How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?
When you bring home that newborn from the hospital, you soon realize that sleeping like a baby doesn't mean what most people usually take it to mean. Babies need a lot of sleep; however, it takes time before they can sleep through the night. The amount of sleep children need changes as they get older. While every child is different, there are some basic guidelines that can help you know if your child is getting enough sleep during that all-important first year.
Newborn - When you first come home with that baby, you may feel like you are in a constant cycle of feeding and napping. This is completely normal. Newborns will sleep about sixteen hours a day, spread out in about two hour segments around the clock. When the stomach is still so small, babies need to eat frequently, especially if you are nursing. It is a good idea, especially when you first get home from the hospital, to nap during the day when the baby naps. You will be on their sleep schedule for a while.
Some nursing mothers use a co-sleeping method so that they lose less sleep until the baby begins to sleep through the night. By keeping the baby close, they feel secure and aren't waking up frightened during the night. If you are bottle-feeding, you might try taking turns with the feedings with your partner, so both of you get a little more sleep.
One Month - By the time the baby is about one month old, they are starting to be awake more, as they are learning about the world around them. They will usually sleep about fifteen hours a day, with around six hours of that time during the day. You will quickly pick up on the cues that the baby is ready for a nap; some will fall asleep shortly after a feed or even while they are feeding.
Three Months - Now is the time that every parent lives for: the baby normally begins to sleep through the night. By about three months, their stomach has grown and they can eat more, so they can sleep longer at a stretch during the night. They still sleep about fifteen hours, but their naptime decreases to about five hours. Not every child will start to sleep through the night right at three months. Some take a little longer. When you start to introduce some solid foods, that also usually helps the baby begin to sleep longer at night.
Six Months - At six months, babies drop to needing about fourteen hours of sleep each day, with only about four hours at naptime. However, sometimes at about six months, infants will still wake up during the night. If they are sleeping in their own room, they will wake and realize that mom is not right there. Sometimes they will go back to sleep, but sometimes they just need to know you are there.
Nine Months - Nine months is another milestone. By now, they should be sleeping through the night regularly. While they still need about fourteen hours of sleep, they begin to nap less. They may only nap about three hours during the day.
Twelve Months - By the time the baby is about a year old, they will normally be sleeping about thirteen hours a day. They will sleep about ten or eleven at night, with a two or three hour nap during the day. Some children may not want to even nap at all. They are too busy exploring their world, but it is still a good idea to try to encourage naptime.
As with most growth milestones, no two children are exactly alike. Be flexible, but still try to ensure that your baby is getting enough rest. It will make life easier for all of you.
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