Is Your Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

By Misty on in Baby Sleep Needs Health Concerns with 2 Comments

Is Your Baby Getting Enough Sleep?
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Getting enough rest is vital to the development of your baby. In fact, it’s just as important as food to your baby. Did you know that children who sleep longer and have healthy sleep habits have longer attention spans and higher IQs? There have even been studies that claim that more sleep positively affects neurological development and appears to help with the prevention of many learning and behavioral problems.

In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth MD he states:

“Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as lifting weights builds strong muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best.”

Newborn Sleep

If you have a newborn, you are probably already familiar with the irregular sleep patterns of your new baby. Their brains haven’t quite learned about circadian rhythms. What are circadian rhythms? It is how our bodies learn that night time is for sleeping and day time is for being awake. It revolves around a 24 hour period and it can take weeks to learn. From a baby’s point of view, coming straight from the womb, they haven’t developed circadian rhythms, so their sleep and awake time can happen at any time for awhile.

Newborns can sleep anywhere from 12-18 hours each day on quite an irregular schedule with small chunks of time one to three hours long being awake. It is during this time that you can help your baby begin to learn when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to stay awake. During the day it may help your baby to stay awake by keeping him or her in a brightly lit room or where the sun is shining into. You ca also play with your baby often during the day and keep them in a part of the house that has activity and noise.

At night time, when you are want your baby to learn it’s time for sleep, keep noise to a minimum and be sure that baby is going to sleep in a dim room with no distractions of sight or sound. It won’t happen immediately but over the next few months your baby will begin to learn when it’s time for bed.

Baby Sleep for the First Year

While the first couple of months mean lots of 2 AM feedings and a baby who is still learning to fall asleep easily, the next few months only get better.

By about six months old your baby should be getting around 14-16 hours total with night time sleep and naps. She may still wake up at night but usually it won’t be for a feeding. She could be waking due to not having learned to self-soothe yet or if you are putting your baby to bed with a bottle, it could be also that she is waking just to search for her bottle. There are other triggers that could be causing her to wake as well such as a change in routine, illness, teething or separation anxiety.

If this is happening, the best thing you can do is step back and really evaluate why she is waking up at night. What is causing her to wake up? Is the dog barking outside her window? Is it cold in the house? Is she still needing her bottle? Whatever the reason is, your goal is to find it and fix it. Whatever you do, however, don’t change your bedtime routine if it’s working. It is the one constant she can count on to help to sleep at night, she might just need a little adjusting to whatever is happening at night after she falls asleep.

From about nine months on, your baby may be sleeping through the night. Most babies in this age range will sleep from 8-12 hours during the night and still take one or two naps during the day.

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  1. Missy Bell

    October 29, 2013 at 1:48 am · Reply

    I was always one to sleep forever, even as a newborn. I've carried into adulthood. If I don't get 8-9 hours of sleep more than 2 nights in a row, by day 3 I notice a decrease in attention span and the ability to think as quickly. Great article. Missy Bell

    1. Misty

      October 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm · Reply

      My second daughter who is now 14 sounds a lot like you. She is such a great sleeper and can sleep for what seems like days. It's great hearing how your sleep habits have carried over into adulthood. I'm a firm believer in that!

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