Sleeping patterns of babies is a tricky and confusing routine for parents. While few babies sleep throughout the day and night without troubling their parents there are others who make their parents life miserable with their sleeping patterns. The way a baby sleeps depends on the circumstance at home, family routine and the general climatic condition of the area.
A newborn baby should sleep around 16-18 hours a day. This forms about 75% of the time on a single day. So a newborn should typically sleep for 8 hours during the day and 8 hours during the night. It wakes up mainly for feeds and nappy changes. Once the baby completes one month, its sleep gets reduced to 15 hours a day which is distributed as 6 1/2 hours during the day and 8 ½ hours during the night. This pattern gradually slows down to 14 hours once the baby is 6 months old. By that time, the baby should normally sleep for 4 hours during the day and 10 hours during the night. But the actual sleeping pattern of the babies may vary depending on their feeding time, play time and general atmosphere inside the house. While some babies take short naps of 30 minutes each several times a day some would sleep at a stretch of 2-3 hours at a time.
How to develop a sleeping pattern?
Most babies would have developed a sleep routine by the time they are 3-4 months old. Here are few tips for developing a sleeping pattern:
Distinguish between day and night: You should teach your baby the difference between day and night. During the day, play with the baby as much as possible. Massage his body and give him a good bath. Tickle him and wake him up if he falls asleep while feeding. Keep the room bright and airy. Make the baby familiar with common sounds like that of birds, vehicles etc. Once it is night try to create a sober and relaxing mood inside the house. Turn the light into dim mode. Give a relaxing bath and sing lullaby. All this creates an impression that it’s time to wind up the day.
Follow a set time: Put the baby to sleep at the same time everyday. The ideal time would be 8-8.30pm. Never keep the baby awake until he’s overtired. This makes them cranky and they may not get a proper night’s sleep.
Make feeding and sleeping separate: After the first few months, do not feed the baby to sleep. There are certain mothers who breastfeed the baby in bed while the baby dozes off. Once the baby wakes up the feeding pattern continues. This will not only interrupt the baby’s sleep but also develop a habit which becomes difficult to change later on. Moreover bottle feeding the baby while he’s asleep can result in tooth decay and its resulting problems.
Develop a bedtime routine: Once the baby is close to one years old, you can develop a bedtime routine. Bath him and change into sleepwear. Use bedtime lotion with sweet aromas to set the mood. Read out a story or sing a lullaby. Make sure that you follow this routine everyday including weekends.
Developing a sleeping pattern for the baby is not an easy task since each child follows his/her own pattern. Lot of patience and good family support helps in making this arduous task an easy one.