Your Baby’s Sleep – Wake Patterns

As a new parent, one of the first things you discover is that your baby’s sleep patterns are very different than your own. A baby’s sleep pattern is not predictable and it can be a big adjustment! Some newborns sleep 16 hours a day, some 21 and some only 11 – and over the course of their first 6 months, they will pass through a number of different stages.

In the first few months, your baby will pass back and forth between periods of sleep and wakefulness, each amounting to about 3 or 4 hours. Once your baby is 3 or 4 months old, nighttime sleep tends to lengthen.

Adults tend to spend about 20% of their night in a light Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, but very young infants spend about half of their sleep there. It’s normal for babies to lie quietly or seem like they’re neither really awake nor really asleep. If nothing catches their attention, they may just fall back to sleep.

Sleeping and eating go together, so as time between feedings increases, your baby will have stretches where they will sleep for a longer period of time. But remember, babies wakeful times are not completely linked to food. Your baby’s internal clock regulates eating, sleeping, elimination and moods. As newborns, babies don’t know the difference between night and day – they sleep and wake at any time.