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When Do Babies Connect Sleep Cycles For Naps

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Knowing When To Put Your Baby Down

When do babies start to link sleep cycles?

Though we often say to put your baby down, drowsy but awake, this can actually work against you if you dont do it carefully.

Since your baby enters a light sleep state first, you need to make sure you avoid putting your baby down during this stage of sleep. Because if you put your baby down during light sleep, its highly likely they will wake up as soon as you lay them down. We know youve been there…you breathe a sigh of relief seeing that your little one is finally asleep and you gently place them in their crib. You tip-toe away and before youve even made it to the door, they cry out.;

In light sleep, even the slightest disturbance can wake your little one. This is why were all about creating the perfect calm and quiet sleep environment with a weighted sleep sack and white noise…the more relaxed your baby is, the less likely theyll wake up.

Here are your options for putting your baby down:

  • Fully awake. There is nothing wrong with putting yoru baby down fully awake if they are good about putting themselves to sleep. However, many babies will protest with this method…especially if theyre not adequate relaxed.
  • Drowsy. Putting your baby down when theyre showing obvious signs of sleepiness can be great. But you have to be careful…there is a fine line between drowsy and already entering light sleep, so dont wait too long to lay them down.
  • Though youd think 10 minutes would be enough time for your little to be fully asleep, its actually not.;

    Why Is Sleep Important

    Sleep restores children physically. It helps them learn and remember things, and it boosts immunity. And sleep helps children grow. For example, childrens bodies produce growth hormone when theyre asleep. Children often need more sleep at times of rapid growth.

    Children of all ages need to get enough sleep so they can play, learn and concentrate during the day.

    What About Sleeping Through The Night When Do Babies Begin Sleeping In Long Uninterrupted Nighttime Bouts

    Understandably, parents want their babies to sleep through the night. But, as weve already noted, nobody truly sleeps through the night not in the sense of remaining in a constant sleep state for hours on end.

    Instead, whats normal both for babies and adults is to experience many partial arousals throughout the night, and to occasionally wake up, if only very briefly.

    Researchers have captured this in video recordings:;Babies under the age of 12 months awaken, on average, 3-4 times a night .

    So it isnt realistic to expect your baby to stop awakening at night. Nor would that be a good idea. As weve seen, arousals serve an important function.

    Instead, a more reasonable goal is for your baby to settle down at night for at least 5 hours at a stretch. When your baby experiences an arousal, he or she quickly falls back to sleep without your assistance.

    Thats whats really going on when parents say their babies sleep for long periods of time. The infants are experiencing normal arousals and night wakings, but their parents arent aware of these interruptions. Babies are staying quiet, and returning to sleep on their own.

    So when does this happen? At what age do babies keep quiet for at least 5 hours? Between, say, midnight and 5am?

    The answer is that it varies.

    Some babies achieve this milestone at two months postpartum. But most babies dont get there until 4-6 months, or even later.

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    Circadian Rhythms: How Long Does It Take For Babies To Synchronize With The Natural 24

    Young babies are notorious for sleeping and waking at awkward times.;In part, this is because their circadian rhythms recurring, 24-hour cycles of physiological activity arent synchronized with the natural rhythms of daylight and darkness.

    You may have heard that it takes 3-4 months for babies to develop mature circadian rhythms. But research confirms that the timing varies, and that babies synchronize sooner when we provide them with the right environmental cues.

    Light has the biggest impact on your babys inner clock,so use it wisely.

    During the day, expose your baby to natural, bright light. And as evening approaches, dim the artificial lights, and take care to avoid nighttime exposure to blue light, which is especially disruptive of sleep. Research suggests that newborns sleep for longer stretches at night when their parents stick with a policy of lights out after 9pm .

    In addition, involve your baby in your daily activities, and avoid the temptation to turn nighttime feedings into social events.

    When you attend to your baby in the middle of the night, be soothing, but avoid engaging your baby with eye contact and conversation. Keep the lights off, and your behavior low key.

    Ways To Navigate Nap Transition

    Baby Sleep Myths Busted: Good Sleepers
    • The timing of nap 1 and nap 2 will remain the same at roughly 9 am and 1 pm
    • Your baby will likely be able to tolerate a longer awake period between nap 2 and bedtime, however, you will temporarily adjust with an earlier bedtime for 2 to 3 weeks
    • Slowly bump bedtime later in 10-minute increments every 3-5 nights until you reach the bedtime that your baby had when he was taking 3 naps prior to the transition
    • So, if your baby had a 6:30 pm bedtime prior to the transition when he was on 3 naps, you will need to adjust with an earlier bedtime closer to 5:45 6:00 pm and slowly stretch bedtime toward 6:30 pm

    We want to officially drop nap 3 by 9 months old to make sure we have enough sleep pressure headed into bedtime to help prevent night waking, early rising and improve the quality of nap 1 and 2.

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    Interpret Signs Of Tiredness

    If you put your child for a nap before he is tired, or when he is overtired he wont sleep as well as when you hit that ideal just-tired moment. Observe your child for signs of tiredness, such as losing interest in toys, looking glazed, becoming cranky, or slumping in his seat. Put your child for a nap the moment you see any sign of fatigue. If you take note of the time that this occurs over a week you should see a pattern emerge. This can help you set up a daily nap schedule that suits your childs tired times perfectly.

    What Does A Baby Sleep Cycle Consist Of

    Until 4 months, your babys time sleeping is divided in two:

    • Quiet Sleep
    • Active Sleep

    Your adult sleep cycle consists of 4 stages and lasts up to 1 hour and 30 minutes. A baby sleep cycle lasts around 50-60 minutes.

    Active Newborn Sleep

    Active sleep is the sleep your baby enters first. This is similar to REM sleep for adults and during this stage your baby is more likely to wake up.

    Your babys breathing may be irregular and you might notice him jump or startle. His eyes will move around under his closed lids so you may notice little eyelid flutters. This are all tell-tale signs of active baby sleep.

    Whilst you as an adult spend around 20% of your sleep in this phase, 50% of your babys sleep is spent in active sleep.

    Quiet Newborn Sleep

    At about halfway through a baby sleep cycle, your baby moves into Quiet Sleep.

    This features slower, deeper rhythmic breathing and less movement and her eyelids wont flutter.

    This is the final stage of your babys sleep cycle. This means your baby with either wake up or fall back into the Active stage of baby sleep as her sleep cycle starts again.

    How Do Baby Sleep Cycles Change?

    From around 4 6 months, your babys sleep cycle will move into 4 stages. At this point, the 4 month sleep regression is common.

    These new stages gradually replace the Quiet phase of newborn sleep. The duration of the sleep cycle will lengthen and the time spent in Active sleep will decrease.

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    Recognize The Signs That Your Baby Is Tired

    Your baby will let you know if they;need;sleep. Watch for these common signs of tiredness:

    • Looking away from you
    • Fussing

    Dont wait until your baby is overtired to put them;to bed. An overtired baby has more trouble falling and staying asleep. Try to stay a step ahead by looking for the signs that they are;getting sleepy before;they are;fussy and cranky.

    Getting Baby To Link Sleep Cycles

    When do babies drop to one nap?

    Now that we understand what wakes babies up, we can look at how to keep them asleep. If you can, transition them onto a sleep prop that they can control or that isn’t a part of your body. If your baby likes a dummy or has a lovey toy or blanket, this is where they come in.

    • Pay close attention to your baby’s catnaps: does your baby wake at 30 minutes? 45 minutes?
    • A few minutes before they would usually wake up, go into the room where they are sleeping and gently pop their dummy in or make sure their lovey is close by.
    • If your baby likes to have their back rubbed or bum patted, you can do that very gently.

    This has the effect of gentling them to link one sleep cycle with the next. Your presence, and the presence of the thing they love, helps to bridge the gap into which they would usually awake. Keep this up across as many naps as you can for about a week or so, and your baby should start to learn to bridge the gap themselves.

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    Let A Friend Or Family Member Watch Your Baby While You Take A Nap Even If This Means Your Breastfed Baby Will Take Some Meals From A Bottle

    Lactation experts often discourage breastfeeding mothers from bottle feeding babies for the first 3-4 weeks. The worry is that supplemental feeds will lead to a decreased milk supply and endanger successful breastfeeding in the long-term.

    But you need to balance this against the negative effects of severe sleep restriction. Lack of sleep puts parents at increased risk of illness and postpartum depression, which is bad for parents and babies. If you are at the end of your rope, get help.

    Summary: Baby Sleep Patterns By Age

    *Remember that not all babies follow the below patterns; their wake up and sleep times may be different as may the number of naps that they take this is okay and may still be normal!

    Ages 4-6 months

    • Wake: between 5 and 7am
    • Naps: 3 to 4 per day; 30 to 75 minutes each
    • Bedtime: between 5:30 and 8pm

    Total day sleep = 1.5 to 4 hours

    Total night sleep = 11.5 to 13 hours

    Total sleep in 24 hours = 13 to 17 hours

    Ages 6-9 months

    • Wake: between 6 and 8am
    • Naps: 2 to 3 per day; 60 to 90 minutes each
    • Bedtime: between 5 and 8pm

    Total daytime sleep = 2 to 3.5 hours

    Total nighttime sleep = 10 to 12.5 hours

    Total sleep in 24 hours = 12 to 16 hours

    Ages 9-12 months

    • Wake: between 6 to 9am
    • Naps: 2 per day, 60 to 120 minutes each
    • Bedtime: between 6 and 9pm

    Total daytime sleep = 2 to 4 hours

    Total nighttime sleep = 10 to 11 hours

    Total sleep in 24 hours = 12 to 15 hours

    : 2, 3

    Lets Chat!

    We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond. Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition and theyre all moms, too, which means theyve been there and seen that. Theyre here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday Friday 8am-8pm , and Saturday Sunday 8am-4pm . Chat Now!

    Read more about the experts that help write our content!

    For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

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    How To Foster Your Babys Healthy Eating Habits

    For the most part, you should strive to fill your 12-month-old baby’s tray with colorful foods , nutrient-dense grains and a variety of protein sources. Your job is to make the foods available and encourage them to try a few bites. If they are giving it a thumbs down, don’t force it. Research shows this can only make matters worse.

    Another common challenge at this stage? Short attention spans at mealtime. It’s normal for 12-month-olds to be restlesseven when you know the clock says it’s time to eat. They want to get down and play, after all! Try to limit stimulation, keep them fully strapped in the high chair for safety and, finally, manage your expectations a bit. Family meals might look different right now than you imagined, but that will change in time.

    If you want to see proof of just how well you’ve done with feedings this year, mama, take a look at your baby. They aren’t so little anymore! Looking ahead, there is no timeline on when to wean your baby if you are still breastfeeding. At this point, you’ll want to do what feels best for you and your baby. But, trust us, you’re already a pro at that.

    Read more about wellness for mama and your 12-month-old:

    Cheers! You just brought a tiny human into the world. You’re settling into a routine. You’ve managed to feed the baby in public. You’ve slept a couple of full nights. You’re ready to celebrate with that champagne you meant to have the day the baby was born but were too tired to open for those first couple of months.

    Most Commonly Parents Will Notice:

    How To Help Baby Connect Sleep Cycles At Night

    A short nap allows your body to enter stage 1 and stage 2 sleep . If it doesn’t work at this age, then wait a while longer and try it again. 830 nap 1130 nap and 3 pm nap no nap at 4 pm. Do baby’s sleep cycles get longer? By 6 months the 4 to 3 nap transition will be complete, and most babies will be on 3 naps. The first 20 or so minutes of a nap are light sleep, or rem sleep. The curse of the 45 minute nap. Nap sleep 11 posts. Some doctors recommend scheduling a baby’s day in an eat, play, sleep sequence. Common sleep disruptors 12 posts. No reason these can’t be cosleeping naps or in the sling, but the quality daytime sleep does matter and will probably affect your nights. Being fussy and having a hard time calming down and getting back to sleep after nighttime awakenings. Read more about the 4 month sleep regression and how to cope.

    Learn more about sleep cycles and infant sleep schedules from baby sleep experts. The curse of the 45 minute nap. Twins & multiples 3 posts. Your baby is unable to connect sleep cycles. Yes, we’re going to start with plan a and see how it goes.

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    Why Its Helpful To Understand Your Babys Sleep Cycles

    So weve covered what a newborns sleep cycle looks like as well as an older babys, and you might be thinking to yourself, So what? I mean, science is cool and all, but does knowing this help you as a parent?


    Next were going to cover some ways you can use your knowledge of baby sleep cycles to start helping your baby sleep better and more soundly.

    Keep Your Babys Nap Schedule Consistent

    Children thrive on routine. Having a predictable nap schedule helps your baby nap longer because his body clock is set to sleep at the same time each day.

    Babies 6-7 months and older will be able to follow a by-the-clock nap schedule, while younger babies nap best by following awake times.

    Nap schedules dont have to be complicated! Your ideal daily schedule should be easy-to follow and allow for some flexibility, while meeting your babys sleep and nutrition needs.

    The best part of having a consistent nap schedule is that youll have time each day for YOU time.

    If your baby goes to daycare, keep your nap schedule the same as theirs. Having a regular rhythm to each day helps your baby nap easily, because her body is used to sleeping at that time.

    My Daily Schedules & Developmental Activities Guide has example nap schedules for 6 months 4 years old. Plus, it has creative play ideas and developmental toys to use at every age.

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    Baby’s Sleep Cycle: How Your Baby’s Sleep Differs From Yours

    Newborns and adults have very different sleep cycles. So, how does your baby’s sleep cycle work? Our newborn sleep cycle chart shows that newborns , only experience;two of the four stages of sleep: stage 3 and stage 4, or REM, and spend about half of their time asleep in each stage.

    As a newborn, you were most likely able to rock or nurse your baby to sleep, and then put her down without her waking. ;This is because she jumps right into that deep sleep stage. Around 4 months old, your baby will start cycling through all 4 stages of sleep, instead of just two.

    How To Keep Your Light Sleeper From Waking Up All The Way

    How to Get Baby to Sleep Longer: Short Naps & Night Wakings

    1. Dont rush in the moment you think your baby has awakened.

    As noted above, babies experience frequent arousals, but that doesnt mean they are doomed to wake up all the way every few minutes. Babies often jerk, sigh, or vocalize during partial arousals. If you avoid stimulating them during these moments, they may go back to sleep on their own.

    2. Tank up the baby before you go to sleep.;

    Whether you breastfeed or bottle-fed, try to give the baby an especially large meal before your own bedtime. This will encourage your baby to sleep longer. To learn more about this approach, see this Parenting Science guide to Dream feeding.

    3. If you feed your baby formula, try to find one that includes DHA.

    DHA is a fatty acid found in fish oil and other dietary sources. Its important for brain development, and may play a role in shaping sleep patterns as well.

    In one study, children who consumed low levels of DHA had reduced amount of slow-wave sleep . In another study, pregnant women with higher blood levels of DHA gave birth to babies who spent more time in quiet sleep .

    DHA is found in breast milk, so its plausible that boosting a nursing mothers DHA intake could improve a newborns sleep patterns. If you use formula, it seems like a good idea to find a baby formula that contains DHA.

    4. Check out my article on baby sleep aids.;

    There youll find tips for improving newborn sleep, and avoiding practices that are either unhelpful or potentially hazardous.

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