Women, by nature, want to take good care of their babies. However, newborn sleep patterns or sleeping through the night might can make first-time parents worry because they need to adjust their daily routine to their baby's sleeping habits. They are also concerned about whether their baby is getting sufficient sleep or not.

For a first-time parent, understanding everything about newborn babies is a must, especially their sleeping patterns.

On average newborns sleep 16 to 18 hours per day. In most cases, a baby will not sleep throughout the night until they have reached the age of three months old. At that age a baby will have shorter sleeping cycles and should sleep an average of eight hours during the day and eight hours during night. When your baby reaches two years old or a few months older, your baby will sleep on average 14 hours, but less during the days as they get older. At the age of 2, your baby should sleep throughout the night and nap on average for two hours during the day.

Both moms and infants will experience a lot of sleep disturbances during the night. Since helping your baby to fall asleep is not an easy task, the following are some things every first-time parent needs to consider to help their babies fall asleep.

Sleep Cycles of a Newborn Baby

Newborns have two distinct kinds of sleep cycle – quiet sleep and active sleep.

During active sleep, newborns keep on moving around the crib and making noises. Newborns can also awaken instantly during this sleep cycle. During quiet sleep, newborns are still. It means that their breathing is regular and deep, and are less likely to awaken during this type of sleep pattern.

Points to Consider on Sleep Patterns

Newborns never sleep for long and wake up easily.

Newborns sleep usually from 30 minutes to four hours. Thus, moms need to discover and adjust their sleeping routines around their babies sleeping patterns.

A baby spends a huge portion of their sleeping schedule in “active sleep.” It means that your baby can easily be awakened, depending on the environment they sleep in. Moms can easily determine if their babies are in active sleep. You will see occasional body movements, fluttering eyelids, and grunts.

Newborns sleeping patterns vary

An average newborn sleeps between 16-18 hours. Four-week-old babies, on the other hand, have an average sleeping pattern of 14 hours a day. There are also some babies who sleep 9 hours a day while others sleep 19 hours a day. By being so individual in their sleeping patterns there isn’t one size fits all so you will need to figure out your babies’ patterns. Then as soon as you figure out one stage they graduate to an older phase and you need to learn that one.

Newborn babies are noisy little things

Weird noises and short pauses can be an alarming scene for new parents. A normal breathing rate of a newborn baby is more or less 40 to 60 breaths per minute while they are awake. Then, it may decline to 30 to 40 breaths when babies are asleep.

Moms sleeping routines can affects their babies

Researches claim that a well-rested parent is able to help their babies regulate their sleeping patterns and exhausted moms can find it hard to calm down their babies and get them to sleep. This becomes a vicious cycle of a parent not getting enough sleep and a baby that has trouble getting to sleep.

A sleep tracking notebook to track the sleep patterns of your baby may be helpful to see any irregularities and helpful to know if there is something to talk to your doctor about.

Tips for Helping Your Baby Fall Asleep

When it comes to bedtime routines, some parents want to rock their babies to sleep. Others prefer to play music or read bedtime stories, while still others like to do the last feeding as they slide off to sleep. Younger infants can often fall asleep while breastfeeding. If this is the case, and your baby doesn’t awaken when being placed in their crib or hammock, practicing this kind of bedtime routine is an excellent idea.

Experts claim, that during the first weeks, some parents will choose to have your baby in your room at night. This helps them monitor their newborn and makes them easily accessible during feeding time. A word of caution though; don’t lay down to feed your baby in the middle of the night as there is a risk of you falling asleep and rolling onto your infant. If there is room to place a rocking chair in your bedroom do so or sit straight up in bed so you don’t fall asleep during feedings.

As babies get older, if your baby falls asleep while in your arms or while nursing, this may become their pattern. Your baby may begin to expect to be lying in your arms to sleep, and when babies briefly awaken during the night, they may not be able to easily go back to sleep on their own and you are going to need to get up and walk, bounce, pats on the back until they go back to sleep again.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends allowing babies to nurse or become sleepy in your arms after the newborn phase is over and you have them in a separate room and then place your baby on their crib or crib hammock if using one while still awake but drifting off. There can be a fine line between almost asleep or sound asleep so you may need to fine tune the bedtime routine.

Playing soft music or a lullaby while babies are getting sleepy is also an excellent way to create a bedtime or daytime nap schedule.

As a guide, here are some of the recommended tips for a comfortable sleep environment for your babies:

  1. Place the newborn on their back to sleep, not on the side or stomach. You can place a baby in a crib, bassinette, or a crib hammock that has been properly installed in a crib. But without anything else (not even a blanket the experts say).
  2. Always see to it that your bassinet or cribs meet existing safety standards to ensure your baby is safe while sleeping.
  3. Never put anything else in the bassinet or crib for a safe sleep routine. Make sure that the toys of the newborn are out of their sleeping area.
  4. Keep your babies away from smokers to have a safe sleep. Take note that second-hand smoke is one of the causes of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. If you don't know about these SID signs and risks, you should contact an expert or do some research on your own.
  5. Avoid overheating. Babies are hot little things and while you may think they need a blanket they don’t if the room is around 70°. There are several signs to determine overheating, such as feeling hot and sweating or having “prickly heat” which is a rash of tiny little bumps. You may also use a swaddling blanket or a sleep sack, if you feel they need it.

Common Mistakes First-Time Parents Make

All first-time parents make mistakes when taking care of their newborn babies. This is because each baby is different and none of them comes with a manual.

If you are lucky and have a baby that sleeps, don’t think the sleepy, mellow newborn cycle lasts forever – At first, nursery rhymes and rocking will make them fall asleep. But, as time passes by, it stops working as well. Trust me! This is why knowing everything you can on sleep cycles and keeping a journal are important. You can fill in your journal at feeding times when they coincide with going to sleep.

Having your newborn sleeping in your arms while sitting on the couch is risky if moms are exhausted. If you get too tired, try to lay your baby down and sleep when they do. I know this is difficult if you have other children but if you do already have another child or two, you probably already have an idea how to take care of yourself.  and the baby falls on the couch.

It is a good idea to try to be in the same room with a new baby until they start sleeping though the night. This way you can monitor them closely because things can change in a hurry with newborns.  

Never let your infant sleep in the car seat unless you have a head restraint connected to the car seat to keep their heads from falling onto their chest. Also, experts warn about having a baby to sleep in a car seat is a safety hazard. Use a proper sleeping surface for your infant.

There are a lot of resources to help you with your baby if you are unsure. Your pediatrician or doctor are always a good place to seek help.  

Being a first-time parent is a challenging thing. But, with proper tips and recommendations from the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other experts, every mom is certain that they are on the best track. Bear in mind that newborn sleep patterns must be followed just like feedings.