The first 3 months baby sleep patterns
You may not think much is going on with your baby during her first three months, but their motor skills, vision, and hearing are rapidly developing – all because of you. Your voice, your touch, and your caress – it all helps them advance. By the first month, your baby can distinguish your voice and imitate facial expressions.
By month two, they can smile back at you and are beginning to understand consequences (for example, their crying makes you appear). And, by month three, they are capable of making eye contact with you and attempting to change their cries to relay certain desires. Their needs during those first few months are relatively simple: nourishment, warmth, affection, and sleep.
Baby waking up too often
Your newborn’s sleep differs from yours. For an adult, sleep takes place in stages that include Deep Sleep and REM Sleep. REM Sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, is connected with both dreaming and a pattern of brain activity that resembles the awake, active brain. Adults are more likely to wake up during REM Sleep than Deep Sleep. Adults spend about 20% of their sleep in REM Sleep and a single cycle lasts between 90 to 100 minutes. The adult sleep cycle is over at the end of REM Sleep and they either awaken or begin another cycle.
When infants sleep, they right away enter into an active “light” sleep, much like an adult’s REM Sleep, where they are more likely to awaken. They next enter a quiet sleep, and then either awaken or enter another sleep cycle. Infants spend at least 50% of their sleep in active, “light” sleep and a single sleep cycle lasts only about 50 minutes. In much simpler terms, infants arouse easily – more easily than adults.
Listen out for your baby sleep sounds
Research indicates that infants’ lighter sleep patterns may, in fact, safeguard them. Your infant is extremely dependent upon you during their first few months and their ability to communicate with you during that time is at its most limited.
Their capacity to easily arouse and awaken you when they have a stuffy nose or cough or need warmth or nourishment allows you to more quickly and more efficiently maintain their well being. And, some studies indicate that such might awaken a newborn whose air may be obstructed and prevent certain cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
A newborn generally sleeps up to seventeen hours a day and usually only for about two to four hours at a time. They dream and can even fall asleep while feeding. Their brain activity during that time stimulates and helps to further advance their brains.
They also grow while sleeping. Growth hormone levels elevate during sleep and studies show that elongated periods of sleep relate to growth spurts and gains in weight and body fat. Plus, they are advancing in so many ways and so quickly during this early time – they really need the rest.
The beginning of infant sleep training
Realistically, your baby may not sleep through the night until they are six months or even older. While you have to accommodate yourself to your newborn’s needs, you can help prepare her for her eventual sleeping through the night by establishing good sleeping habits early.
For the first weeks or so, you will simply have to go along with your newborn’s individual sleep pattern, which may sometimes means it’s way past midnight and you’re both wide awake. When they’re about few weeks old, you can begin distinguishing the differences between day and night.
During the day, when your newborn is alert, talk and sing. Let sunshine into the house and keep on the lights. Turn on the radio and play music or keep the television on. Try to keep her awake, too, if she falls asleep when feeding. At night, darken the lights, turn off the radio and television, don’t play with her, and talk less. Eventually, she will learn the difference.
When your baby is around three months old, you can begin to teach her how to fall asleep on her own. The first step is recognizing behaviors that indicate she may be sleepy. They include, rubbing her eyes, flicking her ears, staring, yawning, stretching, losing interest, and turning quiet. Then, put her down while she is awake. Should you elect to feed her, rub her back, rock her, or stay in the room with her, she may presume you will continue to keep doing so.
She may cry in protest, therefore, whatever method you choose, it is important to be consistent. If you alter your actions, you could confuse her and prolong the learning process. Reading some sleep training books can also provide valuable guidance while you are resting in your bedroom with her.
As previously mentioned, babies dream. When doing so, they utter sounds, scrunch their faces, and thrash their limbs. Swaddling may help them sleep more soundly.
Should baby sleep on back or side?
Please always keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be placed on their backs for sleep as it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Pacifiers, too, may help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Keep pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys, and other soft materials and toys out of their cribs.
Maintain a comfortable temperature and do not place your baby near air-conditioning, heating vent, open windows, or other draft sources. Use a one-piece sleeper with no other covering as an alternative to a blanket. Your baby should also spend time on her stomach when she is alert and while someone watches her. Such will help develop her develop upper body muscles and head control and keep flat spots from developing on her head the back of the head.
Parents need sleep, too, and just a few days of sleep deprivation can seem like an eternity, especially for a mother who was pregnant for nine months and just went through labor and perhaps even a C-section. And, those two to four hours that your infant does sleep may be the only chance you get to run to the grocery store, wash a few dishes, take a shower, or take a quick nap. And, sometimes it seems as though naps are the only sleep you’re getting.
Try to keep in mind that those months aren’t really all that long. They eventually end and, before you know it, you and your baby will be sleeping through the night.
1. Child Development (1) – Newborn to Three Months, Better Health Channel, 2016
2. Sleep Position: Why Back are Best, Healthy Children.org, November 21, 2015