Wondering how much a newborn should sleep? At first, your newborn will probably sleep far more hours than he’s awake—sneaking in a catnap whenever and wherever he wants. “His governing factors are sleep and hunger, and they override everything else,” says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night. It’s too early for your little one to begin sleep training, but make sure he wakes for feedings every few hours during the day. Once he’s 3 months old, you can start to get serious about his Z-schedule, since regular sleep makes for a happier baby—and mom, Mindell says.
Here’s her advice.
1. Wake Your Baby
Wake your baby around the same time every morning. Put him down for a nap about the same time each day: 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and possibly 5:30 p.m. if he seems drowsy. Too rigid for you? Just put your little one to bed two hours after he wakes up, whenever that is, throughout the day.
2. Signal It’s Nap Time
Signal it’s nap time with a shortened version of your nighttime routine. “If you typically sing lullabies to your baby at night, sing a few before his nap as well,” says Mindell. Then put him down while he’s drowsy but still awake.
3. Drop a Nap
Drop a nap by about 9 to 10 months. Most babies should rest twice a day—at around 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
4. Aim to Have Him Nap
Aim to have him nap in the same spot where he sleeps at night. If you get in the habit of nursing him to sleep in the glider or putting him in a stroller or swing, be warned: Eventually he won’t be able to fall asleep any other way. To the crib with him!
Get Outta Here!
“You can successfully transition your child from your bed to his own whether he is a few weeks old or past his first birthday,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution. When it’s time, start by creating more physical space between you and your baby, she says. Move the crib or bassinet to the other side of the bedroom after a few weeks. Finally, move it to your baby’s room. “If he cries, comfort him in his room, then return him to the crib when he’s sleepy,” advises Pantley. It may be tough at first, but consistency is key. Otherwise, he’ll just crawl right back in again! —Jennifer Carofano
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