Infant sleep patterns

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One of the many subjects that worries new parents is whether their new-born infant is getting quality sleep. This not only refers to the duration of their sleep, but also the frequency of their naps and the positions that they adopt while they nap. Speaking of sleep duration, here is a rough chart of how much your baby should be sleeping at different stages of infancy:

Newborn – 4 months
Total Sleep: 16-18 hours
Night-time Sleep: 8-9 hours
Naps: 7-9 hours (3-5 naps)

4 months – 12 months
Total Sleep: 12-16 hours
Night-time Sleep: 9-10 hours
Naps: 4-5 hours (2-3 naps)

1 year – 2 years
Total Sleep: 11-14 hours
Night-time Sleep: 11 hours
Naps: 2-3 hours (2 naps)

Conditioning a baby to self-soothe is very important because it helps them fall asleep on their own when they wake up abruptly in the middle of the night. The best way to do this is to put your baby down when he / she is drowsy but still awake. This will reduce their dependency on you when it comes to falling asleep. Also avoid habituating the baby to being rocked or fed to sleep. This will only condition their mind to associate those actions with sleep and they will not be able to fall asleep if those actions are not repeated every time they are drowsy.

Changes in your baby’s activity as he / she grows up will most surely effect their sleep patterns too. For example, a baby that used to sleep through the night until a week ago, might suddenly start waking up multiple times in the middle of the night. This is related to them beginning to turn over, crawl or walk. Just like how varying physical activity effects our sleep habits and patterns, a babies physical activity has the same impact. Do not worry or panic during these changes, just stick to the routines that have worked for the baby and they will adapt. Infants are much stronger than most people think!

Keeping the infant safe during sleep is another major concern for new parents.

Follow these simple guidelines to ensure their safety during nap time:

  1. Make sure that your baby sleeps on his / her back until the first birthday.
  2. Use a firm sleeping surface.
  3. Keep your baby’s sleep area in your own room, or as close to you as possible for the first 6 months to a year.
  4. Never lay your baby down on a sofa, couch or furniture that doesn’t have protective edges.
  5. Soft objects such as pillows, rugs and linen could suffocate the infant when you aren’t paying attention. Keep such objects away from the sleep area.
  6. Swaddling should only be done when the baby is on its back and should never be too tight or too loose. When you feel that the baby has started trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling as it discourages the natural movements that the baby is trying to make.

Quality sleep and quality nutrition go hand-in-hand where a baby’s optimum development is concerned. To learn more about the right nutrition for your baby, read our blog on the subject.