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Newborn Babies and Sleep

From The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley

Waking for Night Feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn't let a newborn sleep longer than four hours without feeding, and the majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.

Here's a tip that is important for you to know. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries, and these noises don't always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises, and your baby is asleep during these episodes.

Learn to differentiate between sleeping sounds and awake sounds. If she is awake and hungry, you'll want to feed her as quickly as possible so she'll go back to sleep easily. But if she's asleep - let her sleep!

Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night
A newborn sleeps sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between night sleep and day sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

Have your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet, except for white noise (a background hum). You can also help your baby differentiate day from night by using a nightly bath and a change into pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness
Get familiar with your baby's sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which complicates developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your baby's sleepy signs -- such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing -- and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.

Make Yourself Comfortable
It's a fact that your baby will be waking you up, so you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. Relax about night wakings right now. Being frustrated about having to get up won't change a thing. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your newborn won't be so little anymore - she'll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight…during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night (McGraw-Hill 2002) by Elizabeth Pantley www.pantley.com/elizabeth

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