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LifeAspire Staff 5/3/2016
Attention all parents, listen up! If you're wondering why your baby isn't sleeping though the night quite yet, boy do we have news for you!
Okay, I get it. You're tired. As the mother of a toddler, and six week old, I am the first to empathize with you. But, sleeping through the night is almost like a parenting trophy, a false sense of accomplishment, and potentially a dangerous habit for a young baby.
Infants, like adults don't sleep through the night. They have sleep cycles much like their parents. Let's start by looking at the typical night of an adult.
Adult sleep cycle
We lay down, close our eyes, and drift slowly to sleep. through out the night we go in and out of quiet and active sleep. Without even knowing it you roll around, adjust the covers (active sleep) and then fall back into a cycle of deep (quiet) sleep.
Screen shot via YouTube.com
Infant sleep cycle
An infant goes through a similar cycle, but in a shorter time frame. Drifting in and out of a quiet and active sleep nearly every hour.
Infants need to be "parented" to sleep. They need mommy or daddy's help falling into that deep sleep, as their typical sleep cycle begins as a light drift. Most parents will report their child waking if put down to bed prior to being in a deep sleep. Babies crave physical affection, and their tiny bodies relax when cradled or rocked by a parent.
Resting a hand on your baby, or singing a lullaby when they start to wiggle or settle back in may help your baby feel secure, and fall back into a deep cycle of sleep.
Babies don't sleep as soundly as adults, they aren't meant to. So, not only do they take longer to fall asleep, and have more cycles of vulnerability while sleeping, they also have twice as much active sleep as adults. The "active" sleep is when you, or your child, rolls, clenches a fist, grunts, twitches the eyes etc.
In the first few months of infancy, a babies needs are the highest. Also during this time, a babies communication ability is at its lowest. Night waking is critical for an infant, as they cannot communicate their basic needs. And here is why sleep training can be dangerous.
When a baby is in a deep sleep they are unable to wake themselves in times of distress. Because babies need to nurse typically every three hours, are often too hot or too cold, and can get congested or stuffy, it is extremely important they are able to wake themselves and their parent for help.
The question inevitably arises, "When will my baby sleep through the night?" According to Ask Dr. Sears, from three to six months a baby's sleep habits start to settle. The cycles become longer and their quiet sleep more frequent.
So, even though babies typically start to sleep better the second half of their first year, there are still many reasons a baby will wake during the night. Growing up is hard, after all! Things like teething, growing pains, and developmental milestones like sitting up, crawling and walking will sometimes disrupt a sleeping baby.
Relax, It Will Happen...
Don't beat yourself up mom. Your little bundle isn't supposed to sleep through the night quite yet! No help in regards to your exhaustion, but hopefully lots of help in regards to your emotional assurance. If you're doing your best, you're doing a good job, mom!
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