Understanding the sleep patterns of babies

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Newborns

Expect the initial three to six months of the life of your baby to not have any schedule whatsoever. Newborn babies can sleep anywhere between 12 and 23 hours in a day. The average is around 16. Do not get too concerned with them if they sleep more or less though. Every baby has an individual sleep pattern just like adults.

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep

You should know that for newborns, most of their sleep is REM. Towards the end of every cycle, they need to awake with a twitch, fuss, whimper, etc. before going to sleep again. This is something quite normal. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them. It’s just that they have light sleep patterns which are only going to change once they mature. This will most probably include irregular breathing and they might even cease breathing for a few seconds. Do not panic in such situations. This usually happens because of their immature brain.

Feeding

You need to be aware that a breastfed baby will have to be fed a lot more often as compared to a bottle fed baby. Breastfed babies will most probably wake every 2-3 hours until they’re 3-6 months old. But, bottle fed babies may just begin sleeping throughout the night at 2 months.

Noise levels

Noise is something which you shouldn’t be worrying about too much. If you tiptoe around while your baby is asleep and don’t make any noise, the baby is never going to be able to sleep around noise. So, just refrain from making loud noises. There is no need to turn down the volume. This will ensure you get your work done while they are napping and also give them a chance to become heavy sleepers later on in life. The main point here though is that they will not have a regular sleep pattern initially. So take a nap whenever they do.

After 6 months

When the baby is 6 months old, they have probably already developed natural sleep schedule in place. You need to start slowly enforcing a routine into their lives so that they can learn to sleep on a regular basis. Be certain that they nap at the same time each day. Also, make sure they don’t take any naps near bedtime. Try and find a unique routine for their bedtime. Consider giving them a bath before or reading them a story. You may have a prayer or poem above their crib which you can read to them each night. Perhaps they have a favorite song which you can sing. Pick something comforting and calm.

Actual sleep

Laying them down in the crib is certainly a challenge. If they are only falling asleep while in your arms, this means they have not yet learned how to fall asleep on their own. This is an important skill for them to learn so you will need to stop this habit. The simplest thing for you to do here is to have a routine. This will help them relax. Wait till they are a few weeks old before doing this tough. Lay them down with something comforting like their favorite blanket, animals, etc. Then try leaving. They may start crying but you shouldn’t go back. They should stop their crying within a few minutes. You need to be strong and fight the urge to go rushing back at this time.

Still not sleeping

If they are getting up at odd hours to feed, the above tip will help solve the problem. Teaching them to go to sleep on their own at bedtime will make them feel a lot more secure and this will help them fall asleep at night when they are alone too. Make sure they have enough milk before going to sleep so that they aren’t hungry. Stick to their schedule and hopefully, you will be able to get some much-needed rest too.

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