Sleeping and Safety for Newborns

Different babies have different sleep needs. Some babies will only wake up for feedings, while others may stay awake for more than 12 hours at a time. New babies tend to have at least one long sleep period (about four or five hours) every day or night. While your baby will slowly develop her own sleep schedule, you can coax a normal day-night pattern by:

  • Keeping the room bright during the day.
  • Waking the baby gently about every three hours during the day for feeding.
  • Giving the baby a bath in the evening to make her stay awake longer and sleep better through the night.
  • Feeding the baby again before you go to sleep.

Your baby should sleep on her back. This helps prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is also known as crib death. SIDS is linked to babies sleeping on their stomachs. Only use light blankets to cover your baby if needed.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

  • Never leave your baby alone on a bed, table, couch, or any open-sided surface other than the ground. She could roll over and fall.
  • Do not use pillows in the crib. Your baby could suffocate.
  • Always use a car seat when driving with your baby, even for short distances.  This is the law in most states.
  • Place your baby on her back to sleep.
  • Never shake your baby.
  • Make sure the bars of the baby's crib are close enough together (no more than 23/8 inches apart) so the baby's head cannot get stuck. Be cautious about using older cribs.
  • Don't leave your baby alone with a young sibling or a pet. Pets can get jealous (but will usually adjust to your baby).
  • Explain safety measures to older children. Do not allow them to pick up the baby unsupervised.
  • Keep small objects away from the baby to protect her from choking.
  • Don't ever tie a pacifier or toy around your baby's neck; it can cause strangulation.
  • Always keep emergency phone numbers next to all your phones.

Continue to "Bowel Movements" journey to parenthood

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010