Does Your Newborn Baby
Sleep Enough?

It is important that your newborn baby sleeps an adequate amount of hours everyday, or else you will soon see the signs of an overtired, restless and unhappy baby.

Guidelines for sufficient newborn baby sleep

An infant's sleep patterns will change with age, but lets consider the sleeping needs for a newborn baby. The widely prescribed goal for you to aim for during your baby's first 3 months looks something like this:

- Weeks 1 and 2: All the time, only waking for the necessities

- Weeks 2-6: Around 18 hours per day

- Weeks 6-12: Around 16 hours per day

Now, back to reality. I don't know about you but my newborn baby hardly ever obtained the prescribed hours of sleep per day, even though I really worked hard at getting her to sleep enough.

The important thing for you to keep in mind is that not all babies have read the text book on sleeping. If your baby sleeps less than the prescribed amount of sleep but still looks and functions like a healthy and content baby, don't stress about it too much. Do what you can to support good quality sleep for your infant, keep a close eye on his health and if your baby seems to be OK with less sleep than the average baby, just accept it for now. Anyway, there is really not much more you can do at this age since your baby is way too young for any type of sleep training.

The effects of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation in babies can have an adverse effect on your baby's day-to-day wellbeing and will also influence many of the normal processes your baby has to work through. There is a big difference between a baby with a below average need for sleep, and a sleep deprived baby.

Think about how you feel after a night of insufficient sleep. Newborn babies are at such an important and fragile stage of trying to adapt to their new environment outside mommy's uterus, and this takes loads of energy.

Without even having to go into scientific detail, it makes a lot of sense that your baby will start feeling miserable and show physical and emotional signs that something is wrong if he is not getting adequate sleep. The signs may be actions like rubbing eyes, pulling at ears or excessive yawning. More importantly, your child will become irritated, start crying for no reason at all, refuse to feed and may even spit up. And worst of all, the more tired and sleep deprived your baby becomes, the harder it becomes for baby to fall asleep. The quality of sleep will most probably be poor, with baby sleeping fitfully and waking too easily. The brain will not be able to go through it's normal processing of information because all the important stages of sleep are not reached.

And so the snowball grows and grows until you finally have a sensitive, chronically difficult baby with a compromised immune system and a very desperate, exhausted mommy not able to make good decisions.

So what is the answer then? How much sleep does your baby really need? I would suggest you start with the prescribed guidelines (as shown above) and see how your baby reacts. You will quickly pick up on your baby's individual sleeping needs. As long as your newborn baby sleeps often and long enough for him not to show signs of chronic sleep deprivation, he is probably getting sufficient sleep.

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