Sleep and Infants

Infants are so adorable. All shiny and new, they hold all the promise of their parents in those little eyes. But infants refusing to sleep or infants who don’t sleep can throw parents into a sleepless trance that can be difficult to get out of.

Newborn sleep is unlike any other sleep pattern though a human life. While adults can go from being awake to falling asleep in one easy step, infant sleep habits include a period of REM (light sleep) before they drift into a deeper sleep. What this means for you is a baby might not be willing to be put down and just go to sleep no matter how late it is. The sleep needed as an infant may require soothing while they are in a light sleep phase and then can be left alone once they go from the light sleep phase into the deep sleep phase.

Infant sleep is also unique in that infants sleep a lot. The average is 14-16 hours but some babies sleep up to 18 hours a day. They will wake up during the day, but also at night. Waking up at night is normal and should not be seen as a problem with infant sleep patterns. Waking up multiple times during the night is a reflex and the baby’s temperament, rather than your parenting skills, are what will ultimately determine when your infant begins sleeping through the night.

But what if your infant sleep problems go deeper than the normal waking up every two hours for a feeding? How can you tell if your infant sleep schedule isn’t just odd? There are a few ways to identify infant sleep disorders:

• Is your baby making noise during sleep?

• Does your infant sweat during sleep?

• Do you notice your infant moving a lot during sleep?

• Have you noticed the breathing of your infant is labored during sleep?

If you notice any of these, make sure to call your pediatrician. Normal infant sleep is quiet and relatively still. Keep an eye out and make sure you know how your infant “normally” sleeps so you can note any changes in sleeping patterns or habits.

Infants and sleep go together. Infants sleep a lot and wake when they need something, then it’s off to sleep again. But if you detect any signs of a possible problem, seek medical attention and get your infant the sleep help they need.

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