Sleep Pattern in Babies


  • Introduction
  • Sleep Pattern  — Birth to 3 months

                                              3-6 months

                                              6 -12 months

  • Factors that affect sleep.
  • Tips to help your baby sleep


To see your baby sleep is certainly nice to look at. The way they sleep so peacefully, unaware about anything around them is a bliss .But at times when they sleep too much, it worries or when they don’t sleep at all it again gives you a panic attack. So I thought I’ll share with you all about sleep pattern in babies.

 Each baby has a different sleep pattern. Some babies sleep for long durations while others have frequent short naps. . Their sleep pattern especially in the first year keeps changing. But most importantly babies need sleep to grow and develop

 If the baby is wakeful and contented, feeding well and not crying and not in a cranky mood then it is a good sign that your baby is getting a good sleep. All of us have a sleep cycle. Studies have been done and it is proven that adults usually have a sleep cycle of 90 minutes where as for babies it is 40 minutes and that is why they tend to wake up more frequently. 

So I am going to tell you about the sleep pattern of babies for different age groups.

Birth to 3 months of age:

They usually sleep between 8 to 18 hours a day.

Babies have an active sleep and quiet sleep. During the active sleep they move around and have a  very superficial light  sleep while during the quiet sleep they have a very deep undisturbed sleep and their sleep cycle lasts for around  40 -60 minutes. After each cycle they tend to wake up for a short duration or might remain drowsy before they go into the next cycle.

Since they need to be fed frequently and their diapers need to be changed frequently, they have shorter duration of sleep.

The newborn takes time to get adapted to the day and night pattern of sleeping. They learn this day and night rhythm when they are 6 weeks of age. So make it a point to try and expose the baby to light during the day, keep them engaged during the day while at night make sure the environment is quiet and the lights are dim.

 3 to 6 months of age

Now they tend to sleep for 12 to 15 hours a day with a pattern of 3 daytime naps of 2 hours each of continuous sleep. At night they have a continuous longer duration of sleep. By the time they reach 6 months old , they  can sleep for 6 hours continuously but they still tend to wake up at least once at night.

 6 to 12 months

As they get older the number of hours of sleep starts reducing .They sleep only for 11 to 14 hours a day. You can be a little happier now as from now on most of them will have continuous sleep at night. They take less than 40 minutes to get into sleep .Since their sleep cycle slowly starts following the adult pattern, the number of times they wake up at night reduces.

Factors that can affect sleep:

Well all babies are not the same. Some babies still wake up at least 3 to 4 times a day and need someone to pacify them .During the day they still continue to have 2 to 3 naps but for a shorter duration of 30  minutes  to 1 hour.

  • Babies are extremely curious and even the slightest noise or light can get them easily distracted.
  • Most of them start learning to crawl by now, so settling them to sleep slowly becomes a task.
  • They are so used to being cuddled by you, your warmth comforts them. But when they realise that you are not beside them they slowly start developing separation anxiety and this affects their sleep. They tend to have a disturbed sleep and wakes up more frequently than usual.
  •  During the night it is up to you. If you feel the baby is growing up well and following the milestones, then probably you can start thinking of night weaning and phasing out night feeds. But let me tell you there is no hurry in doing this.

 After 12 months.

Now I think you can be a little relaxed and get some sleep for yourself too.  After 12 months most babies sleep better now for longer durations .They take one or two naps during the day and sleep more at night for around 8 to 12 hours. Most of them wake up only once or twice at night by now.

Certain signs that tell you that the baby is sleepy:

  • Crying
  • Constant rubbing of their eyes.
  • Cranky behaviour

Tips to help your baby sleep

When was the last time you had a peaceful continuous 8 hour sleep? You can’t even remember right. Sleepless nights are very common among parents when you have a baby at home.

But let me tell you, sleep patterns are often learned .So when we make these patterns a routine it slowly becomes a habit for the child. Hence it is always important to have a routine.  It makes your life much easier.

  • Make it a habit to encourage your new born to sleep more at night rather than during the day .You can do this by exposing them to more light and noise during the day .
  •  As night approaches make sure you reduce the number of activities for the baby, reduce the lighting of the room and have a quiet environment.
  •  Even when the baby wakes up at night, make sure you don’t immediately switch on the  lights and create a noisy environment. 

Between 3 to 12 months of age:

  • Always try and have a bed time routine and follow that strictly.
  • Give the baby the last feed just before the baby goes to bed. But make sure you don’t allow the baby to sleep with the bottle. First of all it is very risky and not safe. It can cause choking for the baby and at the same time it can cause baby bottle tooth decay.
  • Have a quite time and try and put the baby to sleep by either rocking, walking or simply hugging and sleeping close to the baby.
  • Make sure you put the child to bed when he is half asleep and not fully asleep. In this way the child will slowly learn to sleep by himself faster.
  • Most babies have a separation anxiety during this period. They constantly fear that you may not be beside them. Hug them, pacify them , rub their head and calm them down . Don’t take the baby out of bed.
  • At night when the baby wakes up for his feed, do not switch on the lights. Keep the room dark and quiet. Even while feeding the baby try not to disturb the baby’s sleep. Do not entertain the baby. Keep the feeding brief. After feeding, burp the baby, calm him down and put the baby back to bed.

Let me tell you if you follow this routine, the baby will also become used to this pattern and will go to sleep on his own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *