If you think it is only you who’s getting sleep deprived after having a baby, you are wrong. A new-born actually sleeps around 16-17 hours a day, but since this is not at a stretch, you end up having disrupted sleep. Since your new-born is entirely dependent on you, you will be waking up several times in the night to change, feed and make the baby comfortable.
Babies sleep for shorter intervals, as most of their sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which is presumed to be necessary to aid all the complex development taking place in them. REM sleep is easily disrupted and lasts for small intervals only, but by about 6-8 weeks, your baby will start sleeping for longer periods during the night and shorter periods during the day. Babies also have more of non-REM sleep once they are around 6-8 weeks old. Sometimes you might have to resort to swaddling. We’d say the phase doesn’t last long, but will seem like eternity to those who are going through this phase of new parenthood.
Your baby will start to sleep for longer intervals in the night once he is around 8 weeks old, for his sleep will be more non-REM now. You might hear that some babies sleep soundly through the night when they are around 6 weeks, which is true, but most of them will not reach this stage till they are 5-6 months old.
More often than not, most babies are not able to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a stretch during the day; you’d love to cuddle and play but when sleep is calling, it is best to let your baby doze. Infants become cranky if they are unable to sleep when they want to, and sometimes they are unable to sleep when you’d like them to doze off. Look for cues when your baby is tired and wants to sleep like –
- Rubbing eyes
- Pulling his ears
- Being cranky and fussy than usual
- Looking away from you
It is essential to develop sleep habits earlier in the baby, since this is a habit that will stay with the baby for the times to come. Teaching your baby that nights are for sleeping and days for playing will benefit not only him but you as well. When he sleeps during the day, do not curtail the sounds – phones, tv, music, washing machine – and keep the room lighted up and bright. Play with him and simulate him enjoying his baby moods and faces. During the night, make sure the room is dark and there are no noises around. Do not play with him when he wakes up for his feed, just hush him back to sleep after feeding. This will make your baby understand that nights are silent and for sleep and days are noisy to play around.
You may also give your baby a chance to sleep on his own every now and then by putting him down once he feels sleepy.
Bedtime ritual, start yours now, it is fun and lends a lovely bonding to parents-baby relationship. Just a goodnight kiss, a lullaby, or a pat – anything that suits you will assure the baby and put him to a sound sleep.