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Posts Tagged ‘sleep requirements’

If you are reading this post, then you most likely are tired and thinking to yourself, “will I ever sleep again?” The answer is yes, but it will take some time. I know that I had some very unrealistic expectations of how my son would sleep through the night. I wanted him to achieve nice long stretches at night long before he was physically ready to do this. It was not until I picked up Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight, that I realized that I might need to change my expectations for how long I should expect my son to sleep at night.

What is sleeping through the night?

That answer is different depending on how old your baby is. Here is a run down of how long your baby can sleep at night without a feeding:

0-4 weeks old (1 month) will probably wake 2-3 times during the night. Most infants can sleep 3-4 hour stretches at this age. Consult your pediatrician before allowing your baby to sleep longer than 4 hours at a time at this age. Most infants need more frequent feedings at night to help with proper weight grain.

4-8 weeks old ( second month) will wake once, some still wake 2 times during the night. At 6 weeks old, my son was still waking twice a night for a feeding (1am/ 4-5am). I did sleep training starting at 6 weeks to eliminate the first middle of the night feeding. By the time my son was 8 weeks old, he was only waking for one feeding (4-5am).

8-12 weeks old (third month) most can sleep 6-8 hours stretches at night. By the end of the 12th week, most are sleep 8 hour without a feeding. This was true of my son, he would sleep from 10pm-to-4/6am and then require a short feeding.

4 months old can sleep 8 hours uninterrupted. This was also true of my son. He was typically sleeping form 9/9:30pm until 5:30/6:30am without a feeding. I would feed him when he woke up, but not a full feeding or he would not eat well at his 7am feeding (that was the start of our day)

5 months old can sleep 10-11 hours uninterrupted. At that age my son would sleep from 9pm- 7am without waking.

6-12 months old can sleep 11 hours uninterrupted. My son started to sleep from 7pm-7am (12 hours) without a feeding at 6 months.At 7 months, he started to requires less sleep at night an only sleep 11-11.5 hours a night. So we adjusted his bedtime by shifting it 30 minute to a hour later so he sleeps from 7:30/8pm-7am.

How can you encourage your child to sleep through the night?

See my post about eliminating nighttime waking/feedings: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/how-to-eliminate-nighttime-waking/ You might also benefit from reading my post about dreamfeeding and cluster feeding. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/dreamfeed-cluster-feeding/ Both of these methods have been helped to achieve longer stretches of sleep at night. Also remember that not all babies are the same. Some babies need less sleep than other babies, while other babies require more sleep. If your child is waking up cranky even after being feed, it could be possible that he/ she is not getting sufficient sleep.

Note: Information was taken from Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight

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How can you know if your baby is getting the right about of sleep? Are they getting too much or too little? According to Kim West in her book Good Night, Sleep Tight “children need to get the right amount of sleep and they need to get the right kind of sleep. Quality counts along with quantity. Good Sleep should be largely uninterrupted. If your child is getting up a lot, she isn’t getting all the sound sleep she needs.”

Signs that you baby is not getting enough sleep:

  • Baby falls asleep in the carseat all the time– A well rested child will not fall asleep in the car often, unless it is close to his scheduled nap time.
  • Sleep disruptions– if your baby is overtired you will notice that you baby may have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. You child may wake early from a nap or wake several times throughout the night if overtired. Or you child may have difficult falling asleep at night. For more on this see my post about sleep windows.  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
  • Fussy/ Irritable- You may notice that your baby is waking from a nap or nighttime sleep fussy. Your baby should be waking up happy unless they have not slept enough. Young babies will wake from a nap crying, but that is usually due to hunger. Once they are feed, they are generally content unless they did not get enough sleep. Make sure you don’t rush in when you hear your baby stir during sleep or naps, they might be cycling from one sleep cycle to the next. If you leave them alone they might return to sleep on their own. For more on this see my posts entitled “Baby Wise: Sleep Training” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/baby-wise-sleep-training/ and “Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Quantity?: Check my post about sleep requirements that babies need. For instance a three month old should be getting a total of 15 hours, 10 hours at night and 5 hours during the day (spread over 3 naps). If you are already jotting down the time and length of each of your daily naps in a sleep log, then you should be able to quickly total up the amount of sleep to see if it equals 15 hours. Some babies will sleep slightly less or slightly more than the recommended amount, but usually no more than an hour of deviation. At 3 months old my son slept for about 15.5 hours a day, 9 hours at night and 6.5 during the day. You can see that my son still slept close to 15 hours a day, but his nighttime sleep was a little less and his day time sleep was a little more than the average infant at that age. The important thing is that he was getting at least 15 hours and appeared to be well rested.   https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/

Quality?: Your baby really needs to sleep in his own crib or bassinet for his naps and nighttime sleep. Prior to 6-8 weeks old, your newborn is so sleepy they will sleep in someones arms, in the car, in the swing. When your baby is older than 6-8 weeks old, they really need to sleep in a stationary crib. “Motion lulls us to sleep, bit it also keeps us in a lighter, more fragmented sleep; our brains never reach the level of full restorative sleep if we’re moving.” If your baby falls asleep in the car (and it will happen every now and again), try to move them from the car to the crib as soon as you get home. If you put your baby in a swing before nap time and you notice him drifting off to sleep, quickly remove him and place him in his crib. Now I know that babies are only little for so long and that you might want to hold them a little while they sleep, that is okay. Just try not to make that a habit.  Also, it is important to make sure that your baby’s room is conducive to sleep. You would not want to put your baby down for a nap in a bright room right outside a noisey street. Try to make sure your baby’s room has very little sound and light and is a good temperature. For more on how to create a good sleep enviroment for you baby see my post “Create a Good Sleep Enviroment” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Quotes taken from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 35-36

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FACT #1: Establish a good schedule (eat, wake, sleep)

If this is the only thing you take from baby wise, then great! Babies thrive from consistence. If you are constantly changing up the schedule and routine daily, your child will have a more difficult time achieving good nighttime sleep. Every day should have consistency with a wake up time that is the same every day (our’s is 7am) and a bedtime that is the same every day (our’s is 7pm now). In between the start and close of each day, your child will cycle through several eat, wake, sleep cycles. This trains you child to not become dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. And beleive it or not, this helps with nighttime sleep too. If you babies wakes in the middle of the night, she may be able to put herself back to sleep if she is not dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. For more on eat, wake, sleep cycles see my post entitled “Infant & Baby Schedules”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

FACT #2: Keep Sleep Props to a minimum

Baby Wise urges parents to stay away from sleep props such as nursing or rocking baby to sleep or sleeping with your baby in a shared bed. There is nothing wrong with any of these sleep props. There are many parents who do this with their children and it works for their family. But if you are attempting to use parent-directed feeding and Baby Wise, these sleep props will hinder your progress. The goal of Baby Wise is to help teach children how to fall asleep on their own without someone’s help. Having said that, I will say that I believe it is okay to rock your baby to the point of drowsiness before laying her in her crib. Just don’t allow them to fall sleep in your arms.  For more on putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake see my post “Put Your Baby To Bed Drowsy But Awake” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/put-baby-to-bed-drowsy-but-awake/

FACT #3: Some crying will happen (Cry-It-Out)

If you are using Baby Wise, then they recommend putting your baby in his own crib awake. Some babies will fuss or cry in their crib before falling asleep. Baby Wise suggests allowing your baby to cry for up to 15 minutes. If your child is still crying after 15 minutes, go in a check on him. You might want to pat him on the back or hold him in your arms for a little.  Then leave the room and try again. Every baby is different, if I showed my face even after 15 minutes my son would cry longer and harder.  I had to learn that when we where in the heat of sleep training (Cry-It-Out), I had to just leave him be. We had a video monitor so we could make sure he was okay. Thankfully, the hard nights really only lasted for 3-5 days, maybe 7 days at the most.  We started putting my son to bed awake by drowsy when he was 4/5 weeks old at night. At first he would cried for 20 minutes before falling asleep, but it did not take long (maybe 4-5 days) and his crying diminished. I believe by the time he was  3 months old, he rarely cried going to sleep at night. If he did cry, it was because he was overstimulated and needs to blow off steam.

FACT #4: Some babies make noise, fuss, or cry during sleep transitions (so don’t rush in)

Babies sleep cycle are about every 45-50 minutes. During this transition from one sleep sleep cycle to the next, your baby may partially arouse and make noise, fuss, move around, or even cry. As hard as it is, don’t rush into their room to check on them. Give them a few minutes to settle. “Sometimes you may think your baby is waking up when she’s actually going though a phase of light slumber. She could be squirming, startling, fussing, or even crying- and still be asleep. Or she may be awake by on the verge of drifting off again if left alone. Don’t make the mistake of trying to comfort her during these moments; you’ll only awaken her further and delay her going back to sleep. Instead, if you let her fuss and even cry for a few minutes, she’ll learn to get herself to sleep without relying on you (BW p. 146)” My son use to wake from his naps in between sleep cycles (45 minute intruder) and would cry for 5-15 minutes when he was 2-4 months old. I learned to leave him alone or he would never complete a full nap and be cranky. For more on baby’s sleep cycle read my post entitled “Infant Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Important Reminders

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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I have found that Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight to be a great resource for infant sleep questions. I really like how she has laid out the amount of sleep an infant needs from birth to age 5. I have made a quick reference list below for each age.

You may also want to check out these post:

0-4 Weeks
• total 16-18 hours, half at night and half during the day
• by the end of the first month they sleep an average of 15-17.5 hours total, about 8.5-10 at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps.
• They still wake up 2-3 time during the night

4-8 weeks (second month)
• sleep an average of 15-17 hours total
• 8.5-10 hours at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps
• some will wake only once to fed, although others will still need 2 night feeding for a few more weeks

8-12 weeks (third month)
• average 15 hours sleep
• 10 hours at night, 5 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps
• sleep 6-8 hours stretches before a nighttime feeding, by end of month most babies should sleep 8 hour uninterrupted

4-5 Months
• 4 months can sleep 8 hours at night without a feeding
• 5 months can go 10-11 hours a nigh without a feeding
• 4 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps

6-8 Months
• need an average of 11 hours of sleep at night (uninterrupted)
• 3.5 hours of day time sleep over 2-3 naps

9-12 Months
• 11 hours at night (uninterrupted)
• 3 hours of day time sleep (over two naps, with the occasional cat nap, but that is usually given up)
• Morning nap is usually 1.5 hours, afternoon nap is usually 1.5-2 hours (by 12 months the afternoon nap is usually 1.5 hours)

13-18 Months
• 11.25 uninterrupted nighttime sleep, 2.25-2.5 hours sleep during the day
• They start with 2 naps, by 18 months usually down to one midday or afternoon nap

1.5 years- 2.5 Years
• 1.5-2 years: 11.25 hours at night, 2.25 hours for one midday nap
• 2 years: 11 hours at night, 2 hours during the day
• 2-3 years: sleep will drop to 10.5 hours of sleep at night, 1.5 hours of sleep during the day

2-3 Years
• 10.5 hours at night, plus a 1.5 hour afternoon nap

4 years
• 11.5 hours at night, most don’t need a nap and if they do it is only 45 minutes (this could be 45 minutes of quite time too)

5 Years
• 11 a night, quite afternoon time is beneficial

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