Newborn sleep habits (0-3 months)
How Long Do Newborns Sleep?
Typically, newborns sleep roughly 16 hours a day, sometimes more. Every newborn is different, of course. Some babies will sleep three or four hours at a time. Others will wake every two hours. This depends on your baby’s small belly needing sustenance. Formula-fed babies usually sleep longer stretches while breastfed babies need more frequent meals. They require feeding every two hours in the first few weeks.
Infants and Naps
Although many parents would like to get their baby into a regular nap routine, sometimes this is not possible. During the first few weeks, the baby will tell you when he/ she needs to eat. It can take several months before your baby will settle into a good routine of napping and night sleeping. Until then, your baby’s sleeping pattern will be unpredictable.
Confusion With Day and Night
Unborn babies are often rocked by their mothers daily activities. This is why newborns are confused between day and nights. You may need to encourage your baby to sleep during the night and be more active with them during the day. Some things you can do is allow your newborn to sleep in active places during the day. For example, let your baby sleep in the swing or the car seat or wherever daylight is coming through. Make sure there is noise. This will help the baby take shorter naps.
- At night, make the environment dark and quiet.
- Keep the lights dim and speak softly to your baby when he/she wakes up for a feeding.
- Do not stimulate the baby at night.
This helps in teaching them the difference between day and night. It will take them usually a few days before they learn the difference.
Infant sleep habits (4-11 months)
As sleepfoundation.org states:
By six months of age, nighttime feedings are usually not necessary and many infants sleep through the night; 70-80 percent will do so by nine months of age. Infants typically sleep 9-12 hours during the night and take 30 minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach age one.
When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night. Those who have become accustomed to parental assistance at bedtime often become “signalers” and cry for their parents to help them return to sleep during the night.
Social and developmental issues can also affect sleep. Secure infants who are attached to their caregiver may have less sleep problems, but some may also be reluctant to give up this engagement for sleep. During the second half of the year, infants may also experience separation anxiety. Illness and increased motor development may also disrupt sleep.
Sleep Tips for Infants:
- Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules
- Create a consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine
- Establish a regular “sleep friendly” environment
- Encourage baby to fall asleep independently
Toddlers sleep habits (12-24 months)
Between their second and third birthdays, toddlers need about 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night and a single hour-and-a-half to two-hour nap each afternoon. – BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board
Most children this age go to bed sometime between 7 and 9 p.m. and get up between 6:30 and 8 a.m. It may seem that your child’s sleep patterns finally resemble yours, but he’ll spend more time than you do in REM sleep and the deeper stages of non-REM sleep. The result? Because he’ll be making more transitions from one sleep phase to the other, he’ll wake up more often than you do. That’s why it’s so important that he learn how to soothe himself back to sleep.
How to establish healthy sleep habits
When your child is getting older, you can try a few new techniques to help him get a good night’s sleep, including:
- Moving him into a big bed and praising him when he stays in it.
This is the age when your toddler is likely to make the transition from crib to bed, probably because he’ll have outgrown his babyhood digs. The arrival of a new sibling can also prompt the decision. If you’re pregnant, move your toddler at least two to three months before you’re due, advises sleep expert Jodi Mindell. “You want your older child well settled in his new bed before he sees the baby taking over his crib,” says Mindell. But if the switch doesn’t go well, it’s okay to put it off until the new baby is 3 or 4 months old. Your newborn may spend those months sleeping in a bassinet anyway, and your older child will have time to get used to having a sibling, making the crib-to-bed transition easier. Other reasons to consider making the move include frequent jumping out of the crib and toilet training — your child may need to get up at night to go to the bathroom.
Once he’s using his new bed, be sure to praise your child when he stays in it at bedtime and overnight. After the confinement of his crib, your child may get out of his big-kid bed over and over just because he can. If your toddler gets up, temper your reaction. Simply take him back to bed, firmly tell him that it’s time to go to sleep, and leave.
- Anticipating all his requests and including them in your bedtime routine.
Your toddler may start trying to put off bedtime by wheedling for “just one more” — story, song, glass of water. Try to anticipate all of your child’s usual (and reasonable) requests and make them part of your bedtime routine. Then, suggests Jodi Mindell, allow your child one extra request — but make it clear that one is the limit. He’ll feel like he’s getting his way, but you’ll know you’re really getting yours.
- Giving him an extra goodnight kiss or tuck-in.
It’s okay to promise your child an extra goodnight kiss after you’ve tucked him in the first time. Tell him you’ll be back to check on him in a few minutes. Chances are he’ll be fast asleep by the time you return.
Read more: Establishing healthy sleep habits
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