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Newborn Sleep: When, Where, How, and How Much is Normal?

Parenthood comes with worries and problems that are hard to account for, such as understanding sleep patterns.

Becoming a new parent is filled with emotions, and although joy and love take center stage, they can be accompanied by uncertainty and a healthy dose of exhaustion. Are you worried your baby is sleeping too much? Or not enough? If you’re not sure what’s a normal for newborns, it’s easy to worry. So, how does sleep work for newborns? When Will My Newborn Sleep? Newborns will sleep for roughly two thirds of the day waking every few hours for feeding. They may be more active at night and sleep more during the day at first, but that will correct itself over time. Don’t be surprised if your baby does not sleep through the night for a while. Smaller stomachs mean more frequent feedings, which varies by depending whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, or a combination of both. For instance, breast milk is easier for babies to digest, so they often require more frequent feedings. Crankiness and frequent crying could signal that your baby is not sleeping enough or has another complaint. If your newborn fusses and struggles to sleep—even with a full tummy—discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. Where Will Your Infant Will Sleep? Choosing where your baby sleeps can be as important as making sure she gets enough sleep. Make sure to regulate the room temperature. A room that’s too warm or too cool could keep your baby from falling, and staying, asleep. Your newborn should always sleep in an appropriate bed or bassinet that is free of any blankets, stuffed toys, pillows, or bumpers. These can pose a suffocation risk. Instead, rely on cozy pajamas to keep your baby at the right temperature. Avoid sleeping in the same bed as your baby, although sleeping in the same room is a great idea. Eliminate any harsh lighting, and if your windows have blinds or curtains, make sure any cords, ties, or fabric is well out of your baby’s reach. How Will Your New Baby Sleep? Your baby should always be placed on his back to sleep. Avoid using sleep wedges to prop your baby on his side and avoid placing her on her stomach. As your baby gets older, he may roll herself onto his stomach. Once your baby is strong enough to roll herself over, it is ok to leave her sleeping in that position once if she gets there on her own. Back sleeping is strongly recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). How Much is Normal for a Newborn? Newborns can sleep anywhere from 16-22 hours per day, broken up by feeding, so any sleep within this range should be expected. Your baby may fluctuate on how much sleep she gets, especially if she is experiencing a growth spurt and is feeding more frequently. If your baby is sleeping more than 22 hours per day, contact your pediatrician to see if he or she is concerned. If your new baby sleeps less than 16 hours per day, try adjusting the room temperature and lighting to make the room more sleep-friendly, play soft music to entice sleep, or hold your baby until she falls asleep. Every baby is different, and it may take some time for her to settle into a schedule. As she gets older, her schedule may become disrupted by growth spurts or teething.

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