Baby’s sleep needs 0 – 3 months

The website MyChild.ie is a great source of information about all aspects of your child’s well being and development. Here is what they say about sleep in those early months.

Newborn baby’s sleep needs at 0 to 3 months

Newborn babies spend most of their time asleep. They haven’t yet developed a set sleep pattern.

Your newborn baby will wake up regularly to be fed. It doesn’t matter if it’s day time or night time.

This can be very hard to cope with. It will get easier. Try to sleep when your baby is asleep.

From birth, some babies need more or less sleep than other babies.

Newborn babies are too young to follow strict routines. You can start to introduce changes to bedtime at around 3 months of age. For example, changing into pyjamas, bath time, stories or singing time.

It often takes several months for a baby’s day to night pattern of waking and sleeping to become settled.

How much sleep a newborn baby needs

Your baby will need about 9 to 18 hours of sleep until they are 3 months old. The average they will sleep is about 14.5 hours.

Your baby is unique and may sleep differently to other babies. Some babies sleep for long periods, others for short bursts. They will sleep during the day and night. They might sleep for anything between a few minutes to a few hours at a time.

Newborn babies don’t know the difference between day and night. Their sleep is more likely controlled by their tummies.

Waking up for feeds

Newborn babies will wake up to be fed. Your baby will sleep for 1 to 3 hours until their next feed. Their sleep time gets longer as they get older. Their tummy influences their body clock.

If their tummy is full, they will sleep. If they are hungry, they will wake.

If you are worried that your baby is not getting the right amount of sleep, talk to your GP or public health nurse

Putting your baby to sleep

Your baby may go straight to sleep after a feed.

When possible, put your baby down to sleep drowsy but awake. This might help them fall asleep where they will be waking up.

Your baby will be awake for 1 to 2 hours between sleeps.

Signs your newborn baby is tired

A newborn baby will probably be tired if they have been awake for 1 to 1.5 hours.

There are signs that will tell you when they’re ready to sleep. Avoid stimulating your baby, such as talking loudly or playing with them.

Some of the signs are:

  • staring into space
  • fussing or grizzling
  • crying
  • frowning
  • arching back
  • can’t be distracted
  • jerky arm or legs movements

Keeping your baby awake

Keeping your baby awake during the day will not help them sleep better at night.

If your baby is overtired it is much harder for them to get to sleep.

Where your baby should sleep

Cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby who seems healthy during sleep.

It can happen in a cot, pram, bed, car seat, baby seat or anywhere a baby is sleeping.

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in the same room as you.

Background noises

Background noises such as music or children playing may not wake them but a sudden loud noise might.

Your baby’s sleeping position

Always put your baby to sleep on their back with their feet touching the end of the cot.

Do not let your baby sleep while lying on their tummy. Babies who sleep on their tummies have a higher risk of cot death. You can give your baby some tummy time’ when they are awake.

If your baby always lies with their head in the same position they might develop a ‘flat head’. This is called plagiocephaly.

You can help prevent this when putting your baby down to sleep on their back. When they are lying flat, you can alternate their head position so that sometimes they face left and sometimes they face right.

Related topic

Safe sleep practices for your newborn

Coping with disturbed newborn sleep

Your baby’s sleep pattern is probably not going to fit in with your sleep pattern. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.

Some things that may help:

  • if you have a partner, ask for help
  • ask family and friends for help with chores so you can take a nap

Breastfeeding and caffeine

If you are breastfeeding, caffeine may affect your baby’s sleep. The recommended limit for breastfeeding mothers is 6 cups of tea or 2 cups of coffee a day. For filtered coffee, you should only have one cup a day.

For lots more information on all aspects of your child’s health, well being and development see https://www2.hse.ie/my-child/

If you need some support on sleep issues with your child please contact your Public Health Nurse who has been specially trained. You can find contact details for your PHN on the Parent Hub Donegal Services page by clicking this link http://parenthubdonegal.ie/services/job-listings/?search_keywords=public+health+nurse&search_region=0&search_categories%5B%5D=147      Put in the region of Donegal you are in (http://parenthubdonegal.ie/donegal-regions/ will help you) and click update.

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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