All About Your Baby's Sleep Habits

By Nancy Gottesman

Which part of newborn care are new moms and dads most concerned about? “Everything!” says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, a clinical instructor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and the author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers (AAP, 2008). “But if I had to choose [one], it would be sleep.”

In the first few weeks, your baby’s random sleep patterns (which work just fine for her) can leave you feeling bleary and bedraggled. But there’s a lot you can do now to promote sleep habits in your baby that will affect your slumber, too. We asked pediatric sleep experts to share their best tips for keeping your baby safe and sound—and you more refreshed and relaxed.

Baby’s unique sleep habits
Newborns sleep anywhere from 11 to 18 hours a day—and not in one long snooze. In the first few months of life, your baby will wake up every one to four hours to eat, which can be frustrating for dog-tired parents. “In the beginning, you really have no choice but to go with the baby’s schedule,” says Nadav Traeger, MD, director of Pediatric Sleep Medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in New York. “As they grow, their waking hours will increase and sleep time gradually gets consolidated into one longer period at night.”