Babies do not come with a complete set of instructions, especially when it comes to their sleep patterns. Meeting your baby’s needs for adequate sleep promotes healthy growth and development. But what do you do when your baby spends several hours each night looking up at you with those big blue eyes, ready to learn about her world? Identifying her developing sleep patterns can help you get her on a sleep schedule that allows everyone in the house to get the rest they need.
How Do I Identify My Baby’s Sleep Patterns?
Newborns need an average of 16 hours of sleep per day, and this usually comes in three to four hour stretches. According to KidsHealth.org, bottle-fed newborns feed every two to four hours and breastfed babies every two to three hours. This sleeping/feeding pattern will last for at least the first few weeks, and as most new parents know, you will be sleep deprived during that time. But soon your baby will begin to adapt to life outside the womb and will have longer awake times during the day and longer stretches of sleep at night.
When Will I Notice Changes in Sleep Patterns?
By the time your baby reaches six to eight weeks of age she should be sleeping less during the day. Although most babies this age still need to feed at least once during the night, your baby will begin to stretch her nighttime sleeping into more than four hours at a time. Somewhere between the ages of four to six months your baby is capable of sleeping eight to twelve hours each night.
How Do I Help My Baby Develop Good Sleep Habits?
If your baby still wakes in the middle of the night, pay attention to how often and when she naps. Most babies need a morning nap one to two hours after breakfast and an afternoon nap one to two hours after lunch. But make sure your baby is not napping too close to bedtime so she is tired when it is time to go down. Establish a bedtime routine that includes a warm bath, bedtime bottle or nursing, rocking, singing or looking at a book. These evening rituals signal your baby’s internal clock that it is time to sleep.
When she’s old enough, helping your baby learn to sleep through the night lets everyone be their best during the day.