Dr Vijay Kumar

Sleeping Newborns and Sleepless Parents

Catagory: Children     Author: Dr T.V Vijay Kumar

Sleeping Newborns

It is essential for infant health and development. I often encounter overworked, adrenaline-drained, and sleep-deprived parents in the doctor’s office who are searching for the secret formula to put their infants to sleep. New parents have lasting recollections of the first four to twelve weeks of motherhood when they were threatened by restless, fussy, challenging-to-calm infants. They love to enjoy their peaceful slumber in the gentle arms of parents, I tell them, since infants make the days shorter, the nights longer, and homes happier. Understanding the baby’s changing sleep pattern can help the parents feel less concerned about their newborn’s sleep quantity and quality.


  1. How do you define a Circadian Rhythm?

A circadian rhythm is a term used to describe an adult’s daily sleep-wake cycle. It is a biological clock in our bodies that has been educated by outside signals known as zeitgebers, such as the cycle of light and dark and social activities.


  1. When does a baby’s Circadian Rhythm Emerge?

By 35 weeks of gestation, the foetus possesses the circadian rhythm generator, the hypothalamus (a region of the brain). A person’s ability to develop a consistent sleep-wake cycle mostly relies on how long they are exposed to cyclical zeitgebers like the light-dark cycle and carer schedule.


  1. What is a newborn’s sleep schedule?

By three months, the amount of sleep a newborn gets each day may drop to 9 to 14 hours. Due to their tiny stomach capacity, they must eat 8–10 times every day. They seldom sleep for more than four hours at a period. Their days and nights are disorganised and lack structure. They typically wake up frequently at night, disrupting the mother’s circadian cycle and leaving her fatigued. They frequently sleep better during the day. It is crucial that the mother realises that her baby will not sleep for lengthy stretches of time during the first few months and will wake up often. She may arrange to sleep with the baby and this might make her feel less anxious.

By 3 months to 1 year of age, the majority of infants begin sleeping for a considerable period of time (5–6 hours). After six months, what people consume as complementary food affects how well they sleep at night.


  1. How can the baby’s sleep schedule be improved by the family?

Infants should be fed on demand and integrated into the family routine. Don’t make them go to bed. Babies that follow an active schedule like their mothers often sleep more hours at night.

Give the infants a taste of day and night. Lights should be turned off at night and they may be forced to sleep in their home’s natural daylight. According to research, exposing infants to the natural day-night cycle helps them build a better circadian rhythm and improve their ability to sleep.

Keep the evenings peaceful, and when the baby wakes up, try feeding in low light. Avoid overstimulating children with loud noises and bright lights. Try not to wake them up to eat or change diapers in between.

Baby-calming routines include a warm bath and gentle lotion massage in the evening. This has been shown to enhance their sleep.

It is very fine to use these techniques if your baby links sleep with feeding, carrying, rocking, singing, strolling, or patting since they tend to sleep for longer periods of time.


  1. Why do newborns often make noise when they sleep?

Baby alternates between deep slumber and being active. They are active for about 75% of their sleep. In their active sleep, babies move about, twitch, release gas, grin, and make noise. Parents often mistake this busy sleep stage for waking up their infants. The family must become accustomed to this noise and movement during sleep in order to avoid rushing to give the infant another meal and maybe waking him or her up.


  2. When should a baby be fed for the best chance of a good night’s sleep?

Beginning with the waking cycle, babies go through several stages.

  • Quiet alert phase: Immediately after the end of sleep, newborns lay motionless, are awake, and are gazing at their surroundings before making modest movements like stretching.

The ideal time to feed them is now. They are most likely to smoothly transition into their next sleep or play cycle if done on time.

  • Crying phase: During this time, the infant exhibits unpredictable body movements, agitation, and anxiety. They need various methods of calming, such as holding, gently rocking, and swaddling, since they are irritable, screaming, and may dislike eating. The typical late indicator of hunger is crying.
  • Does swaddling help newborns sleep better?

Swaddling is a traditional method of containing and keeping an infant warm. In the first two months, babies may be wrapped snugly in swaddles to prevent their arms and legs from flapping. They may become uncomfortable, sweaty, and cranky when swaddled in a tight or heated blanket. Swaddling should allow for hip mobility on the stomach; otherwise, it may result in improper hip development.


The weather should be taken into consideration while selecting a swaddling cloth. To avoid overheating in a hot, humid area like Chennai, lightweight cotton material is preferable.

After two months, it is best to avoid swaddling since the baby is more likely to try twisting and rolling over. Swaddling may obstruct these motions.


  1. Are infants capable of oversleeping?

Sometimes newborns may sleep for up to 18 to 19 hours each day, but they will still need to eat eight to ten times daily and do enough urination and stooling. Some of the high risk newborns who are prone to sleep longer than normal interfering with their feeding sufficiency and need the doctor’s counsel are preterm neonates, babies with jaundice or illness, and babies delivered to moms with diabetes.


  1. What are the crucial steps to avoid suffocation and sleep-related accidents?

  • Keep the infant in the same space as the mother.
  • Leave newborns’ faces exposed.
  • To lay your infant, use a firm mattress with the covers tucked in. Do not place toys or other unnecessary items in their sleeping space.
  • Keep the space smoke-free, with a warm rather than a hot temperature.
  • When using cradles, make sure the top is open so you can see the infant clearly at all times.
  1. What are some quick fixes for newly-awakened mothers?

Consider taking a few short naps; these may be quite reviving. Both the mother and the baby slept better when they are breastfed and shared a bed. When you’re worn out, ask a family member to watch the infant while you take a nap. Reduce your screen time to make more time for sleep. Keep in mind that this is just a brief period, and you will soon establish your baby’s sleep schedule.