Without being militant, there are ways to encourage good sleep habits right from the start, says Chicago pediatrician Marc Weissbluth, M.D., author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Random House, 2005). His suggestions:
First few days home Your baby will be very sleepy. Try not to stay up gazing at him as he snoozes--you may be able to handle it now, but you'll soon regret racking up sleep debt.
At two weeks Your baby is still sleeping about 16 hours a day, but he has no sense of day and night. "Don't bother trying to keep him awake when the sun is shining," Weissbluth says. "There's nothing you can do during the first six weeks to establish a sleep pattern."
At six weeks Your baby is getting the idea that nights are for sleeping. This means four, five or--if you're lucky--six hours of uninterrupted sleep. While it's OK to allow your baby a minute to settle himself if he wakes, don't let him cry any longer. "Some babies need night feedings for nine months," Weissbluth says.
Anytime "When your baby's been up for one to two hours, watch for signs of tiredness, such as fewer movements or less 'sparky' eyes," Weissbluth says. "Soothing your baby to sleep when he's drowsy prevents him from becoming overtired, which makes it harder for him to fall asleep."