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The A to Zzzz’s of Healthy Sleep Habits for You and Your Baby

Whoever coined the phrase “sleep like a baby” probably wasn’t a parent. But when it comes to your baby’s sleep, you don’t have to feel like he or she is always running the show.

In fact, there’s a lot you can do from the very beginning to set the foundation for healthy sleep habits.

For Your Baby

Newborns sleep a lot—as much as 17 hours per day. However, their sleep can be unpredictable, and even occur in spurts of only one or two hours at a time.

Try putting your baby in the crib or bassinet when he or she is drowsy, but not asleep. This will help your little one learn how to fall asleep on his or her own without needing you to rock or assist in some other way.

Here are more helpful tips:

  • When feeding or changing your baby during the night, try to keep the room dark and quiet so that your baby can more easily return to sleep afterward.

  • Engage with your baby during the day. Talk and sing to them, read to them, and play with them. This can help extend their awake times during the day and hopefully help them sleep longer at night.

  • Always practice safe sleep habits. This means putting your baby to sleep in his or her own crib or bassinet. The sleep space should have a firm mattress and only a fitted sheet—no blankets, toys, or pillows. Place babies on their backs to sleep.  

If you have a newborn and sleep feels like a struggle, rest assured that it gets better. Most babies develop regular sleep cycles when they’re about 6 months old.

For You  

While much of your focus may be on your baby’s sleep, it’s important to help yourself sleep soundly, too. Here are a few steps you can take to maximize your precious resting hours:

  • Sync sleep schedules. Try to rest or sleep when your baby is sleeping, both during the day and at night.

  • Ask for help. Reach out to family and friends for help with your baby or around your house so you can take care of yourself or nap.

  • Get outside. When you’re ready, try spending a little time outdoors every day to help you sleep better at night.

If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep or your own, speak with your child’s pediatrician or your health care provider.