Baby Sleep Basics

Updated at: Feb 06, 2014
Baby Sleep Basics

If you are a new mother, take a look at the different sleping patterns a baby has and how you can ensure that your baby is sleeping soundly.

Bhadra Kamalasanan
Newborn CareWritten by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: May 23, 2011

A sleeping baby will seem adorable to many but for new parents it can be confusing and frustrating at times. New mothers can get extremely tired and confused with the baby’s pattern of sleeping and her own sleeping needs. Babies have no idea about day and night and have to be fed frequently but adapting with their pattern and catching up sleep with their timings is a good idea for mothers who can later slowly introduce a sleeping pattern to the baby.

Duration of sleep required by children is based on their age but then it is equally important to remember that every child is different and will have different sleeping schedules.

Baby sleeping

Newborn – up to Six Months

A newborn needs to and may sleep for sixteen to twenty hours but of course, not at a stretch. These long hours of sleep get broken down into small slots which are interrupted by feeding times and general wakefulness at times.


Sleeping Slot of a Newborn

A sleeping slot can be for two to five hours for the newborn. Babies too, experience the same phases of sleep that adults do which starts with drowsiness, light sleep and deep slumber and later wakefulness accompanied by a cry for being fed or being cuddled by the mother. As time passes, a baby will need fewer hours of sleep as compared with initial times and will slowly adjust to a daylight and nighttime rhythm. A newborn would need to be woken up after every two-three hours for feeding as weight gain during the first month is crucial for the baby’s health and growth.


A Healthy Sleeping Pattern must be Encouraged

When the baby is around three months old, he/she will catch more sleep during the night as compared with the day. The baby may sleep for ten hours with a few interruptions in between during nighttime while catching up five to six hours of sleep during the day. A baby might wake up during his night sleep but will also get back to sleep on his own; it is better to watch and let the baby get used to sleeping by himself. If the wakefulness is accompanied by crying that continues for several minutes then you should respond promptly. It may be a sign of distress, illness, hunger or discomfort. If the baby needs feeding or a diaper change then it is best to do it as quickly as possible. Remember, you are setting a pattern of sleep for the baby and any unnecessary stimulation will make him feel that this is what he is supposed to do. Keep the lights dim; do not talk or sing; attend to the baby’s needs quietly and leave him to get back to sleep.

sleeping pattern of baby

Baby Sleeping Tips

  • The moment your baby starts feeling drowsy put him into his cot before he actually dozes off as this will make him relate the cot to sleep and slowly a pattern can be set. To set a pattern of sleep, you would need to repeat the same order of activities which can be a feeding, a diaper change, singing lullaby and rocking him in the cradle.
  • You should allow the baby to sleep on his own and if the baby wakes up; allow him to go back to sleep on his own unless it really needs you. Feeding and rocking your baby to sleep will make him expect the same behaviour from you at times of wakefulness at night.
  • Your baby may whimper upon waking up during sleep which is normal. Give the baby some time to cry (five minutes or so) and go back to sleep on his own. If the crying does not stop, then pay a visit near the baby cot to check on the baby.

Six to Twelve Months

After six months of age, the baby has almost set to a sleep pattern. The baby might be napping for three to four hours during daytime while sleeping for ten to eleven hours at night.


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