A month by month guide to your baby's sleep
When you're a sleep-deprived mama in the newborn trenches there may appear to be no rhyme or reason to your baby's sleep pattern (or lack thereof). Fear not, your little one's internal biological clock will take charge...eventually.
Here's everything you need to know about sleep in your baby's first year:
Sleep is a vital part of your baby's physical and cognitive development
A newborn sleeps for an average of seventeen to twenty hours a day in very short cycles of about fifty minutes. How often your little one wakes up will essentially depend on their need to feed (and how expert you are at avoiding the creaky floorboard in the hall).
Infant sleep is made up of two phases
The first is a restless phase where baby moves slightly, makes small noises, and may open their eyes every now and then. The second is a phase of calm sleep where baby does not move, has a relaxed face and quiet breathing with occasional sucking-type mouth movements. It should be noted that the calm stage is absolutely terrifying and I regularly freaked out to the point of actually waking my first-born up 'just to check'.
0 - 6 Months
For the first three months babies don't have what psychologists call a 'circadian rhythm' (a twenty-four-hour biological rhythm), meaning that their sleep patterns don't differentiate between day and night. From about four months onwards, baba's internal biological clock will begin to adjust and regulate waking and sleeping periods. At this point your baby's need for sleep will gradually reduce (they'll still need between fourteen and fifteen hours a day) and most babies begin to sleep for five to six hours in a row without needing a feed. Cue panicked confusion when you wake to realise that you haven't heard anything in four whole hours.
6 - 12 Months
From six months onwards the majority of babies will sleep for an average of eight to twelve hours a night. Yes, the end of sleep deprivation is nigh! Oh sorry wait, no it's not. Between seven and eleven months babies often go through a stage of separation anxiety, a normal stage of development, but one which can wreak havoc with sleep patterns. During this time, before your baby gradually learns to go back to sleep alone, he or she will need to be reassured by your voice or with a cuddle. At this stage I did quite a good job of convincing myself that sleep was overrated. Mind you, I also spent half a day looking for my handbag - only to find I had put it in the fridge.
12 - 18 Months
Between twelve and eighteen months babies will continue to take one or two naps during the day. These naps usually phase out naturally after the age of two, at which point the patterns and rhythms of your baby's sleep are close to an adult's. However, that won't stop them sleeping horizontally between the two of you and kicking you repeatedly in the head.
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