Babies love to sleep! This is a good thing because plenty of rest is essential for a new baby to thrive. In fact, when an infant or child is sleeping their body goes through the most changes.
The average sleep time per day for infants is between 14 and 17 hours, spread out throughout the day in naps and at nighttime. Because babies often sleep sporadically and wake up crying, parents find themselves completely wiped out even though the baby is technically sleeping for many hours.
During the first year of life, the infant is rapidly growing and they need to have plenty of sleep and food to do so. The reason why babies wake up so often is that they get hungry about every three hours.
Even if the baby is completely asleep, the parents are supposed to wake them up to feed them every few hours. This will interrupt the parent’s usual sleep schedule of 6-8 hours of sleep per night since they need to get up to feed the baby every two to three hours.
What Does a Normal Sleep Pattern Look Like For Babies?
On average, a baby sleeps for 14-17 hours each day. This is spread out between naps during the day and nighttime sleep for the first three months of life. By six months, old babies start to sleep for longer periods at a time. This is because a new infant has a tiny stomach that can only hold a little bit of food, so they are hungry very often. When the belly grows to be able to hold more food, they are able to sleep for longer periods without being woken up by hunger. As they grow older, the time they need to sleep averages about 12-16 hours by the first year.
The sleep schedule of the parents will change as well. Because they need to feed the baby (and change its diaper) every 1.5-3 hours during all 24 hours of the day, the parents will get the most rest by sleeping while the baby is sleeping. This includes taking daytime naps unless they want to be completely worn out. It is important for the new parents also to get enough sleep so that they are alert and ready to care for their child. Not enough sleep can make both adults and babies irritable and grouchy.
- Babies under three months old should sleep between 11-19 hours per day.
- Babies over four months old should sleep between 10-18 hours per day.
How to Promote Healthy Sleeping Habits for a Baby
Sometimes babies sleep too much and are low energy when they are awake. This is usually due to not having enough food or hydration in their system to sustain them. Babies who are sleeping for too long or are lethargic when they are awake should be checked for signs of dehydration, illness, or being too cold/hot.
One of the best ways to get a baby to fall asleep fast is to gently rock it to sleep in your arms or in a basket. Swaddling the baby is also a good idea for the first few months of their life. Sometimes a fussy baby can be soothed by sucking on a pacifier.
Preparing the Room
The room or nursery that the baby sleeps in should be quiet, dark, and kept at a comfortable temperature. Many parents prefer to keep their baby close to their bed while they sleep, but using a nanny cam that alerts you when the baby wakes up is another option for keeping tabs on the baby.
Studies have shown that the baby will get the healthiest and safest sleep when lying on their back. Sleeping on their bellies has been connected with SIDS. Another important safety precaution is to make sure that a blanket, stuffed animal, or clothes do not accidentally cover the baby’s face. It is not a good idea to let other children sleep in the same room as the baby because they may be tempted to try to play with the infant while the parents are asleep. Do not sleep with the baby in the same bed as the parents.
Babies sleep a lot and wake up a lot. Usually, they will wake up on their own every couple of hours for feedings and diaper changes and go back to sleep afterward on their own, but sometimes they will need to be coaxed back to sleep. Even if the infant sleeps for an extended period of time on their own, it is important for the parents to wake them up for food every few hours if the baby is not eating enough or gaining weight fast enough. Consult with a medical professional if you are unsure of whether you need to wake your baby up to feed them.
Are you looking for help with sleep challenges in your family? Louise at Petite Dreamers will make sure your time is not wasted chasing methods that are not a good fit for your family. She will be available for you and ready to respond to any questions you have about the process. Get in touch with her today for a FREE 15-minute discovery call.