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Learn everything about baby sleep. How many hours of sleep does a newborn need? What can hinder a peaceful sleep? How can you help your baby make the transition to peaceful night sleep? Here are the answers of all your questions.
You must have heard horror stories of sleepless nights and insomniac babies. Some of it are definitely true. However, with a night-time routine in place and some luck, within a few months of bringing your baby home, you can look forward to happier nights.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
The good news is that a newborn sleeps for about 16 hours a day. The bad news is it’s never at a stretch. In the first few months, he will probably nap for two or three hours only. His stomach is small and needs frequent refills. Don’t look forward to more than 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep even at night, the first 6 months. Generally, babies between 2 and 12 months sleep for 9-12 hours, most of which will be at night. Don’t try a sleep routine too soon. Let the baby decide when he wants to wake up – whether due to hunger, wet diapers or simply because he’s had his fill of sleep.
Deconstructing Baby Sleep
Like adults, babies also experience sleep cycles from drowsiness to light sleep, deep sleep and dream sleep (REM – a state when his eyes are active under his closed eyelids, but the rest of his body is still) and then all the way back from dream sleep to wakefulness. When he returns to being awake, if there are no distractions (like an empty stomach) he slips back into sleep. Some babies are self-soothers and do it on their own, while others may need to be patted or fed before they fall asleep again. During quiet sleep, it is normal for the baby to have some sudden starts called hypnagogic startles. Hynagonic startles means the sudden movements of the baby’s body in quiet sleep.
Baby Sleep and New Skills
Some of the baby’s newfound skills might interfere with his sleep patterns.
As the baby learns to crawl, his brain stimulation increases and even though he might be tired, he may find it tough to sleep.
2. Object Permanence
As he turns six months old, he realizes that things do not cease to exist when he cannot see them. He might refuse to sleep when you’re not around.
3. Separation Anxiety
He will start missing you, and might insist on you being around each time he opens his eyes.
Traditionally in India, co-sleeping has been propagated and it does lead to stronger emotional – parental bonds. However, if you find it uncomfortable, especially in the case of multiple babies, you can move them from the crib to the bed.
A Few Tips to Make the Night Time Easier
- Create a soothing environment. Remove bright colours and noisy toys.
- Soft toys, heavy blankets or pillows aren’t a good idea for small babies, as they act as hindrances and offer risk of suffocation.
- The mattress should be firm, and the baby should be put to sleep on his back to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Swaddling the baby with his arms inside the blanket gives him a sense of familiarity, mimicking the pressure he feels in the womb, and helps him sleep longer.
- Establishing a night time routine between two and three months is a good idea.Parents need not panic about sleepless nights, with some patience and efforts, you can solve your baby’s sleeping problems.
Parents need not panic about sleepless nights, with some patience and efforts, you can solve your baby’s sleeping problems.