As a parent, getting enough sleep is a key priority for both you and your baby. Sleep that is interrupted at any time during the night can exhaust and frustrate parents.
Don't worry too much to begin. Eventually your newborn will start sleeping for longer periods of time rather than short stints that seem to tease your sleep instead of allowing you to be benefited from it. When your baby is a newborn, sleep tends to be lighter and for shorter periods of time than when your baby is a few months older. A few lucky parents are blessed with a newborn that sleeps well to begin with, but for the rest of us, it takes time and an incredible amount of fortitude to get through the first few months.
Your newborn can sleep up to 16 hours collectively in a day. A few weeks after birth, your newborn will most likely start to sleep for shorter periods and less hours. Sometimes this can be exacerbated by colic, acid reflux, or any other conditions that make sleeping difficult for a baby. For you, just the stress of being a new parent, anxiety, illness, soreness from birth, or painful breasts full of breast milk can be enough to make sleep seem impossible.
Soon enough, your anxieties will subside and you and your baby will learn techniques for getting more out of your sleep. Eventually you will learn techniques such as how to rock your baby, swaddling, and using a pacifier.
First, it is important to set the stage for a good night's sleep. The ideal sleeping environment for a baby is one that is mostly dark, quiet, and about 70 degrees. It also helps if bedtime rituals, such as bathing, dressing, and nursing, are not rushed. However, any routines should be orderly and predictable. Even a newborn will benefit and soon learn to depend upon routine to let them know when it is time to sleep, play, or eat.
Make a predictable bedtime routine. Many parents feel that their baby should be put down in their bed while they are awake and allowed to self-soothe themselves to sleep for the night. Other parents feel it is important to rock and hold their baby until the baby is asleep, whether it is in the parent's arms, or co-sleeping in the "family bed." The choice is a matter of preference, but whatever sleep methods you choose for your infant just remember to make bedtime predictable for your infant to grow in a secure routine.
Your baby should develop a somewhat regular sleep pattern around 3 months old. After this time, you should keep watch over your baby's sleep pattern in order to access their needs as they grow and change.
In the meantime, keep in mind these tips for what to expect from a baby's sleep habits. First, infants and toddlers only require a certain amount of sleep. Once their bodies have reached it, they won't sleep any more that day. Second, napping too much during the day may lead to a more disrupted night time sleep. Third, putting your baby down for a nap when he's not really sleepy will only lead to very frustrating periods of wakefulness. Establish a routine for sleeping and stick with it. Your baby will sleep longer and better, and therefore you will too.