"It is very difficult to calculate the actual number of hours a baby sleeps because there are babies who sleep during the breast-feeding period, which again can last nearly an hour. So there is no concrete answer. But, a rough estimation of about 15-16 hours a day is about right," says Dr Dolly Chandarana, a pediatrician in Mumbai. This gradually decreases to about 13 hours a day at about 18 months.
Like adults, babies also have various phases of sleep such as light sleep, deep sleep, very deep sleep, etc. Plus, a newborn's sleep-wake cycles are erratic, to say the least. To lessen the ordeal of attending to the baby when you are busy or are asleep yourself, try these tricks...
- Start a sleep ritual like singing to your baby or playing some music. The baby's brain will associate that stimulus with sleep and make it easier for you to put him to bed.
- Avoid any activity in the room where your baby is sleeping. Stimulating colours are also a no-no.
- Keep your baby awake by playing with him/her until the scheduled sleep-time.
- Don't let your baby fall asleep in your arms regularly. It might stop him from falling asleep without you around. It might also become a problem for him to go back to sleep if he wakes up between his sleep cycle.
- Get as much sleep as possible while your baby is asleep. Despite all these tricks, there will be times when your little one will simply refuse to co-operate. So drop everything and head to bed whenever your baby is asleep. "At least for the first three months," says Dr Chandarana. "Until your baby is old enough to adapt to the day and night cycle, you will have to follow your baby's schedule." Once your baby is a few months old, draw a schedule for the hours that you want your baby to sleep and feed him according to that schedule to induce sleep.
- Don't try achieving the impossible. Uninterrupted nights for yourself won't happen for a while, no matter what schedule you put your baby on, so join the club of sleepy mommies!
Member of the sleepy-as-a-zombie club? We'd love to hear how you're coping...