Sleep Patterns & Your Baby

I am sure these hectic, sleep deprived nights is not what you will be loving right now. Just remember during the winter months to keep a humidifier on with your heater as the air dries out quite badly and your baby could end up with a very stuffy nose. I decided that chatting about sleep and getting your baby in to a good pattern would be helpful.

0 to 3 Months - Typical sleep patterns at this age:

  • Newborns sleep on average about 14 to 18 hours a day during their first week in this world and 12 to 16 hours by the time they are about a month old.
  • It is normal for babies not to stay asleep for more than two to four hours at a time – especially if you are breast feeding. Expect to be up several times a night to feed, change or soothe your baby.
  • Babies sleep cycles are shorter than adults’ and they spend more time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which aides your baby while the amazing growth and development takes place in his/her brain and body.
  • REM sleep is a much lighter sleep cycle and thus your baby is easily disturbed.

At six to eight weeks your baby has a growth spurt so feeding is pretty erratic.

  • They tend to sleep slightly longer stretches but wake up for feeds.
  • They have shorter periods of REM and longer periods of non REM sleep.

Somewhere between three and six months:

  • Your baby may “sleep through” which means that he will sleep for a stretch of around five to six hours.
  • Some babies continue to wake during the night until toddler hood but you can help your baby get there sooner, by teaching him good sleep habits from the start.
  • Establishing good sleep habits
  • Learn the signs that mean he is tired. For example: rubbing his eyes, pulling his ears, yawning, or faint dark circles under his eyes.
  • Your baby may be overtired and most aren’t able to stay up for longer than two hours at a time.
  • Teaching him the difference between night and day.
  • Once your little one is about two weeks old, you can start to teach him when it is daytime and when it is night.
  • When he is alert and awake, try to interact with him – but not too much, so as to over stimulate him.
  • Keep the home bright and light and avoid keeping everyone and everything quiet.
  • The normal household chores and routine must go ahead. If he is sleeping through a feed, wake him.
  • When he wakes up at night, don’t stimulate or play with him – keep noise and light to a minimum.

Establish a set bedtime and regular naps – STICK TO THEM

  • In the beginning you can tell your baby is tired by the signs he gives you, but from three to six months you need to establish a regular sleep time and consistent nap times.
  • Your household routine will influence your baby’s sleep pattern, so choose a time that suits you as a family. Remember that energetic behaviour late at night can be a sign that he is over tired.
  • You can plan specific times for daytime naps e.g. nine and three, or put him down roughly two hours after waking.
  • If he is battling to fall asleep, try putting him down sooner.
  • Babies thrive on consistency.
  • Wake your child in the morning to set his daily clock.
  • Your baby will recharge with his naps during the day – waking him up at the same time every day will keep him in a predictable sleep routine.
  • Encourage him to fall asleep on his own.
  • All of us wake throughout the night and don’t even know it, because we know how to self soothe.
  • Some babies do this naturally but if not, it’s a skill they will need to master.
  • Try putting him down when he is drowsy but awake.
  • After six months you can try a more involved method of sleep training.

Please know that this trying, exhausting time will and does, pass. Don’t despair!

Sleep

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