Is Your Child Getting enough Sleep?
While no baby, toddler or even teenager for that matter is the same, it's nevertheless helpful to have a rough idea of what sort of hours the average child sleeps.
Your Baby's Sleeping Patterns
Every baby is different with some needing more sleep than others. The average baby spends 14-16 hours sleeping... but who on earth has an 'average baby'?
A baby's sleeping period is made up of short naps plus a longer - hopefully unbroken - sleep.
Between 7-12 weeks, most babies develop a reasonable pattern of sleep. If you're lucky, your baby may settle around 11pm and sleep through until the next feed at 4am.
Adapt to meet different stages
4 months is a good time to move your baby to a cot as they are becoming more mobile. By 6 months, sleeping time should have increased to 7 hrs from the last feed. If the last feed is at 10pm, you can expect a wake-up around 5am.
Between 6-12 months, your baby can be eased into a 12-hr sleep at night. A short nap in the morning, and a longer one in the afternoon, are very helpful. Keeping them up during the day doesn't necessarily make babies sleep better. In fact, it usually makes them overtired and irritable, and then they'll fight sleep at night.
Look after the basics
Babies sleep better when they're loved, fed, warm and dry. Check ypur baby isn't too cold or hot, or having a problem with wind. If you are using blankets on the cot and the central heating is on throughout the house, make sure the baby's bedroom isn't too warm. A baby who is red in the face, with damp hair, is a baby who is too hot. Turn off the radiator or remove a blanket.
No more tears
Crying for no apparent reason before going to sleep is normal but offer cooled, boiled water if crying makes your baby thirsty. Babies often settle better if loosely but firmly wrapped (it reminds them of the warmth and confinement of the womb). Sleep suits and specially made sleeping bags are ideal for older babies, as they often kick blankets off and become cold.
How can I get my baby to sleep through the night? - a problem most tired parents are familiar with!
The trick is to establish a good sleeping routine so your baby sleeps through the night and you can get your well-needed rest too.
A familiar routine
Doing things the same way at the same time gives your baby a sense of love and security. A routine of cuddles, closing the curtains, pats on the back, perhaps playing her favourite music and a kiss goodnight will become a recognisable pattern that means 'sleep time'.
Babies often cry after you leave the room, but try and wait for a few minutes. She will often settle herself if you don't go back straight away.
Reassure and be consistent
If her crying persists, speak to her calmly. Stroke her but try not to lift her from the cot. Reassure your baby that you're there. It may take a few nights but be consistent and together you will establish a good sleeping pattern.
Why are they waking?
Waking at night may also happen when a baby is teething or feeling ill, especially after an immunisation when reactions occasionally happen. A change in routine, such as a holiday, can also cause disturbed sleep. Once your baby feels better or you are back in your own environment, reintroduce the sleep routine.