Weeks 3 & 4
It’s hard to define exactly how your baby should be sleeping as you reach the end of your first postpartum month because, frankly, every baby is different. Generally babies will be spending a good portion of the day sleeping (usually around 14 hours by week four), but it will still be in short two- to four-hour blocks. Some babies will wake up every two hours (or even every hour) regardless of day or night, while a small percentage will settle into a refreshing five-hour slumber at night. (The latter, by the way, is considered “sleeping through the night” by newborn standards. Try not to rub it in to other sleep-deprived parents; it’s not nice.)
Understanding your baby’s current sleep patterns
- Don’t stress about getting your baby on a regimented schedule just yet. At this point, babies will still zonk out whenever they’re tired, whether it’s at home in the bassinet or in the middle of a crowded restaurant. We know the short bursts of naps can seem unproductive for you, but there will come a time when your sweet little baby will fight naps at all costs – so try and enjoy the quiet.
- Most babies have reduced their sleep time from 18 hours to 14 hours over the first four weeks, but some babies will naturally sleep more, some less. There’s no “right” amount.
- It’s believed that babies use these short naps in rapid eye movement (REM) to process everything they’re learning and absorbing, so it’s a major part of their development.
- If you’re one of the lucky parents who has a baby that sleeps five hours straight, talk to your doctor about whether you should be waking him or her to eat. There are contradictory opinions on this one, but if your baby is thriving otherwise then the doctor will probably let you enjoy the extra couple of hours.
- Continue to put your baby to sleep on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Giving your baby a pacifier at naps and bedtime is also believed to be a SIDS-reducer. Your baby might not take one, but a pacifier can be very soothing and comforting as he or she drifts off to sleep. On the flip side, some would rather their baby find a natural self-soothing technique instead of relying on a pacifier that inevitably gets thrown and lost, causing exhausted parents to scour the floor at 3 a.m. A happy medium: Try giving a pacifier for SIDS reasons and then nix the habit between 3 and 6 months to avoid a long-term dependency.
- Those longing for a routine sleep schedule will be happy to know that creating a standard bed time routine will help your baby to recognize when it’s time to get sleepy. The standard routine looks something like: bath, baby massage, story, nursing/feeding, bed. Try dim lights and soothing music to create a peaceful aura.
Where Should Baby Sleep At Night?
One lesson parents learn fast is that many of the expensive baby products we absolutely had to have become more decorative than functional. Babies can’t be swayed with organic materials, exorbitant price tags or thread counts; they either like it or they don’t. So that $1,000 bassinet that your baby screams in? It might be time to try a different sleeping arrangement. As we said before, choose whichever option allows the most people to get the most sleep. If the bassinet isn’t working, try the crib. Not loving the crib? Try bringing the baby to bed with you. While there is controversy that pillows, comforters and soft mattresses are a hot spot for SIDS (and there’s the very rare mommy-rolled-over-Jimmy case), co-sleeping is one of the most popular, comforting sleeping arrangements worldwide. If this works for your family, just take extra precautions and remove as much loose bedding as you can. And regardless, still put the baby to sleep on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS.