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Newborns sleep a lot. Indeed, they are more often asleep than they are awake. They can sleep for up to 18 hours a day during the first few weeks of birth. However, they do not sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch, whether it is day or night. This could be tiring for parents as you will have to feed, comfort or change the baby several times between their naps.
Video: Basics of Newborn Baby Sleep 0 to 3 Months
Usual Newborn Sleep Patterns
A newborn’s sleep pattern is unpredictable. For a sleep-deprived parent, the wait for your newborn to fall asleep can feel like an eternity. The sleeping pattern of babies is spread out during the day and does not involve one continuous stretch. 1 month old baby sleep patterns will be different than that of 6-month-old baby.
During the initial weeks, a newborn baby’s sleeping time pattern can be divided into 50% active sleep and 50% quiet sleep. They will often wake after active sleep phases. After around three months of age, the sleep pattern can be divided into ‘light sleep’ and ‘deep sleep’ cycles. By six months, they will wake up less at night. By eight months, they should be able to put themselves back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
How Much Sleep Does Baby Need (0- 3 Months)
The initial few weeks of birth, babies sleep most of the time whether it is day or night. However, they wake up often for a feed or because they need their diapers changed. They need 16-18 hours of sleep spread across numerous short naps ranging from 30 minutes to three hours. They may wake up or stir about every 35-40 minutes. A newborn’s sleeping hours reduce as they grow while the nap times get longer. Eventually, they start sleeping through the night waking only once or twice for feeds.
Newborns cannot distinguish between day and night. You will need to establish a bedtime routine by increasing your interaction with them during the day to keep them awake and decrease their stimulation around night time so that they learn to calm down and sleep. You will need to help set a baby sleep time.
During the day
During the day, the baby may take 3-4 naps of 30 minutes to three hours divided between the morning and afternoon. Daytime sleep decreases as the baby grows and the gap between naps increase.
During the night, the baby will sleep for 9-12 hours waking up in between for feeding. As they grow, they will still wake you up at night, but the frequency will reduce. You will need to help set a newborn bedtime schedule. A 3 month old baby will be less likely to keep you awake at night than a newborn.
Newborn Baby Sleep Development
The excitement of learning new skills and absorbing new information can affect a child’s sleep pattern. They may experience ‘separation anxiety’ and get upset when they don’t find you around them. They may want to remain awake and not want to sleep to make sure that you do not leave their side.
What Are the Signs of Tired Baby?
Babies cannot speak, but their behaviour will indicate their needs and wants. You will observe cues like yawning, crying, becoming fussy, or becoming unusually quiet. A sleep-deprived baby can be cranky and that could also mean sleep-deprived parent. An overtired baby will be difficult to calm down too.
Establish a Good Bedtime Routine
It is important that you foster good sleep routines for babies at an early stage in life. A bedtime ritual with lullabies, stories, and kisses will foster a strong bond between parent and baby.
- Watch for signals to understand when the baby wants to play or sleep. If they are near bedtime, do not stimulate them or try to keep them alert and active.
- Feed the baby before putting them to sleep to avoid getting up often at night for a feed.
- Rock them in the pram or your arms for a while before you settle them in a cot or bed. Patting them slowly with a cupped hand can also help to calm them.
- You may want to keep humming or singing to them or play some relaxing music to induce sleep.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Other Sleep Tips for Newborn to 3 Months Old Baby
Once you have set a good bedtime routine for your baby, a few more tips that can be helpful to settle the baby.
- For the first few weeks, offer frequent nap time to babies. It is essential for them to get ample sleep. Sleep routines for infants means nothing but just sleeping all day long!
- Teach them the difference between night and day. The baby should be able to relate that when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep and when it’s bright, it’s time to play and feed. You can create a baby nap schedule accordingly.
Help them learn to fall asleep independently. A good baby sleep schedule will help you as well as your baby establish a routine. As your baby grows, their sleep schedule will change. A 2 month old sleep schedule will be more settled than that of a newborn.
Conclusion – One of the issues that all parents have when dealing with a newborn is sleep deprivation. The good thing to know is that while it may be hard in the beginning, it gets easier with time. As the babies get older their sleep patterns synchronise with the parents and everyone at home gets a good night sleep.