A newborn baby can sleep up to 18 hours/day. Some babies will naturally fall asleep when they are tired but most babies will need to learn how to go to sleep.
Babies have sleep cycles of approximately 45 minutes. Looking for tired signs is crucial to understanding your babies sleep cycle as most babies have small periods of time when they can fall asleep. If you miss this then you may have to wait for another cycle.
Tired signs are making fists, flailing their arms and yawning. If you see this you need to get you baby down immediately - don't wait for 15 minutes in the hope that you will make them more tired!
A normal length of sleep for a baby in the day time will be one and a half to 2 hours - 2 sleep cycles. Even when they are asleep they will stir at 45 minutes and then go back to a deep sleep.
A common mistake new parents make is to go to the baby at the first sounds of waking. This prevents the baby naturally going back to sleep. Therefore it is important not to pick the baby up too quickly if they are showing signs of stirring - leave them for a few minutes to see if they will drop off again.
Babies need to learn how to go to sleep themselves. A very young or unsettled baby may need to be rocked or fed to sleep or have a dummy to calm them. However once your baby is settled then it is important to remove all these props so that the baby is able to wake and drop off again by themselves. That way you wont be getting up 5 times a night to replace the dummy or rock your baby back to sleep.
Start by teaching the baby to go to sleep themselves in the day time - you may be too tired to follow through at night. There are many different approaches to this. Make sure your baby is awake when you put them down to sleep. It is not uncommon for a baby to cry and protest for up to 10 - 15 minutes before they go to sleep. Your baby may cry and stop and them cry and stop. If this is happening they will probably drop off to sleep quite quickly. If they are becoming hysterical you can try patting them at about the rate of your heart beat or you may need to pick them up and resettle. It can take several days to get the baby to learn how to go to sleep.
Once they have learnt this then your night will usually be easier as well. If you are feeding your baby at night then you may need to wean your baby off this as well. From 7 months a healthy baby should not need to be fed at night.
It is important to try to establish good sleep routines as early as possible. However if your baby suffers from colic, reflux or other health problems then you may not be able to establish a routine until the baby is older. Recognizing this and not trying to force the baby into routines that it is not capable of will help the parent to feel less of a failure.
Osteopathy can help to establish the cause as to why the baby is not able to sleep and then in many cases assist the baby to learn how to go to sleep. Usually this will be a result of helping the baby to relax or by relieving the colic or reflux that is keeping them awake.
if your baby is having problems with sleep e.g. not being able to fall asleep, not staying asleep or having day and night mixed up.