Babies sleep a lot, but new moms often find themselves up at all hours of the night, longing for a long stretch of sleep. Helping your baby get into a regular sleep schedule gives you more rest at night when you need it most. Once his sleep patterns become more established, his other daily activities might become more routine as well.
When you bring your baby home from the hospital, she will sleep around 16 hours per day, according to MayoClinic.com. At night, your baby probably sleeps in one- to two-hour sessions. The amount of time your baby sleeps without waking gradually increases until six months, when she might sleep for nine to 12 hours a night. Not all babies follow this pattern. Some babies sleep through the night long before six months, while others still aren’t sleeping through the night past six months.
Your baby sends signals that can help you focus on his typical sleep routine. Waiting until your baby is screaming from exhaustion makes sleep more difficult for him. Keep track of his usual sleep signs, such as yawning, rubbing eyes or a generally sleepy look. Use those signs as a guide for naps and bedtime. Pay attention to your baby’s typical alert times and sleep times to create a sleep schedule, based on his own rhythm.
Once you get a sense of your baby’s natural sleep schedule, you can work toward a consistent sleep schedule. A regular routine at sleep time signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep. At night, for example, you might bathe your baby, sing songs and rock her before placing her in the crib. Keep everything in the routine consistent each day to make it more effective.
Your baby’s age plays a role in the typical causes of sleep disruptions. Newborns wake frequently because they cannot last long between feedings. As your baby gets older, he will go longer without needing to eat. As your child reaches 6 months, he might have difficulty sleeping because of separation anxiety. Reassuring your baby that you are still there helps ease his fears. Dirty diapers are also a potential reason for a baby waking at night. Check your baby’s diaper and change it gently if necessary.
Babies often move around and make noises while sleeping. Your baby might stir and fuss for a few minutes before settling back to sleep. Give your baby a chance to fall back asleep rather than jumping up at the first sign of waking. Extending the amount of time you wait before going in to soothe your baby might also help her put herself back to sleep. When your baby does wake, keep the lights low and noises to a minimum. Loud noises and other forms of stimulation make it more difficult for your baby to go back to sleep.