Welcoming a new baby is an exciting time for any family, but having a little one in the household can take its toll on your sleep. While newborns do spend a lot of time sleeping – typically between 16 and 18 hours per day – this tends to be broken up into short periods, with most babies sleeping no more than two to four hours at a time.
The constant getting up and down throughout the night to soothe your baby can cause havoc on your own sleep schedule, resulting in a very irregular pattern of rest which can leave you feeling overwhelmingly tired. But don’t let the restless nights get you down too much. It is possible to achieve some regularity in your daily routine once you get to grips with your newborn’s sleeping patterns.
The sleep patterns of a newborn
Newborns typically sleep for an average of 8 to 9 hours during the day and around 8 hours at night, waking for feeding every few hours. During the first few months, newborns will tend to stir during the night as they are unable to tell the difference between day-time and night-time, which means they often think they are supposed to be awake at night and asleep during the day. This knowledge will gradually develop over time. As they grow, they won’t need to wake as many times for feeding.
How to get your baby to sleep
Not all babies know how to put themselves to sleep, so being able to recognise the signs of sleepiness can help to encourage your baby to fall into a regular sleeping pattern. This will eventually teach them to fall asleep on their own.
Signs such as rubbing of the eyes, yawning and fussing are all good indicators that your baby is tired and ready for sleep. Make sure to put them down for a nap when you spot these.
Establishing a set bedtime routine is a great technique in encouraging regular sleep, so try and introduce some consistency on a night.
Putting your baby to bed while they’re dozy, but still awake, will help to encourage them to go to sleep on their own. This means that if they stir during the night they will gradually be able to fall back asleep without needing you to nurse them.
Regular bath times, bedtime stories, and turning down the lighting are also helpful ways of settling your baby so they’re ready for sleep. Or take a look at some of these handy sleeping tips for inspiration.
Finding sleep time for yourself
With your baby typically waking every three to four hours, managing to achieve any undisturbed sleep may seem impossible. But try to remember that this restless period won’t last forever.
Teaching your baby to sleep at a regular time on their own will go a long way to giving you a blissful few hours where you won’t be disrupted, although this may take some time to establish.
In the meantime, try and set aside some time during the day to catch up on a few zzz’s and take frequent power naps to alleviate some of the tiredness. The iPhone Bedtime feature is a great tool you could make use of to help regulate your sleeping pattern.
Also try alternating shifts between yourself and your partner to take care of your baby, perhaps taking turns doing the nightly feedings, giving the other chance to get some uninterrupted rest.
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