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New Parents: What You Should Know About Your Newborn's Sleep Habits

If you're up at all hours of the night with a crying newborn, you're probably wondering if you will ever get a good night's sleep again. The good news is there are a few things you can do to increase your shuteye.

Keep in mind, though, that a baby's sleep cycle is not regular until about 6 months of age, and, even then, all babies are different. While you may have heard stories of babies sleeping through the night at a young age, it is more likely that they will wake frequently and without a pattern.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a newborn's sleep is irregular and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours at a time. Newborns will typically sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day but this is broken up into several shorter sessions. Babies also spend more time in active sleep (rather than deep sleep), so they may appear restless — moving their arms and legs or sucking.

With these thoughts in mind, try these tips to help both you and your newborn sleep better:

  1. Split duties — Switch schedules with your spouse/partner so that both of you get to rest.
  2. Establish a routine — Make it a habit to wind down at night with regular calming activities. This can include story time or listening to soothing music.
  3. Sleep when your baby sleeps — Don't answer your phone, and ignore the dishes and laundry.
  4. Create a soothing sleep environment — Turn off electronics, and keep your bedroom cool and dark. Make sure kids are drowsy but awake when going to bed, so that they can fall asleep on their own.
  5. Make your baby's sleep environment comfortable and safe — While blankets, pillows and stuffed toys are comforting, they pose a risk for suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Use music or white noise, rather than plush bedding, to create a comforting environment.
  6. Contact your doctor — If lack of sleep is becoming a problem, your doctor can help you develop a plan to ensure that you and your child are both well rested.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Krames Staywell

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