Baby sleep cycles – Understand the basics

Baby sleep cycles – Understand the basics

Sleeping for 16-17 hours in a day is typical to a newborn. However, most babies do not sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch be it day or night and this happens for the initial weeks of his life.

The ultimate result of this is that your baby gets a lot of sleep and you have to go through a very tiring schedule and irregular sleep. As the parent, it is your duty to understand the cues of your baby so that you can be up during the night to change your baby’s diaper or feed him and comfort him so that he can go off to sleep again.

Baby Sleep Cycles

The baby sleep cycles are short as compared to that of the adults and babies mostly go through the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is required for the proper development of the brain. REM sleep happens to be lighter as compared to non-REM sleep and is also quite disturbed.

What happens next?

Baby sleep cycles – Understand the basics

As soon your baby becomes 6-8 weeks, you will notice that your baby sleeping for shorter period during the days and longer period during the nights but waking up in the middle of the night to feed your child would continue. REM sleep cycles are reduced and deep non-REM sleep is what becomes common.

Babies are able to sleep for about 8-12 hours at a stretch from the age of 4-6 months, according to some experts. If you are lucky, your infant would sleep for many hours at a stretch during the night from an early age of 6 weeks only but most babies do not do that unless they are 5-6 months of age. However, teaching your baby good sleeping habits can go a long way in helping him attain that milestone soon.

How to implement good sleeping habits?

Baby sleep cycles – Understand the basics

Here is how you can help your baby to have a good sleep.

  • Understand when he is tired: For the initial few weeks, babies do not stay up for more than 2 hours at a stretch and hence, do not wait longer to put him to sleep as that might overtire him. There are signs that you should be on the lookout for to understand whether he is tired like more fussy than usual, rubbing his eyes, pulling his ears etc. After a few days you will develop a sixth sense to understand when he requires a nap.
  • Teach him the difference between night and day: If you baby is a night owl, there is nothing that you can do much about it in the initial few days. Start interacting with him during the day when he is wide awake by keeping the room bright and not minimizing any of the regular noises and waking him if he sleeps through feeding. Do the opposite at night like not playing with him at night, keeping the room dark and silent etc.
  • Start a bedtime routine: It can be anything from singing a lullaby to giving him a goodnight kiss.
  • Let him sleep on his own: Give him a chance to sleep on his own so that your baby can learn sleeping habits.

Sleep is very important for the mental and physical development of your child and it’s your responsibility to see that he gets sufficient amount of sleep day and night.



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Vineeta Sinha
Vineeta Sinha, the owner and president of Vineeta Constructions Co. is a writer and blogger at heart. An economics graduate, the talented writer has been in the writing industry for years. When asked about how she manages the two very different professions, she says, “Construction business is what me and my husband who is a civil engineer dreamt of together and I am glad we succeeded but writing is something I have been doing years before I stepped into the construction world. I was very young when I realized that there was a hidden passion for writing in me and I unveiled it through my school magazine for the very first time and there has been no looking back since then. Though construction contributes more in running my world, writing is something that completes me.”