Mastering Newborn Sleep: Getting
Closer to Restful Nights

Navigating the world of newborn sleep can feel like a cross between a complex puzzle and a difficult maths problem — both of which are hard to navigate when you’re already tired. As expecting or new parents, understanding your baby's sleep patterns is essential for ensuring they get the rest they need. Today, we’re going to learn a bit about the typical sleep patterns of newborns, including the duration of naps, frequency of waking, and the importance of recognising newborn sleep cues.

Newborn sleep cycles and durations

Newborns have a different sleep cycle compared to adults. Their sleep is divided into two main stages: active (or REM) sleep and quiet sleep. Active sleep is when you notice your baby twitching, moving, or even making little sounds. Quiet sleep is when they are more peaceful and still.

Parents who are unaware of the active sleep stage will often go and pick up their babies when they start to snuffle and make noises. This actually wakes the baby, who could have gone on sleeping, disturbing the natural rhythm of their sleep and preventing them from linking their sleep cycles.

Typically, newborns sleep for about 14 to 17 hours a day, but these hours are not continuous. Babies will sleep for an hour or a few hours, then wake up for feeding, changing, or just to be comforted. Naps can range from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. It's essential to remember that every baby is unique, so these durations can vary. In the newborn weeks and months, babies can have very irregular sleep schedules, waking up frequently throughout the day and night. 

Recognising newborn sleep cues

Understanding your baby's sleep cues can help you respond promptly to their needs. Some common sleep cues include rubbing eyes, yawning, and becoming fussy or irritable. When you notice these signs, it's a good idea to start the bedtime routine or put them down for a nap. 

There is a saying in newborn sleep literature, “sleep begets sleep,” and what that means is that for babies, there’s no point trying to keep them awake for longer hoping for a longer sleep period. Tiny babies get overstimulated easily, leading them to become overtired. When babies are overtired, they will fight sleep, and you’ll find it harder than ever to get them to go to and stay asleep.

That’s why naps are so important for small babies. Up until about 3 months old, babies should nap as often as they need to, with short “wake windows” as they are known for feeding, interacting, and bonding. After this “fourth trimester”, or somewhere between 3 to 6 months

Monitoring your baby’s sleep

Monitoring your baby's sleep can provide valuable insights into their sleep patterns and help you make informed decisions about their care. This is where Snuza's wearable baby monitors come into play.

The Snuza Pico 2 is an excellent choice for those looking for more comprehensive monitoring. It not only monitors abdominal movements but also collects data like skin temperature, body position, and sleep patterns. All this information is sent to an app, allowing you to track and analyse your baby's sleep over time. With this information, you can make informed decisions around nap times and duration, or shift bedtime to a time that works better for your baby.

Safe sleeping practices

Creating a safe sleep environment is crucial for your baby's well-being. There are many safe sleeping techniques that parents and caregivers can use. For example, always place your baby on their back to sleep and avoid loose bedding, pillows, or toys in the crib. Many parents are also unaware that babies cannot regulate their own body temperature until about 9 to 12  months old. Until this age, babies co-regulate with their parents — that’s why they like to sleep on you so much more than in their lonely bed.

Responding to sleep disruptions

It's natural for newborns to have disrupted sleep, but there are ways to help them settle back to sleep. Gentle rocking, shushing, or offering a feed can often do the trick. There are also ways to help your baby link their sleep cycles better, to help them have better, longer, more restful sleep. Remember the sleep stages, and try not to wake your baby during their active sleep cycles. However, if you notice persistent sleep disruptions or concerns about your baby's breathing, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional. And if you’re looking for a little extra peace of mind, the Snuza HeroMD is the world’s only medically certified baby breathing monitor, ready and waiting to keep an eye on your baby while they sleep.

Establishing a bedtime routine for newborn to 12 months

Establishing a consistent and calming bedtime routine can make a significant difference in helping your baby transition smoothly from wakefulness to sleep. Here are some tips to guide you through creating an effective bedtime routine tailored for your baby from newborn to 12 months:

  • Wind-down time: Begin the wind-down process about 30 minutes before bedtime with quieter activities to help your baby relax.
  • Soothing bath and massage: A warm bath can help to relax your baby's muscles and create a calming atmosphere. Follow the bath with a gentle massage using baby-safe lotion or oils to soothe and comfort your baby, as well as provide the perfect opportunity for bonding before sleep.
  • Quiet time: Dim the lights and engage in quiet activities like reading a soft story or singing lullabies to set a tranquil mood.
  • Consistent bedtime: Aim to establish a consistent bedtime around 7-8 pm to help regulate your baby's internal clock.
  • Bedtime feed: Before sleep, offer a gentle feeding session to ensure your baby feels full and content.
  • Calming activities: Incorporate calming activities such as playing soft music or using white noise to help your baby relax.
  • Final feed: Offer a final feeding session to ensure your baby is comfortable and full before sleep.

Establishing a bedtime routine tailored to your baby's age and developmental stage, allows you to create a comforting and predictable environment that promotes restful sleep. Remember, every baby is unique, so feel free to adapt the routine to suit your baby's preferences and needs.

Understanding your baby's sleep patterns and cues is vital for ensuring they get the rest they need to grow and thrive. By staying informed and attentive to your baby's needs, you can create a nurturing sleep environment that supports their growth and development.

Memory Lane

Interested in more sleep and parenting insights? Take a trip down memory lane with our curated selection of articles from months past. These timeless pieces offer valuable tips and advice that are still relevant today. Whether you're a new parent or looking to refresh your knowledge, there's something for everyone in our archives.

  1. 25th May 2017: Snuza Pico Awarded 2017 Product Of The Year
  2. 15th May 2018: 7 Steps To A Healthy Pregnancy
  3. 31st May 2018: What You Should Know About Your Baby’s Respiratory Rate
  4. 3rd May 2019: How Technology Is Helping Parents Cope With The Pressures Of Parenting
  5. 7th May 2019: How To Give Your Baby The Best Start
  6. 9th May 2019: Is It Time To Change “Conventional Wisdom” On Sids And Breathing Monitors?
  7. 17th May 2019: Positive Parenting Techniques
  8. 24th May 2019: Dads Do It Better: The Bedtime Stories Edition
  9. 11th May 2020: How To Positively Impact Your Child’s Well-Being
  10. 18th May 2020: Sensory Play For Babies
  11. 25th May 2020: The “New Normal”: Parenting In This New World
  12. 31st May 2021: Breaking: Mhra Changes Rules For Baby Movement & Breathing Monitors
  13. 31st May 2021: Having A Baby Soon? What’s The First Week Like?
  14. 31st May 2021: 7 Ways For New Dads To Bond And Be Involved
31st May 2021: Your Growing Baby: Leaps And Growth Spurts


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