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What are some sleep-related concerns in newborns?

Newborns often have unique sleep patterns and may experience various sleep-related concerns.

Here are some common sleep-related concerns in newborns: 

  • Irregular sleep patterns. Newborns do not have a set sleep schedule and tend to sleep in short periods throughout the day and night. They may have periods of wakefulness and may need to be fed or changed during the night. 
  • Night-waking and feeding. Newborns have small stomachs and require frequent feedings, often every 2 to 3 hours. They may wake up during the night for feeding, which can disrupt their sleep as well as the sleep of their parents. 
  • Difficulty falling asleep. Some newborns may have trouble settling down and falling asleep on their own. They may need soothing techniques, such as gentle rocking, swaddling, or being held, to help them fall asleep. 
  • Nighttime fussiness. Many newborns experience nighttime fussiness, often referred to as “colic.” They may cry and appear fussy during the evening hours, making it challenging for them to settle and fall asleep. 
  • Startle reflex. Newborns have a startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex, which can cause them to jerk or wake up suddenly. Swaddling can help reduce the startle reflex and promote better sleep. 
  • Day and night confusion. Some newborns may have their days and nights mixed up, sleeping more during the day and being awake and active at night. Encouraging a consistent sleep routine and exposing them to natural light during the day can help establish a day-night sleep pattern. 
  • Sleep regressions. Around certain developmental milestones or growth spurts, newborns may experience sleep regressions. These periods can disrupt their established sleep patterns, resulting in more frequent waking or difficulty settling back to sleep. 
  • Safe sleep practices. Ensuring a safe sleep environment is crucial to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is recommended to place newborns on their backs to sleep, in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and without pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals. 

More Tips

It’s important to note that newborns’ sleep patterns and concerns can vary. Each baby is unique, and some may have different sleep needs or challenges. If you have specific concerns about your newborn’s sleep, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and support.

To learn more about sleep-related concerns in newborns, explore this resource from Stanford Medicine.

PowerMom Connect

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Lauren Serpico

Lauren Serpico, Ph.D, is the Sr. Project Manager of Social Media Content at Scripps Research Digital Trials Center. Her background is in Community Psychology, with a focus on online social networks.