You’ve finally returned from the hospital with your precious cargo? Congratulations! Especially if this is your first child, the hours and days to follow may feel overwhelming at first. Soon enough things will settle down and you’ll find yourselves adjusting to some sort of natural routine.
It’s important to remember that having a newborn baby is one of the greatest gifts in life, but it’s also one of the most challenging!
Babies don’t realize the difference between day and night, but you can start to influence this from birth. Replicate nighttime inside your house by dimming the lights, turning off gadgets, and creating a cozy environment that’s conducive to sleep. Then, during the day, make sure plenty of light filters through your windows and focus on keeping your baby awake for short periods at a time.
Initially, your baby will want to curl up and sleep the days and nights away because this is nature’s way of gently introducing them to the outside world. Little by little he or she will spend increased amounts of time awake, and you’ll have a greater ability to tweak your little one’s newborn sleep schedule.
Below we made a sleep chart with estimated sleep time for your baby or child. Of course, this is not written in stone and all children are different but it’s a good estimate of how many hours of sleep your baby or child needs.
As you start to become more familiar with each other, consider if any similarities are appearing between each day. Does your baby wake at a similar time each morning and go on to sleep for a similar nap time? You’ll either be blessed with a consistent child or one that prefers to take a more flexible approach and either is fine.
When considering how to create a newborn sleep schedule, start first with the final bedtime of the day. This one will have the greatest impact on yourself and your family. Ultimately if you gain enough sleep overnight you’ll all feel so much better for it and have enough energy to get through the following day.
Creating a bedtime routine is achievable if you think of it as just that, a routine. It’s something that needs to be consistent and regular. You might like to start the evening routine by bathing your baby in a warm and relaxing bath, and dimming the lights whilst dressing your baby in his or her sleepwear. Settle down in a comfortable chair and feed if desired. Read a simple story in a soft voice, sing a lullaby, have a cuddle, and leave the room.
Creating a pattern each day sets the expectation that your baby must sleep, and encourages it to happen like clockwork. Your baby won’t recognize a routine on the first night, or even the second, but be persistent and soon enough your little one will learn to enjoy the bedtime routine.
You can extend the concept of developing a routine and implement it for the rest of your day. You may wish to wake your baby at the same time each morning so that each day begins and ends similarly. Creating a newborn sleep schedule will help your baby to feel secure and supported, but always remember, that life with a baby is never predictable all of the time.