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What is a newborns sleep pattern?
A newborn typically sleeps for about 16-17 hours a day. However, this is said to be extremely normal and should not be any concern for the parents. One of the main reasons why they do sleep so much is because they are still adjusting to the new environment that they are in. Also, while sleeping they experience rapid growth. For a newborn to fully develop both internally and externally, it is important that it sleeps well as the growth hormone responsible for this is secreted at a much faster rate when the baby is asleep. The weight of the baby also increases faster when it is well rested. If the baby is not allowed to nap frequently, it becomes irritable or over tired. Their sleep pattern during the initial weeks is extremely unpredictable. This is because babies do not sleep like an adult would, but instead spend time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is linked with brain development.
However, when they get about 8 weeks old, they tend to sleep for shorter periods during the day but sleep mostly throughout the night. During this phase the REM sleep reduces and they slip into a normal, relaxed sleep pattern. When the baby is six months or older, they sleep about 8-12 hours at night.
How to promote good sleep habits?
In order to understand a baby’s sleep pattern, setting up certain sleep patterns are extremely important. By doing this, you not only ensure that the baby is healthy and well rested but do so in a systematic manner. Below are some of the ways you can do this:
One of the main reasons why babies sleep at odd timings throughout the day is because they cannot distinguish between night and day. Though when they are a few days old, this is inevitable, as they grow older it is necessary to ensure this. Keeping the surrounding environment bright and well lit, interacting with the baby and talking to it will keep it awake for most parts of the day, while at nights it is best to keep calm and limit its exposure to noise and light, hence making sure that it gets a good night’s rest later. When a baby is awake for most parts of the afternoon and spends time in the daylight, it sleeps longer at night.
Nothing ensures a good night’s sleep like a massage does. Massages not only makes the baby less anxious, calm and relaxed but also helps strengthen its bones and provides nutrition for the body. Oils such as chamomile oil, dill oil, lavender oil etc. help soothe the nervous system of the baby to a great extent, thus enhancing the quality of its sleep.
Babies get tired very easily. This is because of the rapid metabolic activities in its body. However, babies do show certain signs when they are sleepy or tired. These include them yawning or stretching a lot, rubs its eyes or becomes quiet and very still. They also tend to become cranky and start crying abruptly. At this point, it is best to put the baby to sleep and with time you can easily recognize their sleep patterns and rhythms, thus ensuring the practice of good sleep patterns.
Babies usually nurse for longer durations of time in the evening. Evening breast milk contains a natural hormone called melatonin which helps the baby fall asleep quickly. Hence, breastfeeding the baby well in the evening will ensure that it sleeps peacefully throughout the night.
All in all, keeping the baby close to you and monitoring its sleep patterns will help you bond with the baby better. With time, the baby will fall into a more predictable, undisturbed sleep pattern beneficial to its health.
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