Sleep Problems in Babies: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your baby's sleep habits will change a lot between birth and his or her first birthday. Newborns usually sleep for 2 to 4 hours at a time for a total of 16 to 18 hours a day. Your baby may sleep 5 or more hours at night by 3 months.

But sometimes, your baby will not "sleep like a baby." And if the baby does not sleep, no one sleeps. It is normal for healthy babies to have a range of sleep time. But if your baby has trouble getting to sleep every night, or wakes up crying for you several times a night, you may want to try new ways to help your baby sleep.

You can help your baby become a good sleeper. The goal is to help your baby comfort himself or herself so that you do not become your baby's only source of comfort at sleep time.

Do not worry that waking during the night will harm your baby's health. Babies will sleep when they are tired. If your baby is eating well and seems active and happy during the day, he or she is fine. But if your baby is fussy and not eating well or not acting the way you think he or she should, talk to your doctor. Your baby could be sick.

Remember to put your baby down to sleep on his or her back. This decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

Put your baby to bed

  • Set a regular schedule of naps and bedtime for your baby.
    • Put your baby down for a nap as soon as he or she acts sleepy. Your baby may rub his or her eyes when sleepy. If your baby gets too tired, it may be hard for him or her to get to sleep.
    • If your infant misses a nap, try to keep him or her awake until the next nap time.
  • At night, set up a soothing routine. Give your baby a bath, sing lullabies, read a book, or tell a story. These activities can relax your baby. They also signal that it is time to sleep. Do not get your baby excited with active play right before sleep.
  • When your baby is getting sleepy, put your baby in his or her crib in a quiet, darkened room. This will help your baby learn to go to sleep in his or her crib.
  • Do not rock your baby to sleep. Your baby will learn that you are needed to help him or her sleep. Rock your baby, but put him or her to sleep while he or she is drowsy but still awake.

Get your baby back to sleep

  • Check to see whether your baby is hungry or needs a diaper change. Feed or change your baby quietly. Keep the light low. Try not to play with your baby. Put him or her back in the crib after feeding or changing.
  • Periods of murmuring and restlessness every 50 to 60 minutes are a normal part of a baby sleep cycle. The restlessness usually lasts a few minutes. If you leave your baby alone, he or she will likely fall back to sleep.
  • Do comfort your baby if he or she is sick or seems scared.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You want more help to get your baby to sleep.
  • You have concerns about how your baby is sleeping.
  • Your baby is fussy or not eating well.
  • Your baby is very sleepy and hard to wake during the day when he or she is usually active.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 26, 2016