Newborn Babies Don't Have Sleeping Issues; Their Parents Do
Every new parent knows the feeling of complete and utter exhaustion when faced by the anxiety and sleeplessness of parenthood. Before having children, some might think they know what’s coming when they hear stories of friends and family. But until they experience it first hand, they really have no idea how tiring life with a newborn can really be. But babies aren’t ones who need to learn to sleep. Their parents are.
New parents that hardly sleep
New parents are often surprised by how much their newborn babies sleep. In fact, they often state that their little ones only wake up to feed. But once they get over that novelty, they’ll see it’s not the time the baby spends sleeping that causes problems. Rather, it’s his waking up. But it’s normal for babies to wake up often; their internal clock is out of control.
Parents of newborns quickly turn into zombies. They sleep very few hours each night during the first months of their baby’s life. In many western societies, people believe that if a baby wakes up often, it means the parents must be doing something wrong. People ask things like “Is she a good sleeper?” as if this somehow defined your baby’s character.
Newborn babies don’t have sleeping issues. They sleep a lot, but they wake up several times a night. They might wake up to be fed, because they’re uncomfortable, because they’re warm, etc.
They even wake up simply because they want some snuggle time before falling back asleep. Therefore, new parents need to learn to sleep without worrying that their baby has a sleeping issue.
Newborn babies do not sleep through the night
Newborn babies don’t often have issues with sleeping. But when their little one’s sleep patterns don’t align with their own, some parents consider this a problem.
But you can’t expect a newborn to adapt to your routine. You need to adapt to hers. There’s no need to look for secret formulas to get your little one to sleep through the night. If he’s under 6 months, this is not likely to happen.
Trying to get a baby that is less than 6 months old to sleep all night long is a very unrealistic expectation. If you insist on thinking this is possible, it will only become a cause for a lot of frustration.
Newborn babies sleep a great percentage of the time, but their stomachs are very small. This means they get hungry very often. They need to fed every 2-3 hours, day and night.
A baby’s internal clock
During the first months of life, a baby’s internal clock is off track. And on top of that, their tiny stomachs empty out very quickly. This means that babies need to feed frequently day and night. This is a completely normal phenomenon and is biologically predictable.
New parents need to know that this is the main reason why babies wake up so often. They cannot – and should not – sleep through the night.
During their first year of life, the brains of these tiny human beings grow at an amazing rate. This is an activity that uses up a lot of energy, which is another reason babies need to feed frequently.
Whether breast fed or bottle fed, babies depend completely on their parents to get the nourishment they need. Therefore, parents are responsible for feeding and taking care of their babies’ needs to assure a healthy development.
In our culture, the expectations regarding how much a baby should sleep are very unrealistic. These expectations need to change so that first-time parents stop insisting that their babies sleep through the night.
They need to know that they themselves are the ones who need to adapt, rather than expect their babies to. Small babies don’t need to be “taught” to sleep more, and this is something that parents need to understand.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Cruz Navarro I. Sueño normal, trastornos del sueño pediátrico y herramientas para su diagnóstico. Introducción. En: APapAndalucía, ed. XV Jornadas de APap-Andalucía 2011. Exlibris Ediciones; 2011. p. 75-6.
- Consolini, D. Sueño en lactantes y niños. Manual MSD (Versión para profesionales). [En línea] Disponible en: Cruz Navarro I. Sueño normal, trastornos del sueño pediátrico y herramientas para su diagnóstico. Introducción. En: APapAndalucía, ed. XV Jornadas de APap-Andalucía 2011. Exlibris Ediciones; 2011. p. 75-6.