Newborn babies have two main patterns of sleep. 50% is known as Active Sleep and 50% is known as Quiet Sleep. Active Sleep is characterised by muscle twitching, eye movements and fast irregular breathing. This is followed by Quiet Sleep where the heart rate and breathing is slow and regular. Each of these sleep cycles last for approximately 50 minutes.
To establish a good night time sleeping routine, encourage the baby to socialise during the day and use the same wind- down routine each evening at approximately the same time, ie. bathing, massage, feeding and settling in a darkened room.
Try not to let the baby get overtired during the day. A newborn should not be awake for longer than one hour in three so make sure the baby has naps during the day. An overtired, overstimulated baby will be more difficult to settle at night. Also be aware that a newborn baby will not settle to sleep at night unless he has a full stomach.
Teaching your baby to settle himself to sleep is important. If you know he is fed, winded, clean and warm and you have gone through the usual evening routine, wrap him or swaddle him and put him down in a darkened room and leave him alone. He may cry for five or ten minutes to settle himself. If his cries are frantic and persistent, after ten minutes pick him up and try winding, but do not play or socialise with him. Repeat this three or four times if necessary and you will eventually have a sleeping baby. He would prefer to go to sleep on your shoulder or be rocked to sleep in his bed but if he starts to rely on you to get to sleep he will not learn to settle himself and this is not doing you or the baby any favours.