Newborn Sleep 101: Sleep Basics
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You have blessed with a newborn baby, and beyond all of your love for him/her, you have no idea of your baby’s restlessness reason, Right? Most newborn babies sleep in a manner that is not regular in pattern, and this can continue for the first six weeks to 12 weeks and these days and nights can be very restless for you and your partner. Again, it is because babies need undivided care and attention during these days. But after three to four months, you can train your baby to sleep in regular patterns, and newborns are remarkably flexible and adaptable. You can also teach them to sleep on their own when they are well fed.
There are few essential things that you need to understand while taking care of your newborn baby. So you would not need to stress out.
Let’s explore these tenets that can make you and your baby peaceful:
1. Newborn baby’s sleep patterns are unpredictable
Usually, your baby has irregular and unpredictable sleep patterns because they have not yet developed circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle and an internal clock that cycles at regular times between sleeplessness and attentiveness). As a result, your kiddie pie will usually sleep from 14 to 17 hours per day. But, of course, your newborn is the boss of his own- he can nap from 15 minutes to 3 hours, randomly. Fortunately, these unpredictable patterns will not last long, and your baby will develop a rhythm after 4 to 5 months.
2. Newborns are often hungry
Are you worried about your baby’s always crying reason for hunger? It’s natural!
Newborn babies have cute little tummies, and they need regular feeding after 1 to 2 hours. You need to feed them every 2 to 3 hours, especially at night, because they can’t sleep properly if their little tummies are empty. It is one of the most prominent reasons for your baby’s irregular sleep patterns. You need to understand your baby’s cry of FEEDING ME, and after you feed your little one, he /she will go back to sleep. It’s your core responsibility not to let them wait for food as it will make them cry a lot.
3. Newborns sleep a lot
Parents of the first child always get scared of the baby’s long sleep times. But they understand gradually. If you are one of those parents, don’t get worried as it is a spontaneous process of a baby’s continued sleep. Your baby may not have a sleep pattern, but he/she will absolutely sleep a lot from 14 to 17 hours a day. Your baby may sleep from 30 minutes to three hours and then wake for feeding. Babies fulfill their need for sleep in short intervals.
4. Newborn babies are restless and noisy sleepers
Your baby will not go into a deep sleep during the first few weeks because babies sleep in REM mode (rapid eye movement). In this mode, babies move and make noise during dreaming and may wake up crying and need your attention, but your baby will develop extensive sleep mode as they grow up with few REM modes of periods of sleep. But, of course, they are little ones- how would they know to learn these modes?
Newborn babies also have irregular breathing that may include short pauses and noise during breathing. It is due to a juvenile breathing control center which will develop with time. It might also be the cause of irregular and short sleep cycles of babies. As far as they grow, it will go away.
5. Babies cannot differentiate between day and night
Newborn babies are unaware of day and night, and it can take a month to develop an awareness of day and night. However, they have seen the darkness before birth, so their confusion is natural.
Day or night does not really matter for your little ones. They will sleep almost the same in the day as at night with the regular need of feeding after short intervals. It takes 1 to 3 months for a newborn to develop a hormone that regulates sleep cycles that help them to differentiate between day and night. Unfortunately, their hormones are not functioning well, which is the most significant reason for their sleeplessness and irregular sleep periods.
6. Sleep patterns during pregnancy continue after birth
Have you ever heard or speak that the baby is most active at night during pregnancy and keep it continue after birth? It’s not more than a myth as it has so much scientific evidence of being a myth. As babies do not have sleep patterns in the womb and sleep mostly in REM mode after birth, he/she will rest for a few hours and then awake for a few hours throughout the day and night.
7. Differences between your and your babies Sleep cycle
Newborn babies have short and active sleep cycles while you have long and deep sleep cycles. Babies have this short sleep because it is necessary for their brain development, and you have to awake and take care of your baby during the night and feed him/her. During active sleep or REM sleep, your baby may move his/her eyeballs under closed eyelids. Besides, his/her arms and legs may twitch or jerk, and after few weeks, when he/she will develop deep sleep cycles, it will stop, and your baby will sleep quietly, and his/her breathing will become deep, and it might get difficult to wake him/her. Your newborn baby’s deep-sleep development might switch between short sleep and deep sleep several times during one sleep cycle.
8. Putting new born on a sleep schedule
Most parents try to make their newborn’s sleep schedule, but you should not try to put your baby on a sleep schedule because it is normal for a baby to have irregular sleep patterns, and it is due to the development of the brain and the need to eat frequently. However, you can start to train your baby after 1 to 2 months as you and your baby have started to sort out sleep patterns.
How to help your baby sleep?
Babies cannot sleep on their own. Although, you can help your baby sleep by:
- Maintaining the temperature of your baby’s room
- Providing a cozy and neat environment
- By feeding it on time
- Dimming the lights
- Playing with baby’s nose
- Rubbing baby’s head and eyes
- Play white noise
- Giving a bath
- Getting your baby changed for sleep
Not all babies are the same because every baby has his/her own sleep and wake cycle, and you need to monitor and help your baby develop a sleep and wake cycle after a few months of birth.
Sleep training methods
There are many sleep training, but it depends upon parents’ preference to choose the appropriate sleep training method to train their babies. Let’s explore a few of the techniques.
Parents try comforting ways that keep their babies relaxed, such as feeding, snuggling, rocking, reading books, or singing lullabies. Fading is basically a kind and gentle method of sleep to train a baby’s brain by keeping them comfortable.
Usually, parents choose this method and put a chair near to the crib of their baby. Then, they keep their babies in their arms and soothes them until they sleep. Although, it’s a bit tiring method as you never know when will they fall asleep. Even sometimes, parents sleep right after their babies on the chair.
Pickup method / Putdown method
It is a no-cry method of training your babies to sleep. It means all you have to do is pick them up when they cry and put them down when they are quiet, and let them sleep without you. Repeat the process until they got trained to sleep, without cry and you.
Baby sleep is what makes every parent worried and stressed. It can even level up to fatigue. Of course, as long as your babies are comfortable with their sleep patterns, you are comfortable along with them too. But it’s nothing to be cared about too much once you make a routine schedule of them sleeping at usual times and feeding them right within 2 to 3 hours. Everything gets better with time and when you give your attention, so keep giving your attention to your newborns and never get tired of their irregular patterns as they are something beyond blessing in your life.
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