Babies & Sleep

Published 11/11 2012 11:00PM

Updated 11/14 2012 03:16PM

I am so fortunate that I still get to take care of a lot of newborns, many of whom are friends of mine who are having their first grandchildren! I consider this a perk to be the pediatrician.  

I was at a wedding over the weekend, and a new grandfather came up to me to talk about his first grandbaby who was born a few weeks ago. He was so thrilled and excited to be a grandfather but he was also wise. He told me about talking to his daughter while she was still in the hospital, and reassuring her that the baby was just fine, and that this newborn period was really as easy as it gets. I told you he was wise!!  The problem, like many things in life is that you don't realize how easy a newborn is until you look back. 

I saw about 6 new babies in the office yesterday and they were all healthy and beautiful! Now that the parents had had the baby home for 7-12 days and knew that the baby was healthy and thriving, they all asked the same question, how do we make them sleep?  

I just have to laugh, as I love my job, but if I had the magic potion I would have bottled it and sold it on the internet, and be retired on the beach! There is not a doctor who can make a baby sleep through the night from the day they come home from the hospital, I don't care what book you read.  It takes a baby's brain and sleep cycle to mature and their tummies to grow to extend the amount of time a baby sleeps at night. 

Now, you can start with good sleep habits, even beginning on the first day home from the hospital, but it still takes time. Just like it will take a while for your child to learn to walk, read or ride a bike without training wheels, your child must learn to sleep through the night. 

A newborn does not arrive on the scene knowing about circadian rhythm. In other words having days and night mixed up is really not the case.  A baby does not enter the world knowing about days and nights or sun and moon.  But, by beginning to awaken your newborn every 2-3 hours for feedings during the day followed by a little awake time after that before trying to get them back to sleep is the beginning of teaching your baby to sleep.  Once a baby is gaining weight and is back to birthweight, I tell parents to let that baby sleep at night. Unfortunately, not all babies are listening to the instructions.  Some are up every 1-2 hours at night, and you just have to get up and hope the next day is better. 

Lastly, I wish this was the worst sleep you were going to get, but wait till you have teenagers!  That is a discussion for another day....

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