Baby sleep cycle: Patterns to look out for!

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Studying baby sleep cycle is a great way to monitor your baby. If your baby deviates from the pattern by too much margin, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Knowing your baby’s sleep pattern will not only allow you to carve out time for yourself but it will also help you check that your baby is doing okay.

As your baby grows, their sleep cycle will change to reflect their age. A newborn and a toddler will not have the same sleep cycle, meaning that baby sleep cycle is a great way to track your baby’s growth.

Understanding Baby Sleep Cycle

Baby sleep cycle differs per child. And the older a baby gets, there will be changes in his sleep cycle. Your baby will start out sleeping all day and night with short waking intervals. They’ll wake up to feed. Your baby needs a lot more sleep than you, but you should expect that they will not sleep in long stretches. The wake intervals are all part of the fun! The number of hours a child sleep at day will differ from the number of hours he sleeps at night.

baby sleep cycle
Baby Sleep Cycle by Age

1-3 Months
From month 1 to month 3, a baby needs an average of 15 to 17 hours of sleep per day. Babies in this age bracket wake up to feed after every two hours. In fact, in some Nigerian hospitals, some mothers are advised to wake the baby up for feeds if the baby sleeps for more than three hours at a stretch.

Considering how hard it is to care for a newborn, most mothers are likely to ignore this suggestion. After all, the more the baby sleeps, the more time the mother has to catch up on life, chores or maybe sleep. Which new mom would want to go around waking a baby, anyway? This is why it is important to know baby sleep cycle so that you can plan your life around it.

Also, babies in their first 3 months sleep for longer, especially at night. At night, the sleep time may last up to 4 hours per sleep spell as opposed to the 2-3 hour daytime sleep spells. Don’t worry! Your baby will eventually sleep through the night.

Baby Sleep Cycle: 4-9 Months
Babies of 4 months to 9 months sleep an average of 15 hours every day. Most of the time, your baby will sleep for three to four hours at a stretch. At night, he can sleep for the same period of time. A baby sleep cycle for a 4-month-old will show that the child can wake up every two hours to feed. A baby that is on exclusive breastfeeding will wake up every two hours to feed. This is because as the baby gets older, breast milk alone will become insufficient, and therefore, the baby may get hungry often and need to feed constantly.

Nigerian hospitals advise mothers to breastfeed the baby for up to six months. Until a baby starts eating anything other than breastmilk, the frequency of waking up to feed will still be high. In fact, an exclusively breastfed baby of 5 to 6 months will wake up two hours every night because of hunger. This sleep-wake interval may reduce when you introduce solid foods into the baby’s diet after 6 months.

baby sleep cycle

Baby Sleep Cycle: 9-12 Months
Babies of nine months to one year have longer sleep spells than younger babies. By this time, the mom would have stopped exclusive breastfeeding. The baby would have started eating solid food and some children have stopped taking breastmilk altogether. The switch from liquid food to solid food will have a great impact on baby sleep cycle.

For the children that have been weaned, they can sleep for fifteen to sixteen hours a day. By this time, your baby can play, sit—and for the early achievers—even walk. They’ll spend most of their awake time studying their environment, things, and people around them. By the time they get tired and eat, they can sleep for up to five hours at a stretch.

Babies in the 9 – 12 month age bracket can sleep for six to seven hours per sleep spell. Some babies would have started sleeping through the night by this time.

Baby Sleep Cycle: 1- 2 Years
The baby sleep cycle for the children in this age category is very stable and resembles that of an adult. In Nigeria, mothers are advised to breastfeed until their babies are two years old. Because of this, many children will wake up after four or five hours to breastfeed. If they feed well, they can sleep for longer.

No matter how much they eat, they will still wake up at night to breastfeed at least once a night. Each breastfeeding session will last up to an hour. A child that has been weaned can sleep all through the night without needing to wake up for feeds.

Factors that can Affect Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle

It is important to study the sleep pattern of your baby because sleep is important for your baby’s development. The sleep cycle of your first child might not be the same for the second child because no two babies are the same. Whatever your baby’s sleep cycle is, plan your day and night around this.

Your baby’s sleep cycle could get disrupted by the following:

• Household noises
• Extreme temperature: they could be too hot or too cold
• They have overslept
• They are not sleeping enough
• They are sick or have a health condition
• They need you to put them back to sleep
• They are either too hungry or too full

How to Help Your Baby Sleep Better
• Ensure they’re well-fed before they sleep at night
• Rock or sing them to sleep
• Don’t wait until your baby is asleep before you put them in bed
• Get a pacifier
• Put them to sleep at the same time every day
• Don’t rush to rouse them if they cry out while sleeping

If you have any suggestions or feedback, please comment below.

Also Read: Best diapers for baby boys

Written by

Julie Adeboye