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The Little Land of Nod: Understanding Your Baby's Sleep Cycles

December 3, 2020

Disclaimer: This article is inspired by every new mother’s story and is intended for sleep-deprived, diaper-juggling, forever-frazzled mommas in desperate need of some shut-eye.

The Land of Nod seems like a dreamy fantasia when you’re a momma. An Amazonian paradise so far away that by the time you reach it, your baby’s cantering back. Nope, there’s no timing this tandem mom-and-baby slumber number. Murphy’s Law, we hear you.

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By the time you’re three months in as a mom, it’s likely that you would have picked up on your baby’s sleep patterns, calls of drowsiness and intervals between naps. But when it comes to baby z’s, there’s a lot to be uncovered as you travel down this road called motherhood.

Here’s a guide to help you along the way.

Understanding Baby Sleep Patterns

Your baby needs much more sleep than you do, but as your little one grows, you’ll notice a subtle evolution in sleep intervals and patterns. For at least the first three to four months, your baby’s sleep will move in sleep-wake cycles throughout the day and night, with sleep episodes alternated by feeds. This is because your baby hasn’t yet developed a circadian rhythm and cannot differentiate between day and night. It takes about 12 weeks for a newborn to recognise the day-night dichotomy.

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Here is a snapshot of how much sleep babies need at every milestone.

Age                                          Hours of Sleep Per Day                      Daytime Sleep                        Night time Sleep                                      What to Expect

0 to 3 Months                    17                                                        17                                             -                                 2 to 4-hour sleep stretches, around the clock

4 to 6 Months                    15                                                         3                                           12                                 8 to 12-hour sleep stretches through the night,                                                                                                                                                                                            intermittent daytime naps

9 to 12 Months                  14                                                         2                                            12                                 8 to 12-hour sleep stretches through the night,

                                                                                                                                                                                           1 to 2-hour daytime naps

Swaddling can help soothe your newborn by mimicking the experience of the womb.

Establishing a Nap Routine for Your Baby

Once your little peanut crosses the four-month mark, you can count your lucky stars and reclaim your share of snatched slumber by sleep training your baby. A nap-time routine may take you a few weeks to set right, so be patient and persist. Remember that while some babies may need 3 to 4 one-hour naps, others may need fewer, longer naps. Over time, you’ll learn how many naps your baby needs in a day and you’ll settle into a gentle rhythm that suits you both. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Set Timings

Set specific times during the day for nap-time and stick to them. By conditioning your baby to sleep during specific windows, you’ll introduce order and routine.Must Read: Baby Sleep Patterns

Plan Ahead

By carving out nap-time windows, you’ll have a chance to think ahead to what your baby needs. A little extra planning can help extend each nap, so make sure you’re ahead of the game. A full diaper and an empty tummy are likely guarantees of a shorter round trip to slumberland. So is a noisy environment, so turn down the decibel level or sequester your baby to a corner of the house that is shut off from the clamour.

Transition Seamlessly

Nap-time isn’t a watertight activity that you can force-fit into your baby’s day. This is why you need to transition your child to sleep mode in a gentle way. Allow your baby to wind down by rubbing her back or playing soft lullabies. By creating a mellow environment, you can teach her to associate these elements with nap-time.

Nighttime Sleep Cycles

While some babies learn to sleep through the night at 4 months, not all do, so don’t lose heart if your tot wakes sporadically through the night. Every baby is different, but most ease into uninterrupted nighttime sleep patterns by 6 months, without waking up to feed. Some babies may wean off their nighttime feed sooner, while others may continue seeking comfort in rising for a feed at night. Speak to a doctor on Cloudnine if you’re anxious about your child’s nighttime sleep pattern.

Must Read: The Sleep Post Delivery For Mama, Papa And The Baby

With a little effort, you can rediscover the joys of uninterrupted sleep. The Land of Nod awaits you, new momma. And this time, you can take your baby along.