By Dana Altman

Being a new parent of a newborn has many challenges. Perhaps one of the most difficult is the lack of sleep, which can impact your ability to deal with everything else. There is help for getting baby to sleep though, so don’t despair. Let’s take a look at baby sleep patterns, and what you can do to help both of you get longer, more restful sleep.

Wishing Your Newborn Would Sleep LongerA newborn baby crying is like an alarm clock that rings just as soon as you get settled in, and can’t be put on snooze. Before discussing sleep solutions, you should understand why they’re crying. Baby sleep habits include both non-rapid eye movement (NREM or non-REM) sleep and: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, just like adults. Each REM or non-REM cycle lasts 30-45 minutes. Newborn babies are tired from being born, and their brains aren’t developed enough to make much fuss when they awaken after a cycle, so they’ll usually keep sleeping after a cycle ends. At about 8 weeks old, the baby sleep schedule changes. They become less able to continue sleeping due to their developed awareness about being awake and increased hunger.

The ideal infant sleep schedule is 90-minute periods during the day and a few hours at night. We have a few tips for how to get baby to sleep this long:

1. Don’t get the baby up when he/she first awakens. You can shush and pat the baby until it falls back to sleep, and just help the baby resettle in their own bed. This way, babies will eventually need less settling and learn how to go back to sleep on their own.
2. Remove distractions from the bedroom. A boring environment with blank walls, free from things dangling over the cot, will help a baby’s ability to return to sleep.
3. Put the baby to bed really full to avoid being awoken by hunger. You many need to feed your baby a second time before bedtime.

After a little time, these newborn sleep practices can make a difference. With everyone sleeping better, you’ll be much better able to enjoy the waking moments.

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