Sleeping habits differ for babies, depending on their age. Newborns sleep most of the time, but their sleep is in very short segments. As a baby grows the length of their sleep in the daytime slowly decreases, but the length of their nighttime sleep increases.
Generally, newborns sleep about 8 to 9 hours in the daytime and 8 hours at night. They may not sleep more than 1 to 2 hours at a time in the day. Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) without waking until they are some months old, or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds. About two-thirds of babies are able to sleep through the night on a regular basis by age of 6 months.
Unlike adults, babies have a different sleep cycle. Babies spend much less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is also dream time sleep.
For one to know when an infant is having a sleep problem, the infant would begin to regularly sleep through the night then wake up at night again which causes great discomfort to the parents. This often happens at about 6 months old, it is a case identified as “separation anxiety”. This anxiety is caused when the child does not understand that separations from their parents are short-term(temporary). The babies may begin to have trouble going to sleep due to this anxiety, or because they are overstimulated or overtired.
Common responses by babies when they experience these night awakenings include;
- Waking and crying one or more times in the night
2. Crying when you leave the room
3. Refusing to sleep without a parent nearby
4. Clinging to the parent at separation
In some cases, sleep issues are as a result of illness and it is advisable to speak with your baby’s healthcare provider.
It is also important to know and learn your infant’s sign of sleep readiness. Sleep readiness means teaching him or her to fall asleep on his own and comforting the child through the period he or she is awake. You can tell when an infant is ready to sleep when they show some of these signs:
- Rubbing of eyes
3. Looking away
Sometimes the baby might be unable to fall asleep and also create sleep patterns alone, not all babies can fall asleep by themselves. Creating a bedtime routine is an excellent method , however, don’t let the child fall asleep in your arms, as this may become a pattern. Your infant may begin to expect to be in your arms when they fall asleep, when the baby wakes up it would be hard to go back to sleep. Babies who feel secure are better at handling separations, especially at night.
Cuddling and comforting your baby during the day can help him or her feel secure.
There other ways to help your baby learn to sleep which includes;
1.Allowing time for naps each day as required for your baby’s age
2.Create a bedtime routine such as bath, read books, rocking
3.Play soft music while your baby gets sleepy
4.Being consistent with the routine and your responses
5.Sing lullabies or rhymes to your infant
It is also important to monitor your baby when asleep to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).