Pediatric Sleep Center Provides Tips for Better Sleeping for Infants

Sleep specialists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital recommend the following tips for better sleeping for infants:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants, when being put to sleep, be placed on their backs.
  • In the first three months, tiny babies seldom sleep for more than four-hour stretches without needing a feeding, yet usually sleep a total of 14-18 hours a day. From three to six months, most babies begin to settle. They are awake for longer stretches during the day and some may sleep up to five hours at night. Between three to six months, parents will see the period of deep sleep lengthen.
  • Babies will sleep better if they are provided a routine of winding down prior to falling asleep with a relaxing routine each night that includes decreasing stimulation, dimming lights and soothing experiences. Avoid patting or rocking an infant to help them fall asleep. If they learn to fall asleep with a parent’s rocking or patting, they will be conditioned to require this comfort during normal night awakenings, which can occur every two hours.
  • Infants sleep lightly at first, followed by a deeper sleep. Do not move a sleeping child until he or she has been asleep for at least twenty minutes and has entered a deeper sleep.
  • Whenever possible, allow the child to self-soothe which is the first step for creating good sleep habits for life. After the infant is down, he or she will likely cry briefly for the first few nights, and parents may feel guilty. But the crying will diminish each night as the child learns to self-comfort and fall asleep.
  • It is best to put a baby down to sleep when drowsy. Do not allow the baby to sleep in a parent’s arms or with the breast or bottle in his or her mouth. This will create the need for this association and environmental support. However, a pacifier can be helpful in developing self-soothing skills.