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Good sleeping habits are incredibly important to all age groups but even more so for babies as they need it to develop and grow physically and mentally.
Although good sleeping habits in all babies are generally the same, there are some notable differences when they get to particular maturities of development.
Newborn (1-3 months) babies’ sleep normally consists of roughly 80% of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep with a typical sleep cycle of about 55 minutes and on average a total of 15 hours a day. When we describe the particular sleeping habits in babies and toddlers, they are directed more at the parents to enforce them. At this age, the baby has recently come out of the womb and will need to adapt to normal human sleeping habits such as diurnal (opposite of nocturnal) sleeping patterns.
- One habit that should be encouraged is night time sleeping, as it helps them to get ready for normal sleeping times when they get a few months older. Evidence also shows that encouraging night time sleeping habits help babies to sleep through the night earlier on.
- As a parent, you should look out for signs that suggest the baby is tired or drowsy but not asleep. This is when the baby should be put into his/her crib and makes it more likely that they’ll sleep well. This also helps them recognize that when they are put into the crib they should just sleep. Psychologically, something in their mind would make them tired when they are put into bed, which is a very good sleeping habit.
- Lastly, the baby should be put to sleep on his/her back, and without anything soft around that could potentially disrupt their breathing patterns.
Similar tips also apply to babies between the age of 3 months and a year. As the baby gets older, they shouldn’t need as many naps and typically at 9 months old, they would be able to sleep throughout the night.
- The baby should still be encouraged to sleep during the night, and by this age, they should generally have a regular sleeping pattern.
- Again, by putting the baby to sleep when they’re tired but not quite asleep you can help them learn to sleep independently which can help improve their overall sleeping habits as they grow up.
- The baby should be provided with a warm and comfortable, sleep-friendly environment that he/she can be in every time they go to sleep. This point reinforces the earlier two points as well.
By the time they reach toddler age, they should be getting on average 13 hours of sleep every day.
- The introduction of a safety item can help the toddler feel more secure when they go to bed. This safety item can be anything soft such as a soft toy or a blanket.
- A certain bed time should be set and regulated consistently so that they get tired around the same time every night, this is a very important factor when trying to develop good sleeping habits.
- Naps should only happen once a day, and should not happen too late in the evening.
If you follow the tips above, you may be able to help your baby learn to sleep on their own and avoid developing sleeping problems as they get older.