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

April 14, 2018 in Effective Parenting
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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.

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.

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


Age Hours of Sleep Per Day Daytime Sleep Nighttime 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.

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.

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.

If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, talk to a Cloudnine expert today!

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Cloudnine Hospital,

Siddhachal Arcade, CTS Nos. 1084C and 1186A Link Road, Malad West, Mumbai 400064 Call Us: 1860 108 9999 Email:


If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, talk to a Cloudnine expert today!

What’s Up on Cloudnine!

Chandigarh will soon deliver babies on Cloudnine!

Cloudnine, India’s leading chain of maternity hospitals, is now in Chandigarh. We bring the best birthing services to this new location as we expand across India in a spectacular fashion.

If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, talk to a Cloudnine expert today!