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Newborns And Good Sleep Habits

By Charles Murray

Parents of newborns often struggle with the challenges of getting enough sleep themselves and encouraging their babies to have good sleeping habits. Establishing good sleep routines starts as early as possible and includes several factors. Safe sleeping positions, feeding schedules, burping, and day time awareness are good points at which to begin the journey of sleeping through the night, for both parents and babies.

Newborns have many needs and their parents must juggle the hectic schedules of feeding, changing, and sleeping. Sleep sometimes seems to evade parents of newborns, but starting early with safe, positive sleeping methods is key. The phrase “back to sleep” comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics and their recommendation to place infants on their backs to sleep. Recent research suggests that infants who sleep on their backs have lower risk rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Parents also need to ensure that the crib does not have loose blankets or toys and is placed away from things such as window blinds with dangling cords. Parents sometimes report that their babies do not seem to sleep well on their backs, but it is the safest position for most babies and over time they will adjust. The infant can also be placed in the crib when he or she is just on the verge of sleep as this will also help encourage the baby to fall asleep on his or her own. Parents should always speak with their infant’s pediatrician about safe sleeping positions, as some premature infants and those with other health concerns might require special sleep positions or routines.

Along with sleep, feeding newborns is an essential and sometimes seemingly constant activity. Most newborns will eat every 2-4 hours, depending upon whether they are breast or bottle fed. As they get older these times will vary, but even a 3 month old infant might nurse as often as every 4-6 hours during the day, and 4-8 hours at night. Parents should try to take feeding schedule cues from their babies and also speak with their pediatricians about appropriate amounts and routines. After each feeding it is important to burp the infant, using positions that are effective and comfortable for the parent and child. Some babies will burp best at the shoulder, and others prefer to sit and be supported over the forearm, or draped over the forearm of the parent, in what is sometimes referred to as the football carry position. Sometimes babies will fall asleep while eating, then not be apparently awake enough to burp. Gentle pats on the back or belly rubs can also help encourage burping. At night, try to get at least one or two good burps out of the baby before placing the baby back to sleep.

It is also important that during this time the parents establish the differences between day and night routines with babies. This can be done by keeping the home dark and quiet at night and interacting less with the baby when he or she awakens at night. This means that the parent can respond to all of the baby?s needs, but refrain from conversations, playful activities, lots of interior lights, or television noise. Investing in a few good night lights can be enough for parents to see what is needed while still maintaining a dark atmosphere. During the day there can be plenty of opportunities for tummy play time, giggling, singing, and more.

Good sleeping habits can be developed by employing several important approaches. It requires having knowledge of safe sleeping positions, appropriate feeding schedules and burping techniques, and ways to encourage infants to recognize night and day differences. Parents will need to have patience and be willing to invest time and energy, but the rewards will be numerous.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Murray, Charles "Newborns And Good Sleep Habits." Newborns And Good Sleep Habits. 25 Jun. 2010. 16 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Murray, C (2010, June 25). Newborns And Good Sleep Habits. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Murray, Charles "Newborns And Good Sleep Habits"

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