When do babies sleep through the night? The average newborn sleeps for long hours during both nighttime and daytime with brief interruptions aimed at feeding. In the first few weeks, there is no set schedule and the little ones cannot distinguish between day and night. In some cases, they sleep throughout the day and wake up at night.
When do babies sleep through the night?
Generally, they start to sleep through the night from three months or when they weigh at least 11 pounds. However, the patterns vary with some infants reaching close to one year before they to start to sleep throughout the night.
One of the major reasons behind the irregular sleep patterns is that infants have a small stomach. This means they need to feed every few hours. It is common for babies to wake up for some milk every three hours. However, it is vital to pay close attention to the sleep patterns. In some instances, sudden interruptions may be due to a problem like an ear infection. It is also possible for the little one to experience sleep disturbances as a result of over-stimulation or changes in development.
Sleep patterns also vary by age. For newborns, three hours is the average sleep time while two- to three-month old tend to sleep more than 3 hours (typically five to six hours). By four months, babies start spending up to eight hours catching some sleep because they have attained the required weight. A nighttime of feeding is no longer necessary at this stage. For the parents, it is time to say goodbye to the graveyard shift.
Sleep states of infants
Infants have varying states of slumber, which are determined by a variety of factors. They can have active sleep first before drifting into deep slumber. The patterns start forming in the third trimester of pregnancy. Parents can expect their child to enjoy two types of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. The later comes with at least four stages:
First Stage :- eyes droop, baby is drowsy, dozing
Second Stage ;- light sleep characterized by movements (infant may startle in response to sounds)
Third Stage :- deep slumber with no visible movements
Fourth Stage :- very deep slumber with no movements
On the other hand, REM (rapid eye movement sleep) entails light sleep with eye movement. The child may dream when in REM. On average, infants spend about half of their sleep time in REM sleep, which is roughly 8 hours.
How to help baby settle
Babies may lack the capacity to establish their own sleeping and waking patterns, particularly the former. Parents can employ a wide variety tactics to help the little one sleep better. First, it is important to identify signs of being ready for sleep. These include fussing, yawning and rubbing eyes.
For babies to sleep in a bed soundly, make an effort to keep nighttime feeds calm and quiet while daytime feeds should be lively and social. This has the capacity to set the baby’s schedule by distinguishing between night and day. Also, give your child the opportunity to sleep on his own. The sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythms begin developing from six weeks. The rhythms are responsible for regulating sleep. This is a good time to introduce the baby to a distinctive pattern.
However, some strategies like rocking the little one to sleep may induce an unintended reaction — dependency. As a result, he may find it difficult to settle down and sleep by himself. Another option is to set a shorter bedtime routine from the age three months. This approach allows parents to set a quiet time before the routine starts. Winding down activities and switching off radios as well TVs allows the baby to relax. Setting the routine in motion with a bath is a viable option that relaxes the child. A calming massage can aid in settling the infant.
Six-month old often respond well to the use of security objects like a stuffed animal or baby blanket. The object reassures the little one since at this age, they tend to develop a sharper awareness of separation. Hence, the need to hold a familiar object. However, a soft toy or comforter are not suitable for babies younger than six months because they may pose a safety risk.
When he cries, resist the temptation to comfort him immediately. Try waiting for a minute or so; this may give him time to calm down and settle himself.
At the end of the sleep cycles in their own room, babies awaken and enter the quiet alert phase. They get a feel of the surroundings and may respond to motion or sounds in addition to staring at objects. After a while, infants transition to the active alert phase. The stage is characterized by attentiveness and movements. This is soon followed by the crying stage, which necessitates calming or feeding the child.