Newborn Sleep Pattern
As soon as your baby is born forget about the clock. It doesn’t mean anything anymore because your baby is going to sleep whenever he wants to sleep regardless of what time it is. The old adage of “sleeping like a baby” is very misleading in that, well babies don’t really sleep, at least not like we picture them to. Overall, babies do sleep a lot averaging about fifteen to eighteen hours a day, however these are not alltogether but in short periods of anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
These patterns don’t follow any clock causing many babies to have day/night confusion. If your baby is like this, which he most likely is, then he will sleep a lot during the day regardless of visitors’ attempts to coax him awake, and wake up erratically during the night.
The first week of life is like a blissful dream, and you may think how easy it is to have a baby. But do not be fooled! Around three weeks of life your baby will suddenly realize they are no longer in the womb and sleep will become a distant memory for you. This is when parents enter survival mode.
Do whatever you need to do in order to make the baby sleep: nurse him, rock him, shush him, swaddle him, swing him and so forth. But are these healthy practices? Are you teaching your baby bad habits? Are you inadvertently setting yourself up for future sleep failures?
I wouldn’t worry so much about that in the beginning because your baby really doesn’t know the difference either. Do whatever you need to do to help your baby sleep, however do it on a schedule, or a much better word, a routine. To help create a new sleep schedule, it’s important to understand a newborn’s feeding patterns.
Newborn Feeding Pattern
Whether you are breast feeding or formula feeding, its a good idea to set your child on a baby feeding schedule. For breast feeding, the popular consensus is to feed whenever the baby is hungry or to follow your baby’s lead (baby led). This is absolutely a great practice as well but the reason why I say it’s important to set a baby feeding schedule is because some newborns just won’t wake up on their own to eat. Some babies, especially at the beginning of life, will be perfectly content with sleeping for longer periods of time, say for 4 hours or more. As tempting as it may be to let your baby continue to sleep, it’s recommended that you wake your baby up every 2-3 hours to feed.
As for the amount of milk to feed your baby, it all depends on your baby’s weight. Always follow what your doctor or pediatrician recommends. If you’re breast feeding, it’s a good idea to follow the 2-3 hour routine of feeding. If you’re formula feeding, it’s a bit different since babies digest formula a lot slower than breast milk. According to babysleepsite.com, an easy way to tell how much formula to feed is to multiply your baby’s weight by 2.5 to get the amount of ounces to feed.
Newborn Sleep and Baby Feeding Schedule
The best way to keep your sanity when it comes to handling your newborn is to implement a feeding and sleep schedule right off the bat. Having a schedule will ensure that all parties are on the same page with what the baby needs and at what time leaving out alot of guessing and minimizing frustration. As time goes, your baby will also learn the routine and know what to expect next. When I say schedule I mean more of a routine and not so much being a slave to the clock. It’s great to use time as a guideline, but let’s face it, some days will be good and some days will be bad.
A great routine to follow is the E.A.S.Y routine from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves all Problems. E.A.S.Y stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep and You. Upon awakening, your baby eats immediately. After he is done eating it is time for activity. At the beginning, your baby’s awake time will be very short spanning from only 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Spend this time taking full advantage of your baby’s alertness, play and talk with him, cuddle, change his diaper, implement tummy time etc. Watch for his sleepy cues and then put him down for sleep. While the baby rests it is then you time. You can do whatever you want with this time, whether its feeding yourself, doing some chores, vegging out infront of the tv or even sleeping.
Here’s a couple sample schedules below:
2-8 Week Old Newborn Baby, Breast Feeding
7:00am – Wake up and feed*
8:30 – Sleep
10:00 – Feed*
11:30 – Sleep
1:00pm – Feed*
2:30 – Sleep
4:00 – Feed*
5:30 – Sleep
6:00 – 1st cluster feed*
7:00 – Bath time
7:30 – Sleep
8:00 – 2nd cluster feed and put right back to sleep*
11:00 – Feed and right back to sleep
2:00am – Feed and right back to sleep
5:00 – Feed and right back to sleep
* I suggest trying to keep to these same feed times every day. By always feeding around the same time, you are creating a schedule that will keep both you and the baby on track. You can’t really control how long your baby will sleep or when, but you can at least control when you will feed them
Cluster feeds are helpful during the early weeks when trying to teach your baby the difference between day and night. You want to make the last two feeds only two hours apart so that your baby is full and satiated to sleep for a longer period of time.
2-8 Week Old Newborn Baby, Formula Feeding
I would suggest the same schedule above even if you are formula feeding. At the beginning, formula fed babies tend to go longer in between feedings than breast-fed babies and may require less feeding sessions. This is because babies digest formula differently than breast milk, so they feel fuller longer therefore tend to sleep for longer periods. This difference evens out at about 3-4 weeks. With bottles it’s a lot easier to control the amount that you are feeding your baby. Around this age, babies tend to eat around 2-5 oz, as long as they are over 6 1/2 lbs.
These are simple and general guidelines to follow when determining your baby’s sleeping and feeding schedules. In the early weeks, it can be a very unpredictable and stressful time as you and your baby are learning and figuring things out. Every baby is different and therefore their schedules may deviate a bit. The most important thing is to implement a routine from day one and stay consistent.
Newborn Sleep Resources:
The Baby Whisperer Solves all Problems
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Featured photo credit: She’s in the very first day in the world/睿 薛 via flickr.com