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The Facts on Babies and Sleeping

One major issue that most parents struggle with is their newborn's sleeping patterns. Infants can't tell the difference between night and day, and since their tiny stomachs can't hold enough milk to keep them satisfied for long, chances are they're going to wake you up at odd times to be fed.

How Long Do Babies Sleep?
You might be glad to hear that an average newborn sleeps around 16 hours a day, but the not-so-thrilling news is that its sleeping bouts rarely stretch for more than 3-4 consecutive hours per nap. Breastfed infants might even need more frequent feedings, almost once every 2 hours. As frustrating as it might be at first, be patient; babies' sleeping habits tend to change to suit those of the parents as they grow a bit older.

Tip: Try to get as many naps as you can during the day with your spouse's and family's help. Talk to your doctor for a healthy diet that can help boost your energy levels as well.

Where and How Should Babies Sleep?
You might want to keep the baby's crib close to you in your own room the first few weeks after bringing your newborn home. This will enable you to keep a close eye on the baby's needs and wellbeing. Some experts recommend against letting your baby sleep with you in your own bed (also known as "cosleeping"), as it can potentially endanger the infant's safety through suffocation. Some studies indicate that there is a higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in cosleeping as well.

Tip: Try to establish a routine for your baby by getting it used to sleeping in the crib. Never place anything in your baby's crib that can burden or interfere with its breathing, such as stuffed toys, blankets, pillows, and bumper pads. Objects with ties, cords or any form of sharp edges or corners should also be kept away.

Encouraging Your Newborn to Sleep
Tired babies tend to have more trouble sleeping than babies who have had their morning naps, so don't think that depriving your infant of sleep in the morning will get it to sleep faster at night. Avoid stimulating your baby during nighttime feedings and diaper changes, and resist the urge to play with your baby or turn on strong lights at night to reinforce the signal that nighttime is for resting.

Tip: Setting a bedtime routine can help ease your child into sleep. You can use bathing or singing as ways to signal to your baby that sleepy-time will be following soon, thus setting a pattern that it can follow in coming months. If your newborn grows fussy, try singing, cuddling or gently rocking it to calm it down. Your baby should be sleeping around 6-8 hours a night after 2 months. If 4 months pass and your newborn still won't settle down, talk to your doctor about it. 

When to Call the Doctor
If you feel that your baby's sleeping patterns and durations aren't normal, give your doctor a call and see what he has to say about the matter. There is no text book average of what's normal in terms of sleep patterns, and each baby tends to follow its own schedule the first two months, but you might want to discuss things over with your doctor if your baby seems to be overly irritable or cannot be soothed. Moreover, if your newborn can’t be easily woken up and seems uninterested in feeding, you should visit your doctor immediately for a medical checkup