For parents of a newborn baby, sleep becomes a precious commodity that always seems long in demand but short in supply. While mom or dad may spend several weeks searching for a chance to get some shuteye, their little one will spend plenty of time asleep during the day, just in short spurts. Trying to normalize their baby’s sleep schedule so he or she stays asleep throughout the night quickly becomes priority number one for parents tired of running on fumes.
This leads new parents to have a number of questions regarding when and if their baby will ever start sleeping through the night. To help you get a better idea about what to expect when it comes to how your baby will sleep, here are a few answers to common questions most parents have.
When should a baby start sleeping through the night?
The majority of newborn babies need approximately 16 hours of sleep a day, but when they actually get that sleep can vary from baby to baby. Some infants tend to mix up their sleep schedules, and sleep more during the day than they do in the evening or at night. Fortunately, your baby’s sleep schedule will eventually start to even out where the majority of her time asleep will occur at night.
Most babies start sleeping throughout the night sometime between the ages of three and six months. While your baby won’t end up sleeping for 10 to 12 hours at a time, you will start to enjoy longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep after night feedings that should allow you to sleep more.
Don’t worry if your baby still sleeps in short bursts at four or five months, as each child takes time in regulating his own sleep schedule. You can help your child sleep longer at night by not waking him up to feed, and keeping the bedroom dark and quiet.
How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?
Start by creating an environment that’s conducive to sleep by turning off all lights and televisions in whatever room your child sleeps. You should also consider starting a nightly routine that consists of some quiet time during which you could give your baby a bath, read him a book, or gently clean his teeth and gums. Your goal is to calm your baby, allowing him to become drowsy, before putting him down in the crib. Stay consistent in how you put down your baby each night and never lay him on his stomach as this increases the risk of SIDS.
When your baby wakes up in the night, give her a few minutes to see if she will fall back asleep on her own before checking in on her. Look in on your baby if she continues to cry, but don’t turn any lights on right away and resist picking her up. If the fussing still continues, she might need a diaper change or has become hungry and needs attention.
If your baby hasn’t started sleeping throughout the night after six month, consult with your pediatrician about using sleep-training method to help correct this behavior.
How much naptime does a baby need?
After a baby is first born, his daily existence basically amounts to a never ending cycle of eating and sleeping. During this period, parents shouldn’t consider the times a child sleeps as napping, however, somewhere between one and six months your baby will probably start to settle into a pattern of taking around three naps a day, each lasting between one to two hours. After turning one, your child will probably still take about one nap a day, but by age five most children lose their need to nap.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Brooke Hikade, a dentist in Clackamas.