How can I help my baby sleep better? Infants have developmental stages that they go through as their sleep progresses. When they’re first born, they seem to sleep constantly and that’s really normal. During the first few weeks, they’ll spend most of their time asleep. As they get older, as they close in on, you know, one to two months old, they’ll start to develop night and day preferences just like we do, where they’ll be sleeping more at night and wake more in the day. But, you might not see that until about two months old and that’s okay. Your baby will get there. You’ll just have to be patient with them. Keep the daytime bright and active, keep the night quiet and dark and they’ll usually get the message on their own.
As they get older, it’s important to help them learn to self-soothe to fall asleep. This is usually best started between four and six months old. And the reason is that as the baby’s brain develops, they start to develop what’s called object permanence, and this is when the baby can start to remember that something that they don’t see is still there. And when that something they don’t see, his mom or dad, and they know you’re there, they haven’t yet learned how to fall asleep on there on, they’re gonna ask you to come in the room or ask them…ask you to hold them or feed them so they fall asleep every time. And so, the best time to start helping them learn to fall asleep on their own is before that gets really good, because that baby’s gonna get smarter everyday. So, you gotta start a little bit early so they learn good habits before they start to develop that object permanence and separation concerns. So, usually between four and six months old is a good time for that. You can start that by continuing your same nighttime routine as far as, you know, bath or feeding, holding, rocking. The key is that you wanna lie your baby down in their crib shortly before they fall asleep, when they’re still sleepy but not totally asleep. Then you can pat them, or touch them, talk to them and gradually redraw that over time as they learn to soothe themselves.
A lot of people ask, “What’s a four month sleep regression? You know, I hear about that when my baby just stops wanting to sleep.” A lot of times it’s not the sleep that’s worse, it’s the baby is getting smarter. Their senses are better, their vision is nearly normal at that point, and they’ve developed strong bonds with their parents, they want them around. And so, you know, that’s really the cue that it’s really time to start that sleep. You know, help them to learn to fall asleep and self-soothe at that point. And that’s again, usually between four to six months old. After six months old, most babies can sleep through the night without having to wake up to feed. Nutritionally they don’t need to do it. Some nursing babies will still want a feed or two at night because that seems to pass through them a little faster than the formula does. And that’s okay, but primarily working on that first falling asleep at night and usually the rest will take care of itself over time. Most babies are still taking several naps, at least two a day at that point as well. As long as the infant naps seem restful and soothing, they may range from an hour or two, and that’s fine. Typically, most children at that age are still getting, you know, 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, and that’s kind of your goal. How that breaks down and splits up can be a little flexible.