Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle – The First Month – 3 Months Old To 8 Months Old

baby sleep cycle

A baby sleep cycle is basically the duration of time from one complete night’s sleep to waking up again. Sleep cycles range significantly from twelve to eighteen hours for newborns and from thirty to forty-eight hours for older kids. Sleep cycles happen in tandem with changes in a baby’s wake-sleep cycle and his/her circadian rhythm. A baby’s circadian rhythms are established when the internal environment of the infant is less chaotic and his/her melatonin level, which is responsible for initiating sleep cycles, is high. On the other hand, when the environment is more disorganized, the infant’s melatonin level will decline. At such times, the infant may start going to sleep at inappropriate times and will wake up feeling tired even if they have had enough sleep the night before.

Determine Their Own Sleep Cycles Through Observation

A baby sitting on a table

Babies can easily determine their own sleep cycles through observation. It is essential for parents to monitor the baby’s melatonin levels during the entire day so as to determine the ideal times for them to go to sleep and wake up at night. This way, the baby sleep cycle can be properly mapped out and the baby can be comfortably asleep during the nighttime and wake up well rested in the morning. Parents need to chart the baby sleep cycles for several weeks in order to get a picture of the baby’s REM sleep and feed schedule.

The baby starts his/her first sleep cycle about four to six weeks after birth. The parents should keep track of the baby’s body movements, temperature, mood swings, diaper changes, sleep patterns, etc during this time. The first REM sleep stage occurs about ninety minutes after the baby has fallen asleep. The baby should not be disturbed, and he/she needs to fall asleep without any external stimuli. The baby’s eyes should remain closed tightly for around ten to twenty five minutes.

Start Moving Or Rocking While He/She Is Sleeping

A person standing on a court

In addition, the baby should not be encouraged to start moving or rocking while he/she is sleeping. At this point, the baby is generally still awake but is just entering the REM stage of sleeping. At this point, the baby can start dreaming or have a lot of fun, but it is not the time to learn how to read or anything like that. So, parents should avoid talking, even if the baby starts cooing. The little one sleeping alone at this time will usually begin developing a hunger period, which is another good reason to keep the baby cooped up.

During the second trimester, the baby is starting to become drowsy. He/she can now hold its head up and blink a few times before falling asleep. By the third trimester, the baby should be able to hold its head up on its own, or at most, move around a bit when the parent wants it to. Babies will also cry during the night if they wake up too many times. Most parents find that they need to keep repeating a few lessons – the same at night, every night, until the baby is learning to fall asleep without the help of parents.

Final Words

Parents should always try to have as consistent a sleep routine as possible. A baby who sleeps six to eight hours every night is going to be able to sleep a lot longer than someone who only has three to four hours or less per night. The six to eight hour period is generally considered a good amount of sleep for most children. It is especially helpful to introduce longer naps of 30 minutes or so each day, as the older a child gets, the less naps he or she will need.

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