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Encouraging a Healthy Sleep Schedule for Babies

April 15, 2015 by HealthyFamilies BC


The old expression "sleeping like a baby" might seem like a cruel joke if you have trouble getting your little one into a healthy sleep routine.  

Some babies are naturally better sleepers than others.  But there are some things you can do to encourage healthy sleep habits.

  • Have a clear difference between daytime and nighttime sleeping. When you are up at night to feed your baby, keep the room dark and don't turn on the TV or radio. Try not to play with or stimulate your baby before putting him or her back to sleep. During the day, let your baby sleep in a lightened room with normal daytime noises. 
  • Encourage ample nap time during the day. An overtired baby will not sleep better at night.
  • Make sure your baby is warm but not hot.
  • Put your baby to sleep in a safe environment.
  • Set a routine that you follow every night. This may not be possible during the first few months, but as your baby gets older, try a warm bath at night followed by rocking or singing and quiet time. This routine signals to your baby that sleep is coming.

Newborn sleeping

  • A newborn baby may sleep for about 15 out of every 24 hours - but don’t get too excited, your baby won't sleep for longer than two or three hours at a time.
  • Sleep deprivation is one of the most difficult factors for parents at this time. Try to rest whenever possible - if your baby naps during the day, make sure you nap at that time, too.
  • It's common for babies, particularly new babies, to wake up several times a night. Breastfeeding is the best way to get your baby back to sleep. Over time, your baby will gradually sleep longer during the night.

Watch a video about baby's sleep and readiness to breastfeed.

The right temperature for sleeping

The best guide for dressing your baby for sleep is to match the way you dress yourself. Your baby should be comfortably warm or cool, depending on the temperature outside and inside your home. Indoors, babies need about the same number of layers as an adult to stay warm. 

A baby who's overdressed or wrapped in too many blankets may develop a rash that looks like clusters of tiny pink pimples surrounded by pink skin. Your baby may also get sleepy and sweaty.

Infants who are too cold will usually fuss until the problem is fixed. Cool hands and feet don't necessarily mean the baby is cold. Feel the warmth of baby's upper arms or thighs. If you think your baby is cold, add a sweater, socks or a light blanket.

Outdoors, it’s wise to use a hat to keep your baby warm during cool weather. In summer, protect your baby's head from the sun with a light, wide brimmed hat with no ties. Keep your baby in the shade and out of the mid day heat.

"Sleeping Like a Baby"

When putting your baby to sleep, it’s recommended that you use a sleeper and a light blanket or a blanket weight sleeper. Make sure your baby's head is uncovered when sleeping.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Quick Tips: Getting Baby to Sleep
HealthLink BC: Safe Sleeping for Babies


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