This week is the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week to provide education and to promote the importance of sleep. I will dedicate my posts this week to sleep in babies through teens. I have attended sleep workshops, panel discussions, I’ve read stacks of books on the topic and I regularly consult with families to identify strategies to improve sleep for the whole family.
Sleep is like the coveted Holy Grail of new parenthood. I’m often asked about sleep tips for and babies and toddlers and how to improve or lengthen sleep times.
Whatever your family chooses for sleeping arrangements is a personal choice, but it tends to be a hot-button issue. I work in many families’ homes and what works for one family, doesn’t work for another, what one family values another family shuns. Sleep is no exception.
If whatever you’re doing is not a problem for you, it’s not a problem. However, if something is disturbing parents or children getting solid, beneficial sleep, if sleep deprivation is creeping in through small, but regular incremental sleep deficits, perhaps it’s become a problem.
Sleep has so many benefits, both obvious and subtle, it’s worth creating and protecting healthy sleep habits for the whole family. Understanding a little bit about sleep can be useful in making sleep decisions for your family. Babies go into deep sleep state in the beginning of nighttime sleep (perhaps 7 – 10:00 pm) and then again before waking in the morning with more frequent periods of lighter sleep (and more chance for awakenings) in between (around 10 pm – 4 am).
By three-four months most healthy full-term babies are able to sleep through the night, perhaps with a single 2:00 am feeding, by six months all healthy babies can do it. Studies have shown that at four months, a baby’s nervous system is mature enough to allow him to be able to sleep at 12 hour stretch. Unlike other milestones, sleep is not fixed, there may be shifts with time change, illness, travel and as babies go through new stages and become toddlers.