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Home  >  Baby Sleep Articles  baby bedtime preparation

(this article used by courtesy of American Baby magazine)

The Sleep Primer - Bedtime Success for Baby


Sleep--both your baby's and your own--is likely one of your major concerns as a new parent. Sleep disturbances, particularly nighttime awakenings, can strain and exhaust parents.

Your newborn may sleep up to 16 hours a day, broken up into short periods. However, soon she'll start to sleep for fewer, shorter periods. And in the early weeks, discomfort from colic, acid reflux, or other conditions may cause trouble sleeping (talk to your doctor if you have concerns about these medical conditions). Illness, unnecessary feedings, and anxiety can also disrupt sleep.

In your baby's early months, sleep tends to be lighter and more broken than later on, and your baby may have difficulty sustaining sleep. But don't fret--eventually you'll find techniques that help, such as rocking or nursing baby, or giving her a pacifier.

Setting the Stage

The ideal sleeping environment for an infant is one that's relatively dark, quiet, and comfortably cool. Relaxed, unrushed bedtime routines are helpful. Note, though, that for an infant on a somewhat predictable schedule, these routines should be relatively brief (5 to 10 minutes).

A final feeding, quiet play, singing, and cuddling are all reasonable bedtime activities. As your child gets older, telling stories becomes useful. Try security objects, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, but don't use these before the child is 1 year old because they can cause suffocation.

Many physicians feel that baby should be put to bed awake and allowed to fall asleep in the same crib or bed she'll remain in for the rest of the night. Others are proponents of rocking or holding baby until she falls asleep in the comfort of her parent's arms, cosleeping, or the "family bed." Whichever choice your family makes, bedtime should be a warm and comforting end to the day.

Keep in Mind . . .

  • Infants and toddlers require a certain amount of sleep. Once they get it, they usually can't sleep more.
  • Babies are often geared to sleep only at certain times of the day and night.
  • Putting your baby to bed when he's not really sleepy will probably lead to periods of wakefulness.
  • Letting baby stay in bed longer than he needs to will make him restless.
  • Too much daytime napping may lead to nighttime restlessness.

By 3 months of age, your baby's sleep periods should already occur on a somewhat regular pattern. Over time, become aware of your child's personal sleep needs, and he'll help you determine how best to assist him in getting the rest he needs.

Despite what you may have heard, not all babies sleep through the night by the time they're 6 months old, so don't worry if your baby is still waking up long past the age that you expected. Eventually he'll develop a sleep pattern that works for him--and for you!

This article is  copyrighted, and used with permission of American Baby.  All information on Slumber Sounds is for educational purposes only, and is not  medical  or healthcare advice, nor a substitute for medical and professional services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal situation. For medical advice, including diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician or other healthcare provider regarding any condition and before starting any treatment. We supply this information with the understanding that Slumber Sounds is not engaged in rendering medical services or other professional services or advice. 

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