How Do I Get My Newborn to Sleep Longer?
Well there is good news and bad news!
Bad news: most new babies won’t sleep longer than 2-4 hour stretches for the first couple months of life (maybe less in some cases)
Good news: this gives you freedom from feeling pressure to get your baby sleeping longer and honestly gives you freedom to enjoy these precious short days.
Let me break this down for you without writing a 7 page blog! Every sleep expert has a different take but most of these doctors will say the first 6-12 weeks of life babies are NOT capable of sleeping through the night. Some breastfed babies will need one night feeding until they are 6 months old (but not always).
You will notice around 6-8 weeks your baby becomes more alert, aware and smiling! When your baby starts to engage with you with smiles and eye contact this means they are ready to sort out their days and nights. Up until 6-8 weeks most babies will eat every 3 hours during the day and every 3-6 hours at night.
When you notice your baby becoming more alert this means they need a consistent sleep schedule. Why? Because up until now they don’t really have an internal clock that tells them there is a difference between night and day. Once they’re more aware of their surrounds it’s time to implement a feeding schedule and a consistent sleep space.
Here is what you can do:
Consistent sleep space: meaning they nap and sleep every night in the same space. Not a car seat, not a stroller and not a swing. If they only fall asleep in swings and car seats this won’t set them up for sleep success.
Appropriate sleep environment: Baby should always sleep in a cool, dark, safe room with a noise machine (I use a loud fan). Use black out shades, a crib free of blankets, pillows or toys, and a loud noise machine to help prevent them from waking up from noises in the home (or older siblings).
Swaddle: swaddle those babies!! I know some of you say “mine refuses!!!!” I don’t mean to sound harsh here but…make them. They do love to be swaddled and cuddled. If they find it hard rock them or nurse them in the swaddle to comfort them.
Schedule: your baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours sometimes for formula fed babies this is every 3-4 hours. IF YOUR BABY IS NOT EATING EVERY 3 HOURS DURING THE DAY THEY WILL HAVE TO EAT AT NIGHT BECAUSE THEY NEED TO EAT A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF OUNCES EVERY DAY!!! This of course depends on their age and weight.
Baby needs an appropriate amount of wake time based on age. If they get too much they will be overtired and not sleep well at all. If they get too little they will not be tired enough to fall asleep.
Bedtime routine: similar for naps and bedtime. Usually sitting in a dark room with a little light nurse, read story, sing song and rock until baby is drowsy then lay in bed to sleep.
Cluster feeding up until 8 weeks is really normal in stages and it usually only lasts a week, so don’t panic it’s a sign of a growth spurt.
Be consistent otherwise it will not work.
Look into appropriate wake times and sleep amount.
Example of a 2 month old sleep and feeding schedule:
6am Wake up & Feed1
9am Feed 2
12pm Feed 3
3pm Feed 4
Nap 4 (cat nap) 4:00-5:00pm
5pm Feed 5 (eventually introduce solids here too)
6:00pm is Bedtime so do a bedtime routine!! Bath, Books, Bottle, song and rock until drowsy then lay in bed awake but drowsy.
Between 1-3 months expect baby to wake up every 4 hours then every 6 hours.
Around 2 months we notice babies can sleep 6-8 hour stretches if they have a solid day time feeding schedule and solid bedtime routine. Repetition and consistency really help babies know when bedtime is coming. This practice helps start the release of melatonin and get the baby’s body ready to fall asleep and stay asleep.