In the past, it’s likely you took sleeping for granted. When your baby is awake, he or she will need a lot of time and care. You will feel relieved when sleep finally comes to take your little addition. It’s natural to worry that your baby isn’t sleeping as much as you expect, but pretty soon you will be sharing your stories of broken nights with other moms.
Baby’s Sleeping Patterns
Just like his or her mommy, your baby has a unique sleeping pattern which can be different from day to day and night to night. At the beginning, your baby will probably not be able to sleep all the way through the night, but as he or she grows and his or her confidence increases, you will notice your baby is sleeping longer and longer.
The lack of sleep will affect you in the early weeks. If you thought the tiredness ended at your pregnancy, unfortunately the news isn’t great. The broken sleep and night feeds will probably leave you feeling tired during the day.
While your baby will need to be fed during the night for the sake of nutrition, it is also an important comfort you can give him or her with the closeness that comes from feeding.
Undoubtedly, you will feel envious of your baby’s ability to sleep through noises and activity. Still, sudden noises can wake him or her. Because it’s natural for your little one to wake up in the night to feed, if he or she is sleeping for prolonged periods, you will want to consult a doctor or fertility specialist. This can be a sign of illness.
Here are a few important statistics about your baby’s sleeping patterns:
- 22 percent of nine-month olds have difficulty getting to sleep.
- 42 percent of nine-month olds wake frequently in the night.
- 50 percent of babies who previously had few sleeping problems will develop them at 6 months old.
Here are a few important things to do at night to help your baby develop a healthy sleeping pattern:
- Leave the light off all night.
- Talk in a soft, comforting voice.
- Only change his or her diaper if absolutely necessary.
These steps will help your baby realize that there is a difference between day feeding and night feeding.
The first few months
Just like you probably try to, newborns sleep about eight hours per night on average. Unfortunately, unlike your sleeping, this is not in one long sleep. It’s very possibly that your baby will sleep for three or four hours before waking (though it could be as little as one hour in between wake-ups).
Sounds facts on sleeping
- Breastfeeding may provide your baby with the best nutrition, but he or she will also sleep lighter, and wake more often than formula-fed babies.
- At first, your baby will not know the difference between night and day. Because of this, it’s not worth it to try and set a sleep routine until after the first few months. Simply, be led by his or her needs!
- There is a wide margin of error on all of this. While some babies are able to sleep for five or six hours by three months, yours may still be sleeping for an hour and a half at a time. He or she might even be more wakeful than when you first brought him or her home. There is no standard and even the averages vary significantly.
- That being said, a typical pattern is longer sleep in the morning with a few shorter naps in the afternoon for the first two to three months. Waking at night is normal and may continue even past that.
As your baby continues to grow
Your baby may be sleeping six to eight hours unbroken without feeding by the time he or she is six to eight months old.
During this time, your baby will gradually learning how to fall asleep and how to get back to sleep should he or she awaken in the night.
You can help him or her in learning how to fall asleep, by putting your baby to bed before he or she actually nods off to sleep.
If your baby is still having trouble getting to sleep, here are some tips you may find useful:
- Have a bedtime routine – feeding, bathing and bed – for instance.
- Give your baby a few minutes to go to sleep. Don’t rush back into the room, but also make sure you are not leaving him or her crying.
- Keep things quieter at night. Make sure there is some time that is “wind down” time where activity is slower and quieter. It is almost impossible for your baby to go from lively activity to sleepy time.
- Make soft noises around the house. This will help your baby to know you are near.
- Stresses in the family can often elicit similar reactions from your baby. Consider if there are things happening that could be affecting your little one’s emotions the same as they are your own.
- Start off by your baby’s bed as they fall asleep. Touch their hand or hair. Gradually, over the course of a few weeks or a month, move the chair further and further away from the crib until you are by the door. At this point, you will no longer need to stay in the room.
- If your baby wakes up, you can sing to him or her, or softly say “night night” and stroke his or her hair, then go back to your place in the room.
- When trying to calm your woken baby down, always go to him or her. Don’t bring him or her into a busy household area and definitely not into an area with TV, computer or radio on that could wake your baby further.
Your baby may not have any problem getting to sleep, but may be an early waker. Here are a few tips if that is the case:
- Make your baby room darker with room darkening curtains or shades.
- If you have older children, try putting their bedtime back a bit. It will be early to bed, early to rise for your other children that way.
- If you have older children, encourage your older children to go play with their little brother or sister and they can amuse each other when they wake up in the morning.
There are some useful tips you can follow to ensure your baby is sleeping safely. These guidelines will reduce the risk of crib death, or SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
SIDS is very rare, and it’s not entirely known what causes it. It’s believed that there are a number of causes and that these factors affect a baby during a very vulnerable stage of his or her development.
- Make sure you are always placing your baby on his or her back to sleep.
- When placing your baby in the crib, use the feet to foot position. This means placing your baby’s feet near the bottom of the crib so that there is more space on the crib bed uncovered above him or her. This will reduce the chance of your baby slipping beneath the bedding.
- Never ever smoke in the same room as your baby.
- A duvet, quilt or pillow should never be used until your baby is over one year old.
- Whenever indoors, or in warm places, keep your baby’s head uncovered.
- If, for some reason, your baby gets sick, seek medical advice straight away.
For the first six months, experts recommend having your baby in the same room as you during the night.
If you are sharing a bed with your baby, keep him or her safe by making sure it’s not too hot. Also do not let a duvet, pillow or the covers cover his or her head.
You should not bring your baby into your bed if you, or a partner smoke, drink or use street drugs or medication that makes you sleepy.
Your bed is not made for your baby. Take care to make sure that there are no sharp corners or edges where he or she could hurt him or herself and take measures to ensure he or she will not fall out of the bed.
Don’t ever fall asleep on a sofa with your baby. It is possible to roll on to your baby this way, or him or her to get trapped between the cushions and your body.