During the first year of a baby’s life, it is estimated that parents lose more than 700 hours of sleep , so it is normal for this issue to be of particular concern, especially if you are a first-timer. This leads many parents to look for magical methods and formulas to get their child to sleep through the night, or at most for several hours at a time.
But it is essential to understand that a baby’s sleep pattern is very different from that of adults, and that they only need two things to start sleeping better: time and patience.
Understanding the sleep pattern of babies
We all know that there are different phases and sleep cycles that we go through when we sleep. However, in the case of babies, these phases are very different from those of adults and much simpler, since they only have two: a deep sleep phase and another of light sleep or REM .
In their first months of life, babies alternate between the two phases throughout the night, with the peculiarity that they can easily come out of the deep sleep phase. This pattern allows him to wake up several times throughout the night to eat or demand protection and shelter; that is, to cover their most basic needs and guarantee their survival. Check out more interesting topics on our site Faith Blog.
Between the fourth and eighth month, approximately, the baby incorporates the rest of the sleep phases, although logically he will need time to adapt to them. This will make the daytime sleep periods shorter, and at night she will be able to sleep for more hours in a row . However, the nightly sleep pattern is still highly variable, and there will be days when she sleeps better and others when she wakes up even more than before .
Around the year, it is normal and natural for babies to have several micro-arousals throughout the night . A little later, the typical phase of night fears and nightmares that most children go through will be added to these micro-awakenings. In short, children will not sleep through the night until they are two or three years old , although this age is indicative because each child has their own rhythm.
And is it not possible to intervene to ‘teach them to sleep’ earlier?
At this point, and especially if you find yourself in a stage of ‘bad sleep’ due to your little one’s continuous waking up, you may be wondering if there is any way to get your baby to sleep through the night as soon as possible. .
There are behavioral methods that aim to “teach” babies to sleep from a very young age. But, as we just mentioned, children’s sleep is an evolutionary process that will change as their brains mature .
In this sense, expecting a baby whose sleep phases are very different from those of an adult to sleep like us is going against his nature, forcing his development and skipping all the steps required to acquire healthy sleep patterns.
Thus, the only thing a child needs to sleep for several hours in a row is time to mature, a large dose of patience and some tricks that could make it easier for them to rest:
- Co- sleeping , either in a separate crib near our bed or sharing a bed if they are old enough to do so and it is done safely . This practice favors the rest of the baby (and therefore, of the parents) since it can be attended to immediately if it wakes up, in addition to contributing to the maintenance of breastfeeding .
Co- sleeping can be practiced until the family decides , because contrary to what one might think, older children may also need to be in contact with their parents at night, which would benefit their rest.
- Creating routines that are repeated daily before bedtime helps improve baby’s sleep . Thus, for example, it is recommended that bedtime is always the same, prevent the baby from being overstimulated before going to bed and ensure a warm, comfortable and welcoming environment in the room.
The previous bath and a gentle massage can also help relax the baby and help him fall asleep better.
- Always satisfy your need for contact . There are babies who need to have their parents close to them before going to sleep. They need to be caressed, shaken by the hand, rocked in their crib or simply calm down by feeling their smell and breath close by. Other babies only manage to fall asleep in arms .
It is important to meet their needs so that the baby is relaxed, confident and calm, so each family will choose what best suits their circumstances.
Meanwhile, parents must patiently respect his rhythms and provide him with everything he needs so that he always feels protected and confident.