Are you exhausted because your newborn is not sleeping during the day? So was I. Thankfully, your days don’t have to be this difficult for long. In this article, I’ll show you how!
I had heard that newborns slept on average 18 hours a day. So, when my son took all of one nap the whole day, I started to panic. And when wake windows shouldn’t go longer than 90 minutes at most, having him awake for much longer than that didn’t feel right.
The worst part? Nothing seemed to work. He’d wake up within five minutes of dosing off—hardly enough to be considered a nap.
I knew I couldn’t just wait for this to go away on its own (I didn’t know if it even would). So, I did what many first-time moms do: I researched. I asked around. And I tried just about everything to get him back to sleeping during the day again.
I’m happy to report that several strategies helped him do just that. If you find yourself with a newborn not sleeping during the day, don’t worry. Take a look at these tips below and hopefully your little one will sleep well once more:
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Put your newborn down even earlier
You may have heard that newborns shouldn’t be awake too long. At this stage, 90 minutes is likely the max that your baby should be up.
But rather than putting him down at the 90-minute mark, aim for a much shorter wake time—as short as an hour or even 45 minutes.
This may seem ridiculously short, given that he might spend that whole time nursing and burping. But if he’s struggling to sleep at the 90-minute mark, it’s likely that he’s already overtired by that point (especially if he hasn’t been sleeping well in general).
One way to prevent him from being overtired is to put him down much earlier. Think of it as a temporary reset to get him back on track. You won’t always put him down this early, but for now, it’s a fantastic way to get him to sleep before he’s already overtired.
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Put your newborn down in different ways and places
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The first day my husband went back to work and I was home alone with my twin babies, I knew I couldn’t rely on conventional sleeping methods. Given how many naps they took and that they often woke each other up, I needed to get creative with how and where they would nap.
The same is true when your newborn isn’t napping. Let’s say your usual way of putting him down is rocking him on a yoga ball until he falls into a deep sleep before laying him on the crib. If that doesn’t work, make a list of all the different ways you can put him down. And try not to limit yourself. For instance, here are a few ideas:
- Wear him in a wrap. That way, you can keep him close to you while still having a bit of mobility.
- Put him in the swing. Experiment with the different settings, too. Maybe he’ll like the faster motion, the lullabies, or sucking on a pacifier, too.
- Lay him on a thick blanket on the floor or bed. Does he not like the crib? Try putting him on a thick blanket placed on the floor (especially a carpet floor) or your bed.
- Try a different room. If your go-to spot is his crib, try putting him down in different rooms, like your bedroom or the living room. See if he’ll sleep either on a blanket or an infant seat that you can easily move around the house.
- Take him on a stroll. Since he’s not sleeping, you might as well get out of the house for a stroll. The motion just might lull him to sleep (and give you a change of scenery).
- Try different swaddles. Not all swaddles are the same. Some parents swear by the Miracle Blanket, while others wouldn’t get a single nap without the Magic Sleepsuit. Perhaps you’re still using a regular blanket and should consider a pre-made one. This isn’t a “right this minute” solution since you’d have to buy these swaddles, but ask yourself if your current swaddle is working for you.
See if your newborn will settle after a few minutes
The way you respond to your baby should depend on how he’s behaving. Let’s say he’s lying in bed awake but not crying. Just because he’s not asleep, that doesn’t mean you have to pick him up and rock him all over again. If he’s lying down and awake, let him be. He’ll either fall asleep on his own or start to fuss—don’t assume it’ll always be the latter.
Now, let’s say he does start to fuss and whimper, almost like he’s “complaining.” If so, first see if he’ll settle on his own. Give him a minute or two to see if he’ll eventually calm down and perhaps even put himself to sleep. If so, great!
What do you do if he’s still fussing and complaining? Again, don’t pick him up right away just yet. See if you can help him settle down using other means.
For instance, you might offer the pacifier or pat his belly. Maybe you’ll rock the bassinet back and forth or shush him near his ear. You could keep your hand on his belly or position him with your hands so that he’s a little bit on his side. That way, he can learn to fall asleep without having to be picked up and carried.
And if he’s truly inconsolable, that’s the time to pick him up and try again.
Reach out to your pediatrician
If you find that your baby’s patterns took a sudden turn or that nothing you’re doing is helping one bit, reach out to your pediatrician for advice. Not every sleep problem can be resolved at home, and don’t beat yourself up thinking you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes, the problem is more medically related and needs to be addressed in that way.
For instance, acid reflux might be preventing him from sleeping comfortably, especially if he cries harder when he’s laid down (versus when he’s held upright). A lactose overload or intolerance could be causing problems with his digestive system, preventing him from sleeping well.
And even if the doctor can’t pinpoint a particular problem, at least you have the peace of mind of knowing that she doesn’t see anything that needs medical attention. Even better: she can give you advice tailored to his particular stage and circumstances that you may not be able to find on your own.
Remind yourself that this is temporary
Here’s the thing: It’s okay to do whatever it takes to get him back to his normal sleeping patterns. Yes, that might mean holding him in your arms for one nap or sleeping next to him for another. But do what you can to get him to sleep well.
And that’s okay. This doesn’t mean you’ll always have to push him in a stroller for every nap or that he’ll only be awake for 45 minutes at a time from now on. These are temporary measures to reset his sleep. Once he’s back to sleeping during the day again, you can revert to your former routines.
But for now, know that this is a temporary attempt to reset his sleep, not a permanent sleeping arrangement you’re forever bound to.
Given that babies are supposed to sleep most of the time, having your newborn not sleeping during the day can feel alarming. Thankfully, you’ve learned a few tips to help him reset and catch up on lost sleep—even if he’s awake far longer than 90 minutes at a time.
Get more tips:
- How to Get an Overtired Newborn to Sleep
- Newborn Not Sleeping? Here Are 9 Tips That Can Help
- 6 Ways to Handle Your Newborn Constantly Feeding
- Newborn Awake for 3 Hours? Here’s What to Do
- Newborn Feeding Every 2 Hours? 6 Solutions That Can Help
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