Guest Post: Melissa Perry from The Cradle Coach
Even if you aren’t a routine oriented person by nature, the ability to teach your baby certain habits is crucial in working to establish good sleeping patterns. Babies thrive on routine. The reason for this: your child will learn and know what is expected from them, giving them a sense of security, and create an easier ability to fall asleep as their body’s are wanting to slow things down. If you put your baby down every day at the same time for a nap, more often then not they will become tired and fall asleep easily at that time. However, this doesn’t happen right away.
During the first six weeks of life, infants require so much sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an infant can sleep between 11 – 18 hours in a 24 hour period, with sleep periods lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours. This requirement might be confusing as you are trying to establish some sort of rhyme or rhythm in the day. It’s ok though! However they fall asleep, let them. Wherever they fall asleep, let them. Whenever they fall asleep, let them. Don’t be concerned if your infant is napping for only 45 minutes in their swing. There isn’t anything unhealthy about this at this stage. If your baby seems irritable during the day and is a catnapper, it might be beneficial to help lengthen those naps by moving her into a crib. You can use a shush pat, swaddle, and pacifier to see if you can give her a better quality nap. Here are some additional of our tips for creating the perfect sleep environment that is conducive to a good nap! But for the most part, let your infant eat and sleep as needed.
Once your baby is older than 6 weeks you can begin to establish regular nap times. Nap cycles aren’t truly defined for an infant until they are between four to six months old but you can begin working on establishing a daily routine based on their natural sleep cycles. At that time, generally speaking, a baby between 4 and 8 months often takes their first nap about 1.5 – 2 hours after they’re morning wake-up and sleep between one to two hours. About two hours after waking from their first nap, a second nap is required that can last one to two hours and finally a third nap is needed in the late afternoon for about an hour or so.
Helping your newborn develop good sleep habits takes time and a lot of patience. Baby steps work! Focus on the first goal of allowing your baby to sleep and feed as needed. Then when the time is right, begin working on establishing a routine. It’s so important for an overall healthy start to teach them how to sleep throughout the night! For additional advice, come visit us at thecradlecoach.com.