When you bring your precious new baby home from the hospital, you're likely going to question everything - No worries, it's completely normal. Whether you're a new mom or you've had children before, you may still find yourself wondering what's normal and what's not - especially when it comes to newborn sleep.
During the late nights of your newborn fussing, it's important to remember that your baby is used to the comfort of your womb, where they spent most of their time sleeping. Your baby was soothed by your voice and all snug and warm in the womb.
Once born, newborns will sleep most of the day. Most babies sleep between 16 and 22 hours per day and only wake up for short periods of time to eat and need a diaper change.
Newborn stomachs are tiny so they get full fast and it also doesn't take long for their stomach to empty, leading to them needing to be fed around every two hours at first. Not to mention, it's common for a baby to feel warm next to their mom or caregiver as they are being fed and drift off to sleep, which leads to more frequent feedings.
Follow your baby's lead during the newborn stage
We get it - You just want to know what's normal and a routine wouldn't hurt, right? But during the beginning stages, you need to let your baby set the pace. Just as with adults, babies experience different sleep cycles of light and deep sleep.
During the first month or so, sleep and food is what consumes a baby's world. Most people don't realize eating is a task in itself - eating consumes most of their newborn's energy, causing them to be tired easily and fall asleep. When they wake up again, it's usually because they are hungry.
As much as parents wish their baby could be on a schedule from the get-go, newborn babies fall asleep or wake up due to their own internal clock. Don't worry - change usually occurs around 4-7 weeks. Around this time frame is when your new baby will begin becoming curious about his or her surroundings and need to be soothed to sleep.
But what if your baby seems to be sleeping for longer periods? What if he or she is not sleeping like other people's newborns?
Most parents wish their baby would sleep more but some parents are also wondering if their baby sleeps too much. Only you know your baby and if something seems off, it's okay to question it.
Some babies sleep better than others and they may not even wake for feedings. However, be careful if this sounds like your baby during the first couple of weeks. Your baby could become dehydrated quickly. Pay close attention to your little one's diapers. Make sure their urine isn't too yellow, like a darker yellow. Keep an eye on his or her stools as well - mustardy color and a seedy texture are normal.
It can take a baby about six months to establish their own sleeping schedule. If you're at all worried about your baby's sleep, contact your pediatrician right away.
Tip: Some things you can do for an overly sleepy baby is to take walks in the natural light (of course being careful of sun rays), try removing some layers of clothing if the temperature permits, and try to avoid too much stimulation during the day as it can make your baby overtired and they can fall asleep later for hours even if they are hungry.
Prepare yourself mentally that you will likely have a hard time sleeping in the beginning. Instead of having a negative mindset about it, try to think about how grateful you are to be blessed with such a beautiful and precious gift. Not to mention, your baby will grow up so fast.
Have you ever considered what your baby just went through? He or she felt completely safe in the womb and was taken out, immediately learned how to cry and instead of being constantly nourished, had to scream and give other hunger cues when hungry. This whole transition takes time. It's probably harder on your baby than you.
3. If you have a partner with you, take turns sleeping so waking up consistently isn't just on one person. It will give you both a little bit of extra sleep. Any amount of sleep helps during the newborn stage.
Even though a routine is hard, try to create an evening routine for your household so baby can learn when it's night time. For example, maybe you could give him or her a bath, turn down the lights, and read or play some white noise.
Don't listen to your baby when you hear you are going to spoil him or her - It's impossible during the newborn stage. Hold your baby close to make him or her feel secure and warm. You will reap bonding benefits as well.
It may not seem like it, but your baby's circadian rhythm will change over time. Don't ever compare your baby to someone else's - every baby is different, especially when it comes to sleep patterns.
How long did it take for your baby to start sleeping more at night? What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? We would love to hear!