How much do you know about baby sleep patterns?
Baby sleep patterns: When we take the little baby home from the hospital, we do almost all the preparations-diapers, small beds, beautiful bedding, milk bottles, etc.
The doctor does not tell us how to make our baby sleep or does not help us define the concept of real sleep. But we come home with the joy of having a new-born, but we get exhausted in the first few months.
It happens to most of us. For me it happened for my first kids. My second one onward I was more prepared.
So, as yourself how much do you know about baby sleep and patterns?
Hmm. Let me think. Probably not much… Keep reading to know more.
- Introduction to baby sleep patterns
- Know baby sleep characteristics
- Baby sleep pattern & New-born’s sleep cycle
- Common Sleeping problems:
- Few techniques to lay your baby in bed without waking them up
- 5 Common Reasons that can affect your baby sleep pattern:
- How to get to healthy baby sleep patterns
Introduction to baby sleep patterns
Baby sleep patterns are different from those of adults, and their sleep has different states: light sleep, deep sleep, dreaming, wake up, etc. These sleep states will continuously change and cycle while sleeping.
Adults will enter deep sleep as soon as they fall asleep, but new-borne within 3 months will enter active sleep at the beginning, which is a light sleep stage, which will last about 20 minutes.
In a light sleep state, the baby is easily affected by the environment, such as the sound, the feeling of falling when sleeping and laying down, etc.
He will show fright, naturally shake his body, and then continue to fall asleep, but may also wake up completely.
A sudden jerk of baby’s hands and legs. Is a signal to you that something in the environment has startled the baby.
It is your baby’s nonverbal communication to you. Know more about baby body languages so that it becomes easy for you to understand your baby’s needs and attend to them. Read our very interesting article 12 Baby Body Language that You SHOULD Know.
Know baby sleep characteristics
There is a saying in English called “Sleeping like a baby”, our baby’s sleep is an ideal state in our understanding. But in fact, this is not the case. On the lighter side if you want to apply this sentence pattern, it should be “sleeping like a baby’s dad”.
In fact, the sleep to awake time of new-borne is very limited. Even after 3 months, the longest duration does not exceed 2 hours. This is the normal baby sleep patterns.
However, the new-born’s sleep has not yet formed a fixed pattern, so setting a strict schedule for work and rest may not work. Currently, it is necessary to rely on the baby’s sleep signal to arrange to fall asleep in time.
During the neonatal period, the sleep signal is obvious, and the well-known yawning is particularly easy to observe.
With the development of the age of the month, the baby’s ability to control his body is enhanced, and many other sleep signals will be developed such as rubbing their eyes, looking tired and looking away, being fussy and cranky.
But not all babies’ sleep signals are the same, so more observation and more experience can help you better to capture these body languages and the time point of sleeping in time.
The relationship between new-born sleep and feeding
In the new-born stage, feeding and sleep are more closely connected than in any other stage.
It can be said that the driving force for sleep at this stage is feeding-a baby. A baby who is not full finds it difficult to sleep very well and continuously.
However, the new-born’s ability to express is still very limited, so it is often difficult for us to determine when the baby is hungry or sleepy.
Sometimes you just feed the baby, and the baby wants to eat again, which will make you more confused. So, we have listed below few hunger signals that can help you.
Let us look at the common hunger signals of new-borns:
- Open mouth or smacking lips
- Sucking (fingers, toes, clothes, etc.)
- Shaking head back and forth
- Irritability or crying.
In general, crying and irritability mean that the baby is already very hungry. Especially when the baby turns red crying. Man! You are late. Feed them NOW.
There are other reasons why a baby cries and you can know about it and how to calm your baby in our article Why is my Baby Crying? Tips to calm your crying Baby
Try to form a schedule and plan on breastfeeding even when the baby is not hungry. Because the stomach capacity in the neonatal period is still limited, breastfeeding before night sleep also helps prolong the duration of sleep.
At 0-3 months, it is highly recommended that you feed on demand. Of course, on-demand feeding needs the premise of grasping the child’s hunger signal, not when the baby is fully hungry.
The more effective you are in capturing the baby’s hunger signal the more effective you will be to easily reduce to the strange circle of “feeding by crying”.
If you want to feed on time, according to the average child’s stomach volume, the feeding interval can be almost 2-3 hours.
If it is milk powder feeding, you can adopt the mode of feeding on time, and the interval between two milks should not exceed 3 hours.
You can get an idea if your baby is getting fed enough by the baby’s urine volume and stool volume, and you can also check the weight gain through a professional medical infant scale.
Baby sleep pattern & New-born’s sleep cycle
The behaviour of the new-born sleeping stage is divided according to the degree of consciousness.
Baby sleep patterns and even early childhood sleep patterns are actually very different from adult sleep patterns.
New-born’s sleep cycle has not as many stages as the adult’s sleep cycle. The new-born’s sleep cycle can be roughly divided into two stages:
- Active sleep
- Quiet Sleep
In babies, 50% of the sleep is active sleep. During this stage of sleep, the baby’s breathing is uneven, he will stretch his arms and legs, will make a sucking movement with his mouth, and will also half open his eyes and even laugh out loud.
After entering a quiet sleep, the baby will be almost motionless, and his breathing will become regular.
After 60 minutes of sleep, usually the baby will have a very short period of awakening. Some babies may flip and then go back to sleep, while some babies may have sleepwalking or night terrors.
After this awakening, the baby will return to deep sleep. Sometimes, after the active sleep is over, there will be a short awakening, which is different from the awakening described above.
A gentle patting on your babies back will get your babysitter back to sleep very soon if your baby was awakened by startle in the environment.
If your baby is exposed to an environment where there is frequent disturbance and loud noises. And your baby gets startled very frequently. Watch out it can also lead to anxiety related issues in your baby.
To know more about baby anxieties, read our article How-To deal with anxiety in Babies & Toddlers.
Common Sleeping problems:
1) Irregular sleep
In the first 0-3 months, babies will sleep every 2-4 hours, day, and night. At 6 months, the baby’s sleep will be like an adult.
Most sleep takes place at night, and it is more awake during the day. Therefore, there is no clearly defined time to fall asleep at this stage.
In view of this irregular phenomenon, we do not need to be overly anxious.
You do not have to follow the recommendations of many popular sleep adjustment books to help your baby develop a strict schedule.
What we can do is to carefully observe the sleep signal and hunger signal to ensure that the baby is sleeping in time and feeding well.
2) Short sleep
The baby is not like an adult and can sleep back without feeling when the sleep cycle alternates. In the new-born stage, I would recommend “sleep well first, then sleep right”.
If falling asleep meets expectations of being a “healthy sleep” is not important for the baby to have only full sleeps.
The amount of sleep required as a new-born is still relatively large, and it will average about 16 hours.
So, when the children themselves have no way to sleep for a long time, we need to help them to get to sleep.
One of the best to put your baby to sleep is to rock your baby and sing a lullaby to them. This is an age old and proven technique to get babies to sleep.
Singing also has many more benefits then just getting your baby to sleep. If you are a person who does not know how to sing or what to sing to a baby and If you have questions on why you need to sing to a baby do read our interesting article Benefits of singing to your baby.
3) Sleep and wake up
When a baby is born, he must face the unfamiliar external world. This external world is not as secure, shielded, warm, and moist as the mother’s womb, so it will give the baby a restless anxiety.
Hugging provides a similar environment to the uterus. Hugging a baby close to you while you breastfeed your baby. Is recommended. If the baby sleeps drop off while they were sucking your breast, it is the best thing for the baby.
Apart from providing a similar environment as that of your womb to your baby. Hugging has numerous other benefits to your baby.
There is nothing as hugging too much or kissing too much your baby. Read article written only about hugs in the article titled Is Hugging your baby very good?
Sleeping is a very natural thing, just like milking, it will make your baby feel comfortable. But as the baby’s age increases, sleeping in bed will bring more restorative sleep.
At 0-3 months, hugs do not develop dependence or spoil your baby. So, if hugging does not bother you, you can increase the length of sleep, just by holding and rocking your baby till they go into deep sleep. There is really no need to immediately put your baby to bed.
Because of the immature development of the child’s vestibule in the inner ear, it is possible to feel the difference once they are placed on bed from the mother’s arms.
At the same time, after entering sleep, the baby will first enter light sleep, and then enter deep sleep, so when the baby is placed on the bed just after falling asleep, the baby will be easily disturbed by the movement of the bed and thus wake up.
Few techniques to lay your baby in bed without waking them up
Below are some ways to lay your baby in bed without waking them that I have followed and has worked for me.
To be as successful as possible, it is best to try to release your baby to bed after your baby has fallen into deep sleep.
You can find out if your baby is in deep sleep, if the breathing is even and calm, the baby’s arm is lifted slightly up and then released naturally it will fall with a limp, it means that the baby has entered the deep sleep stage.
- You also lay on the bed with your baby in your arms to avoid obvious vertical drop.
- When you put your baby to bed, avoid bending down and putting your baby down directly.
- You can draw a Z word in the air as you lower your baby a little bit until “safe landing”.
- Have hard pillows on the side to make your baby feel they are still in parents’ arms.
- Rest the baby’s buttocks first and then the head.
- After you place baby’s head do not withdraw your hands immediately.
- With one hand is still under the baby’s body, use other hand to pat your baby.
- Slowly draw out other hand and continue to pat.
- Put a towel/ blanket on the baby’s arm when they sleep so they do not spot difference in temperature.
5 Common Reasons that can affect your baby sleep pattern:
Infants have shallower sleep than adults. The baby moves a lot during light sleep, kicking his legs, rolling his eyes, crying, laughing out loud, smacking his mouth, etc. but the baby is still in the sleep stage.
So, if you try and transfer your baby or move your baby during light sleep. Your baby’s sleep will get affected.
Baby sleep patterns can get affected by the startle reflex is a primitive reflex. When changing the position or posture of the baby, it will appear that the hands are quickly extended outwards in a jerk.
Most of the baby’s startle reflexes will disappear in about 4 months, and a few will last until 5 months.
The startle reflex does cause the baby to wake up suddenly during the new-born period, so it is recommended to continue to use the swaddle during the new-born period. Swaddling can help your baby calm down and prevent falling.
Intestinal colic also causes the baby to cry more and more, and it is difficult to calm down. A colic massage will be of good help to ease your baby. This can cause havoc to your baby sleep patterns.
Find out how to calm a baby with colic and address colic issues in our article common 5 Very Common Newborn Baby Problems / Quirks
The baby’s intestinal development and esophageal development are still immature, and the stomach capacity is relatively limited, so we say that spitting milk often occurs during the new-born stage.
If the baby does not burp in time, it may cause flatulence and make your baby sleepless. This affects your baby sleep patterns.
Therefore, I suggest that no matter breastfeeding or formula feeding, after each feeding, try to burp your baby. Infect my pediatrician has asked me to burp the baby before switching breast to feed.
Day and night confusion is a very common problem in new-born. Before birth, a baby’s work schedule is closely related to his mother’s work schedule.
However, after birth, this connection between mother and baby is cut off and only exists when breastfeeding in person.
In addition, during pregnancy, the mother’s activity during the day is like rocking for the baby and may make it easier for the baby to fall asleep. This also causes the baby to be awake at night and sleep most of the day there by affecting baby sleep patterns.
There is no one-time solution to confusion around the clock. But it is comforting that even without any intervention, in most cases this problem will resolve itself.
The day-night confusion can usually be corrected within 8 weeks.
How to get to healthy baby sleep patterns
Although there is no quick solution to the problem, we can still take some measures to help baby sleep patterns get formed
Make baby stay active during day
When the baby sleeps for a long time during the day, wakes up properly. Although we all know that waking a sleeping baby makes him angry and the consequences are very serious.
However, to distinguish between day and night as soon as possible, the little one needs to stay awake during the day to adjust his circadian rhythm to adapt to life outside the womb.
Therefore, it is best to limit the nap during the day to less than 3 hours. Try to keep your baby awake for a little while by engaging in play activities more even if it is only a few minutes when they show sleep signals. This will help to “reset” the circadian clock.
Exposure to Sunlight
Let the baby get more sun during the day. Note that it is not to put the baby directly in the sun, which will cause the baby to sunburn!
Instead, let your baby not always stay in a dim room during the day, try to play in a sunny place at home.
Before the day and night confusion is resolved, the room should not be too dark when the baby sleeps during the day, and the room is darkened with blackout curtains when falling asleep at night.
Such regular exposure to sunlight and darkness will guide your baby to distinguish between day and night.
Baby’s exposure to sunlight is also one way in which the baby body gets accustomed to the day and night schedule. To know more about the benefits of sunlight read are very informative an important article 20 Astonishing benefits of sunlight for kids
Interesting daytime and Boring Night-time:
Makes the daytime interesting and the night boring. Do this during the time baby is awake during the daytime. Take to your baby. Make them do some stimulating activities, such as playing toys, reading picture books and so on.
When you wake up at night to feed your baby, try to keep a dark and quiet environment, and a small night light. After drinking milk and changing diapers, let your little star fall asleep again.
Do not engage in talking or other forms of engagement at night. Let it be quite and use the same lullaby, so baby gets the cue that it is a sleep song.
Video time: Expert opinion about baby sleep pattern
Do not stress yourself if baby does not sleep well. Many parents often report that the baby does not sleep well during the new-born period, sleeps very lightly, and easily wakes up.
It is especially noticeable in the second half of the night; it will twitch non-stop and seems to have been unable to sleep soundly.
Just be clam, sing and rock your baby. Pat them up and rest with them. The more agitated you get the more the baby will be agitated too.
Learn on how to enjoy everyday activities with your baby and how to do them that will impact their development in our article 12 Everyday activities that WILL impact baby’s development.
Take heart that with consistent attempt and discipline you can get you baby to a good healthy baby sleep pattern. And you can get all the beauty sleep yourself which you missed tending to your little one.
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What are your ideas of getting your baby into a sleep pattern?. Write your ideas in the comments section below.