Infants need a lot of sleep to help them develop and mature. When a newborn comes home from the hospital parents should expect them to sleep 16 to 18 hours per day in stretches of 30 minutes up to three hours. Babies wake up a lot to be fed, changed, or cuddled. New parents are unaware of the sleep schedule their new baby will be on and have no idea what to anticipate. However, babies will sleep off and on throughout the day and night for the first six weeks or so of life. This is an important time in an infant’s life because they are developing their central nervous system, which will eventually let them sleep for longer stretches when fully matured.
Sleep is an important time for infants to mature neurologically. When born, an infant’s brain is not completely developed and during sleep the brain begins to develop over time. Even if your baby is not sleeping all night long the brain will begin to develop and mature. By the time your baby is 6 months old he will be sleeping approximately 12 hours at night and napping about three to four hours during the day. The first few months are difficult because babies are not able to regulate how much they sleep or when they sleep, they simply sleep.
The most important thing parents of a newborn can do is allow their infant to get enough sleep and respond to them as soon as they cry. You cannot spoil an infant less than six months of age and sleep training at this age is not an option because your baby needs you. Sleep training may be convenient for parents who need sleep to function, however what’s best for the baby is to be held, cuddled, and loved no matter what time of the day it is. Parents who need more sleep than their infant is allowing them should consider napping during the day, alternating nights, hiring a part time caregiver, or asking friends and family members for help.