Adequate sleep and nourishment are essential for normal newborn
growth. Although newborn sleeping and eating patterns vary, your baby will
probably sleep for a total of 18 hours each day, waking for short periods at
least every 2 to 3 hours. When your newborn wakes up, he or she will usually be
hungry and need to be fed. This pattern dominates your baby's first few weeks.
At about 3 weeks, your newborn's nervous system is mature enough that
he or she can wait longer between feedings and interact with you more. This is
a good time to try delaying feeding for a short time by cuddling or talking.
But, take cues from your baby. Don't force your baby to engage with you when he
or she is not responding and appears to be very hungry.
You will probably help limit nighttime feedings by avoiding
socializing with your baby and lingering after he or she has finished eating.
Keep the light off, use a soft voice, and respond to your baby quickly, so he
or she doesn't have a chance to fully wake up. If you find that you enjoy this
time together and want to give your baby attention, plan for a time you can
rest the following day to avoid fatigue.
Newborn sleep cycles include short periods of active sleep,
characterized by murmuring and restlessness, that occur about every 50 to 60
minutes. This restlessness usually lasts a few minutes, and if you leave your
baby alone, he or she is likely to fall back asleep. At first, babies often
sleep through loud noises, but later they become easily disturbed by noises
such as the phone ringing or a dog barking.
As your baby grows, other factors will increasingly influence his or
her schedule, such as
temperament, a sense of feeling full, and how you
respond to hunger cues.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
January 10, 2013
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
January 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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