We all know that babies have varying sleeping patterns. They require much more sleep in comparison to adults. On an average, babies under the age of three months sleep nearly twice as much as their parents. Moreover, half of this takes place during the daytime. Newborn babies or infants do not sleep for a very long stretch at a time, as they need to wake up for small feeds. Up to three months, babies sleep in cycles through the day, with longer spells at night. Though the duration of the cycle varies from infant to infant, a normal baby sleeps for about two hours at a time in the day and four to six hours at night.
Just like any adult, babies also experience different phases of sleep. There are different levels of sleep that all the people switch over to and from, such as they go from drowsiness to light sleep, then go into dream sleep and finally fall back in deep sleep. This is basically a cycle, following which they come back up again through dream sleep and light sleep to the surface, before going down again. This sleep cycle holds true for both babies and adults and occurs about five times a night. On a biological note, these sleep cycles appear in babies even before they are born.
While the baby is in dream sleep, his eyes dart back and forth under his eyelid, which is known as REM or Random Eye Movement. The rest of the body appears to be still, except for occasional twitches or irregular breathing. On the contrary in a sound sleep, the baby breathes deeply and regularly. Mostly, the body is quite still at such times, though it may occasionally make little sucking movements with her mouth or "startle". These sudden jerks of the whole body are known as hypnagogic startles and are completely normal.
Things to Remember
- Majority of the parents simply love the activities of their newborn. In the process, they might forget to take special care of the sleeping patterns of their baby. Parents should remember that being wide-awake in the night and sleeping all through the day disturbs their sleep as well as affects the development of the baby too. Therefore, they should try out things that would promote sleep during the night, at the same time, reduce sleeping all through the day.
- To ensure that your baby sleeps consistently in the night, increase the frequency of daytime nursing. Observe the movements of your infant. Sucking on his fist and making soft sounds are the telltale signs that your baby is hungry. Identify the behavior and feed him during the day as well as in the early evening hours. This would make him sleep consistently, during the night.
- Establishing a bed time routine would help you a great deal in ensuring a sound sleep in the night. Calm down your baby by giving him a bath (by just dipping him in lukewarm water), just before going to bed. This would help him sleep well, in the night.