Your Baby's Sleep Pattern
It's Hard Work To Sleep Like A Baby!
...and you can impact how fast the situation will improve!
Is your baby's sleep pattern similar to what it was when he or she was in your stomach? When I was pregnant with my daughter, she was a very active fetus. Already in pregnancy week 23, I woke up almost every night because she kicked me so hard. During the first 10 months of her life, she continued to wake up every second hour to feed almost every night.
I know science tells a different story, but with my babies the old wives' tale is true. My youngest boy didn't wake my up even once while in my womb - and he has always slept better at night than his sister did at the same age. I suppose some babies simply need more sleep training than others.
Was I tired during my daughter's first year? No - exhausted! (But then I didn't do much to teach my baby to sleep better, nor did I know how to improve my own sleep.) So who wants to sleep like a baby..? Not me!
In any case, it's good to know a bit about how babies sleep in general. Their sleep pattern change quite a bit during their first year.
Babies' Sleep Patterns During Their First Year
Newborn Sleep Pattern
Newborn babies tend to sleep a lot, some as much as 20 hours a day. That might not mean, though, that you have a lot of spare time. The baby's sleep cycle, especially during its first month, is a lot shorter than an adult's. Actually, babies have twice as many periods of light sleep as adults and thus have ample opportunities towake up.
It is hard work to sleep like a baby!
Also, there is absolutely no guarantee that the newborn's longest period of unbroken sleep will occur at night.
As newborns are used to fall back to sleep by being rocked in warm water inside the womb, the baby might not at all be able to go to sleep on its own once born. So even if he sleeps most of the day, he might very well spend a lot of that time in your arms or at least with your help in some way.
A Swedish child expert, Anna Wahlgren, describes the 2 week old baby as going through its second birth. Before that most newborn babies really don't do much more than sleep and eat. You might not even see them with their eyes open very often. After two weeks, they slowly start to open up to the world outside the womb. At six weeks many infants have started to sleep more at night that during the day.
But it might take longer. With my youngest boy, my impression is that he more or less just slept during his first 2.5 months.
Baby Sleep At 3 MonthsAs your baby grows older his sleep pattern will become more similar to that of adults. At the age of three months, babies sleep some 13-15 hours a day, most of this at night. Still this does not have to mean undisturbed sleep for you. Most babieswake up at least once or twice every night.
If your baby wakes up often and if you have the energy to think long-term, take some time to try making your baby go to sleep without feeding him, by giving him his pacifier, rocking him gently or whatever you would do at daytime to make him fall asleep. Chances are his not at all hungry, but still needs some help.
If it's been a tough night or day and you're really tired - prioritize your own sleep. Feed him and head back to your bed. Or feed him in your bed. Don't play hero, make your baby life as easy as possible!
At some point around or after three months, you should be able to guide your baby towards three naps a day. One in the morning, one after lunch and one in the afternoon. Try keep the baby asleep for over an hour each time. If the baby as slept for over an hour, he should be able to stay awake 1.5 to 2 hours before taking another nap. Life suddenly becomes more predictable!
This way, your baby will go to bed quite early in the evening at around say 8 or 9 pm and should after a while consider it to be night until around 7 am. Mmm, some grown up time in the evening!
Baby Sleep At 6 Months And UpBetween 6 and 12 months, babies' daily sleep will gradually fall to 12 to 14 hours a day and, according to my experience, remain at that amount for quite some time. By this time, if your child is healthy he doesn't need to eat at night any more. What he wants may of course be another story...
The number of naps is usually reduced from 3 to 2 at some point during the baby's second half year, one before lunch and one in the afternoon. My babies' healthcare provider means that babies heading for their first birthday should not sleep after 3 pm to help them be really tired in the evening. That did not work with my kids, but it hasn't been super-important either. But I try to make them fall asleep before 3 pm for their last nap.
For more details around babies' sleep schedules at different ages, click here.
Good luck and sweet dreams!
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By Paula Dennholt, Copyright © 2006-2013 EasyBabyLife.Com. Please review our disclaimer before using this site.