Newborn Sleep and Crying

Sleep

Newborns may sleep as much as 16 hours in a 24-hour period, usually four-and-a-half hours at a time.

Sleeping babyTo help your baby adjust to sleeping at night:

  • Be consistent in your routine. It may take several weeks for your baby’s brain to recognize the difference between night and day.
  • Keep lights dim and your voice low to reinforce the message that nighttime is for sleeping. 
  • Start a bedtime routine by reading, singing or having quiet time before putting him in bed. 
  • Resist the urge to play or talk to your baby during late-night diaper changes.

By the time your baby is 2 months old, he should be sleeping six to eight hours through the night. If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night by 4 months, talk with your doctor. 

Crying

Crying is your baby’s only real form of communication. It’s the only way he can let you know that something in his little world isn’t right. If he cries, pick him up. Newborns can’t be “spoiled” by too much attention. Answering his cries for help promptly will make him cry less. 

Within a 24-hour period, newborns usually cry for two hours or more. It’s a normal part of adjusting, and he will cry less as he gets more accustomed to the sights and sounds of his new surroundings. Of course we don’t know for certain, but it appears that babies sometimes cry as a way of releasing tension or to block out sensations that are too intense. In fact, some babies cannot fall asleep without crying.

If your baby cries more than three hours a day, at least three days a week, for at least three weeks in a row, he may have colic. Episodes of colic usually begin suddenly and for no apparent reason late in the afternoon or evening. Try the following suggestions if your baby is colicky or has afternoon crying episodes:

  • Swaddle your baby snuggly in a blanket, leaving one arm free and the other tucked inside.
  • Gently rock your baby while rubbing his head, chest or back.
  • Position your baby tummy down on your lap or upright on your shoulder or against your chest.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Play soft music or a continuous sound like the clothes dryer or a recording of the ocean.
  • Take your baby for a walk. A car ride (in a car seat) can be soothing too.
  • Offer a pacifier or your finger to suck on.
  • Turn down the lights and noise in the room.

Don’t take your baby’s crying personally. He can feel your tension and will only cry more. Visit www.cryingplan.com for more information on handling the stress of a crying baby.

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