This week’s question comes from Tracey and she writes:
“What is a normal amount of time to have a baby awake during the day so that they sleep better at night? My baby is two months old.”
Thanks Tracey! It’s a common misconception really, that if you keep the baby awake longer throughout the day, they’ll sleep better at night; the exact opposite is true.
Keeping your Baby Awake
The longer you keep the baby awake, (especially a newborn) the more overtired they become. When over-tiredness sets in, most babies tend to become wound up instead of relaxed and so you’ll find that as the day wears on and the baby has had very little sleep throughout the day, it can become harder get them to settle down and go to sleep. How much sleep is enough?
As far as a two month old goes, my suggestion would be that you fall into a pattern during the day of the baby waking up, being fed and playing for a short amount of time. After about 45 minutes to maybe an hour and 15 is really the maximum amount of stamina that a newborn has before they should be going back to bed. So eat, play and sleep is a really good routine to set up throughout the day so that you’re not falling into a pattern of always nursing or bottle feeding to sleep.
That way, when evening rolls around, a good way to encourage a newborn to start separating day from night (and encourage the majority of their sleep in the night) is to set up a bedtime routine and that can start right from Day 1 if you’re feeling up to it. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate.
Starting your Routine
I like to start off the routine with a bath, because I just think a bath is such a significantly different activity than others in a newborn’s life that it’s a good transition and acts as a really good cue that bedtime is coming. So maybe a quick bath topped off with nursing and then into the cot, will really help set the stage for nighttime sleep.
Just remember that actually the more well-rested a baby is during the day, the better off their nighttime sleep is going to be. They won’t be overtired and that’s really what you want to be watching out for, especially with a newborn.
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