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How to Get a Newborn to Nap

by Jaimie Zinski

From an empty tummy to a full diaper to simply having their days and nights confused, many potential hiccups and complications stand in the way of creating a healthy sleep pattern for newborns. According to KidsHealth.org, newborns commonly sleep at least 16 hours a day, often in three- to four-hour stretches. Although your ultimate goal is to train your newborn to sleep through the night, you don't want to keep your infant awake for most of the day, as this can create an overtired, cranky baby.

Move the newborn into a dimly lit, quiet room. Avoid the temptation to play with or interact too much with your baby. This minor stimulation is often enough to keep her awake when she should be resting during the day.

Check your baby's diaper and the clock to see if it's her scheduled feeding time, especially if she seems out of sorts or is fussy or crying. If hunger is the issue, feed your newborn before she begins to whimper or immediately after waking up. According to the University of Wisconsin Health, feeding your newborn before she becomes upset makes it easier to put her down for a nap.

Sit down in a comfortable chair, swaddle your newborn and sing or speak to her in quiet, low tones. Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, of DrGreene.com, recommends avoiding playing with your baby's feet or making eye contact. Both stimuli might seem minor, but each can actually increase her heart rate and keep her awake.

Continue to rock your newborn until she's deeply asleep. At this point, feel free to continue holding and cuddling her or move her into her crib or bassinet. To create the safest sleeping environment possible, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends removing any potential suffocation risks, including stuffed toys or bumper pads. Always place your baby on her back and avoid the temptation to sleep in the same bed with her.

Tip

  • Establish a quiet bedtime routine for your infant. According to KidsHealth.org, your newborn might not respond to a gentle bath or storybook before 4 months of age, but establishing a steady bedtime routine early can pay off as your newborn grows into an infant and a toddler.

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