Hush Little Baby: Getting Your Newborn to Sleep

You’re finally home with your little one; it’s been such a long journey, and you can’t wait to be a parent.  There are so many firsts in store for your family.   First on the list is getting rested up for the journey ahead, and showing this newborn tiny wonder how to sleep in the real world.  You’ve done your homework, and you know the importance of sleep for both you and your baby. Now, you just need to figure out how.

How long should I expect my newborn to sleep?

Not as long as you might think in the beginning.  Babies are small, but they grow amazingly fast. You’ll be in awe when you visit your pediatrician and see how quickly their little heads grow!  The fact is, there’s a lot going on, and rapid growth takes a huge amount of energy. And that requires sustenance. Your baby will sleep until she’s hungry.  Her little body can only take in a limited amount, so she needs to eat more often. Newborns sleep 16-17 hours per day, but only for an hour or two at a time.

Hush, Little Baby

Baby will hush if you hush first.  For middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes, keep it low-key.  A few quiet murmurs and low lights can help accomplish the task at hand.  If you use baby wipes, consider a wipe warmer. While a chilly wipe can feel wonderful on a hot day, they can send a baby wake-up call in the wee hours of the morning.  By keeping conversation to a minimum and working in the semi-dark, you signal to your little one that it’s still the sleeping time, and she’s not missing a thing. A full belly, dry diaper and a gentle pat on the back as you lay her back down lets her know that it’s okay to head back to sweet dreams.

Back to Sleep

Always.  Babies are safest when placed on their backs to sleep.  On a firm surface.  It may seem counterintuitive, but your baby’s sleeping area should be free of blankets, pillows, toys and stuffed buddies.  Remove anything that could cover your baby’s face. Sleep is a restful time, and your little one really doesn’t need any stimulation; he just needs a safe space.  If you’re worried your baby is too cold, dress him in a blanket-style sleeper to keep him warm and safe at the same time.

Let’s Play!

Baby will be awake plenty, so save tummy time for play time.  A few short sessions on her tummy gives your baby a whole new perspective on her world, and works to strengthen new muscles as well.  Active play time with your baby, which in the very beginning is as simple as talking with her, and showing her this brand new world, ensures that she’ll be ready for rest before you know it.

Rocking Your Baby to Sleep - Not!

It’s almost impossible to resist, that urge to rock your baby to sleep.  Your have the new rocking chair in the nursery and it just feels so right.  Rock your baby for a bit, until she’s drowsy.  Then put her in her crib or bassinet, give her one more pat or tummy rub, and let her go to sleep.  Going to sleep is a learned skill, and we need to give our little ones practice so that they’ll be able to do it on their own.  If your baby fusses more than a few minutes, come back in for another touch of comfort and try again. This is truly a skill that will make everyone’s life so much better and calmer as you experience a lifetime of new firsts.

Am I Doing the Right Thing?

We know that parenting can be difficult, and no one wants to hear their baby cry.  It’s easy to doubt yourself; we’ve all been there. If you have any questions, or you just need a little reassurance, check in with your pediatrician to make certain you’re on the right track.  We’re happy to help, and put your mind at ease.  Maybe even help you sleep a bit easier!