Learn Your Baby's Sleep Habits
Babies’ sleep habits vary. Some newborns will awaken only to be fed and then immediately go right back to sleep. Others will remain awake for longer periods of time. It may take several weeks before he knows that he is supposed to sleep longer at night than during the day. Because babies grow rapidly, they need a lot of sleep. Most newborns wake every two to four hours and sleep an average of 16 to 20 hours during a 24-hour period. Babies usually wake up when they are uncomfortable. They may be wet, they may be too hot or too cold, they may just want to be held, but most often they are hungry. You should always lay your baby on his back to sleep unless your baby’s physician has told you differently.
You may get more rest if the baby does not sleep in the same room with you. His noisy breathing, snorts and sneezes may keep you awake. It is never a good idea to put the baby in bed with you. There is a very real danger of smothering him or hurting him by rolling over on him in your sleep.
One of the most important items you will need for your baby is his own bed. This can be a crib or it can be one of the more portable canvas and mesh devices. There are several safety checks that should be followed:
- Be sure the mattress is firm and fits the bed properly, with no spaces for hands or feet to get stuck.
- If you have a crib with rails, make sure that they are close enough to prevent arms, legs and even heads from getting caught between them. The rails should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. If you can pass a pop can through the rails they are too far apart and you should not use this crib.
- Make sure that you have a tight-fitting sheet for the mattress.
- Do not put comforters, stuffed toys, blankets or bumper pads in the crib. These could cause your baby to suffocate.
- There should be nothing in the sleep area except the baby.
- Always put the baby down to sleep on their back unless told to do otherwise by the babies doctor.
- DO NOT over-dress your baby for sleep. A sleeveless sleep sack over a one-piece outfit or pair of pajamas will keep the baby warm.
- DO NOT smoke around your baby and do not let others smoke around your baby.
- DO NOT allow adults, other children, or pets to sleep in the same bed as the infant.