Babies sleep, sleep and sleep some more. They drink and go right back to sleep. The first weeks fly by and you gradually notice that your child wants to stay awake a little longer. Slowly the day and night rhythm begins to form. People differ from each other when it comes to their need for sleep and it’s noticeable from the very beginning. So don’t stick too tightly to how long a baby should sleep, but first look at what it seems to need to wake up fit and happy.
The development of sleep awareness
The development of the understanding of day and night only starts after about six weeks after birth. From then on, you will notice that your baby wants to stay awake for a longer period of time. The good news is: when your child stays awake longer, it will also sleep for longer periods on end, so you might get some uninterrupted sleep as well!
From about six weeks on, the brain is able to observe a cycle of about 24 hours, which is adjusted a bit every day by seeing light. In this way, sleep consciousness develops and your child automatically learns to link sleep periods and continues to sleep for a longer time. Of course, physical growth also contributes to this. As the stomach gets bigger, your child can drink a little more at a time and, therefore, does not have to wake up as often to feed.
The importance of a healthy sleep rhythm
Babies who spend too much time being awake, are babies who receive too many stimuli. They don’t get the rest they actually need and because they stay awake too much, they become overtired. Rhythm, and especially resting in and around the cradle, can help a lot in developing a healthy sleep pattern. When your child is just born, it will be awake for about three quarters of an hour at a time during the first few weeks and that will increase to about an hour until it is six weeks old. The sleep rhythm may be irregular during the first week, but it will soon build up to 3 to 4 hours at a time.
Is adjustment a good idea?
The further development of sleep mainly revolves around the times when your little one is awake. As a parent, you can make the necessary adjustments yourself, but make sure that you give your child enough sleep and that you adjust to their changing needs. This does not necessarily mean that the times on the clock are the law, but it does mean that there is regularity. The time between naps should always be approximately the same. With emphasis on approximately, because you will have to adjust them to the needs of your growing child.
Notice the baby’s signals
When your baby has had enough sleep, it often cries to attract your attention. A few minutes after waking up, it is cheerful and playful again. If your baby didn’t get enough sleep, it will remain grumpy and will lack the energy to do anything about it. This happens more often if you do not teach your child to fall asleep on time. So pay close attention to the signals that your little one sends out, that way you can make sure that they don’t stay awake for too long.
Development after the first phase
A baby can sleep through the night as early as the aforementioned six weeks, although this usually comes a little later. So if they wake up at night, that’s fine. Feeding at night also helps to calm your baby down, and that promotes sleep during the second half of the night. And although your little one wakes after a while, your aim should be to get him to sleep for 5 hours on end. Preferably somewhere between twelve and five, to get the day-night rhythm right. An additional advantage of this is that you can get some more sleep yourself. Plus, a healthy parent, means a happy child!
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