For most new parents, their life and time largely revolve around nurturing and providing care for their babies. In the midst of all the chaos, the one thing that parents struggle with most is developing a proper sleep pattern for their little ones.
Imagine your little one suddenly up and crying in the middle of the night and you have no idea how to calm him down.
Your little one is constantly up and down, eating and sleeping every few hours—sometimes less! Getting them on a schedule is challenging to say the least. Especially when you know how important sleep is for your baby to grow and develop.
Why Parents Struggle with Developing A Sleep Routine
As a parent, you want your infant to eat, rest, and sleep well. However, most new parents aren’t familiar with nuances of the baby sleep process—mainly that sleep is a learned skill— which may leave you wondering:
- How long should my baby nap?
- When will my baby sleep through the night?
- What is the ideal bedtime for the baby?
- How often a baby’s sleep schedule change over time?
As you try to figure out these questions, the first thing to understand here is the importance of having a proper sleep routine for the baby.
Why Babies Need A Proper Sleep Schedule
The importance of sleep in a baby’s overall development cannot be emphasized enough. Similar to adults, sleep is an integral part of daily life for babies too as it helps in developing cognitive abilities.
Apart from this, there are multiple reasons why the young ones need to sleep well in the early months of their life such as:
- It helps to keep your baby well-rested
- Allows them to grow adequately
- Improves brain development and immune system
- Aids in behavior, learning capacities, and mental health development
Pediatric Sleep Disorders
If you’ve tried these solutions and shuteye continues to evade your child, it may be time to get them in to see their medical practitioner. You may even have some more serious concerns that require a doctor visit. When it comes to medical problems, nothing truly beats the hands-on experience a doctor can provide.
How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ideal amount of sleep for infants under one-year-old is anywhere between 12 to 16 hours.
Here is the detailed breakup of an ideal sleep schedule for babies by their age:
- A newborn from birth to around 6 weeks should sleep throughout the day and night, only waking up to be fed every few hours.
- They should sleep for almost 8-9 hours during the day and 7-8 hours at night. However, the longest consolidated stretch of sleep will only be a few hours long, as babies need to eat very frequently.
- During this stage, babies are still adjusting to their circadian rhythm and need help to sleep either through rocking or breastfeeding.
- During this stage, babies should ideally sleep for a total of 13-14 hours
- By this time, your baby will settle into 2-3 daily naps, each 2-3 hours long.
- At this stage, the longest uninterrupted sleep is usually around 4 hours on the younger side and up to 8 hours on the older side. However, some babies will still be sleeping shorter stretches through 6 months and beyond as they learn to self-soothe.
4 – 8 Months
- The total number of sleeping hours that a baby needs at this point of growth is 12-14 hours a day
- This includes 2-3 naps totaling 3-5 hours a day
- By the time the baby hits the 8-month mark, the total sleep they need is 12-14 hours a day with 2-3 naps in between
- The longest sleep stretch you can expect here is 6-10 hours at night.
How a bedtime routine can help set your baby’s schedule
The goal of a bedtime routine should be to keep the baby well-rested and prevent him/her from getting over-exhausted. It should be implemented consistently to become your baby’s signal that it’s time for sleep. This routine can help get your sleep schedule in place.
Follow these steps to develop a consistent routine that helps your baby develop a sleep pattern and allow him to learn how to sleep on his own.
- Create a soothing bedtime environment by dimming the lights, playing soft baby music, etc.
- Spend some quality time with the baby cuddling, singing lullabies, reading bedtime stories, etc.
- Once the baby is on the brink of falling asleep put him into the crib
Follow this routine with consistency until you learn to anticipate your baby’s natural sleep timings and put him down while he’s sleepy but still awake.
There is no denying the fact that life with a newborn can be very intense for parents. No matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, nothing can prepare you fully for the realities of dealing with sleep issues of a newborn.
But as your baby gets older they will naturally fall into a wake-eat-sleep cycle and you’ll see more predictability in their sleeping patterns. In the meantime, starting with a consistent routine will help develop at least a semblance of a schedule that you can better establish over time.