One of the first things that experienced parents warn you about before you welcome your bundle of joy into the world is about how little sleep you will get during that first few months. You have probably heard people say “get your sleep while you can”, which seems easier said than done when you are so big and uncomfortable while waiting to give birth. This is both true and not really so accurate. It is usually not the amount of sleep that babies get that is the issue, rather how regularly they wake up.
Newborns actually sleep a lot. They can generally sleep anywhere between 16 and 17 hours a day. However, they will only sleep for about 2 to 4 hours at a time before waking up needing food and diaper changes as well as just spending time with you. The reason for this is because the REM cycle of a newborn is a lot shorter than an adult’s sleep cycle. This short cycle is believed to be a necessity for the rapid and extraordinary development that is going on in their brain.
The good news for you is that your newborn will eventually start sleeping more at around 4 months. This may seem like forever when you realize that you spend as much time watching infomercials as you do watching regular television shows. There are some things that you can do during this time to help both you and your child survive.
You will need to teach your infant that there is a difference between day and night. When he is wide awake during the daytime, you should play with your child and interact with them while keeping the house as bright as possible. At night-time, you will want to avoid play time and instead do calming activities with your child like quietly reading. When they do wake up at night, comfort them, feed them and change them but avoid playing with them. That will begin to teach your baby that daytime is for playing and night-time is for quiet and sleeping.
You should not keep your child up too long during this time. If you wait longer than a couple hours at a time to put your baby to bed, they will become overtired and fussy. This will make putting them to sleep an almost impossible task that will only frustrate both you and your baby. You can also start putting your child to bed when they are sleepy but awake at around 6 weeks. This will help to establish an excellent sleeping habit of going to sleep on their own.
You can sleep whenever your child does, even if this seems like odd hours to you. Raising children is tiring work and you will need to keep up your energy by getting as much sleep as you can. The dishes can wait, and accept any help that is offered to you. You will be thankful when grandma wants to come and visit and lets you take a nap while she smothers your child with love and attention.