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New baby, new sleep schedule

One of the first things new parents learn is that babies don't come into this world knowing the difference between day and night.

You can expect your newborn to sleep a lot, but don't expect it to be according to your schedule.

When it comes to dealing with babies during the night, parenting styles vary. Most newborns need to be fed every few hours. Some parents feed their babies on demand, whatever the hour.

However, researchers have found that parents can use techniques that encourage their babies to sleep more at night.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers these tips:

  • Avoid stimulation during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. Try to keep the lights low, and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby. This will help your baby learn that nighttime is for sleeping.
  • Try to set a bedtime routine. Although your baby may be too young to understand the idea of a schedule, setting a routine will help you and your baby later on.
  • If your baby is fussy, wait a few minutes before responding. If the fussing continues, check on your baby but don't turn on the light or pick him or her up. If your baby still doesn't settle down, make sure he or she isn't hungry, hurt or in need of a diaper change.

SIDS. To reduce their risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, according to the AAP.

If you have questions about your baby's health, ask your child's doctor about sleep positions.

Reviewed 11/16/2023

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