Caring For Your Baby

A new baby brings joy but also challenges to daily life. We are here to help and make sure you feel confident caring for your baby when you leave the hospital as well as in the weeks, months and years to follow.

Sleeping

Sleeping baby

It may feel natural to share your bed with your baby to ease distress and maintain a feeling of closeness. However, if your baby is younger than six months, we recommend that they sleep on their back in a cot in the same room instead. This also applies to naps.

Even if you’re not planning to sleep with your baby, there are some circumstances where you should not try to do this.

Explore Useful Links

Sleep and Your Baby

Rest easy knowing some sleep basics

For most new parents, sleep is a subject that can create an enormous amount of stress. Is he sleeping too much? Is she sleeping too little? When and how do you develop a bedtime routine?

While you can’t control everything related to the baby’s sleep pattern, being informed can help ease the anxiety.

How much should my baby sleep?

While every baby is different, there are some general guidelines. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that newborns get 14 to 17 hours of sleep. Depending on the child, however, it’s appropriate for newborns to sleep 11 to 13 hours or 18 to 19. Because newborns need frequent feedings, they may only sleep for three to four hours at a time. While you’re nursing, your baby should feed eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period.

As your child develops, sleep routines will change. The National Sleep Foundation has a chart with the recommended and appropriate sleep duration by age group for children.

Where should the baby sleep?

Experts recommend that you place the baby’s bassinet or crib in your room for at least the first six months. Not only is it convenient for mothers who are nursing, but it significantly helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Babies should sleep on a firm surface with a tightly fitted sheet. The crib should be empty. Do not add pillows, soft bumpers, blankets or stuffed animals. Swaddling a newborn can create a sense of security. Since newborns can’t regulate their body temperature, look for signs that the baby is becoming overheated, such as damp hair, flushed skin and heat rash.

Swaddled or not, babies should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. Their face and head should remain uncovered.

Do not ever sleep with the baby on any surface, including your bed. The child might suffocate surrounded by blanket or fall between the mattress and headboard. Stay awake while nursing the child.

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Every child is different. On average, babies start sleeping for up to eight hours at a time at 6 months, which is often when nighttime feeding ends (Babies who are breastfed may require nighttime feedings for a prolonged period.).

To help speed up the process, establish a bedtime with realistic expectations even if the child is not ready to sleep through the night. You can start as early as 6 to 8 weeks. Be consistent with a routine that might include dressing the child for sleep, followed by a story or song. Don’t transfer a sleeping child to a crib. You want the baby to understand that the crib means sleep.

When should I be concerned about the way my baby is sleeping?

If your baby is fussy, slow to wake up or uninterested in stimulating objects, talk to your doctor. Like adults, babies can suffer from sleep deprivation. Call your doctor if the baby snores or seems to have trouble breathing while sleeping.

Where can I learn more about how to help my baby sleep?

Christiana Care Health System provides a brochure that answers many new parents’ questions. A few days after the baby goes home, mothers who are breastfeeding will receive a call from a parent educator. However, you can get answers to questions at any time by calling 302-733-3360 regardless of whether or not you’re breastfeeding.

Christiana Care also offers a range of classes for new parents, including the Newborn Class.

Medical Reviewer:
David A. Paul, M.D.
Chair, Department of Pediatrics
Christiana Care Health System
Service Line Leader, Women and Children’s Service Line
Christiana Care Health System
Date Last Reviewed: September 20, 2018