“How do I make my newborn sleep overnight?” is a question that I have received several times. When your little one comes home from the hospital, they are a bundle of snuggly sleepiness. Some parents are very quick to tell you that their child slept overnight almost from the time they were brought home from the hospital. The truth is, this is the exception, not the rule. Why is it that it can be so difficult to help shape the sleep of an infant within the first eight weeks of life? Is there are “right” way to have an infant sleep?
What to Expect in the First Eight Weeks
For the first eight weeks, an infant’s sleep is completely unorganized. There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason or time that they sleep, and it is at this age that it will seem like your little one can sleep through anything! There are no patterns to sleep at this age. One of the reasons is because biological sleep rhythms do not exist yet. It can take up to four months of age for a child to begin having a strong circadian rhythm to help them sleep. During this time, without a natural circadian sleep rhythm, there is day and night confusion. When you find yourself feeling like your newborn doesn’t recognize they should be sleeping more during the night than the day, you are absolutely correct! They have not yet developed the system needed to have organized sleep and sleep patterns.
How to Help Your Infant Sleep
This naturally leads to the question: then what do I do to help my infant sleep? There is not a lot that can be done at this time to help your infant distinguish between day and night sleep. The most important thing is to do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep. Since your baby does not yet biologically have natural sleep/circadian rhythms, creating sleep habits are not possible during this period. The goal to keep in mind during this period is to try and keep your child as well-rested as possible, and to do whatever it takes to promote the sleep of your child.
Establishing Appropriate Sleeping Arrangements
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that during this time your child sleep in a bassinet next to your bed or one that can be moved to where you are. This is for ease of laying your little one down and for ease of sleep after feedings. It is recommended that your child share your room until the age of six months. They recommend room-sharing with your infant in a separate sleep area, such as a crib or bassinet, to be near to them, however co-sleeping with infants is discouraged. This is due to the increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and SUIDS (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome) when co-sleeping with an infant. While each family will choose what works best for them, societal pressure can feel heavy to have your child sleeping all night, in their own room, as soon as possible. It is important to keep in mind what your child is able to do for the age group and to understand what appropriate expectations.
About the Author:
Lindsay Parton is a Developmental Therapist and Certified Sleep Consultant with Marcfirst Pediatric Therapy in Normal, Illinois. She holds two degrees in Early Childhood and has dedicated herself to working with children and their families. Lindsay is passionate about working with children of all backgrounds and ability levels through a lens that encompasses the whole child. Through the combination of being a Developmental Therapist and Certified Sleep Consultant, she is able to help children meet their developmental goals as well as help children and their families get a better night’s sleep. In her personal life, Lindsay enjoys spending time with her friends and family, cooking, and doing puzzles.
Welcome to Lifelong Access.
You may know us as Marcfirst, but we've recently undergone a name change. Why? Because in every phase of life, it’s never a question of if we helped. It’s how we help that truly counts. And how much we helped. Because our clients never outgrow us. And, we never outgrow them. Hence, our new name: Lifelong Access.