We would think that after suckling, sleep would be the most natural behavior that babies adapt to. How wrong were we! The sleeping patterns of babies are so irregular and so erratic that these tiny little ones leave their parents sleepless, tired, and helpless in just a few weeks of coming out.
Let’s start with why sleep is so important for newborns and toddlers.
- Somatotropin is a growth hormone that decides the physical growth of babies. 80% of this hormone is secreted when the child is asleep
- Did you know that babies who slept for 12 hours or lesser at infancy have a higher risk of becoming obese as they grow older?
- Sleep is a state of increased mental activity. In babies and toddlers, the brain recollects information and learns while asleep.
Your baby’s sleep time must now mean more than just a time for you to lean back and relax. The number of hours of undisturbed sleep your baby gets is going to affect mental and physical growth with time. In this article, we will talk about regular sleep patterns in babies and understand how to make sleep time manageable for the baby and the caretaker.
Sleep schedules for babies
The graph below is a clear pictorial description of baby sleep hours depending on the age. This is just an average number and your child can sleep slightly more or slightly less depending on different physical and environmental factors.
Newborns until 6 months of age sleep multiple times over the day. Between 6 and 18 months, there can be 2 daytime naps and one night nap. After 18 months, toddlers usually sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours in the afternoon and 8-10 hours at night.
Why do babies resist sleep time?
Some babies find it very difficult to calmly fall asleep. Babies can start getting up and playing, refuse to lie back, or keep playing with their hands and feet without closing the eyes. As babies start talking, they start getting really excited about their newfound voice and keep talking all through sleep time.
Some kids can get cranky and irritated before sleep time and end up crying and creating a fuss before they sleep off.
Here are few things that cause sleep resistance.
- Over exhaustion
- No set schedule for sleeping
- Physical discomforts like uncomfortable bedding, feeling too hot/too cold
Identifying signs of sleep in babies
Identifying signs of sleep in babies will help prevent over stimulating and over-exhausting them and help develop a calmer atmosphere before bedtime. Look for these sleep cues.
- Rubbing eyes, rubbing ears
- Asking the patent to carry
- Getting silent all of a sudden
- Blinking eyes often
- Lying down from sitting position
- Sucking thumb
The trick is to not wait until the baby is overly tired. Over tiredness can lead to crankiness and difficulty in falling asleep. Stay ahead of the child and sleep time will be something both you and the child look forward to.
Actions that create healthy baby sleep patterns
Here are few ways you can create healthy baby sleep patterns for babies of all ages.
Swaddling – One of the best gifts you can give to your baby is uninterrupted sleep time. You can achieve this with swaddling. NaturesCuddle has talked about the immense benefits of swaddling and the process of doing it right. Check this out to get an idea. Always use good quality 100% pure cotton swaddle cloths. These don’t restrict the movement of the baby and also allow airflow.
Have a set night routine - A set night routine is very important to mentally prepare the baby to sleep. Sleep routines work in newborns and in slightly older children too. You can start by bathing the baby, changing clothes, playing specific songs, and switching off the light. The baby starts identifying these routines with sleep time and doesn’t resist as much.
Try white noise – White noise is really useful to help the baby relax. Experts say that white noise sounds like the noise the baby heard while in the womb. As a result, the baby quickly relaxes.
Invest in the right bedding – Always choose soft, 100% cotton bed sheets and blankets for your baby. These make sleep time more comfortable.
Try introducing a sleep blankie – A sleep blankie is something that is comforting to the baby. The baby starts sleeping holding the blanket in hand and this blanket slowly becomes very close to the baby. As the little one grows up, just touching and feeling the blanket will encourage the child to go to sleep. Such sleep blankets are amazing tools to set sleep patterns in babies. Give these a try. You can look for 100% organic cotton sleep blankets on NaturesCuddle. These come in attractive prints and colors.
Avoid sweets before mealtime – Sweets stimulate the brain and make children overactive. Avoid sugar in all forms at least 2 hours before sleep time to encourage fuss-free sleeping.
Choose the right clothing – In summers, avoid using multiple layers of clothing that can make the baby overheated and uncomfortable. Pick onesies, shorts, and t-shirts that are loose and comfortable. In winters, pick footed rompers that cover the feet and keep them warm.
Associate darkness with sleep time – Even during the daytime, when you are putting the baby to sleep, use dark shaded curtains and create a dark environment. At night, switch off the lights the minute you put the child to bed. Do not use bright night lamps. This way, the babies start associating darkness to sleep and will sleep off quicker.
While we talk about sleep patterns in babies, do know that there are no set rules for the same. Some children find it unable to sleep all through the night for even up to 2 years. Other babies quickly adapt to night and daytime sleep in just a few weeks.
Do not pressurize the baby when it comes to sleeping. Make sure the child does not start associating sleep time with negative emotions. Patience is the key to creating healthy sleep patterns. Start making a baby sleep chart every day if you think your baby has problems sleeping. The journal will make it easier to discuss the problem with your pediatrician.