Did you know newborns sleep between 14 to 20 hours a day? The average for most newborns is 16 hours a day. Although, for the parents reading this at 2:00am, it probably doesn’t feel like it!
There are three main reasons for this:
Babies grow very rapidly during the first 6 months of their life. By 6 months of age, most have doubled their birth weight! All that growing requires a lot of energy, which is why food is so important for newborns. Because their stomachs can only hold a fairly small amount of milk, babies require feeding at regular intervals throughout the day and night.
Day & Night
For the first 6 to 8 weeks, babies do not have any concept of day and night. We often hear parents say that their baby sleeps all day and then wakes up to party at night. This is because it takes a few weeks before the hormones in a baby’s brain start differentiating between day and night.
Like all of us, newborns have sleep cycles alternating between deep and light sleep. These sleep cycles last around 40 minutes and they will often stir during light sleep, sometimes even whimpering or letting out a brief cry even though they’re still asleep. Babies also spend much more time in light (or active) sleep and wake very easily during this phase. Babies often need to be resettled at the end (or sometimes halfway through) a sleep cycle.
While babies are able to get the sleep that they need in shorter intervals throughout a 24 hour period, parents are often the ones left feeling tired!
There is light at the end of the tunnel though! In the meantime, be kind to yourself and accept help from others whenever you can!
It is important to note that there are some medical conditions which can cause major sleep difficulties. The team at Fairfield Paediatrics are experienced in the assessment and treatment of these conditions, so if you’re ever unsure do not hesitate to contact us.