A research about children, says that for first few days a newborn generally sleeps for about 16-18 hours a day. A 4-week old sleeps for about 14 hours a day on an average. However, the range of average sleep in a 4-week old varies. Some 4-week-old babies sleep for 19 hours a day and some only for 9 hours. The sleep pattern of newborns is different from that of adults. Adults sleep in one stretch for 6 to 8 hours and if you are parenting a newborn, you feel blessed if you can squeeze four-hour sleep without disturbance. Now, the point to note here is that these numbers are, well, just numbers. Your baby might not be catching as many z’s as your friends, and that, is not a cause for worry.
- Understanding The Sleep Pattern Of Newborns
- Why Would My Restless Newborn Won’t Sleep?
- Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better
- Restless Newborn At Night
- Newborn Restless After Breastfeeding
- Keeping Expectations Real
Understanding The Sleep Pattern Of Newborns
Newborns are not adapted to the day and night pattern of sleep. They do sleep a lot, but for a short bout of 30 to 50 minutes. Their sleep state compromises of two stages, the active sleep stage and the quiet sleep stage. In active sleep, the baby can wake up to any sort of disturbance within minutes. Newborn naps are 75% of this active sleep, which is why parents do not see their babies sleeping for longer duration. The sleeping pattern of a baby is governed by the length of time it takes him to feed, digest and become hungry again. As the internal clock for sleeping is yet being shaped, the sleep episodes of your baby will be brief and in regular intervals around the clock. Parents often have problems with babies who sleep all day and wake up at night. You can manage this by helping your child adapt to night and day rhythms. Having said that, longer stretches of sleep are also not healthy for newborn babies who need to feed often to develop and grow. Newborn babies have small tummies, and they cannot fill them for longer durations. As your baby grows up, she will be able to eat better and subsequently sleep better.
Why Would My Restless Newborn Won’t Sleep?
As you have read above, newborns are yet to develop the internal clock, which helps to maintain sleep patterns. They are oblivious to identify day and night and sleep when they feel sleepy and tired. A baby with an empty stomach will not go to sleep. A baby who is exhausted also resists sleep. The need for diaper change also wakes up your baby. Some babies would be so stimulated that even when they are tired, they detest sleep. Besides these normal reasons, change in environment and some medical conditions are also responsible for your baby’s restless sleep. Medical reasons that make your baby restless and sleepless are snoring and breathing irregularities, allergy to certain substances, acid reflux, fever, infections, teething, upset stomach etc. Take advice from your childcare specialist in such situations.
Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better
- Observe: Parents should observe the little one for the signs of sleep. Slight puffiness in eyes, less active movements, crying and whining ,scratching head and ears are signs that shows your baby needs rest. The baby might be yawning and will be clingy.When the child shows such signs he must be put to sleep and rest
- Create a sleep environment: You can make your child sleep by creating a proper environment for him or her. Make sure that your child is at comfort and the temperature is normal, not too high not too less
- Help him to adapt to day and nights: Exposing to natural light helps your child to adapt to day and night rhythms. Minimize the usage of artificial lights or at least try to use dim lights at evenings. Brightly light atmosphere can make your child active and less sleepy. A dim room with thick curtains that block the sunlight can help. But remember not to make your baby sleep through long hours in the day!
- Muffle sounds: A newborn wakes up at the slightest sound. You should do your hustle bustle away from sleeping baby to avoid waking him or her up. Use white noise device to soften other noises. You can also play soft music in low voice or a fan to deaden household sounds
- Maintain a routine: Special sleeping routine can help your baby sleep peacefully. Have a checklist that includes baby massage, warm bath, feeding and then sleeping. Full stomach helps babies sleep peacefully for longer duration. Likewise, massage and bath also helps baby sleep. These schedules make the baby understand it is time to sleep, and he starts to feel sleepy and weary in the midst of these bedtime routines
- Breast-feeding: Breast milk has hormones that activate melatonin (hormone that causes drowsiness) during night this hormone is released in larger quantity. Hence, at night, try to breast-feed your child instead of using bottle milk. Formula with DHA is also good for babies. Generally, formula is heavy to digest and makes your baby feel full for longer time; this helps him sleep longer and calmly
- Reduce stimulation: Try to minimize your activities. Make little noise. Wait, when your baby wakes up in-between, let him settle and put himself to sleep. Do not pick him up and cradle in your arm at slighted uneasiness in sleep. If he still wakes up lull him and wait longer
- Experiment with different bed-times: You can also try experimenting with different bed times, you can move naps and feeds forward or make it earlier. Try for a week or two and observe the patterns
- Make feeds manageable: Sometimes mothers keep the baby on the breast for too long, and this can cause baby to overfeed and then feel uncomfortable. Some babies root for the mother’s breast, even after fully feeding – this is their way of seeking comfort. See if a pacifier helps her calm down, but never let the baby sleep with one
- Colic: Colic is another reason your baby us restless and uncomfortable. Though colic will pass, and not much is known about what causes colic, there are some tips that you can try. Read about them here
Restless Newborn At Night
When it comes to babies, remember that fussiness is a general way to learn to self soothe. Some babies sleep peacefully during the day and then wish to spend all their energy in the night. Well. The first thing to do in such a case is to experiment with the sleep schedules. What you should know that adults and their sleep cycles are guided by the exposure to light, and your baby will take some time to adapt to the concept of day and night. See if it helps to cut a nap during the day, or making it a quick one in the day. Try to sensitize your baby towards days and nights – do not dim the lights with heavy curtains in the day, and make her realize that day is for play, night for rest. Though it will take time, it will gradually be observed that the baby associates dark and dim with sleep and rest.
Newborn Restless After Breastfeeding
Some babies just cannot get enough of their mothers! Make sure the baby burps after a feed and is not uncomfortable or colicky. Playing around with your diet also help, for example a cup of coffee just before a feed can make your baby alert and active! You should also consider that breastfed babies have a physical need to nurse, about every two to three hours during the newborn phase whereas formula-fed babies about four to five hours. Let your baby settle down on her own, if she again roots for your breast, it may just be the comfort factor. Unless the cries last more than 5 minutes or sound high pitched or urgent, you can try and see if your baby can sleep by herself. Also, once your baby has arrived on a sleep schedule, be prepared to see it disturbed during the times of teething, travel, illness etc.
Keeping Expectations Real
Pregnancy can be a roller-coaster ride, sure enough. But the baby is not going to sleep through the night in the first few months of his life! Hold your expectations and strike a pact with reality. Your newborn is going to need feeds every few hours, will toss, turn, cry, and even wet his diapers all night through. You will need to work through these early challenges by looping in your spouse or some other family member. A newborn’s sleep can be erratic, and unpredictable, As your baby’s systems mature and he is able to sleep better and longer during the nights.
Parents should try to take naps when their baby sleeps. It is at least better than no sleep at all. Take turns with your partner to attend your baby when he or she sleeps at night. This period will not last long, gradually your baby will learn to adjust with day and night rhythms and develop a sleep pattern. However, the fussiness, the crying and all the sleep troubles will crop up again when the baby is teething, sick or going through some other developmental phase.
Whoever said parenting is a cakewalk!