What Is The Best Sleep Schedule For A Newborn Baby
There is no single, ideal newborn baby sleep schedule. How much a newborn baby sleeps is more important than when they sleep.
An average newborn baby sleeps between 16 and 17 hours over each 24-hour period. This sleep generally occurs in 2 to 4 hour increments throughout the day and night, with the baby waking when they are hungry.
At birth, babies don’t yet know the difference between night and day, so they sleep at any time. Parents shouldn’t expect infants younger than 3 months old to sleep through the night or adhere to a specific sleep schedule. That said, a baby’s sleeping patterns often shift over the first three months of life.
Research suggests that during the first three months, babies begin developing a circadian rhythm that affects sleep. As a result, they start sleeping for longer periods of time at night and shorter periods during the day. On average, one-month old infants sleep 5.7 hours each night and three-month olds sleep 7.4 hours, though this is normally non-continuous sleep.
Parents can help their babies sleep longer at night by exposing them to more light during the day time during the first three months of life. Similarly, dimming the lights at night and maintaining quiet hours may also help babies begin to sleep more at night than during the day.
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.
To 6 Months: Longer Stretches Of Nighttime Sleep
At 1 month old, your baby may begin to sleep for longer stretches in the night, perhaps including one longish block of 3 to 4 hours. Itâs during this time that your babyâs circadian rhythms are forming, and heâs getting used to the difference between day and night.
2 months old, your baby will be more alert and sociable during the day, which means he may end up sleeping a little longer at night. At this point, you may even choose to skip one nighttime feeding.
From 3to 5 months old, your baby may be able to sleep for a stretch of about 5 to 8 hours at night. If by about 6 months old your baby still has trouble sleeping for these longish lengths of time at night, you might consider shortening the length of his afternoon nap. If even with this fix he continues to wake up several times in the night, talk to his healthcare provider to get some personalized guidance.
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Should Parents Be Concerned If Their Babies Arent Sleeping At Night
Some changes in a babys sleeping patterns are normal. Keep in mind that if there are brief changes, such as illness or traveling, sleeping may be more difficult for your child. Continue maintaining a consistent routine for the baby to encourage sleeping through the night.
If you are concerned about your babys sleeping habits, keep track of hours slept and when sleep occurs. Share this information with your pediatrician and they will be able to help identify whether or not your childs behavior is normal or reflective of a possible sleeping problem.
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How Are Sleep Cycles Different In Babies
As you know, newborns typically sleep a lot, up to 16-18 hours a day. Newborns go immediately into REM sleep once they fall asleep and spend approximately 50% of their time in REM sleep. Therefore, it is why many newborns can sleep through noise. Since they spend 50% in REM and 50% in Non-REM deep sleep, it is often difficult to wake them. Because newborns are not going through the same four sleep cycles above, they typically sleep better and we get the old adage sleeping like a baby.
In reality, it should have been sleeping like a newborn because as your newborn grows, they start to sleep more like an adult. Babies begin to go into Non-REM sleep first and they go through the same four stages of sleep. This development begins around 3-4 months old and often leads to the 4 month sleep regression. It is between sleep cycles that a baby will have trouble staying asleep.
Because we are in deep sleep much of the time in the first half of the night, this often leads to babies sleeping through the night for 5-hour stretches fairly early. However, for the remainder of the night, they are cycling through the different stages and thats where we start to see babies waking frequently at night.
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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 .
Helping Your Baby Sleep
If you haven’t already, start a bedtime routine that will be familiar and relaxing for your baby. Bathing, reading, and singing can soothe babies and signal an end to the day. Some babies like to be swaddled , which can be done until they start to roll. Be consistent and your baby will soon associate these steps with sleeping.
If you rock your baby to sleep before bedtime, your little one may expect to be rocked to sleep after nighttime awakenings. Instead, try putting your baby into a crib or bassinet while drowsy but still awake. This way your baby will learn to fall asleep on his or her own.
Some babies squirm, whine, and even cry a little before falling back to sleep on their own. Unless you think that your baby is hungry or ill, see what happens if you leave your baby alone for a few minutes he or she might settle down.
If your baby wakes during the period that you want him or her to sleep, keep activity to a minimum. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. Change or feed your baby and return him or her to the crib or bassinet.
If your baby is waking early for a morning feeding, some small changes may allow a slight shift in schedule. You might try waking your baby for the late-night feeding at a time that suits your sleep schedule:
It may take a few nights to establish this routine, but being consistent will improve your chances of success.
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Development: When Are Babies Able To Sleep Through The Night
Heres a little-known fact: when babies are able to sleep through the night and when babies actually do sleep through the night are two different stories.
Sleepless nights are somewhat expected when you have a new baby. Newborns sleep a lot, but they only sleep in short intervals waking up frequently to be fed. This stage is where that patience comes in. Many doctors refer to the first 3 months of the babys life as the 4th Trimester. During the 4th Trimester, youll notice your babys sleep patterns are very erratic, and thats completely normal. Although you can introduce good sleep habits during this time, its more important to focus on loving and caring for your little one, doing whatever you need to soothe them and make sure theyre getting all the food and sleep they need. During these first 2-3 months, you are getting them used to the outside world while bonding with your baby. Dont worry about spoiling your baby or creating bad habits. There is no use training your baby. Just respond to their needs.
1. Moro Reflex has decreased or stopped. Moro reflex is an involuntary reflex all babies are born with. This is a sign of a still developing nervous system. The moro reflex will gradually ease and cease to awaken your baby mid sleep. You can calm your baby and help them sleep through this reflex by swaddling them. Although the moro-reflex is completely overcome by 4 5 months, your baby can be calmed with swaddling to help them sleep through this reflex.
How To Improve An Infants Sleep
The following tips can help an infant learn to sleep through the night:
- Prevent the infant from becoming overtired: Look for signs that the infant is getting sleepy. Signs can include drooping eyelids, slow movements, yawning, and rubbing the eyes. Taking naps during the day can help stop an infant from becoming overtired by bedtime.
- Keep a distinction between night and day: This helps the infant learn that nighttime is for sleeping. In the evening, dim the lights, use blackout curtains, keep noise to a minimum, and speak softly.
- Keep a consistent bedtime: This can help create a routine.
- Create a simple, relaxing bedtime routine: This could include a bath, a short massage, a story, or gentle music. Most infants will learn to link a bedtime routine to sleep.
- Connect a bed with sleeping: If the infant always falls asleep being held or fed, they may link this to sleep and not be able to fall asleep in bed.
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Sleeping Through The Night What It Is And What It Isnt
Experts generally consider sleeping through the night as sleeping 6 to 9 hours at a time for children and adults. But for babies, sleeping through the night may mean your child still needs to breastfeed or take a bottle remember, tiny tummies mean hunger calls often but is able to fall back to sleep after.
So your 3-month-old sleeping through the night doesnt necessarily mean youre getting uninterrupted sleep. But it does mean your child is getting some quality shut-eye to help with their development and growth.
Around two-thirds of babies truly sleep uninterrupted for that blissful 6 to 9 hours by the time theyre 6 months of age.
How Long Will My Baby Sleep
Because babies this age are more awake, alert, and aware of their surroundings during daylight hours, they’re more likely to be tired at night and sleep. But the range of normal is still very wide.
Infants up to 3 months old should get 1417 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Many will have settled into a daily sleep routine of two or three naps during the day, followed by a longer “sleeping through the night” stretch after a late-night feeding.
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Why Some Babies Dont Sleep Through The Night
There are a few reasons babies wake up and cry throughout the night. They may be hungry or theyre experiencing . But all four medical experts say the most common cause of restless nights is that the infant hasnt learned to self-soothe.
We all wake up intermittently during our sleep, but it is a skill to learn to fall right back asleep, says Burkhardt. Babies need to learn to do this. So we recommend putting them in their cribs while they are still drowsy, not fully asleep, to practice independently falling asleep from the start.
Crabtree says feeding, rocking or holding a baby to put them to sleep often backfires. This teaches the child that they need external help to fall asleep. For babies who can self-soothe, they will return to sleep on their own. For those who rely on their caregiver to soothe them, they will cry out to have help returning to sleep, she says.
Even in early infancy, parents can establish a bedtime. This should be earlier than 8 pm, with a consistent pre-bedtime routine.
VALERIE CRABTREE, SLEEP EXPERT AT ST. JUDES CHILDRENS RESEARCH HOSPITAL
Where Should Baby Sleep
Babys sleep area should be in the same room as his parents for at least the first 6 months of life, up to 1 year, if possible, according to a 2016 recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics . Whether its in a bassinet, crib, portable crib or play yard, room-sharing with baby can decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by up to 50 percent.
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How Do Babies Learn To Sleep Through The Night
Your baby has to learn how to self-soothe after waking so that he can fall back asleep without crying out for you. Every baby is unique, and many factors â even things like your childâs genetic makeup and temperament â can affect your little oneâs sleep patterns. Sleep training might be able to help your baby get closer to being able to sleep through the night. Once your pediatrician has given you the go ahead to start sleep training we highly recommend the Lumi Smart Sleep Coaching App. Co-created with pediatricians and designed for babies 0-16 months, it combines effortless sleep tracking with expert sleep coaching to get your babyâs sleep on track. It covers a variety of sleep training methods so you can choose the one that works in harmony with your parenting style. This free Sleep Fundamentals class is a great introduction to how Lumi can help you! But remember, try to be patient in these early months it takes time to get to the point where your baby can sleep through the night.