Baby Sleep OverviewBaby sleep issues are an important topic to be considered by every parent. Absolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle baby sleep issues with your new baby.
The danger to a new parent is that these tidbits of misguided advice regarding baby sleep can truly have a negative effect on parenting skills and, by extension, babies' development, if you are not aware of the facts.
If you have more knowledge, it is less likely that other people will create doubt about your parenting decisions. During the early months of your baby's life, baby sleeps when he is tired. It's really that simple.
You can do very little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn't want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly. You have probably heard that babies should start "sleeping through the night" at about two to four months of age.
What you must understand is that, for a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night baby sleep. Many babies at this age can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 a.m. A far cry from what you may have thought, "sleeping through the night" meant.
Mothers of small babies should not nurse them right up until the moment the infant falls asleep. Instead, feed them, then when they start going a bit dopey eyed and sleepy, put them down while they are still awake.
If they cry, soothe them in the crib. The idea is that they learn to go to sleep by themselves. The most usual cause for a baby to wake up several times in a night is because it is hungry, so try feeding it later in the evening.
He also warns about putting too many blankets over a baby or child in their beds as they can often wake up thirsty and cross. A warm bedroom will suffice. A newborn baby sleeps about sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this new born baby sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven brief baby sleep periods.
You can help your baby distinguish between nighttime baby sleep and daytime baby sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night. One way to encourage good baby sleep is to get familiar with your baby's sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired.
A baby cannot put herself to sleep, nor can she understand her own sleepy signs. Yet a baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is typically an unhappy baby.
Over time, this pattern develops into baby sleep deprivation. Which further complicates your baby's developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your baby sleepy signs, such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.
Baby Sleep Stages
Baby sleep is quite different from the sleep of adults. Infants younger than six months spend 50 percent of their sleep time in active rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, compared with 20 percent in adults.
Infants start their baby sleep through an initial active REM stage, in contrast to adults, who don't commonly enter REM sleep until 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. Active REM emerges more often during a baby sleep cycle, resulting in shorter baby sleep cycles.
Until six months of age, quiet REM (also known as quiet or indeterminate sleep) cannot be subdivided into the four electroencephalographic (EEG) stages known in the mature sleep pattern.
By six months, the baby sleep architecture closely resembles that of an adult's. After an initial "settling" period that typically takes 10 to 20 minutes, the infant drifts from stage 1 non-REM (NREM) sleep into stage 3 or 4.
The infant may return to stage 1 and cycle again. After one to two cycles of NREM sleep, REM is entered at about 60 to 90 minutes. The first one third of the night is mostly deep sleep (NREM stages 3 and 4). The last one half of the night is predominately stage 2 NREM and REM.
In newborns, the amount of baby sleep is divided fairly equally between night and day. Nighttime baby sleep gradually becomes consolidated over the first year into a single uninterrupted block of time.
The daytime baby sleep gradually decreases over the first three years. By the age of four, most children no longer require a daytime nap. Nighttime baby sleep requirements also gradually decrease, so that by adolescence they are similar to the sleep needs of an adult.