Nearly everything you need to know
The basic guide to baby sleep every parent should start with.
Hush baby hush … At nighttime we sleep: the basic sleeping guide for parents and babies.
Your baby's sleeping habits depend first on you the parent. What is important to know and do at any age, and no less important - what not to do. Welcome to the family guide for your infant sleep.
- When you see signs of fatigue appear, signs like: rubbing eyes, pulling ears, crying etc. this is the time to lay your baby to sleep. A baby should sleep on a hard mattress - lying on his back.
- From the early age of 6 months, you should avoid "helping" your baby fall asleep: do not swing or hold them on your hands, and don’t stay long in their room so that they will learn to fall asleep on their own.
- From the age of one to three years, your baby should already know how to fall asleep on their own and sleep most of the night. It is also a great age to start and set clear boundaries with sleep and in general.
Your baby had you up all night? The same old tired you at work feeling like a zombie with red eyes? Keep in mind that you determine your baby's sleeping habits, and you can also change them.
Every baby has his/her own patterns of sleep and wakefulness that are naturally divided throughout the day. Every baby has short periods of waking during the night (yes every baby). Each baby is different from the other, and your child's sleeping habits may be different from your friends' baby sleeping habits or different from your adult children's sleeping habits when they were the same age.
Once you have identified your baby's day by day sleeping pattern, you can plan your day routine to help your baby (and the rest of the family) sleep better and sleep well. These sleeping patterns affects your infant behaviour throughout the day, his/her development, health and his/her overall state of life.
From birth until two months
In the first few weeks after birth, your baby's sleep may be fragmented during the day it’s OK and very normal. Each sleep chapter can take between half an hour and three hours, and the night's sleep cycle may be interrupted by periods of waking. Around the age of six weeks, your baby sleeping pattern should begin to organise in a more orderly fashion. During sleep you may see your baby active: sucking, making jerky movements in his/her hands, smiling, making movements with his/her mouth. All of these reflect normal sleep for this age.
Two months to a year
During this stage of your baby life your baby should gradually acquires regular and predictable sleep habits. Between 2 months and 4 months you will notice a fairly constant rhythm of sleep and wakefulness during the day. From the age of three months to six months, most babies begin to sleep most of the night. At the age of twelve months’ infants need less sleep during daytime and the amount of daytime sleeps are reduced from three or four times a day to only once or twice a day.
One to three years
Toddlers will usually give up the morning nap from the age of 18 months or so. The need for an afternoon will usually disappear between the ages of three and five years. At this point, most infants will sleep a continuous night, but different events (such as illness, walking, or moving) may temporarily interfere with their normal sleep patterns.
From a cot to a bed - The transition to a single bed or a child bed may be characterised by some adjustments and difficulties, especially if it is too early in your child’s life. Most toddlers move from a cot to a bed between the ages of two and four.
If you find it difficult to wake up your child in the morning, he or she may not sleep as well as you think at night. The length of sleep varies from child to child, but in most cases, the hours needed for a child are quite regular.
How long should the child sleep?
From birth to about 2 months’ sleep is irregular (sorry mammy), but overall the expected sleep duration for a baby for a day ranges from 10 to 18 hours and on average: 14 hours and a half.
Between the ages of 2 months and 2 years’ your baby day sleep schedule is more continuous and includes fewer sleep periods a day and longer hours through the night. The average duration of sleep in a day is 14 hours and a half: 11-10 hours at night and 3-5 hours throughout the day.
Between one and three years of age, your cute toddler becomes much more active during the day and should sleep continuously at night. The expected length of sleep is 13-14 hours on average: about 11 hours and a half at night and another two hours throughout the day.
How to help a baby sleep better?
Put your baby to sleep immediately when you notice the signs of fatigue: rubbing his/her eyes, pulling ears, crying etc. In the first two months you can help your baby fall asleep by swinging the crib or feeding until they and you fall asleep, but from the age of three months on, you should gradually avoid doing so and give your baby regular sleep habits. A baby has to sleep on a hard mattress and when he/she lies on their back.
After about two months’ start focusing on regular sleep habits like: darken the room at night and throughout the day while going to sleep, reduce your baby’s social activity at night and before bedtime etc. If you are tired, ask your partner or a family member to allow you a recharge and look after your baby, make sure you sleep and fill in the missing hours of sleep you as the parent so desperately need. Tired and nervous parents do not do their job properly. When you wake up, continue to take care of the baby, much more relaxed and re energised.
When your baby is two to three-month-old you should start building normal and regular sleeping habits. Consider things that both you and your baby will enjoy: bath time, baby massage, changing your clothes into sleepwear (PJs), hugging and kissing gently, a quiet and pleasant song or anything that pleases you and your baby. It is advisable to repeat these sleeping activities and habits you chose every evening, even when someone else puts your baby down to sleep.
Starting from the age of six months, you should avoid "helping" your baby fall asleep: do not swing or hold on your hands, and do not stay for a long time in his/her room so that he or she learns to fall asleep on their own. Babies tend to wake up every hour and a half, and if you get them back to sleep with help, they will need this help also at night when they wake up. It is important to start this process around the age of six months.
The bedtime routine should not be long, and the last stage of the routine should be in your baby's room. A pleasant and relaxing environment for sleeping is a darken room which is ventilated and quiet. The degree of lighting during bedtime should be similar to the degree of lighting during sleep time (and without TV flickers or mobile device). Lay your baby down when he/she is tired but still awake. Thus your baby will get used to falling asleep on his/her own even when he/she wakes up at night.
Between the ages of one to three years, your child should already know how to fall asleep on his/her own and sleep most of the night. It is important to continue to maintain your regular sleeping habits and routine and the hours of sleep and awakening should be fixed both at day time and at night. It is also the age to start and set clear sleep boundaries. For example, read your baby a story before bedtime, you will notice that your baby will ask again and again to read to him/her one more time or to have a drink of water or give a kiss to Dad, they just want to postpone bed time as much as they can.
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