Sleep Recommendations for Your Child – Newborns/Infants
Does your baby sleep through the night? A majority of parents would say “No.” Most newborns may sleep up to 16 hours or more a day in 3 to 4 hour intervals, and have different phases of sleep including: drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, and extremely deep sleep. As babies grow, their periods of wakefulness will increase and adapt to the rhythms of life. For the first couple of weeks, infants may sleep up to 5 hours at a time as this is how long they can last between feedings. We recommend infants sleep in a close but separate sleep surface (i.e.-crib, pack & play, bassinet, etc…) for at least the first 4 – 6 weeks of life. Each baby is different in regards to how long he or she will sleep through the night.
Preferably, your baby should be placed in a crib before falling asleep. The goal is for babies to fall asleep independently, and learn how to go back to sleep if they should wake up in the middle of the night. Always keep safety in mind when it comes to your child’s sleep routines. For the first weeks, most parents place their child’s crib or bassinet in their own bedroom. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it is not recommended or safe to have your infant sleep in bed with you as you can risk suffocating or strangling your baby.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
One of the greatest fears a new parent can have is worrying about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), also known as “crib death.” Studies have revealed that there’s a greater frequency in households where the baby slept in the parents’ bed. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and takes the lives of about 2,500 each year in the United States. From 1992 to 2001, the SIDS rate in the United States fell by over 50%. The reason for this dramatic decline has been attributed to the “Back to Sleep Campaign”. The campaign focused on encouraging parents to put infants to sleep on their back, not stomach. The Task Force on SIDS stresses the importance of sleeping on the back and on a firm sleep surface with no pillows or comforters, nor crib bumpers. For more information on SIDS, visit KidsHealth.org.
- Establish a consistent sleep routine right from the beginning by placing your infant in the crib for sleeping as this will help signal to your baby that this is the place for sleep. However, keep in mind that this may take a few weeks for your baby’s brain to know the difference between nighttime and daytime.
- Side and tummy sleeping is NOT recommended. Infants should be placed on their back every time they are put down to sleep.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime as the infant falls to sleep (pacifiers should not be introduced to breastfeeding babies until breastfeeding is firmly established). If the infant refuses the pacifier, it should not be forced.
- Do not place pillows, blankets, bumper pads, or plush toys in the crib or bassinet as this may interfere with your baby’s breathing.
- Avoid items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby’s neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner.
- Remove hanging mobiles as babies can get tangled in in them.
- Look around for objects that your baby can touch from a standing position in the crib such as pictures, curtains, window blind chords, etc.
- Avoid stimulation with feedings and diaper changes in the evening as this may help regulate your baby’s body clock toward sleeping at night. It is also important to establish a regular consistent bed time routine which may include a warm bath as well.
- Turn the lights down low and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby as this will signal to your baby that nighttime is for sleeping.
- If your baby is fussy, it is perfectly fine to rock, cuddle, and sing until your baby begins to fall asleep.
Contact your doctor if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- If you’re concerned with how much or how little your baby is sleeping.
- If your baby appears overly irritable and cannot be adequately soothed.
- If it is difficult to disturb your infant from sleep and mostly seems uninterested in feeding.