Understanding what a ‘normal’ sleep cycle is for your baby can be really helpful for exhausted new parents. Here’s a basic guide to sleep patterns in young babies – a must-read for all sleep-deprived mums and dads!
Yawn. Another sleepless night? Every parent dreams of having a baby who has a great sleep routine – napping perfectly during the day and sleeping soundly through the night. But that’s very rarely the case.
For starters, did you know that ‘sleeping through’ actually means a six hour stretch (not the full 12 hours).
As you try and get your head around your baby’s sleep habits, it’s important to bear in mind that there’s a vast range of ‘normal’ and all babies are different.
But, hopefully, these pointers should help you understand your baby’s sleep patterns that little bit better…
Baby sleep patterns: newborn
The average baby born at term spends 75% of a 24-hour period asleep.
Newborn babies sleep roughly 16-18 hours a day, distributed evenly over six or seven sleep periods.
This may sound like a lot, but newborn babies don’t know the difference between daytime and nighttime so quite often their ‘awake’ period can be at 3am. Don’t worry, they’ll learn the difference eventually.
The longest sleep period for babies in the first week of life is four hours.
Baby sleep patterns: Two to four months
At two months a baby spends 9% of the night awake and the longest sleep period can be over eight hours in the 16th week.
The pattern of night waking changes significantly in the first 16 weeks and by four months the longest sleep is taking place at night.
This change is influenced by the environment and the baby’s development.
Baby sleep patterns: Four to six months
By four to six months a regular sleep-wake rhythm should have developed in the majority of babies.
As parents the one thing you can be sure of in the first six months is that just when you think you have got things sussed, things will change again and there may be other sleep problems to overcome.
If your baby is struggling to sleep, check out our top tips for soothing bedtime routines.
Do bottle-fed babies sleep through the night faster than breastfed babies?
It’s a common misconception that formula fed babies sleep for longer periods of time than breastfed babies – there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
All babies are different and it is better to resist the temptation to compare your baby with others. Bear in mind that ‘sleeping through the night’ is a six-hour stretch of sleep.