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You Have a New Baby in the House: Will You Ever Sleep Again?

While infants actually sleep a lot, try telling that to a new mom. You’ll likely get more than just a few sleep-deprived eye rolls.  But it’s true. The problem is they may not sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, and when they hit a long stretch it might be the middle of the day, instead of the night. And of course, once you get them to sleep at night, you worry about them sleeping safe and sound until morning.

It’s never easy for new parents, but a good night’s sleep can happen for both you and your baby with a little work and some good advice.

Babies typically don’t get into regular sleep patterns until they are six months of age. And while they do sleep a lot – sometimes as much as 16 or 17 hours per day – the fact that it’s broken into short “naps” throughout the day can be a tough adjustment for parents.  However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are steps you can take that will help. For example, try to lengthen the time your baby is awake during the day by talking and playing with him or her. This may help lengthen sleep cycles at night. And, as tough as it may be, don’t rock your baby until he is completely asleep or pick him up as soon as he fusses. Babies need to learn to fall asleep – and fall back to sleep – on their own.  Eventually, this will help make nights easier.

Every new mom worries just as much about safe sleep as they do about getting their baby to sleep through the night.  Although the risks of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) can weigh heavy on every parent’s mind, following recommended guidelines for creating a safe sleep environment can go a long way in easing those worries.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has created A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep with facts and sleeping tips for new parents on how to reduce the risk of SIDS. It includes these safe sleep best practices:

  • Always place babies to sleep on their backs during naps and at nighttime.
  • Avoid letting the baby get too hot.
  • Consider using a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet that meets current safety standards.
  • Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.
  • Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows or cushions.
  • Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby.
  • Talk to those who care for your baby (including child care providers, babysitters, family and friends) about placing your baby to sleep on his back during naps and at night.

A good night’s sleep is important for both you and your baby. Talk with your nurses, midwife or baby’s pediatrician before you leave the hospital to be sure you have the latest advice for getting your baby to sleep safe and sound, and be sure to follow up with them if you continue to have concerns.

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