Help! My Newborn Will Not Sleep! This is one of the most common emails I receive.
Many parents hear that they won’t sleep when the baby arrives, but what they don’t realize is that this is really on a totally different level from what they thought it was going to be. TOTALLY different! In the beginning, your newborn’s sleep will have no real pattern. It comes with many ups and downs and for some, it may seem like sleepless nights are never going to end. Rest assured that things will settle down around 3 to 4 months of age. Because sleep is so sporadic during the first few months of life, it can become very confusing and overwhelming for parents.
Some of the major reasons why sleep can change so often with babies at this age, can be due to the following factors:
· Day-Night Confusion - A baby’s biological clock (circadian rhythm) has not yet developed
· Developmental Leaps - The sudden change in the mental development of your baby
· Colic - Crying (usually in the evening) that lasts for more than 3 hours per day, 3 days per week and for more than 3 weeks
· Tummy Issues - A baby’s digestive system is very immature and they can have troubles passing gas
· The Period of Purple Crying - This is the period in a baby’s life from age 2-weeks to about 3 to 4 months when a baby cries more often than any other time in their life. The baby seems inconsolable and appears to be crying for no apparent reason. For more in-depth explanation please visit http://www.purplecrying.info/
How do we navigate through these changes?
· Newborns need a lot of sleep! Keep those wake windows short to help keep them well rested – 45 to 60 minutes to start.
· Make sure the room is conducive to sleep. Using blackout curtains and a sound machine (white noise) will definitely help.
· They will need help falling asleep and THAT’S OK!!! Don’t worry about creating “bad habits” at this age. As long as you are providing your baby their own SAFE sleep space to sleep in, use all the tools in your toolbox to help your baby sleep. Swaddle, baby wear, shush, rock, use a pacifier, nurse to sleep and continue to snuggle your baby to sleep during the first few months. It’s a time to bond with your baby and to get the sleep everyone needs.
As the weeks pass by, your newborns sleep will begin to show a little more of a pattern but can still shift slightly from one day to the next. Night sleep begins to organize leading to one longer period of consolidated sleep of around 4 to 6 hours. Morning wake time will become more consistent and you will start to see your baby waking up around the same time each day within a 15 to 30-minute window. Day sleep often takes much longer to organize but you may begin to see a more regular morning nap emerge, lasting anywhere from 1 to 2 hours in length.
Bedtime will soon begin to regulate and happen at around the same time each night. It will also start to get much earlier! Now that’s good news for everyone!