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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sleeping Like a Baby

Have you ever wondered where the phrase “sleeping like a baby” comes from? We’re not sure either, but let’s venture a guess and say it came from someone who has never tried to help a fussy baby fall asleep.
Of course, babies sleep a lot. Newborn infants average anywhere from fourteen to eighteen hours of sleep per day. Still, that sleep comes in brief two to four hour spurts, so it can feel like a lot less to parents who have spent the majority of their lives sleeping for eight hours at a time. 

Of course, newborns have a very good reason for waking up so often. Their little tummies just can’t hold very much. Combine that with an ultra fast digesting liquid diet, and you have a formula (no pun intended) for a hungry infant who needs attention on a regular basis. Breast fed babies especially need to wake up often, as breast milk digests even faster than commercially produced formula.

As your newborn grows, so will her stomach, and she will gradually be able to eat enough at one setting to stay satisfied for longer periods of time, allowing her (and you) longer rest and sleep periods. Babies differ as far as their sleep patterns go, but generally speaking, your baby should be able to start sleeping through the night somewhere between six months and one year of age. 

Of course, five hours of uninterrupted sleep is considered “sleeping through the night” for babies. We’re still trying to figure out who came up with that number. To be sure, though, by the time your baby is sleeping five hours or so at a time, it will feel like a full night’s sleep comparatively.

Until your baby is three or four months old, there really isn’t much you can do to help her sleep for longer periods of time. The most important thing is to take care of her needs. Change her, feed her, burp her, and take care of any other needs she may have, and then rock her back to sleep. The best thing you can do for yourself during this time period is to take as many naps as you can while the baby is sleeping.

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