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What is normal infant sleep over the first two months?

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Newborn babies are unable to distinguish between night and day, so most parents can find the first few months overwhelming, emotional and full of sleep deprivation. Babies wake frequently due to the small size of their stomachs and the need to feed every few hours, regardless of whether it is day or night.

Each baby is different and requires an individualised approach to sleep. By following a few basic guidelines, your baby will soon identify with and settle into a regular sleep pattern.

WHAT IS NORMAL INFANT SLEEP OVER THE FIRST TWO MONTHS?

At this stage, the need to feed outweighs the need to sleep. Many paediatricians recommend feeding every three to four hours, bearing in mind that breastfed infants tend to feed more frequently than those who are formula fed.

A newborn may sleep up to sixteen hours per day, in stretches of three to four hours at a time. Remember to always sleep baby on his back and if he begins to show signs of discomfort, sweating profusely, crying uncontrollably or breathing problems, see your paediatrician immediately.

WHERE AND HOW SHOULD MY BABY SLEEP?

For the first few weeks of life, some parents place their baby’s crib or bassinet in their bedroom for ease of feeding, while others choose to have baby sleep in his/her own room. Research has suggested that having baby sleep in his cot or bassinet in the same room as his parents can help to reduce the risk of SIDs. Remember, never place a baby to sleep in an adult bed alone.

COT SAFETY

It is imperative that all baby cots and bassinets comply with national safety standards. Make sure headboards and footboards don’t have openings that could trap baby’s head, and remove all pillows, comforters and other accessories that could pose a suffocation risk e.g. tops sheets, blankets.

SWADDLING

Swaddling baby in the first months of life help to keep them warm and secure, promote self-soothing and reduce the risk of SIDs. The Merino Kids Cocooi Babywrap is one of the worlds safest swaddles and helps promote better sleep for your newborn:

  • Certified Hip-Healthy - allowing hips to fall into a natural 'frog like' position and promote healthy hip development
  • Hypoallergenic for sensitive skin and eczema - proven to reduce the effects of skin allergies
  • Travel vent for buggy - allowing you to get out and about while baby is sleeping
  • Flexible and stretchy - promoting natural movement and increase brain development
  • Naturally LOW FIRE DANGER - merino wool doesn't need to be treated with any nasty chemicals making it even safer for baby!

SLEEP BABY ON BACK

The occurrence of SIDS has dropped by more than 50% since the recommendation to place baby to sleep on his back was made in 1992.

CO-SLEEPING

Experts recommend against bringing your baby to sleep in the bed with you for safety reasons. Although many cultures endorse co-sleeping, there is a risk that the baby can suffocate or strangle, and studies have shown that there's a higher incidence of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome) in households where the baby slept in the bed with the parents.

If you co-sleep with your baby, here is some guidance about sleep safety:

  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and the wall
  • Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet
  • Ensure bedding does not cover your baby’s face or head
  • You shouldn't co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner smokes (even if you don't smoke in the bedroom)
  • You shouldn't co-sleep with your baby if you either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side
  • You should never co-sleep if you smoke, drink or take drugs
  • Babies don’t need a pillow until they are at least a year old. They should also be kept away from parents' pillows
  • Never risk falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. If you’re feeling really tired and think you may fall asleep with your baby while feeding or cuddling them on a sofa or armchair, move to a bed (keeping in mind the safety guidelines above) or, if possible, ask your partner, friend or family member to look after them while you get some rest

HOW IMPORTANT IS ROUTINE AT THIS EARLY STAGE?

Establishing a routine at an early age can help to introduce structure and healthy sleep habits for your baby. Behaviours such as always putting baby to sleep in his crib and a night time bath routine can help create sleep associations and consistency. Although newborns may be too young to immediately pick up on the signals, setting up a nightly routine has been shown to pay off in the long run.

HOW CAN I ENCOURAGE MY NEWBORN BABY TO SLEEP?

Babies are easily stimulated, so during nightly feeds be sure to keep the lights low and resist playing or talking to baby. By doing so, you will reinforce the message that night time is for sleeping.

  • Sleep promotes sleep. Make sure baby gets an adequate amount of sleep during the day and he will have a more restful night time sleep
  • Ensure baby is winded, has a clean nappy and the room is at a comfortable temperature before placing him down to sleep

WHAT IF MY BABY IS FUSSING?

Always check that baby has a fresh nappy and does not have wind before exploring other causes.

Remember, it is impossible to spoil baby during the first months of his life, so rocking, cuddling, and singing are all acceptable methods of settling baby.

WHAT IF MY BABY IS DIFFICULT TO ROUSE FROM SLEEP?

Issues such as irritability, disinterest in feeding, difficulty rousing and inability to soothe baby should all be discussed with your doctor.

WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

When it comes to sleep – different options will work for each family. What is most important is that you are familiar with the guidelines around safety and take appropriate steps to make sure you and your baby sleep in the safest way possible.  

Need some assistance? Please don't hesitate to contact us for any questions or queries that you may have.

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