Skip links

Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns

Most newborns will sleep 16-18 hours per day. However, they usually sleep in 2-3 hour increments– even at night. While this may mean that the parents don’t get their usual 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, it’s what is healthiest for the baby.

Babies wake up frequently because they have shorter sleep cycles. As adults we spend about 6 hours in deep sleep and 2 hours in light or REM sleep. Babies, however, have twice as many light sleep cycles. In the first few months of a baby’s life their needs are highest but their communication ability is at its lowest. It is essential for a baby’s survival that they wake up frequently.

What to Know about Your Baby’s Sleep:

  • Babies have tiny tummies and need to feed every 2-4 hours. If they did not, their growth would suffer because their bodies would not get the appropriate nutrients needed for proper development.
  • If a baby remained in deep sleep they would not wake up if they were cold, hungry or if their nose was stuffed and could not breathe.
  • Research has proven that the baby’s brain receives more blood flow while they are in light/REM sleep. This helps to accelerate the baby’s brain growth.
  • Remember that sleeping is like eating- you cannot force your baby to sleep.
  • Never leave your baby in the crib to just “cry it out.” Crying is your infant’s only way of telling you that they need something and sometimes that‘something’ is just you!
  • Follow your heart and your baby’s cues when deciding the best sleeping arrangements for your family. Your baby may rest better in a crib in a separate room, in a bassinet next to your bed, or even right next to you. Just remember to use safety precautions if you put your baby in the same bed with you- NO pillows, thick blankets, or cracks that the infant could slip into.
  • Remember, each infant is unique. Be careful not to fall into the trap of comparing your baby with what others are doing.
  • If your baby’s sleep patterns change from his regular routine, talk with your pediatrician and/or call PAL (1-866-962-3030)
Return to top of page