6 Newborn sleep facts that you should know
Worries as a new parent
Congratulations! You’re one of the luckiest new parents, that has a newborn inside your home, and you can’t take your eyes off him. This tiny marvel of joy can amaze you and bring you lots of joy. Even if you’re experiencing the feeling of happiness and fulfillment, being a new parent comes with some challenges, sleepless nights, all day long feedings, and poopy diapers being some of them.
Being a new parent also comes with a lot of worries about your baby’s sleep. You may find that your newborn is sleeping around the clock, and wakes often to eat. This happens because they don’t have a sense of day and night, and because their stomach is so small that it can’t hold enough milk to keep them full for a long time.
Studies have shown that newborns tend to have the same sleep pattern as they had in the womb. You can see this at a week after birth, or even up to two months of age.
The sleep cycles
Compared to adults, an infant sleep cycles is definitely shorter. That’s why babies tend to wake up more often than us. An infant wakes up 45-60 minutes in one nap, but he can wake also up in the middle of the nap. If you baby is waking up mid-nap, you can try to soothe him back to sleep. This will allow him to finish his nap.
What does REM mean?
During their sleep, babies spend half of the time in active sleep, and the other half in quiet sleep. This means that 50% of their sleep is light and filled with dreams. This is the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
If your baby is waking often, that means he has a light sleep, and is struggling to stay asleep. A good tip to help your baby stay asleep is being quiet during his nap, or swaddling him.
How long until deep sleep?
As a newborn, when he initially falls asleep it can take up to 20 minutes to reach deep sleep. There are babies that often don’t reach deep sleep, and wake up after 10-20 minutes after initially falling asleep. If your baby doesn’t reach deep sleep it may not mean that you baby is not tired enough to get to sleep.
There are a few signs to see if your baby is tired: if he rubs his eyes; if he’s easily irritated and crying, or fussing at the slightest provocation; if he yawns and stretches often; he’s quiet and content after a feeding; or he has dark circles under his eyes. If your baby is waking up and doesn’t reach deep sleep, or if you see signs of tiredness try and lull your baby to sleep.
The ideal nap length for your child
A good infant’s nap take at least 1.5 hours, and up to 2.5 hours. Or better said, 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. If your baby is taking shorter naps, he may experience some difficulties when transitioning through sleep cycles. This means he may not stay asleep through REM sleep period.
As every newborn is different so is their sleep duration. Some may sleep longer than others. It usually depends on the type of milk they’re feed with. Breastfed babies tend to feed often than bottle fed ones. Either way they should be waking up every few hours to eat. If your baby sleeps for longer periods of time, more than 3-4 hours, you should wake him up to feed him. This helps your baby have a good weight gain in their first weeks from birth.
When your baby is a little older, you can begin to let him sleep for longer periods of time. Your first months as a new parent are definitely the hardest, as you may get up many time at night to feed the baby, or to help him to get back to sleep.
Sleeping through the night?
As a new parent you often hear the familiar phrase "sleeping like a baby". Does it mean you have to wake up every 2-3 hours? Definitely not. What it means is that you should sleep comfy, and soundly. Because of this, if you have a baby that’s sleeping you may say that he is a good baby, especially because you too appreciate some time off while he sleeps.
Because of their tiny stomach, babies need to be fed often also during the night. So don’t start yet to teach your baby to sleep through the night. Wait that your baby is at least a month old, and also check with your pediatrician to see when is the best time to start teach him to sleep through the night.
Bedtime and wake up time
Newborns (0 to 3 months old babies) usually have a later bedtime, but this is only until they start to settle. If you want to know when is the ideal bedtime for your infant, know that you should put your baby to sleep at 6-8 pm, and he should wake up at around 6-8 am. If your baby is put to sleep later than 8 pm he has a high chance he’s suffering from being overtired.
I know that, as a new parent, it may be scary and exhausting, but you have to know that it will be better, and easier. As your baby will grow, he will need less feedings throughout the night, and he will reach deep sleep easier. Also, you will be better at being a parent, and in helping him to get the rest he needs. Rock him, cuddle him, or sing him a lullaby song so he can get back to sleep.
How does your newborn sleeps? Have you encountered difficulties? Share them with us.
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