Getting a good nights sleep is essential for providing a happy, productive environment for you and your baby. During the first 3 months a baby needs food frequently (especially if you are breast feeding which a baby digests quicker than formula). It is almost impossible to get a full night's sleep at this point. Even if your baby is sleeping through the night early on, your doctor might suggest waking him or her up to feed. At this point if you’re lucky enough to be able to sleep when your baby sleeps (I never could!) than you definitely should do that! Taking naps during the day is a wonderful thing for moms with newborns. Try to take advantage of your ability to run errands while your newborn will sleep right through. Pretty soon you won’t be so lucky and you will see the need for putting your baby in their crib for nap time.
I have researched many ideas and theories on how to provide good sleeping habits for a baby. I feel that it is an integral piece to their health and well being. There are 2 books which are very helpful-‘The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer’ by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau and ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Marc-Weissbluth are both excellent resources on the subject. The baby whisperer also has a great website for seeing how much your baby should be sleeping at different ages and what different other babies schedules look like. I took bits and pieces from many different sources and made a routine that worked for me and my family.
Many people find it very helpful to keep a bedtime routine. This is something you can start very early. It can include bath, feeding, rocking, reading a book and singing. Starting to put the baby in her crib is also good for you and your significant other to get some alone time. Once the baby is down for the night, keep any feedings or diaper changes very quiet (no talking or playing) and keep the lights off with just enough light from a night light or hallway light for you to see what you’re doing. My baby really had her days and night mixed up and this helped a lot.
After around 3 months your baby can start getting A LITTLE bit of a routine. Remember every baby is different and what works for one family may not work for another. One thing all experts seem to have in common is that you should never wake a sleeping baby and never try to keep them awake or “wear them out”. At 3 months, I stayed home for a week straight to really figure out my daughters sleep habits. I learned her signs of tiredness and started putting her in her crib for naps. This really helped. Every 2 hours is a good baseline for most babies to start needing sleep. Once a baby gets overtired it can get really ugly for you and for the baby. When my daughter started getting better naps she started sleeping MUCH better at night and would only waking to eat-fabulous!
Remember, these are just ideas of what worked for me. It’s best to listen to what works for others but then create a system that works for you and your family. Also, don’t hesitate to call your doctor with any questions or concerns. I call my doctors office frequently. One time I called my doctor 3 times because my child was sleeping SO MUCH! The nurses were very understanding and never annoyed (at least they didn't seem to be!) Anyway, you pay them good money for your baby’s care they should be able to answer your questions!!