What all mums-to-be and new mums need to know about baby sleep
- The average newborn will wake around every two to three hours for a feed
- Newborn babies don't know the difference between night and day
- A baby's sleep cycle is a lot shorter than an adult's
It's common knowledge that with a newborn comes lack of sleep. It's drilled into you throughout your pregnancy and with well meaning comments such as "Oh, you won't be able to lie in when baby gets here!" or less well meaning comments such as "I hope you're ready to say goodbye to a full night's sleep for the next 18 years..."
However you might think that you're 'prepared' for the inevitable lack of sleep that is on the way, the fact still remains: when the whirlwind that is a newborn baby finally hits, the effects can be overwhelming. Sometimes, no amount of preparation can really be enough. But there are ways you can cope.
Here are five tips to help you understand newborn sleep habits..
Know what a typical newborn sleeping pattern looks like
If you're thinking that because newborn babies sleep for around 17 hours per day then you're set to get a lot of sleep yourself, think again. Yes, newborn babies sleep a lot, but that sleep tends to be in small increments. So it's very unlikely that you'll get more than two/ three/ four hours in a row at first. But this is normal! It will certainly help you to cope a little better if you know something about newborn sleeping patterns:
1️⃣ Newborn babies are not typically designed to sleep for long periods of time. The average newborn will wake around every two to three hours for a feed, whether they are breastfed or bottle fed. This is because the stomach is so tiny, and able to take only small amounts of milk at each feed. And because they take small amounts, this is passed through the system quickly and before you know it, it's time to feed again.
2️⃣ Many newborn babies don't know the difference between night and day. This is only to be expected, having come with no prior knowledge of when you generally like to turn in for the day. Babies need to learn that we sleep longer at night and play more during the day, and recognition of this only comes with maturity.
3️⃣ As baby gets older and her digestive system matures, her stomach inevitably grows. This means that she can take more milk with each feed, and the theory is that she will then sleep for a little longer between those feeds. However, this doesn't always happen. As with adults, some babies have a faster metabolism which means they burn energy more quickly than others, and require re-fuelling more often
4️⃣ A baby's sleep cycle is a lot shorter than an adult's. This means that they spend longer periods in REM states of sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) which is easier to be woken from.
5️⃣ From around the age of 8 weeks, your baby will start to sleep for longer periods of time, and will start to have shorter periods of REM sleep too. This often means that they will find it easier to sleep more at night than during the day, but a good sleep routine may still be a while off yet.
➡️ Now you know these 5 key things, click here to read 4 tips on making your life with your newborn easier.