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Sleep Problems in Babies: Care Instructions


Your baby's sleep habits will change a lot between birth and the first birthday. Newborns usually sleep for 2 to 4 hours at a time for about 18 hours a day. By age 3 months, most babies sleep up to 7 to 8 hours a night.

But sometimes, your baby will not "sleep like a baby." And if the baby doesn't sleep, no one sleeps. It's 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 learn to self-comfort so that you don't become your baby's only source of comfort at sleep time.

Don't 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, your baby is fine. But if your baby is fussy and not eating well or not acting the way you think they should, talk to your doctor. Your baby could be sick.

Until your baby's first birthday, remember to put your baby down to sleep on their 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 they act sleepy. Your baby may rub their eyes when sleepy. If your baby gets too tired, it may be hard for them to get to sleep.
    • If your infant misses a nap, try to keep them 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's 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 the crib in a quiet, darkened room. This will help your baby learn to go to sleep in the crib.
  • Don't rock your baby to sleep. Your baby will learn that you are needed to help them sleep. Rock your baby, but put them to sleep while they are 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 your baby 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's sleep cycle. The restlessness usually lasts a few minutes. When babies are left alone, they will usually fall back to sleep.
  • Provide comfort if your baby is sick or seems scared.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your baby's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice 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 they're usually active.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.