As a new parent, you might wonder if you’re ever going to get a full night’s sleep again. There’s nothing unusual about this. Ask anyone who has had kids. A few of them will lie to you and tell you that junior slept through the night from the day he came home, but most of them will tell you it takes about six months before babies are able to sleep through the night.
Babies sleep the way they do for a reason. Because they have small stomachs and a liquid diet, they aren’t able to keep their bellies full and satisfied for very long. Breastfed newborns need to eat about once every two hours, and bottle fed babies need to eat every three to four hours.
Of course, babies do sleep. They sleep a lot. Newborns average between fourteen and sixteen hours of sleep per day. They just take their sleep in small doses. So, for the first few months of baby’s life, your mantra needs to be, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
If your baby is sleeping like she should, she’s getting about twice the amount of sleep in a day that you should be getting. So, if you take a nap about half as often as she does, you should be in pretty good shape. Of course, it sometimes takes adults a little longer to fall asleep, and it can feel like you just got to sleep when the baby wakes again, but trust us on this one: if you take several short naps while baby is sleeping, you will feel much more rested.
Another thing you can do to help yourself is to make night time feedings as boring as you can. Baby needs to eat at night, and she also needs to be changed, but she doesn’t need to be entertained. The best way to feed your baby at night is to place a rocking chair where it’s nice and dark and feed baby without talking to her or looking directly at her. There’s plenty of time for bonding during daytime feedings. Then, after you burp her, you’re already in a good place to rock her to sleep.