Baby Sleep: Basics, Tips & What to Expect
When we think of baby’s we think of sleeping, eating, and more of sleeping and eating. As a first-time parent, knowing what to expect when it comes to your baby’s sleep schedule is important. If you are not a first-time parent, it is still worth getting a reminder that every baby is different and some tricks and tips as a reminder are never a bad idea.
Some baby’s go down easily, and it is not working at all for the parent. Other babies may act a little fussier when it comes to nap time. That's why this guide here will serve as the basic overview of what you need to know and how to weave in and out of any issues that may arise with baby sleep.
Let’s jump into it.
How Much Sleep do Babies Need?
The first step is realizing how much sleep babies actually need. This is going to change depending on the age of your baby. The younger they are, the more they will need, and so on. The patterns themselves also evolve, changing the direct needs of the baby.
Let’s break down the stages into 0-3 months, 3-6, months, and 6.12 months since these are some of the most developmental periods within the first year of being a newborn.
In the very first months that a baby is born, they will need A LOT of sleep. Out of the 24-hour day, you can expect your baby to be looking at sometimes 17 hours of sleep. While they certainly don’t sleep 17 hours straight, they will take lots of naps throughout the day that can be broken up by their feeding schedule.
Feeding usually triggers sleep afterward, and babies that are breastfed typically need to feed more than babies who are bottle-fed. If your baby isn’t hitting 17 hours a day, it is okay because the typical range for the baby is 14-17 hours per day in the first three months.
In this next developmental stage of the baby, the sleep drops for a few hours. Now you can expect your baby to start sleeping between 12 and 15 hours a day. Something that changes here in the sleeping pattern is a baby’s ability to stay asleep for longer periods of time. This is where your baby may start to be able to sleep through the night.
The main reason your baby may be able to sleep through the night or at least endure longer naps is that the feeding schedule also pulls back a little, and they don’t need as much throughout the day.
While the hours may shave off a little, this is when babies will start to do most of their sleeping during the nighttime. What changes here in the pattern is that the babies will start to develop teething habits that interrupt sleep and create fussiness. From here, a parent will need to start implementing sleeping tactics to soothe the baby.
Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep
What are these great tactics that help our babies sleep? Parents rejoice over the fact that they need to share secrets and tips to calm their baby so that not only is the baby rested but the parents can rest as well.
Here are some of the best tips when it comes to getting your baby to sleep.
Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much?
During the first year of your baby’s life, it is usually not a question of whether the baby is sleeping too much, but rather a question of whether they are getting enough sleep. The reason being is that babies need so much sleep and when they become cranky and irritable it can be a sign that they are overtired or there is another issue going on.
When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?
Likely, you won’t experience your baby sleeping through the night at all during the first three months after birth. Where you may start to get lucky if there are established routines is the baby getting most of the night’s sleep during months 3-6. Most babies, however, consistently will start sleeping through the night in months 6-12 as long as there are no present issues that are keeping them up.
Teething however becomes a big concern during this stage and is likely to occur after six months, therefore, disrupting the sleep cycle.
What is the Best Time for the Baby to Sleep?
Most babies will start to sleep around 6:00 PM and can take around 40 minutes to start falling asleep. While there is no set answer on when a baby should be put to sleep, putting them to bed too early can result in long nights. Keeping a baby up on the other hand will be a difficult way for the baby to get established in any bedtime sleep habits either.
Because every baby is different, some babies will take naps around dinner and prefer to sleep a little later. This may be surprising to parents, but sometimes babies may go to bed between 930 PM-1030 PM.
When Should I See a Doctor Regarding Baby Sleep?
Oftentimes, parents will be confused about whether they should be calling their doctor when it comes to their baby’s sleep schedule and whether it is more of a personal problem or a big problem. The first thing that any parent should know is that a doctor and pediatrician are there for you to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. So if peace of mind is something that is needed, then do not hesitate to call your doctor.
If your baby is not sleeping, it may be the result of other issues, so looking out for these symptoms and signs is important as an indication it’s time to call the doctor.
- Your baby is showing extreme signs of drowsiness and tiredness but is not sleeping close to the recommended time during their stage of development.
- Your baby presents colicky symptoms, including huge temperatures and fits that never seem to end or seem extreme to a parent.
- Baby’s sleeping patterns are not changing at all from one phase to another. There are just maybe some general questions or concerns to discuss here.
- The baby’s sleeping patterns are getting in the way of the baby having enough food.
Baby Sleep FAQs
Getting a baby to sleep is very important for the parents because it most importantly protects the baby’s health, but it also allows the parents to redeem some of their lost sleep schedules as well. But even with the information presented above, it is normal to still have questions. If questions pertain to your particular baby, the best person to ask them is your doctor.
Having said that, this section is solely dedicated to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to baby sleep so that we can use this as a reference as needed.
Is it safe to sleep while a baby is sleeping?
This is one of the most popular questions as mothers try to keep their babies safe from SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome in the first year. It’s important to know that yes, adults can sleep while their baby is sleeping, but they should not share a bed with them at the risk of crushing or suffocating them while sleeping. Sharing a room by keeping a baby safe in their crib or nearby is perfectly acceptable.
Using monitors that allow you to hear your baby in case they wake up or anything is also a great idea and something that nearly every single parent uses.
If my baby wakes up in the night should I immediately go see them?
This is going to depend on each baby and their parents, but something important to note is that babies that wake up should be trained to go back to sleep by not always getting attention immediately. By giving your baby the chance to get over what they found upsetting, you give them the chance to normalize sleeping through the night.
If your baby has woken up and is not going back to sleep now is the time to come in and take care of your baby. This may be because their diaper needs to be changed, or they may be hungry, depending on when they last ate. It is common for parents to tend to their babies throughout the night, so don’t consider this a sign of worry.
Should I wake my sleeping baby?
Some parents say never wake up a sleeping baby, but waking up a sleeping baby to keep them in consistent routines can be fine sometimes. Sometimes you have no choice but to wake up a baby if you have someone where to go, but it’s important to keep the balance between waking up the baby and making sure they are getting enough sleep during their developmental period.
If your baby is overtired and has a hard time going to sleep, this is when you want to avoid waking the baby up if possible. If your baby goes to bed a lot easier, then you can wake them up by helping them sleep through the night better.
Sleep is for the Strong
They say that sleep is for the weak, but sleep is for the strong. Your baby is going to need a lot of sleep, in the beginning, months after birth, and not all of it will be consecutive. Much of it will be interrupted throughout the day because of the feeding schedule and needs of the baby. Because this will likely interrupt the nighttime sleeping of the parent, it’s important to know that you can let your baby cry for a little to see if they go back to sleep on their own or whether something needs to be addressed.
As the baby continues to grow, the sleep schedule will become hopefully a little more consistent and a little less during the day. Exposing them to routines can be majorly helpful in getting your baby to sleep through the night during months 3 to 6. After these months, your baby will likely sleep through the night, but something that appears is teething. This can be disruptive and cause a baby to become much fussier.
Using tricks and tips to soothe them like lullabies and warm baths is a good idea. Part of the process is figuring out what your baby likes and what they don’t like, to constantly incorporate into your routines.
When your baby starts to become overtired and very fussy, it is not a bad idea to include your doctor in what’s going on. They may be able to give you better advice and just make sure that everything is ok.