How a Newborn Affects Sleep

You may have pulled all-nighters before, but did you do it night after night? Of all the changes that come with new parenthood, lack of sleep may be one of the hardest.

Before your baby, you took it for granted that you could go to bed at night and sleep till morning. But newborns don't respect their parents' normal schedule:

  • Newborn babies sleep practically around the clock, but only for about one to two hours at a time.
  • Babies usually don't start sleeping through the night until they are at least 3 months old.
  • At 3 months, many babies will sleep for stretches of five hours at a time.
  • Normal, healthy babies cry about two hours a day until they are 6 weeks old.

This adds up to a lot of sleep loss for mom and dad.

If your partner breastfeeds solely, you may get to sleep for longer stretches during your baby's first weeks. But you'll also be making middle-of-the-night diaper changes and soothing your baby when he or she is crying but isn't hungry.

Taking It All in Stride

Yes, being a new dad can be hard sometimes, but the benefits of fatherhood will make it all worthwhile. Try to keep these things in mind as you work through the challenges of those first few months.

Lower your expectations. Don't expect to keep up with your normal daily routine as you're adjusting to your new baby. Some days, just taking a shower will be a major accomplishment.

Keep a positive attitude. Stay positive and work with your partner as a team. That's a great way to nurture your relationship.

Remember -- it's not forever. The first few months or so are often the hardest. Before you know it, your little bundle of joy will be walking and talking. Keep in mind that these early days will pass quickly, and you and your partner will adjust to your new life together.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on February 17, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Proceedings of the 11th International Infant Cry Research Workshop, the Netherlands, June 2011.

Ari Brown, MD, Capital Pediatric Group, Austin, Texas.

Paul Horowitz, MD, Discovery Pediatrics, Valencia, Calif.

Genesoni, L. Birth, December 2009.

American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Gay, C. Biological Research for Nursing.

Abdool, Z. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

Brubaker, L. Obstetrics & Gynecology, May 2008.

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