Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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At first, your newborn will likely fall asleep 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 (2005). You won’t get him on a nap schedule yet, but you should make sure he wakes for feedings every few hours during the day. When he’s 3 months old, you can start to get serious about snoozing. After all, sleeping regularly makes for a less cranky baby—and mom, Mindell says. Here’s her advice:
* Avoid weekend sleep-ins: Wake your baby around the same time every morning. Try to adhere to set nap times: 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and possibly 5:30 p.m., if he seems drowsy. If that’s too rigid for you, put your child to bed two hours after he wakes up, whenever that is throughout the day.
* Set the stage for success: Signal it’s time to sleep 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.
* Know what’s typical: By about 9 to 10 months of age, most babies should rest twice a day—at around 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
* Don’t sub the car seat for the bed: As often as possible, aim to have your baby nap in the same spot where he sleeps at night. And if you get in the habit of nursing him to sleep or putting him in a stroller or swing, be forewarned: Eventually he won’t be able to fall asleep any other way.