According to a study published by the University of Lyon, baby’s sleep is like a train that stretches out as the child grows. So, an infant has a two-wagon train, one representing active sleep, and the other quiet (deep) sleep. These phases alternate several times a night, and you may notice that your child jerks when he falls asleep; this is a normal part of your baby's sleep and is nothing to worry about.
During the active sleep phase, baby wiggles their fingers and toes and might even smile. During this phase, it's normal for baby to move around a lot at night until the quiet sleep wagon arrives, when he or she will be motionless. Each train lasts about 50 minutes when baby is very young, then lengthen to 70 minutes, and then 90 to 120 minutes for adults.
During the active phase of sleep, baby could purr, breathe heavily, or have ragged breathing when sleeping; there is usually nothing to worry about. However, if this happens suddenly, or if your baby has a runny nose or fever, don't hesitate to take him or her to the doctor.
Between “trains,” baby has a very light sleep, so even the slightest disturbance is likely to wake him or her up.
At what age does a baby sleep through the night?
Sleeping through the night doesn't mean sleeping for 12 hours at a time, far from it! In fact, it's said that a baby sleeps through the night when he or she sleeps 5 to 6 hours in a row between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. On average, 70% of babies sleep through the night by 3 months of age, 85% by 6 months, and almost all—90%—by 9 months. Depending on age however, there are different reasons why your baby's sleep may be disturbed. Rest assured, these stages are completely normal in your child's development!
Although your little angel may sleep through the night, sometimes he/she might wake up in the middle of the night again. This is called sleep regression.
What is baby sleep regression?
It can last from a few days to several weeks, and can be caused by many things, including a recent vaccine or a change in sleep routine; maybe your baby is anxious and needs reassurance?
At 4 months old
Baby is becoming more and more aware of the world around him and discovering new things; after all, why sleep when there’s so much to explore?
Baby grows and feels safe with you and the fear of abandonment leads to sleep deprivation. This is also one of the longest periods of separation anxiety; you can't even get to the bathroom quietly without your baby screaming! But as babies get older, they realize that you always come back, even after a day in daycare!
Around 12 months old, babies develop motor skills at high gear; if they’re still not walking, it's only a matter of weeks before they’re able to do it! And once they manage to move on two feet instead of on all fours, they want to explore the world around at all costs; sleep? A waste of time!
If you thought you had solved the question, think again: separation anxiety can come back in force! You realize that your toddler still needs reassurance at night, and this is completely normal! Courage, this period is almost over!
Your child talks more and more and discovers communication in another way than crying. Their new skills will be tested during the day... as well as at night!
Why is baby crying/not sleeping at night?
While sometimes the cause of a baby not sleeping is easy to identify—like sleep regression—it can happen that they don't sleep at night for a reason that is harder to identify.
Like us, babies don't sleep as well if they're too warm or cold. Therefore, it is recommended that the baby's bedroom be at a temperature between 16 and 20 degrees to promote better sleep, the ideal temperature being 18 degrees.
What to dress baby in at night?
Obviously, during the summer season, it can be difficult to lower the temperature, especially if your home does not have air conditioning. You'll have to adapt the pajamas to sleep at 22 or 23 degrees (light pajamas or a sleeping bag), but if the temperature exceeds 25 degrees, a simple onesie will do the trick to dress your baby at night.
To find out if baby is cold during sleep, wrap him/her in a blanket; if they try to wriggle it off, they're probably too warm. Also check their temperature at the neck, stomach, or legs, which are good indicators. If they're cold, cover baby a little more.
Baby sweats a lot while sleeping: is this normal?
Yes, absolutely! Their small internal temperature regulator is not yet fully developed, so if they get hot—even a little—they can get sweaty very quickly. So, there's nothing to worry about.
Breastfeeding: Should I wake my baby up at night to feed him or her?
Try not to feed a sleeping baby at night. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you don't need to wake your baby up to breastfeed or bottle-feed if he or she doesn't ask for it. If you do, you then risk your baby often awakening around the same time waiting to get fed.
Do you burp baby at night?
Burping allows your baby to get rid the air that is swallowed with the milk, but if your baby has fallen asleep while drinking, you don't need to wake him/her up to burp. If they need to burp, they will wiggle when lying down, and you can pick the baby back up to burp.
Putting a breastfed baby to sleep?
Again, the question of when to put your baby to bed after a feed or bottle depends on your child: while some babies fall asleep without finishing, others will want to stay awake a little longer and will eventually fall asleep either in your arms or alone in bed. Depending on age and temperament, each baby will eventually find the rhythm that suits them.
What about diapers?
You don't need to wake baby up to change the diaper, especially if it's absorbent; however, if your baby suffers from diaper rash or if you notice that the diaper is leaking or full of stool, then you'll need to change your baby's diaper at night, whether it's a disposable or a cloth diaper.
What should I do when baby wakes up at night?
The reasons why baby doesn't sleep can be multiple, baby is hot, cold, hungry, wet or has had a nightmare. However, once the problem is identified, the goal is to calm baby down to put him/her back to sleep and in bed without waking him/her up.
Putting your baby to sleep is not always easy, but it is possible! A 1½ month-old baby can easily fall asleep during or after a massage, a ride in the car or stroller, or listening to a lullaby. Find a method that works for both of you and remember, what's good for mommy may not work for daddy!
Talk softly to your baby or get a musical night-light that comes on when baby cries, which may reassure and help him or her go back to sleep. Of course, while this can be exhausting for parents, don't get angry; it can frighten the baby, and you won't solve your problem.
Helping baby go back to sleep alone
A child who falls asleep alone during the bedtime routine is likely to go back to sleep alone in the middle of the night; however, this isn’t always the case and learning must also be done to avoid crying for long minutes.
When to let baby fall asleep alone?
Between the ages of 4 to 10 months, a baby should learn to fall asleep alone, although this can be a trying time not only for the baby, but for parents as well! Pediatrician Richard Ferber recommends that you put your baby to bed, and if they cry, you should go back to them to talk and reassure them, lengthening the intervals between visits each time.
Warning: sleeping alone doesn’t mean in a separate room. It's best to have your baby sleep in his or her own room only after the first 6 months to reduce the risk of sudden death by 50%. Be careful not to give baby pillows or stuffed animals, which increase the risk of choking, and don't sleep in the same bed! This increases the risk of injury, especially when your baby is moving around a lot.
Give your baby a blankie to help him or her sleep on their own.
This is not a requirement! While some babies easily attach themselves to a security blanket, stuffed toy or even a pacifier, some babies simply won't want one, or they won't want the one you've chosen for them! But around 5 or 6 months of age, your baby may get attached to a blankie to help him or her fall asleep.
What about a pacifier?
A baby often needs a pacifier to calm down or help them fall asleep, although some babies have never had a pacifier before and are no worse off. This need to suckle is normal, but there comes a time when the baby will have to learn to do without the pacifier, especially if it’s used as a sleeping “crutch”.
It's perfectly normal for your baby to cry at night, depending on their age and the period of regression associated with it. But remember to take the following into account:
The bedroom temperature
The baby’s clothes
The baby’s hunger
The state of the diaper
When baby wakes up at night, don't panic and be patient to comfort them, you'll get them to sleep through the night and be able to go back to sleep on their own... helping to ensure that you too start sleeping through the night without interruption!
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