seems like they’re so upset that it must be something genuinely distressing that’s bothering them. So, what’s the science? Do babies have nightmares?
According to Live Science, babies experience REM sleep (rapid eye movement, the dreaming sleep) from birth onwards. However, scientists believe that this is when your baby builds the neural pathways that help them learn about their world and develop language. The same article proposes that babies simply don’t have the imagination or head-space for dreaming; however, this is one question we may never really have the answer to.
When Do Babies Sleep All Night?
This is different for all children. Your kid, at any age, may wake in the night due to sounds, health, stress, hunger, and even growing pains. By about six months old, your baby might be capable of sleeping a solid eight hours. This doesn’t mean they will.
Also, you may get a couple of months of peaceful nights then suddenly find you are getting up with them in the night again- for no apparent reason. This is often due to separation anxiety, a sense of their own developing personality, which makes them hyper-aware of your absence.
The most important thing is to remember that your child is an individual. They will develop in their own time. If you feel that your child is suffering from a lack of sleep, definitely see your pediatrician. Otherwise, just accept that a few sleepless nights are par for the course, and they will learn to get a good night’s sleep… eventually.
All babies struggle to sleep at night. They need to wake frequently to feed and are in a whole new world with dozens of startling changes that can keep them awake. It’s important not to panic if your baby isn’t sleeping. Understanding why your baby needs sporadic sleep can be the first step in accepting your new and crazy sleep schedule.