Guest written by Sarah Cummings, sleepadvisor.org.
Being a parent is a wonderful journey that nothing else can quite compare to. Your little baby is set to go through some amazing and incredible changes, developments and growing as they live through their first year with you, and sleep plays a vital role in all of it.
Did you know that on average, a baby triples their birth weight by the time they’re just one year old? It’s not just weight either, it’s length, with average one-year-olds growing 10 inches in the first 12 months. The development doesn’t stop there either, with skills such as learning to roll over, sit up crawl, and maybe even walk all featuring in the first year of their lives!
With this, comes an alteration in sleep patterns, which you will want to understand as a parent. Here are some informative facts and snippets of information you can take on board as a new parent…
Birth to 3 months
Newborn babies will spend plenty of time sleeping; we’re talking around 16-17 hours a day, in total, on average. For new parents who may not know, this isn’t going to be big blocks of sleep, it’s going to come in small, broken down segments.
In just a month to six weeks’ time, your baby will begin to need less sleep, dropping to around 14-16 hours per day. And, by the time they reach two months, some babies will have begun to sleep for shorter periods in the day and somewhat longer periods during the night time (your baby will still wake up for multiple feeds in the night).
No doubt this type of sleeping behavior from your baby will leave you feeling exhausted as a parent but stick with it as it’s normal for babies of this age and is absolutely necessary.
3 to 6 Months
After around 12-16 weeks, your baby will have officially passed out of the newborn baby stage (it really does happen that fast!).
The changes here might include shorter daytime naps and lengthened periods of night-time sleep. Don’t get too worried if your child isn’t doing this just yet; remember, not all kids are the same and they will go at their own pace.
The napping in the day will more likely become more defined at this stage. At four months of age, babies require around five naps in a day, whereas a typical six-month-old will take a little less; maybe three or four a day.
You may encounter what’s known as the four-month sleep regression during this period of their development. This means that your baby’s sleep patterns permanently change.
Sleep regression can cause your baby to actually sleep less and wake up more frequently, so, with this in mind, parents should be working towards training your little one to sleep more consistently in the night.
There’s every chance that your baby will begin sleeping right through the night by now, while others won’t, but either way is absolutely fine. Plenty of six-month-olds will still need up to two nightly feeds as well, but by now they should be going through longer periods of sleep during the night and shorter periods in daytime hours, the BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board advises.
7 to 9 Months
Your baby is over half a year old now, and by 7 months, the typical child is at the stage where they’re ready to go by a reasonably predictable daytime schedule. It doesn’t have to be airtight, so allow for flexibility; they’re only seven months old, after all!
Two to three naps in the day are normal, while a third might just be a little nap if they’re on three. When they’ve moved up to eight months of age they should really be down to a morning nap and then one in the afternoon too.
We hate to be the bearers of unwanted news, but you and your baby may well experience another bout of sleep regression here, mostly due to the ongoing physical development as they’re learning to crawl, pull up to standing, and for more developed babies you may even see a few steps being taken!
While one night feed is definitely still the norm here, attempting to introduce night weaning when they reach roughly nine months should be on the cards too. You can begin this at around six months, as recommended by some experts, although you may prefer to wait.
This will help you decide whether your baby needs one night feed, or if they’re waking up is waking out of habitual routine, and not because they’re actually hungry.
Sleep will be disrupted during this stage, for both child and parent, that’s for sure, but try to soak it all in because this is a very exciting period of their lives to watch unfold!
10 to 12 Months
By this age, the majority of babies are sleeping through the night and feeding only during the day; be aware that some babies will still need a single night feed up to one year of age.
By now, there should most certainly be a recognizable routine for baby and parent in place. This is a solid way to make sure that your little one is enjoying plentiful levels of sleep, and that their sleep is structured.
Lastly, you should be certain to have a regular, consistent bedtime by now too. This is an essential element for producing a healthy daily schedule, the National Childhood Trust state.
About the author:
My name is Sarah Cummings. I’ve been writing informative and helpful guides for the last five years now. My love of exercise has always been a big part of how I lead my life, and I find it helps with lots of things, including sleep. I’m an advocator of promoting sleep and how it can be the difference between living a good, fulfilled life and an unhappy one. I have had the good fortune to have a long and spiritual background in yoga too, and I feel as though this pairs perfectly with my passion for healthy eating and leading an active lifestyle. I enjoy learning and coming up with new ways to develop my writing so that I can help others to grow and learn too. When I have a spare morning, you can catch me gazing at sunrises from different places on the planet.