Why Does My Baby Keep Waking Up At Night
We know its exhausting for new parents but night waking is completely normal for babies. Especially in the early months.
Most babies actually cant sleep through the night especially those younger than three months old .
Newborn babies sleep for around two to four hours at a time . Babies are lighter sleepers than adults so theyll wake more easily. Theyve also got tiny tummies so they need to feed often too .
When Do Premature Babies Sleep Through The Night
In their first several months, preemies tend to wake up more often in the night than full-term babies because their nervous systems are still maturing. Keep in mind that your preemieâs adjusted age, rather than her chronological age, may be the better indicator of the likely timing of sleeping milestones as she grows.
Sleeping through the night is a milestone that your child will eventually reach. It takes time and patience on your part, along with maintaining the kind of environment that encourages your little one to sleep for longer blocks of time at night.
Even though you may be feeling sleep deprived at the moment, this period of sleepless nights will eventually pass. Hang in there!
During this time, you might not be getting enough shut-eye, but you could be getting plenty of rewards points for all the late-night diaper changes youâre doing. With the Pampers Club app, simply scan all your Pampers purchases to receive points that you can then use to get yourself gifts or coupons.
How we wrote this articleThe information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
How Can Parents Help Their Babies Sleep Through The Night
In addition to a consistent bedtime routine, two strategies have been demonstrated as effective in helping babies sleep uninterrupted during the night: bedtime fading and graduated extinction.
Bedtime fading is putting the baby to bed 15 minutes later each night to compress sleep and limit time in bed. If the parent checks on the baby 15 minutes after putting them to bed and they are asleep, bedtime no longer needs to be delayed.
Graduated extinction is the process of creating longer and longer gaps between when a baby cries and when the parent responds to the cry. The parent waits for two minutes after the baby first cries before responding, then waits four, and then six minutes after the next cries. These waiting periods are gradually extended over time until the baby has learned to self-soothe.
Not all strategies work for all babies. Consult your pediatrician for suggestions that are right for your child.
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Stages Of Sleep In Newborns
The sleep of newborns occurs in four stages:
Stage 1: Drowsiness. Your baby becomes drowsy after a period of wakefulness and is ready to fall asleep. Itâs a good idea to put your baby to sleep in her crib when she is drowsy and not yet asleep.
Stage 2: REM or active sleep. Your baby may start to twitch or jerk his arms and legs, and his eyes may move under his eyelids. His breathing may be irregular and stop for 5 to 10 seconds. This is referred to as ânormal periodic breathing of infancy.â His breathing speeds up to a rate of between 50 and 60 breaths per minute, and this rapid pace lasts between 10 and 15 seconds. Then his breathing will return to a regular pace, with the cycle repeating. This type of breathing is completely normal for young babies, and your little one will eventually grow out of it by around 6 months old.
Stage 3: Light sleep. In this stage, your babyâs breathing is regular and sleep is not as active as in the previous stage.
Stage 4 and 5: Deep or non-REM sleep. Also known as quiet sleep, this is the stage your baby falls into a deep sleep. There is no twitching or any other movements. It may be difficult to wake your baby in this stage should you need to for any reason.
Newborns Are Restless Sleepers
While older children can snooze peacefully for hours, young babies squirm around and actually wake up a lot. That’s because around half of their sleep time is spent in REM mode that light, active sleep during which babies move, dream and maybe wake with a whimper.
Don’t worry. As he matures, his sleeping patterns will too, with fewer REM cycles and more periods of deeper, quieter sleep.
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References: Baby Sleep Patterns
For a complete list of the studies and publications cited in this article,
new image added 3/2022
image of father holding sleepy infant by monkeybusinessimages / istock
Small portions of the text appeared in an older article, Baby sleep patterns: A guide for the science minded, last published in 2014.
Newborn Sleep Surface Dos:
Babies should always sleep on a firm, flat sleeping surface that is completely clear of objects. This can include a safety-approved crib, a portable crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. While it may not be as cute to look at, boring is better!
Room-sharing without bed-sharing is generally recommended as the safest way to sleep. Keep your babys crib in your room until he is at least 6 months old and has learned to roll from side to side on his own .
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Myth: Babies Dont Need Much Day Sleep If They Sleep Well At Night
FACT: Day sleep and night sleep is intrinsically linked. The first 12 hours of your babys day directly affects the next 12 . A baby who sleeps well in the day will also sleep well at night, provided their daily cumulative nap hours havent been exceeded for their age. For a baby who is already sleeping through the night but napping poorly, establishing better naps will not adversely affect their nights in the long-run, however continued poor napping will definitely start to negatively impact on their night sleep after a while.
Baby Sound Machines And White Noise: Potentially Effective But Be Careful About Keeping The Volume Low
A number of toys and electronic devices are marketed as baby sleep soothers or baby sound machines. These typically emit white noise. Do they actually help babies snooze?
Theres reason to think so. For example, in an experimental study of newborns, 80% of infants assigned to hear playbacks of white noise fell asleep spontaneously within 5 minutes. Only 25% of control infants fell asleep spontaneously .
But its crucial to keep the volume turned down, especially if the machine is placed close to the infant. You dont want to harm your babys hearing.
When researchers investigated 14 different white noise machines being marketed for infants, they found that all of them could be turned up to dangerously high volumes volumes that would expose an infant 30 cm away to more than 50 decibels.
And three of the machines at this distance produced sound in excess of 80 decibels enough, when exposed for more than 8 hours a day, to put an adult at risk for hearing loss .
This might sound like a major spoiler. Whats the point of using a white noise machine if you cant turn up the volume high enough blot out other sounds?
But I suspect thats the wrong premise. We dont need to blot out all background sounds in order to aid sleep. Instead, certain types of muffled, rhythmic sound may influence sleep by encouraging the brain to adopt or maintain the slower, rhythmic brain waves associated with sleep .
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How Long Do Newborns Typically Sleep
Most newborns sleep for around 89 hours during the day and 8 hours at night. Most also wake up at least every 3 hours to feed.
However, this timing varies widely. Some newborns may only sleep for 11 hours per day, while others may sleep for up to 19 hours per day. Also, newborns may sleep more or less than usual when they are sick or when they experience a disruption to their regular routine.
Most newborns also do not sleep in one stretch. They usually sleep for only about 12 hours at a time, though some may sleep a little more or less than this. In the first couple of weeks, it is normal for a newborn to wake up to feed and then go right back to sleep.
As newborns grow into infants, they begin to develop a schedule. They eventually start sleeping longer at night, though they may still wake several times to feed.
Swaddling Can Be A Helpful Infant Sleep Aid But Be Sure To Follow Safety Guidelines
Swaddled babies are wrapped in cloths or blankets that restrict movement. As a result, they are less likely to thrash around during the frequent startles that accompany infant sleep. Does that help babies stay asleep? Research supports the idea.
In three different experiments, infants who were swaddled and place on their backs showed improvements in sleep. They experienced fewer startles, awoke less often, and spent more time sleeping .
So swaddling can be an effective infant sleep aid. But it can also be dangerous, so its crucial to follow safety guidelines.
Its important to avoid swaddling a babys chest so tightly that he or she cant inhale deeply. Tight swaddling has been linked with higher rates of respiratory infections.
In addition, there is a potential for overheating, particularly if the babys head is covered, or if the baby has a fever. And babies shouldnt be wrapped so tightly that they cant rotate their hips and flex their knees. Immobilizing babies in this way puts them at risk for hip displasia.
Finally, there is evidence that swaddling can increase the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome.
Studies show that SIDS victims are more likely to have been swaddled. The highest risk is associated with swaddled babies who are placed on their stomachs. Babies placed on their sides or backs seem to be at less risk, but the risk is still there, perhaps because some babies manage to move onto their stomachs .
So overall, it seems to boil down to this:
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Newborn Sleep Patterns: Are There Any
To the sleepless parent, newborn sleep might seem totally disorganized. For example, consider these points.
1. Newborns never sleep for long.
Newborns sleep in short bouts typically ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours at seemingly random times throughout the day and night.
2. Newborns awaken easily.
In part, this is because they spend a large portion of their sleep time in active sleep, a light sleep state characterized by fluttering eyelids rapid, irregular breathing occasional body movements and vocalizations .
3. Newborn sleep times can vary widely.
In the first few days, the average newborn sleeps between 16-18 hours a day . By four weeks, newborn sleep averages about 14 hours. But the range is considerable. Some four-week-old babies sleep as little as 9 out of 24 hours. Others sleep for 19 hours a day .
Newborns Need To Eat Around The Clock
Newborns have very tiny tummies, so while it would be nice to load up your baby with breast milk or formula at bedtime and not hear from him until morning, it doesn’t work that way . Newborn babies need to eat at least every two to four hours, including overnight.
So how do you know when your baby’s whimpers are a call for food? The key is to learn to differentiate between “feed me!” sounds and his other cries so you can respond quickly when he’s truly hungry or let him be if he’s just making noises in his sleep.
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Safe Sleep Practices For Infants
Practice the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib. Place your baby on his or her back for every sleep, night time and nap time.
Do not put your baby to sleep on his side or tummy.
Once your baby can roll from his back to tummy and tummy to back, your baby can stay in the sleep position that he assumes. But always place your baby to sleep on his back.
Place your baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with slats no greater than 2-3/8 inches apart.
Make sure your babys face and head stay uncovered and clear of blankets and other coverings during sleep. If a blanket is used make sure your baby is placed feet-to-foot in the crib. Remove all pillows from the crib.
Create a smoke-free-zone around your baby.
Avoid overheating during sleep and maintain your babys bedroom at a temperature comfortable for an average adult.
Remove all mobiles and hanging crib toys by about the age of 5 months, when your baby begins to pull up in the crib.
Remove crib bumpers by about 12 months, when your baby can begin to climb
For additional safe sleep practices for infants including information and video on choking, making a safe home environment, resources, swaddling and tummy time, click here.
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When Should I Seek A Doctor’s Help
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your baby seems to be extremely fussy/irritable or cannot be soothed he/she may have a medical problem such as colic or reflux .
- Your baby appears to have a breathing problem.
- Your baby has a difficult time being awakened from sleep.
- Your baby is uninterested in feeding or persistently shies away from activity.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- National Sleep Foundation. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Sleep. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. November 2016, 138. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Safe Sleep. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Sleep Education. Healthy Sleep Habits. Accessed 3/23/2020.
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So When Do Babies Develop Mature Circadian Rhythms
Its normal for babies to take 12 weeks, or even longer.
Most infants take about 12 weeks to show day-night rhythms in the production of melatonin . Circadian changes in cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate alertness, may take even longer to emerge . And, overall, babies may take 3-5 months before they settle at nightmeaning that they sleep for more than 5 hours at a stretch .
Nevertheless, newborn sleep isnt completely divorced from the natural rhythms of the 24-hour day. Studies show that circadian rhythms begin developing in the first days after birth.
For example, German and Japanese studies have reported that newborns sleep more at night than they do during the day .
And scientific evidence suggests that even newborns are receptive to environmental cues about time. You can take advantage of this fact to help shape newborn sleep patterns.
Is It Necessary To Burp Your Baby After Dream Feeding
Its hard to make generalizations that apply to everyone. Different babies may have different quirks and needs. But overall, there is little evidence that burping a baby after a meal is beneficial.
For instance, in controlled study of more than 70 mother-infant pairs, researchers found that burping had no impact on symptoms of infantile colic. And babies randomly assigned to the burping treatment actually showed an increased tendency to regurgitate afterwards . So it doesnt appear that its necessary, or even advisable, to burp you baby after a dream feed.
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Sleep Tips For Newborns To 2
Activate Babys calming reflex:White noise, swaddling, and motion work wonders starting from the first day of life to help babies sleep better, naturally. Thats because these sleepytime helpers are all integral parts of the 5 Ss for soothing babies and helping them sleep. White noise , swaddling, and motion all mimic the soothing sensations babies experience in the womb and trigger whats known at the calming reflex, or natures off switch for crying and on switch for sleep.
Consider SNOO: SNOOthe smart bassinet developed here at Happiest Babywas designed to provide those three important Ss. SNOO provides responsive white noise and motionand swaddlingall in one bed, helping babies fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Don’t worry, SNOO does not keep babies asleep who need to eat! Babies will always wake up and let you know when they are hungry.
How To Connect Sleep Cycles
To help your baby connect sleep cycles, you will want to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own first and foremost. Be sure to review all of the most common napping mistakes to help your baby take longer naps.
If your baby is waking at night, be sure to learn ways to help your baby sleep through the night.
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Normal Baby Sleep Versus Adult Sleep
Babies under 1 are naturally lighter sleepers compared with adults. They spend more of their sleeping time in ‘active sleep’ instead of ‘quiet sleep’.
In active sleep, babies breathe shallowly and twitch their arms and legs. Their eyes flutter under their eyelids. Babies can be easily woken up from active sleep.
Everybody has a cycle, where their sleep varies from light to deep. Adults’ sleep cycles are usually about 90 minutes. Babies’ sleep cycles are usually about 40 minutes, so they tend to wake up more often.