The words "newborn" and "schedule" do not fit together easily in most cases. Still acclimating to the world, newborns have a schedule all their own, and it changes daily or weekly. By the time your baby is 2 or 3 months old, you may be able to implement a flexible routine, but in the early days and weeks, it is important to follow your baby's cues when it comes to eating, sleeping and other daily activities.
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Your new baby spends most of her time sleeping. In fact, she may sleep for 16 or more hours per day. Unfortunately for sleep-deprived parents, though, she only sleeps for two to four hours at a time because she gets hungry often. Many babies seem to have their days and nights mixed up, and they may have a wakeful period in the middle of the night. Within a couple of months, she should begin to adapt to a more normal sleep-wake cycle, but for now, be prepared to be up with your baby every few hours during the night.
If you formula-feed your baby, he will probably go three to four hours in between feedings, and if you breastfeed, he may eat as often as every two hours. He may also go through a growth spurt at about three weeks of age, when he needs to eat more frequently. It is important to feed your newborn on demand. Ask his pediatrician whether you should wake him to eat if he is going more than three or four hours between feedings.
Many babies have a fussy period in the late afternoon or early evening. Your newborn may begin crying regularly for a variable period of time around the age of 3 weeks. If the crying lasts for more than three hours and occurs more than three times per week, she may have colic. While colic is frustrating for both the baby and for you, it usually only lasts until she is about 3 months old. If you are concerned about your baby's daily fussy spells, talk to her pediatrician, who can evaluate her for health conditions and give you tips on dealing with colic and crying.
A Gentle Nudge
Help your baby learn that nighttime is for sleeping by quietly and calmly caring for him during the night hours. When he wakes for a feeding in the middle of the night, change his diaper and feed him without talking or playing with him, and without turning lights on, if possible. Return him to his crib or bassinet when the feeding is over. Conversely, turn on the lights and open the blinds during the day, and talk to and play with him when he is awake. Gently encouraging him to stay awake more during the day will help him acclimate to sleeping more at night.