A sleeping baby will seem adorable to many but for new parents it can be confusing and frustrating at times. New mothers can get extremely tired and confused with the baby’s pattern of sleeping and her own sleeping needs. Babies have no idea about day and night and have to be fed frequently but adapting with their pattern and catching up sleep with their timings is a good idea for mothers who can later slowly introduce a sleeping pattern to the baby.
Duration of sleep required by children is based on their age but then it is equally important to remember that every child is different and will have different sleeping schedules.
A newborn needs to and may sleep for sixteen to twenty hours but of course, not at a stretch. These long hours of sleep get broken down into small slots which are interrupted by feeding times and general wakefulness at times.
A sleeping slot can be for two to five hours for the newborn. Babies too, experience the same phases of sleep that adults do which starts with drowsiness, light sleep and deep slumber and later wakefulness accompanied by a cry for being fed or being cuddled by the mother. As time passes, a baby will need fewer hours of sleep as compared with initial times and will slowly adjust to a daylight and nighttime rhythm. A newborn would need to be woken up after every two-three hours for feeding as weight gain during the first month is crucial for the baby’s health and growth.
When the baby is around three months old, he/she will catch more sleep during the night as compared with the day. The baby may sleep for ten hours with a few interruptions in between during nighttime while catching up five to six hours of sleep during the day. A baby might wake up during his night sleep but will also get back to sleep on his own; it is better to watch and let the baby get used to sleeping by himself. If the wakefulness is accompanied by crying that continues for several minutes then you should respond promptly. It may be a sign of distress, illness, hunger or discomfort. If the baby needs feeding or a diaper change then it is best to do it as quickly as possible. Remember, you are setting a pattern of sleep for the baby and any unnecessary stimulation will make him feel that this is what he is supposed to do. Keep the lights dim; do not talk or sing; attend to the baby’s needs quietly and leave him to get back to sleep.
After six months of age, the baby has almost set to a sleep pattern. The baby might be napping for three to four hours during daytime while sleeping for ten to eleven hours at night.
Read more articles on Newborn Care.