Catching ZZZ's

1-Month-Old Baby Sleep: 7 Things Parents Can Expect

Everything you need to know about your newborn and sleep.

by Jayme Moye
Originally Published: 
A 1-month-old new born sleeping while swaddled.
Catherine Delahaye/Getty

In case you needed the reminder, sleep is not a luxury; it is a biological necessity. And while you may have made it this far in your adult life by routinely sacrificing sleep for more interesting endeavors, it doesn’t work that way for babies. While your baby is asleep, critical development from tissue repair to the formation of new brain synapses is usually underway. This why a 1-month-old sleep schedule for your newborn is important. They are expected to be asleep more than they are awake, however difficult this feat might seem.

And when you have a baby who is having a hard time falling or staying asleep, the whole endeavor can devolve into a vicious circle: “They end up overtired, and then they’re harder to get to sleep at bedtime, they’re more prone to overnight wake-ups, and they’re more prone to those early-morning starts as well,” says Hannah Peterson a pediatric nurse and the owner-operator of A to Z Sleep Solutions. Sound familiar? Yeah, it happens to adults too. Here, Peterson describes what to expect, sleep-wise, from your baby at 1 month.

A 1-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule Involves Sleeping Most of the Day

Babies are born with maternal melatonin. This is why your 1-month-old baby sleep schedule is pretty much around the clock. During the day, the baby will be awake for just 40 to 90 minutes at a time. Don’t push this, as overtired babies are more difficult to settle down to sleep. And use this early stage to cue into your baby’s “I’m tired” signals. It will come in handy down the road.

New Babies Have Days and Nights Backward

Your baby comes into the world with the opposite sleep schedule as yours. In utero, most babies are lulled to sleep by mom’s movements during the day and become active at night, when mom is more settled and relaxed. Help your newborn baby shift sleeping schedules by ensuring there’s plenty of light and social interaction during the day. Also, wake your baby every 2-3 hours during the day to feed so their body gets used to taking in plenty of calories during the day. At night, from approximately 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., make the baby’s environment dimmer and less stimulating, with quick feeds and changes before putting them right back to bed.

Baby’s Stomach Size Dictates Sleep

Until a baby weighs nine pounds, they physically can’t sleep for more than 5 hours in one stretch because since their stomach is simply too small to go that long between feedings. At night, expect a 1-month-old baby to need to feed every three to four hours.

Swaddling Helps When Baby is Fighting Sleep at Night

Outside of needing to be fed, 1-month-old babies wake up in the middle of the night when they need a diaper change, are suffering from a bit of colic or reflux, or are otherwise cold or uncomfortable. If you’ve already handled all of these, and the baby is still waking up between feedings, Peterson coaches parents to try swaddling, which not only makes baby feel safe and comfy, but it helps contain those motor reflexes that can jolt them awake just as they were falling into a deep sleep.

It’s Too Soon to Sleep Train

There’s no letting a 1-month-old baby “cry it out,” or other types of sleep training. They’re simply too young. A newborn’s parasympathetic nervous system isn’t developed enough yet to be able to self-soothe, which means an adult needs to tend to the baby if they wake up and begin to cry.

Think Twice About Holding Baby While Sleeping

Because newborns are used to being inside mom’s body, they’re initially more content to be held while sleeping. But that doesn’t mean it’s in their (or your) best interest. A baby outside of the womb needs to learn that the bassinet is also a warm, safe, and cozy spot to sleep. Letting baby fall asleep, and stay asleep, in your arms sets up an unreasonable expectation for nighttime.

Adults Can Nap Too

If you need to catch up on your own sleep, there’s nothing wrong with napping during the day while the baby is napping. In fact, it’s entirely necessary.

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