Most parents know the old cliche, “I slept like a baby,” is a cruel joke. While infants do sleep more hours than adults, they nap in very short bursts of an hour or two at most. This is due to having a very tiny stomach. A newborn gets hungry fast and needs to nurse every few hours day and night. But how do baby sleep patterns change as your infant ages?
New Born babies are used to living in the dark waters of the womb. There was no day or night, so babies just slept at any time. Now that your newborn is outside in the world, this habit of sleeping at any hour of the day won’t be going anywhere soon. Newborns typically sleep 18-20 hours a day. The first couple weeks, your baby won’t do much more than sleep and eat. They tend to be a bit more awake around the 2 week mark, and by 6 weeks you may notice your baby is already more perky during the day and sleeping a bit longer at night.
Three Month Olds still need a lot of sleep, but a bit less than they used to. Your three month old is likely sleeping 13-15 hours, and if you’re lucky, most of that will be at night. Your baby is still going to need a night feeding or two for a while yet, but those shouldn’t be quite as often either. A three month old naps much of the day away, but your baby should be able to stay up for an hour or two at a time now, so you’ll finally be able to really connect and begin to learn about your child’s unique personality.
Six Month Olds are ever moving towards a sleep cycle that resembles a small child’s rather than a newborn’s. Your six month old should need 12-14 hours of sleep, and the vast majority of that should be at night. Your baby doesn’t need any more night feedings, so you can begin to sleep train. With any luck, you’ll soon be able to get 5 or 6 solid hours of sleep at night. While naps are still a vital part of your baby’s day, trying to keep your baby awake after 3pm may help them to sleep better at night.
Months of interrupted, poor quality sleep are incredibly hard on a person. If you’re feeling drained and tired, know that you aren’t alone! New parents all over Canada are up feeding their babies in the middle of the night and feeling worn out and exhausted. Your baby will be growing up quicker than you can imagine, and soon enough, this too will pass. However, if you feel like you aren’t able to handle things, remember it’s okay to ask for help. Have a friend or family member mind the baby while you catch up on sleep! And try to nap when baby does — the dishes can wait!