Seven Important Questions about Baby Sleep

How you can support the development of the sleep pattern

One of the topics for new parents is sleeping or not sleeping. "Not sleeping" is not actually accurate: the little ones usually just sleep at the "wrong time". Find out here how babies' sleep patterns develop and what you can do to help your baby sleep!

1. How much sleep do newborns and babies need?

On average, babies sleep for 16 hours or more a day. However, like many things, sleep patterns and requirements are very individual. Initially, babies usually sleep for shorter periods of two up to a maximum of four hours distributed over 24 hours. At around 3 months of age, infants sleep for an average of 4-5 hours during the day and 10-11 hours at night. 

 

2. How can I tell if my baby is tired?

A few signs will indicate that your baby is tired – some are pretty obvious, others you will become better able to recognize over time. It is important to react at the right moment, because an overtired, crying baby is sometimes much harder to get to sleep than a good-tempered one.

 

How you can tell that your little one is tired:

 

 

 

  • Your baby becomes very calm and quiet. 
  • It loses interest in people and toys. 
  • It yawns and rubs its eyes, wrinkles its forehead, clenches its hands into fists, and may make small, jerky movements.   

 

 


 

3. Why is my baby awake at night?

Newborns do not yet have a day-night rhythm like adults – we refer to this as the "circadian rhythm". This only develops over the first few weeks. Depending on circumstances and predisposition, this is around the age of 2-4 months. The alternation of short sleeping and waking phases is also a good survival strategy for newborns, because it allows them to feed regularly – both during the day and at night, regardless of whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed.

 

4. Can I "teach" my baby the day-night rhythm and promote a good sleep pattern?

Initially, babies do not know that they are meant to be awake during the day and asleep at night. A rough circadian rhythm usually settles in within a few weeks due to daylight and the family's activities.
The following can help to develop a rhythm: 

 

  • You will promote your baby's healthy development by recognizing and responding to signs of fatigue. Put your little one in its bed, cradle, or bassinet and allow it to rest.
  • Walks during the day ensure that the newborn baby is exposed to daylight. This can help the circadian rhythm to develop faster.
  • Avoid using bright light sources at night. The bluish light given off by televisions and other screens, in particular, can disrupt sleep.
  • Avoid noise and activity during evening hours so your baby learns that the night is meant for rest.
  • Routines such as bathing in the evening, a massage, cuddling, or a song, a calm voice, and generally a relaxed environment help baby to recognize that night-time is beginning now.

5. Should my baby have fixed sleeping times?

Your little one is born with its own "internal schedule". Newborns sleep for roughly 2-4 hours and are then awake for up to an hour before going back to sleep. This pattern is initially repeated throughout the day. Sometimes it varies from day to day. This is also necessary because the little mind and body still need many rest and relaxation phases, but also require regular food.

It is not possible and may even be harmful to try to force a newborn baby to adopt a fixed sleep pattern.

It is better to watch out for signs of fatigue so that your little one gets enough sleep and does not start crying due to over-tiredness.

6. When will my baby sleep longer?

By around 6-8 weeks, many babies will be sleeping less during the day and a little longer at night. Nevertheless, most babies will still wake for an extended period at night in order to feed.

7. What is the best way to deal with sleepless nights?

Try to sleep when your baby sleeps, switch off your mobile phone, and leave the housework – now is not the time for perfectionism. Now is the perfect time to take all the help you can get. Share the "night shifts" with your partner, if work allows this. Sleeping alone for a night can also work wonders, if your living situation permits it.

Photos: Shutterstock


Share this post