Sleep is an essential part of your baby’s life. It helps them grow and stay healthy, as well as cope with all the new experiences they face each day.
Young babies sleep a lot, but they also wake up a lot – at all hours of the day and night! This is because newborns don’t have a set day-night sleep cycle yet. However, with the help of regular sleep routines and these tips on how to help your baby to sleep through the night, most babies will settle into a pattern of sleeping for longer periods through the night after a few months. Which means you can also catch up on some rest!
How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?
Babies need a lot of sleep for proper growth and development. The amount of sleep they need is based on several factors, including how old they are, their stage of development, their health, and how active they are throughout the day.
For babies from birth to three months old, it is recommended that they get 14-17 hours of sleep each day. Babies at this age usually sleep for stints of 30 minutes to four hours at a time. This goes for nighttime sleep as well as sleep during the day, since babies at this age have not yet developed an overnight sleep pattern.
From 4-12 months old, babies typically require 12-16 hours of sleep each day, including nighttime sleep and two to three naps during the day. These naps usually last one to two hours each.
After 12 months of age, babies will typically require 11-14 hours of sleep a day. This is often split into one or two naps during the day in addition to nighttime sleep. As your baby enters the toddler stage, you’re not out of the woods yet – toddler sleep comes with its own unique set of challenges, as this is typically when nightmares may begin.
It’s important to make sure your baby gets enough restful sleep every night as well as adequate amounts of daytime naps so that they can grow and develop properly. Knowing how much sleep your baby needs at each stage of development can help ensure that your little one is getting all the rest they need.
Baby Sleep Cues: Knowing When Your Baby is Tired
Knowing your baby’s sleep cues is a key part of understanding your infant’s signals and helping them to get the rest they need. Babies may give certain cues when they are tired, these can include:
- Rubbing eyes or ears: This is a sign that your baby’s body is preparing for sleep as their muscles relax, and they might be getting ready to drift off.
- Staring off into space: As babies become more relaxed, they may start zoning out, looking around less and staring into space. It could mean that it’s time for a nap!
- Losing interest in toys or activities: If your baby starts losing interest in their favourite activities or toys, it could be an indicator that they are ready for sleep.
- Yawning: This is a classic sign of tiredness and can be due to physical fatigue as well as emotional exhaustion.
- Acting fussy or clingy: Babies may act fussier than usual when tired, including clenching fists, crying or becoming extra clingy to their parents. If your baby is unusually needy, it’s likely time for them to get some rest.
By learning to recognize these cues in your baby, you can help ensure that they’re getting enough sleep while also understanding why they might be struggling with certain activities or behaviours during the day. A well-rested baby means a happy and healthy one!
Relaxing Baby Sleep Routines to Try
A pre-bed bath is a great way to relax your baby and help them drift off into dreamland. Fill the tub with warm water, add some gentle soap, and use a soft cloth or sponge to wash your little one. Be sure to talk in soothing tones while you’re giving him/her their bath and keep the lights low. After their bath, wrap them up in a warm towel and maybe give them an extra cuddle before putting them into bed.
Storytime is another great way to get your baby ready for bedtime. Choose a calming story that has lots of illustrations or even better – pick one from his/her favourite book! Read it in a soothing voice, focusing on each word.
White noise is also a great sleep aid for babies, as it helps to block out other sounds that might be happening in the house. There are many different kinds of white noise machines on the market or you can use an app on your phone or computer. Pick one that has soft, calming sounds like a heartbeat, ocean waves, rainfall or even lullabies.
A gentle massage can be incredibly calming and comforting before bedtime. Use warm, baby-friendly lotion and make sure to take your time as you rub your little one’s back, arms, legs and feet in long, gentle strokes. This will help to soothe their little body and relax them for sleep time.
Finally, rocking can be a great way to get your baby ready for bedtime. Use a rocking chair or even just rock baby in your arms, swaying gently back and forth while humming a lullaby or talking softly.
Creating a consistent sleep routine for your baby is an important part of their development. Babies thrive on structure and knowing what to expect helps them feel secure, comfortable and relaxed. When establishing a sleep routine, it is important to set realistic expectations and be consistent in how you follow the routine. This can help your baby learn how to get themselves to sleep through the night.
Sleep Safe Environment
Creating a safe sleep environment for your baby is essential to help ensure they get the rest they need every day. Following these simple steps will give you peace of mind during your baby’s sleeping time:
- Place Your Baby On Their Back. When placing your baby on their back, make sure there are no loose blankets or items near their face that could obstruct their breathing and always place them on an even and flat surface. This position has been found to be safest for baby sleep.
- Keep Head and Face Uncovered. Try not to cover your baby’s head or face while they are sleeping as this can restrict their airways. Instead, dress them in appropriate sleep clothing that is fitted to the body, such as a onesie or a sleep sack.
- Avoid Smoke. Avoiding smoke before and after birth is vital for your baby’s health. When they are sleeping, make sure that there is no smoking nearby or in their sleeping area.
- Provide a Safe Sleeping Area. Ensuring your baby has a safe sleeping area both during the day and night will help them feel secure while they rest. Make sure that any toys or items in the sleeping area are removed from the baby’s sleep space.
- Sleep in the Same Room as a Caregiver. Having your baby sleep in the same room as an adult caregiver for their first 6-12 months can help create a safe and familiar sleeping environment. It also makes it easier for you to check on them during their sleep, if needed. Your baby should have their own safe sleep space in your room to sleep, such as a bassinet.
As a new parent, it can be extremely difficult and draining to juggle the responsibility of caring for your child. However, don’t forget about taking care of yourself; getting enough sleep is just as important for you! Although you may feel like this stage will last forever, eventually these sleepless nights will come to an end. Hang in there!