The sleep of the newborn

newborn baby

The sleep of the newborn is very different from the adult: sleeping is, like many other aspects of a newborn’s life, something that has to be learned. The parent must be the guide of the newborn in this sense and help him to establish good habits in relation to sleep. There are many things the new parent should know about the baby’s sleep and take advantage of this knowledge to help the baby sleep better and longer.

The sleep / wake rhythm of the newborn

It all starts with the knowledge of one’s child that is established before the birth. Newborns develop sleep / wake rhythms since they are in the belly. Often these rhythms are opposite to those of the mother because the baby tends to sleep during the day, when the mother is active and with her movements cradles the baby, while the night is awake, when the mother is lying motionless. The rhythms of the baby’s sleep in the belly naturally remain unchanged even after delivery because the child is always the same. In these situations it is the parents’ task to teach the newborn to distinguish day and night.

During the day the newborn should rest in a bright environment, without worrying about isolating it from noise. It is not a problem to let him take all the naps he needs but it is better to avoid them becoming too long. Typically a daily nap should last up to 3 hours, you can have a little ‘tolerance if you think that the child needs to sleep longer but do not let it sleep for more than 4 hours. During the night the baby should always remain in a dark environment and noises and stimuli should be limited to the maximum.

newborn baby

The peculiarities of the REM sleep of the newborn

It is important to know that the sleep of newborns is very different from that of adults. Although newborns sleep many hours a day, typically 16/18 hours, their cycles are very irregular. One of the main peculiarities of the sleep of the newborn is that the sleep cycles are shorter than those of an adult while the REM phase, or active sleep, is proportionally longer. Researchers believe this is necessary to make possible the extraordinary brain developments that take place since birth. However, in the REM phase, the baby’s sleep is lighter and easily disturbed.

Continue Reading: Where and how to make the newborn sleep during the first months?

Generally after 45/60 minutes of deep sleep the baby starts to give signs of agitation as murmurs, movements and crying even while he is still sleeping. It is also possible that the baby will open their eyelids but if left undisturbed he could go back to sleep. Initially these steps can cause the awakening of the baby which then makes very short and frequent naps. The parent at this stage of the infant’s sleep must first of all avoid being the cause of awakening, perhaps because judging by the movements and noises mistakenly thinks that the newborn has finished their rest. It can also act to help the baby “tie” the various phases of sleep together. In any case, around 6/8 weeks REM phases become shorter and the newborn begins to sleep for longer periods and within 6 months the vast majority of newborns have learned to sleep between 8 and 12 hours in a row per night.

Tiredness and sleep in the newborn

Another feature of the newborn’s sleep is that more is tired and worse sleeping  – sometimes it happens to us adults too. Never follow the rule “let’s make it a little tired so it sleeps better”. Children who are sleepy become hyperactive, excited, capricious. For this it is good to give the newborn the possibility of falling asleep at the first signs of fatigue.

If you do not take prompt action when you notice these signs, especially if the child has a few months already, it is possible that you can reactivate and that it takes a long time to sleep.

The sleep of the newborn during the phases of intense development

Even after the baby has learned to sleep through the night, their brain will go through phases of intense development that could cause him trouble sleeping. However, these are transitional phases, although they sometimes last several weeks, in which the parent only has to make sure that the child continues to maintain the good habits he had previously taken. To these phases are added temporary difficulties to sleep caused for example by dentition or cooling.

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