Even though your newborn sleeps a lot – as much as 17 hours a day, you still feel exhausted because your new child isn’t sleeping for more than one to two hour stretches at a time.
That means he or she is waking up all day and all night throughout the first weeks of life. That means you, too, are keeping irregular hours and even though you know you should nap when the baby does, it can be hard to change the way you are used to resting.
So, you just adjust to waking up multiple times each night to feed, change and comfort your little one.
Baby Sleep Is Different Than Adult Sleep
Your baby is very lucky because the majority of their sleep time is spent in REM sleep. This causes them to have much shorter sleep cycles than an adult. Experts assert the REM sleep is needed for the large-scale development of the infant’s brain.
As your baby gets older, their unpredictable sleeping will give way to an easier to manage pattern. By the time they hit six to eight weeks, babies typically sleep longer at night and less during the day. They also experience shorter durations of REM sleep and longer stretches of deep, non-REM rest.
By the time your infant is four to six months old, he or she should be able to sleep between eight and twelve hours each night. Some babies do this as young as six weeks old, while others can’t manage it until they are six months old.
Worst case scenario is your child will continue to wake in the middle of the night well into his or her toddler years. To help your child sleep through the night, it’s important they learn positive sleep habits.
Make Sure Naps Are Always an Option
You know an overtired baby is the worst. If you don’t give your child adequate time during the day to rest, by the time you try to put them down at night, they will be in a tailspin, incapable of falling smoothly to sleep.
Infants need their rest and doing so during the day won’t mean they can’t sleep at night.
Help Your Infant Differentiate Between Day and Night
Just like adults, there are babies who get most active after the lights have gone down. You may have even felt this with your baby during pregnancy.
Initially, your little night owl will get active just as you are winding down and there isn’t anything you can do about it. But, after a few weeks, you can start teaching your little one the difference between night and day.
During his or her daytime waking, play as much as you can. Make sure his or her environment is bright and don’t attempt to muffle or silence daytime sounds, like music, the telephone or the washer and dryer.
If your baby tries to sleep while being fed, feel free to wake him or her up. During the night, there should be no playing.
Noises and lights should be kept to a minimum, as should taking. In a short time, your infant will adjust and begin to sleep more during the night.