When babies start to distinguish day from night and how it influences their sleep

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When babies start to distinguish day from night and how it influences their sleep

When babies start to distinguish day from night and how it influences their sleep

Newborns sleep an average of 18-20 hours a day , but although we parents would love for a good part of those hours to sleep at night, the truth is that at first they do not distinguish when it is day and when it is night , for what their moments of sleep and wakefulness are distributed indistinctly throughout the day.

On the contrary, adults concentrate the hours of sleep during the night, following a circadian wake-sleep rhythm, which is repeated approximately every 24 hours.

As the baby matures , so will his sleep patterns, being able to differentiate day from night. We explain when this process takes place and how we can help you .

Understanding Babies’ Circadian Rhythm

The baby does not sleep the same when he is newborn than at six months or a year, because his sleep patterns change as he grows .

During the first four months of life, the child’s sleep does not have a set pattern . They sleep most of the day, between 18 hours and 20 hours, without differentiating day from night . In addition, they only have two sleep phases (adults have five), so their awakenings are frequent and constant.

Approximately from 12 weeks the circadian rhythm begins to appear (biological rhythm that lasts approximately 24 hours, which is divided between wakefulness and sleep). This will make the baby’s sleep periods shorten during the day, showing more interest in the stimuli that come from her environment.

But circadian patterns won’t be fully established until a baby is five or six months old ; that is, until then she will not recognize the difference between day and night. Check out more interesting topics on our site Faith Blog.

This important evolutionary milestone of sleep will cause the baby to sleep more hours in a row at night (although he will still wake up), while during the day it will reduce the number of naps to two or three.

In addition, at this age another significant change also occurs and that is that the baby will stop having a biphasic sleep and will begin to acquire the rest of the phases that are missing. Therefore, in this adaptation process, she is likely to wake up at night more often than before.

Around the first year, the baby will already have internalized the difference between day and night and it is even possible that he sleeps all night in a row , although with micro-arousals.

How to help your baby distinguish day from night

But while the baby is naturally and progressively adapting to the cycles of light and darkness, parents can help him relax and calm down by following these tips:

– The baby must learn to relate that during the day there is an activity that stops at night . That is why it is recommended that her daytime naps be slept with noise, daily hustle and bustle and light.

– As long as we provide the baby with a comfortable, adequate and completely safe place , it is not necessary that those daytime naps be taken in his crib . What’s more, reserving the crib exclusively for the night can be a good way to help you distinguish day from night.

– When the baby wakes up at night , it is time to change his diaper or feed him, it is advisable not to turn on the lights in the entire room. To be able to serve you without dazzling or distracting you too much, we can use dim lights or night lamps .

– Establish sleep routines from the beginning and always maintain them (or at least, as far as possible) is one of the main and most important tips .

This sleep routine not only consists of having a regular schedule and respecting the time at which we put the baby to bed , but also carrying out a series of steps that help create a habit that makes the child associate that moment with the arrival of night and time to go to sleep.

Each family should find the sleep routine that best suits the needs and character of their baby, always ensuring that they are as relaxed and calm as possible at night . We can help ourselves with a relaxing bath, a massage, read him a story, sing him a lullaby or whisper to him so that he falls asleep, lower the intensity of the lights, accompany him until he falls asleep…

– Breast milk changes significantly throughout the day and night . Based on this, recent studies have shown that breastfeeding could help program the circadian rhythm of babies , helping them to identify when it is day and night.

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