Facts About Baby’s Sleep That Will Surprise You
All new parents hope to get their little one sleeping peacefully through the night as soon as possible. But with so much advice available, it can be difficult to know whether you are helping or hindering your baby’s sleeping routine.
Read on for some interesting facts about your baby’s sleep that will surprise you, and some tips on getting him or her to sleep through the night.
Fact 1: It is almost impossible to influence the sleep of a newborn
During the first month after birth, any effort to control a baby’s erratic sleep schedule is futile, according to Andrew Adesman, MD, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
"For the first few weeks of life, newborns are going to be on their own schedule, and we have to respond to it," he says, explaining that babies need time to develop a circadian rhythm and sense of day and night cycles.
Fact 2: At 3 months old, babies will unlikely sleep through the night
Contrary to popular belief, most babies at 3 months old will not be logging 7 to 8 hours sleep during the night, but are more likely to be sleeping 5 to 6 hours uninterrupted after a night time feeding. This will still be a significant improvement from just a few hours at a time in the earlier months.
Fact 3: Too much attention during the night can cause sleep problems
Being overly attentive at night time is one of the biggest sources of sleep problems in infancy, says Adesman. Although a baby monitor allows parents to hear every sound their baby makes, this does not mean they should respond in a flash to every cry or whimper.
Babies over 4 months should learn to self-calm or self-soothe when they wake up in the middle of the night. Unless he or she needs a diaper change, has to spit up, or is in discomfort, it is okay to leave the room. Cuddling, nursing or rocking a baby back to sleep will prevent the infant from learning to fall asleep on their own.
Tips on getting baby to sleep through the night
At 3 to 6 months old, most babies will begin sleeping at night for longer, uninterrupted stretches following a night feeding. To help your baby along in developing a night routine, make sure to be consistent with when you put him down, placing him safely on his back.
Get him calm and drowsy before bed by keeping it dark and quiet. Your night routine could also involve a bath, read a book, hum a lullaby, or clean his gums and teeth.
During the nights, do not wake your baby up to feed. However, if he does wake on his own, wait a few minutes to see if he can fall back to sleep. If he continues to cry and fuss, he may need to be fed or requires a diaper change.