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What Does Sleep Look Like?

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Parenting is a unique journey, and one of the common questions that parents frequently encounter is, “Does your baby sleep through the night?” While this question might seem straightforward, it conceals a complexity that varies from one child to another. Let’s delve deeper into the intricacies of infant sleep patterns to better understand what’s happening during those nighttime hours.

The Nature of Baby Sleep

Infants, like adults, experience sleep in cycles, but their cycles are shorter, ranging from 45-60 minutes. These cycles are characterised by periods of deep and lighter sleep, and it’s perfectly normal for your baby to briefly wake up during these transitions. The notion of uninterrupted 12-hour sleep stretches for infants is often unrealistic.

Unlocking the Secret to Restful Nights

What separates babies who sleep soundly from those who experience frequent awakenings? It’s often the ability to self-soothe and return to sleep independently. If your baby consistently needs your assistance to fall back asleep, it doesn’t have to be your norm. There are strategies you can employ to guide them toward more consolidated and restorative sleep patterns.

Defining ‘Normal’ Night Wakings

The frequency of night wakings changes as your baby grows:

Newborns (0-3 months): During this stage, newborns typically feed regularly, and waking 3-5 times during the night can be completely normal. Encouraging them to learn to fall asleep independently can help in the long run.

3-6 months: Babies begin to consolidate their nighttime sleep, primarily in the early part of the night. However, the 4-month sleep regression can introduce disruptions. Some babies may still need 1-2 night feeds, but not every waking is due to hunger.

6-9 months: As babies transition to solids, they may start to reduce night feeds. Here, it becomes crucial to nurture their self-settling skills. If they awaken and require a feed to return to sleep, it might be due to difficulty linking sleep cycles.

10 months plus: Assuming your baby is healthy and their growth is on track, most infants can sleep through the night without feeds at this stage. Their nutritional needs should be met during the day, balancing carbohydrates, protein, fats, and milk feeds.

A Baby’s Nighttime Sleep Journey

Understanding the different stages of sleep can provide insight into why your baby wakes at night:

Deep Sleep (Early Night): During deep sleep cycles, babies may briefly wake but are generally adept at settling back to sleep independently.

Lighter Sleep (Later Night): Awakening during lighter sleep stages may signal a greater likelihood of needing assistance to go back to sleep.

Feeding and Nutritional Needs: If your baby awakens and requires feeding but subsequently sleeps for an extended period, this might be related to nutritional requirements, particularly as they transition to solid foods.

Understanding and addressing your baby’s nighttime sleep journey is a gradual process. Every child is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of sleeping through the night. By helping your baby develop self-soothing skills and considering their evolving nutritional needs, you can pave the way for more restful nights for both you and your little one. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a complimentary 15-minute consultation.

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