Babies sleeping patterns - From 0-2 years!

Every baby has different sleeping patterns. Some babies wake up frequently during sleep or, we can say, they take short naps while others sleep longer. Babies sleeping patterns are widely categorized into two categories- one is active and the other is quiet. For the initial few months of a baby’s life, the sleeping patterns are split evenly between active and quiet sleep. As the baby grows the sleeping pattern changes, and the baby begins to take more quiet sleep than active sleep.

 Usually, babies under one year are light sleepers and spend more time in active sleeping. During active sleep, babies breathe shallowly and spasm their limbs. Their eyes flutter beneath their eyelids. Babies can easily wake up from active sleep.

 After one year of age, babies tend to shift from active sleep to quiet sleep. During quiet sleep, they lie still and breathe deeply.

How much sleep does a baby need?

Though babies' sleep patterns are divided into two broad categories, every individual baby has a different sleep pattern. Following is the general guidelines about change in baby sleep patterns over the years according to the age.

 

0-3 months 

  • The newborn babies frequently sleep on and off throughout the day and night.
  • The total sleep time varies from baby to baby, and it can range around 8 to 18 hours a day.
  • They sleep in short stretches as they frequently need a diaper change and feeding. 
  • Newborns generally take light naps and spend most of their sleep time in active sleeping.

By the six weeks of age of the infant, parents can initiate training the child to sleep when it is dark. The parents must expose the baby to light during the day and play with them to keep them engaged and away from sleep. During the night, facilitate them with dim light and a quiet environment. It will help them to make a rhythm of day and night. 

 

3 to 6 months

  • Between 3 to 6 months, the baby might take three naps a day, with each of them being around two hours.
  • Most babies of this age sleep around 14-15 hours a day. Few among them take 8 hour long sleep at night. 
  • Babies usually tend to wake up at least once during the night. 
  • The amount of active sleep begins to reduce, and infants initiate quiet sleep.

 

6 to 12 months

  • From around six months of age, the baby’s sleeping pattern turns out to be more of an adult sleeping pattern. 
  • The baby might sleep around 13 hours a day. The babies sleep for longer hours during the night, approximately 11 hours.
  • The waking up frequency reduces during the night as they do not need to get fed or change their diaper at night.  
  • Most babies wake up only once during the night and need a few pats to go back to sleep. 
  • At this age, the babies worry about being away from their caretaker and sleep longer beside the caretaker. Babies quickly wake up as and when the caretaker moves away. 
  • Regular daytime and sleep time routines may help your baby to fall asleep and take a deep sleep. 

 

After 12 months

  • From approximately 12 months of age, babies tend to sleep better. 
  • As they approach their first birthday, babies tend to sleep longer, wake up less often, sleep more at night and take one or two naps during the day. During this stage of life, babies are likely to sleep 8 to 12 hours at night and wake up only once or twice.
  • The longer and comfortable sleep pattern ensures that the tot has the energy to grow and develop well. 
  • By the time the baby reaches two years of age, the tot begins to take a single nap during day time and sleep for a longer period during the night. 

 

How are parents affected due to the sleeping pattern of infants?

During the night time waking for feeding or changing diapers or settling the baby to fall or stay asleep can be difficult for new parents. Sleep-deprivation gives a significant impact on mood, health, safety, and even longevity in all of us. Following are a few consequences of sleep deprivation that are crucial for new parents to be aware of:

  • Irritability: Due to insufficient sleep, you might turn irritable, anxious, and stressed. 
  • Anxiety and depression: Inadequate sleep a person gives exposure to a greater risk for negative moods, anxiety, and depression. If you discover symptoms of poor mental health, consult a health care service provider. 
  • Accidents and injuries: Insufficient sleep can increase the risk of accidents. Avoid driving or operating other machinery when you feel sleep-deprived.

If you feel sleep deprived you must make your sleeping pattern according to your tot. Take a nap when the tot is sleeping. Follow a specific bedtime routine and create a good and comfortable sleeping environment for you and your baby.

 

What to do, if the baby is not sleeping well?

Every baby is different and you should not panic if your baby is not following the aforesaid guidelines. Though it is normal for newborns to wake up multiple times throughout the night, you can talk to your pediatrician if you have queries. 

If your baby wakes up crying and doesn’t fall back to sleep then it might be hungry, need a diaper change, or might be uncomfortable. Try to settle them under dim light. Avoid taking the baby out of the crib until it is strictly necessary.  

You must understand that sleep regression in babies is common. It can happen due to teething, illness, changing sleep patterns, and growth spurts. If you are a new parent, you must read some relevant information, ask your friends and relatives for suggestions and talk to the pediatrician to know how to deal with it.

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