It’s essential for your little bundle of joy to get their daily dose of quality sleep to stay healthy and grow stronger.
Remember that time you got a full night’s sleep and felt rested, relaxed, and peaceful? Babies enjoy similar benefits from being well-rested.
Moms and infants are closely connected through their sleep patterns. While you may crave 8 straight hours of sleep, in reality you may have to thank your lucky stars for getting 4! Everyone is different, but you could be waking up 2–3 times a night-or more-depending on your baby’s age.
Correlating age and sleep in babies
Mums, have you noticed that the younger they are, the more they snooze?
- Up to 3 months: The little ones need to sleep for 14–17 hours in a day; less than 11 hours or more than 19 hours is not ideal. They may spend up to 6 hours during the day counting sheep but for not more than 4 hours at a stretch.
- 3–6 months: Some babies will sleep through the night, but most will continue to awaken 2–3 times. The body’s inner clock or circadian rhythm, which is guided by the absence or presence of light, is falling in place around this time.
- 6–11 months: Babies now awaken only about 1–2 times a night and sleep for 12–15 hours using 30-minute to 2-hour-long naps, 1–4 times per day.
- 1–2 years: From their first birthday up to 2 years of age, a child sleeps 11–14 hours a day, waking up only once during the night. The naptime reduces to around three hours, once during the day.
Quality sleep is good
Your baby truly loves sleeping, and with good reason. Deep sleep triggers a hormone that fosters natural growth, improving muscle mass, and repairing wear-and-tear.
In addition to physical gains, your infant’s sleep also incubates abilities like learning, problem solving, attention, decision-making, and creativity; in other words, everything that makes them a human being.
Losing sleep is bad
You know intuitively that insufficient sleep is bad for your child’s health. Sleep deprivation is caused by poor sleeping patterns, where a baby doesn’t sleep for the prescribed or suggested number of hours. Both oversleeping and under sleeping adversely affect your tiny tot’s health.
- Cognition: Dr. Shelly Weiss, author of Better Sleep for Your Baby and Child: A Parent's Step-by-Step Guide to Healthy Sleep Habits, notes it can directly affect behavior, attention, learning, and memory.
- Weight: Babies who slept less than 10 hours till the age of five were observed to be more prone to obesity.
- Chronic disease: In addition to obesity, lack of sleep increases risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
- Development: Studies show that sleep impacts the growth and development of the babies till the age of six months.
- Behavior: Hyperactivity, disobedient behavior, temper tantrums, over-sensitivity, and lack of patience in children are associated with poor sleep patterns. Another study associated lack of sleep with increased hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and lower cognitive performance, especially in children younger than 2.
Putting baby to sleep? mum’s the word!
Nothing says ‘tender loving care’ like a bedtime ritual to help your baby slip into slumber. Being calm and quiet are essential, with soft-to-zero lighting in the room. What better way to bond with your infant than putting them to sleep with a warm-water bath, a lullaby, or gentle patting?
- Warm water baths: The weather, your baby’s preferences, and your pediatrician’s advice notwithstanding, warm-water baths generally do the trick. Wiping down your young one with warm water and using a rocking motion will induce sleep.
- Lullabies and bedtime stories: If you rock your baby to sleep while singing a lullaby, you are continuing a centuries-old tradition. Talking to your infant in a soft, gentle voice also induces drowsiness.
- Gentle massaging and patting: Rhythmically patting your baby’s back while rocking them is hypnotic and great for inducing sleep. In addition, or alternatively, you could massage their limbs. Remember to leave a gap of time after feeding your infant before doing this.
In addition to bedtime routines, take care that your baby doesn’t wake up due to wetness or movement in the room. Use diapers that provide superior protection while being gentle on your baby’s skin and be as quiet as possible around the baby. Restrict unnecessary movement until they fall asleep; after that, be mindful to wait until they awaken naturally.