Sleep is an important factor in the development of mental and physical health of newborn babies at an early stage of life. The newborn baby’s brain tries to regulate their body requirements as per their surroundings. Through the proper regulation of the newborn baby’s sleep cycle, close attention and care, massage, and diet, the baby can grow up mentally and physically healthy
Babies do not show a normal sleep pattern of day and night routine until they enter their fourth month. That is why most of the parents are told to uphold any kind of sleep training until they are at least four months old.
Average Time of sleep for babies
The average time newborn babies sleep is around 8 to 9 hours during day time while approximately 8 hours at night time. In the early month, their sleeping pattern is highly irregular, they wake up only for feedings every few hours but regardless they are asleep most of the time. The sleeping pattern is different for each baby; some of them sleep during the day while their sleep pattern at night is not appreciable, a few of them wake up every three hours for feeding. Some of the sleep disturbances occur due to the changes in their development which are normal at this stage.
Importance of sleep
Sleep is such a crucial factor in the development of a newborn that it ensures the proper release of growth hormone. Sleep impacts the newborn through;
Growth hormone “Somatotrophin” is mostly released when the baby is in deep sleep therefore sleep is an important factor that directly affects the baby’s growth.
Good and long period of sleep routines helps in the development of the physical health of the child. If the baby sleeps for very short durations in intervals then it can lead to early childhood obesity. As the average sleeping time for infants is considered 14 to 18 hours a day so sleeping less than 9 hours can lead to child overweight issues.
When the babies are asleep, their body works out in the development of their brain while they are resting. Regular sleep patterns ensure that their motor and sensory nerves are at rest which leads to higher developmental scores as per the scientific studies because the child is new in this world and they learn about their body and environmental interactions.
Sleep is important for babies as their immune system is still underdeveloped and needs proper nourishment. If a newborn baby is sleep-deprived then they are more prone to infections and diseases as compared to the baby who sleeps well.
How sleep cycle changes when they grow up
Most of the newborn babies do not follow the regular sleep patterns at once. Their average sleeping time of 14 to 18 hours a day variates as they undergo mental and physical health development. By the end of the third-month baby starts picking up on the sleep routine and tends to sleep more at night than daytime. As they develop, their sleep patterns are more regular at night and they wake only once or twice during night time. As toddlers, their sleep time at night reaches up to 11 to 14 hours while they nap for 2 to 3 hours during the day time.
How do you know when your baby wants to sleep
A newborn baby needs the essential amount of rest for their mental and physical health development therefore when a baby is ready to sleep, some of the signs they show are;
- Fussing for no reason – even after they are fed.
- Continuous yawning
- Rubbing their eyes.
- Become quiet for a long time
- Make sleeping sounds
- Facial grimaces – like making faces
- Clenched fists
- Very quick to cry
- Droopy eyes – are an indication when they are about to fall asleep.
If parents overlook these signs then it may lead to the baby’s constant crying as they become annoyed when they get overtired.
Do the newborn cry themselves to sleep?
Crying is considered a normal response by babies when they cannot go to sleep. Experts and research studies agree to the fact that a baby who cries themselves to sleep does not harm them in any way. It is rather considered a good thing because the child learns to sleep by themselves after fussing for a few days. Most of the babies start learning of sleeping habits at about 4 months. Parents find it hard for themselves to endure the baby’s cry of comfort so they immediately run to soothe them which is fine but they need to keep a time limit until when they need to let the baby be on their own to help them learn how to sleep on their own.
Things you can do to help your baby to have good sleep
Parents want their newborn to sleep well and get rest but sometimes they find this task a little difficult to achieve. Few tips are mentioned here that might help the baby to get better sleep;
Dim lights, soothing background music, or lullabies provide a perfect soothing environment for the baby to sleep with ease. Make sure the temperature of the room is normal for the baby otherwise they would get fussy.
Fixed bedtime schedule
Daily activities for the newborn baby must be fixed like their lullabies, feeding time sleep pattern, it does not come at once but is achieved over time by trying to act on the assigned routine. This will eventually put them in rhythm with their daily routine and help them get good sleep at night.
Minimum activity at night
New-born babies are more sensitive to noise in the early stages so it is preferred to have minimum to no activity at night during their sleep time. When they get hungry, make sure they get fully fed to avoid waking up again due to hunger reasons.
Put the baby in the crib – even they are awake
When the baby starts showing signs of sleep, they must be put to bed or crib while they are still drowsy but awake so they can get accustomed to their surroundings every time. In the starting days, they will start fussing or crying but it is up to the parents that either they would apply Ferber’s method or gently rock the baby to sleep.
The feeling of safety
In the starting days, it will be hard for the baby to get used to sleeping because they need to feel secure all the time. Parents can stay with them and rub their bellies or massage their head but make sure to do it in an irregular pattern because the baby might start getting used to it.
What are the best positions to sleep?
Most babies prefer to sleep on their bellies but scientific research and studies have established that they should be put to sleep on their back to avoid SIDS that is Sudden Infant Death as a result of heart rate irregularity or breathing problems.
When will my baby start sleeping through the night?
Parents dream of the day when their newborn baby can sleep through the night without any interruptions. Usually, the baby’s sleep cycle is disturbed by their hunger for food, they wake up in the middle of the night but oftentimes they cannot go back to sleep. This routine will carry on until the newborn baby enters the fourth month. The training starts taking effect after they have reached their sixth month where they can sleep on their own with a little assistance required.
Tricks to put the baby to sleep at night
- Babies often cry themselves to sleep at night when they wake up, which is also known as the Ferber Method. Parents put the baby for the bedtime routine and let the baby cry until they fall asleep. They wait for a longer period each time before entering checking up on the baby. For the first few nights, parents spend a lot of their time listening to the baby’s cries after entering and checking on the baby.
- Parents can sing lullabies or rock them gently before putting them down for sleep, while they are still awake. This soothing routine helps the baby’s mind to relax and it helps put the baby to sleep by themselves.
- Parents put the baby’s bedtime by ten to twenty minutes each day until they set it at perfect timing for bedtime at night.
- Most often, the soothing night sounds help calm the newborn and their sleep pattern is not affected as well
Can a newborn sleep in their own room?
A newborn baby’s best place is with their parents. Parents can put them in a crib which should be placed beside their bed. They should not be assigned a separate room at such an early stage, although science says that babies between the age limit of 6 to 12 months can be put in separate rooms but with a baby monitor installed in any case.
Do babies dream?
The newborn babies do dream while they are in a state of deep sleep. They are often seen smiling or sometimes whimpering while they are asleep. It is nothing to worry about but the way the baby smiles is a sight to see.
The above-mentioned information on sleep cycles in newborn babies ensures the healthy growth and development of infants provided they get uninterrupted and sufficient sleep. Sleep pattern is mostly affected by the brain activities so if the brain is completely relaxed it would benefit the infant in more ways than one as mentioned here.