Our body works according to the Circadian rhythms or the sleep-wake cycles. The cycles help us build a sleep pattern and are regulated by light and dark. These rhythms take time to develop and hence we see irregular sleep cycles infants. At six weeks a new-born will start to develop these patterns and by three to six months they start to regulate. A child will spend almost 40% of his or her childhood asleep. Which is important as it directly impacts both mental and physical growth.
We follow two types of sleep states – NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The first one helps supply of blood supply to the muscles restores energy, tissue growth and repair, hormone release. The Second is a state where our brains are active and dreaming. The bodies become immobile, breathing and heart rates are irregular.
Babies spend 50% in each state and their sleep cycle is around 50 minutes.
Sleeping and new-borns between 0 to 3 months:
New-borns sleep around the clock and are mostly awake either to be fed or changed or nurtured. They sleep for almost 18 hours a day with irregular sleep patterns
Falling asleep for new will not be an issue but they might face difficulty during the day time due to exposure to light and noise.
One must observe either sleep pattern closely and keep the infant’s crib prepped for sleep.
Sleeping and infants between 4 to 11 months:
By six months, infants sleep through the night and do not wake up for night time feeding. These infants will sleep for up to 12 hours in the night and maybe nap 3 times for 2 hours in the day. When infants are made to go to bed drowsy but not asleep, they cna becomes self-soothers which helps them sleep independently. This way they do not rely on a parent to fall asleep.
This is important as later they do not have to go through excessive separation anxiety.
One must create schedule for their babies at this stage. A fun bedtime routine helps the infant ease into the practice
Sleeping and Toddlers between 1 to 2 years:
Toddlers need to sleep about 14 hours of consistent sleep in a 24 hour cycle.
At 18 months, naptime decreases to once a day. Toddlers may resist falling asleep on time and awaken at awkward hours due to night time fear or nightmares.
This is a time that their motor, cognitive and social abilities are developing and cna disrupt sleep patterns.
One must make sure to create a safe sleep environment for their child regardless of the stage of child growth. Parents can so this by using the right light, surrounding the baby with soft toys. Also, selecting the right type of crib.
Using a mattress like the SleepyCat baby mattress will help the baby fall asleep safely as it comes with a waterproof cover and is made from organic latex.
It has been observed that those children who do not have a proper sleep pattern find it hard to function in the developmental years. Hence it becomes necessary that a caregiver or parent takes the right measures to build a healthy sleep cycle for their babies.
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Kabir Siddiq, Founder and CEO, SleepyCat