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Your Baby's Sleep Pattern in the First Year

Your Baby's Sleep Pattern in the First Year

Changes in Sleep and Development: Your new baby is going through tremendous amounts of growth, change and development over the first few months of her/his life. Included in these changes is her/his sleep schedule, habits and routines. You will see many changes to her/his sleeping during the first few months.

The First Few Days: During the first week of life your newborn will likely sleep between 14 and 18 hours a day. This may be broken into three to four hour stretches before waking to feed, or it may be in shorter one to two hour spurts. New babies have extremely short sleep cycles, or periods of deep, light and REM sleep. Newborns also have extremely small stomachs, which empty quickly and wake the baby with hunger pangs.

The First Month: Between the first week and the first month of life, your baby will begin to sleep less, clocking in around 12 to 16 hours a day. Sleep stretches will begin to become more consistent at three to four hours, at which time your baby will wake to eat. Some breastfed babies may still wake more frequently, up to every two hours, as breast milk empties more quickly from the baby's stomach, and at this age the need to eat frequently comes before the need to sleep. For the first few weeks of your baby's life, she/he won't have any concept of day or night time, yet. This means that she/he will wake and sleep on the same cycle both day and night, which can lead to less sleep for you during this time.

By Two Months Old: The good news for most sleep deprived parents is that by two months old, your baby will begin to respond to circadian rhythms, distinguishing daytime from night time sleep. Your baby will begin to consolidate his sleeping at night and may begin sleeping six or eight hour stretches during this time. Concordantly, your baby will also begin to sleep less during the day time. It is about this time that a naptime schedule may begin to form.

By Four Months: By four months of age, your baby will consolidate her/his sleeping into much longer stretches at night and shorter naps during the day. A good sleep routine has been established and many babies will be sleeping through the night, or nearly so.

Learning Your Baby's Sleep Cues: Some babies know when they need to sleep but may have a hard time making the transition by themselves. Overly tired babies may also have a harder time falling asleep, than those that fall asleep as soon as they need to. For some babies, this time frame differs, so learn the cues that your baby is giving you that mean it's time for her/him to sleep. Signs that your baby is ready to sleep include the following:

  • Rubbing eyes
  • Pulling on ears
  • High pitched crying
  • Dark circles appearing under their eyes
  • Fussy and uninterested in food
  • Decreased activity
  • Yawning
  • Quieter
  • Eyes less focused
  • Weak or slow sucking


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5 Months ago