Have you figured out your baby’s sleep pattern? Truth be told, your little one may not have one just yet. Here’s what you need to know.
Baby’s Sleep Pattern | a Quick Guide to Your Tiny Sleeping Partner
What Is Baby’s Normal Sleep Pattern?
It’s normal for new parents to worry about their newborns.
Why won’t he sleep at night? Is it normal for him to be awake during the day? Isn’t he sleeping too much? Does he not sleep enough?
Rest easy—your newborn probably is.
Babies sleep a lot throughout the day. And while there are general rules of thumb regarding a baby’s sleep patterns, know that all babies are different. And so, you cannot compare your baby’s sleeping habits with others. This might only cause you great distress when there might not be anything wrong at all.
However, understanding babies’ sleep patterns and sleep cycles could help you get a better grasp of how to care for them and how to work your new mommy and daddy schedule around them.
Active Sleep and Quiet Sleep
Babies have two sleep phases—active and quiet sleep. One cycle lasts for approximately 50 minutes. In contrast, an adult’s sleep cycle runs for around 90 minutes.
During active sleep, your baby may momentarily open their eyes and toss and turn. Active sleep consumes half of a baby’s sleeping time, so newborns are typically light sleepers. In contrast, adults spend most of their time in deep sleep.
On the other hand, quiet sleep is when your little one sleeps more deeply.
Given that half their sleeping time is spent on active sleep and their sleep cycles are relatively shorter, newborns are light sleepers.
Take this into consideration when planning your baby’s room. Provide them with the best sleeping environment that allows them to sleep uninterrupted.
Your little tike might sleep between a total of 17-18 hours each day. They may only wake up when it’s time to eat or when they’re due for a nappy change. And because their tiny bodies can only hold so much food, expect them to have lots of meal breaks (say every 2-3 hours).
What they eat also plays into how often they eat. Discuss with your pediatrician what foods to give your baby. You might also have to wake up your baby to feed them based on their individual needs.
Newborns do not have a recognizable sleeping pattern yet. At this age, they haven’t established a circadian rhythm, so they have no concept of day and night. And this leads new parents to the same cry—why won’t my little one sleep through the night?
- body temperature
- consolidated sleep
And each of these factors develops individually over the course of a few weeks after the baby’s birth. Soon enough, you may start noticing that the little one follows a sleeping pattern similar to yours.
3-6 Months Old
At 3-6 months old, your baby may sleep between 14-15 hours a day. It’s also at this point that they begin developing their circadian rhythm, which helps them adjust to a more regular sleeping pattern.
A baby may sleep 9-10 hours at night and 4-5 hours during the day, waking up at least once at night.
At this age, your little one may also begin sleeping less during the active sleep phase. They may also begin their sleep cycle at the quiet sleep phase.
6-12 Months Old
By this age, your baby may start sleeping 10-11 hours at night and take around two to three 1-2 hour naps during the day.
And as they don’t need to feed as much, they may not wake up as frequently as newborns. However, around 25%-50% of babies might still wake up during sleep.
Self-soothers know how to fall asleep by themselves without the help of mommy or daddy. Signalers, on the other hand, will call for mom or pop to help them fall back asleep.
The parents of signalers have a habit of rocking or cradling their little tikes to sleep regularly. This may make your baby dependent on you to help them go back to bed.
While this may be harmless during their regular bedtime, it might be counterproductive in teaching them to self-soothe when they wake up in the middle of the night.
You can employ sleep training methods to promote self-soothing and to teach your baby to fall asleep without your help:
- Cry It Out method
- Ferber method
- Check and Console method
- Fading method
- No Tears method
You can begin sleep training your baby between 4 and 6 months old when they’ve developed a circadian rhythm, which helps them get into the rhythm of a regular sleep pattern.
Sleep training may have a bad rep with many believing that it allows babies to suffer. However, sleep training may:
- improve baby’s sleep quality
- boost parents’ moods
- promote a healthy attachment between babies and parents
When done right, in the right environment, and with a doctor’s go-signal, sleep training could be great for everyone.
Over 12 Months
After a year, your baby is likely to sleep more at night with 1-2 naps during the day. Little ones typically sleep 8-12 hours at night. They may still wake up during sleepy time, but this may only happen once or twice.
Babies 12 months and over sleep around 13-14 hours each day. Meanwhile, when your little one is over two years old, they may sleep around 13 hours each day.
By this time, you and your baby will have established a regular sleep schedule and daytime routine.
How Can You Tell When Your Baby Wants to Sleep?
Your newborn communicates by crying. But when parenting becomes overwhelming, it may be difficult to spot the differences between signals for feeding time or for bedtime.
- rubbing their eyes
- being fussy
- looking away
When it’s close to bedtime, just like with adults, steer clear of stimulating activities. You can also play some music like a soothing lullaby to help lull them to sleep.
And when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, soothe and rock them to sleep in their cradle.
Maintaining routine and remaining consistent with your responses helps your baby establish a healthy sleeping pattern.
Your baby sleeps less over time. And beginning from 3 months old, your newborn begins to develop a circadian rhythm, which helps regulate and establish their sleep pattern.
Like adults, newborns sleep best in a quiet sleeping environment and with healthy sleeping habits.
Set a bedtime routine that includes plenty of quiet time, keeping active mostly during the daytime. Providing with their most basic needs like feeding and diaper-changing could also help them sleep better.
Figuring out your baby’s sleep pattern can help you adopt a new one of your own. And once you do, you will also be sleeping like a baby.
What is your baby’s bedtime routine like? What changed in your own routine after the bundle of joy arrived? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.