Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby Behavior Basics Part 1 - Three Reasons Why Babies Don't Sleep Through the Night


One of the most challenging parts of being a new parent is dealing with lack of sleep. Most newborns wake up every 2 hours, around the clock, and many parents desperately wonder when their babies will finally sleep through the night. Tired parents are barraged with the latest gizmos and "systems" to get their babies to sleep longer. Unfortunately, young babies are not supposed to sleep through the night. Waking up at night doesn't make anyone happy, but thankfully, it isn't long before babies naturally sleep for longer stretches. You will get some restful nights, at least until your baby grows up and learns to drive...
No matter what you've heard, there is no one age when all babies will sleep through the night and babies can vary how many times they wake. There's no getting around it; young babies need to wake up at night for some very good reasons and their physiology ensures that's exactly what they do.

Reason 1. Young Babies Wake to Eat
Newborn tummies are very tiny. They can't take in very much at each feeding. No matter how they are being fed, by breast or bottle, babies' rapid growth requires that they are fed frequently. While there is a lot of variability in how much babies can drink at one time, all babies need to eat during the night for the first few weeks of life. As they get bigger, babies can drink more at one time and they don't have to wake as often to eat.

Reason 2. Young Babies Wake Because They Dream
Babies don't sleep like adults. When adults first fall asleep, they fall into a deeper sleep without dreaming, then dream for short periods of time (off and on) throughout the night. Babies fall asleep dreaming (in "rapid eye movement" or REM sleep) and move more slowly to "deeper" forms of sleep, without dreams. For infants, dreaming is vital for normal brain development. While infants dream, blood flows to their brains and neural connections are made. Because it is so important for their development, newborns may dream 30 minutes before they fall into deeper sleep. Premature infants dream even longer and more often than term infants.

Babies, like adults, are more likely to wake up when they are dreaming than if they are in deeper forms of sleep. So, if something happens while they are dreaming, like the phone rings or they are put down into a bassinet, babies are likely to wake. When babies are dreaming, their eyelids will flutter and their faces and bodies will twitch, so it is easy for parents to see when babies stop dreaming and enter deeper forms of sleep. By waiting to put newborns down until after signs of dreaming stop, parents can help their babies stay asleep. By the time babies are 3 or 4 months old, they fall asleep in deeper sleep just like their parents. Often, parents of 4-month-old babies will notice how much "better" their babies are sleeping. Many babies will sleep most of the night around 6 to 9 months of age.

Reason 3. Young Babies Wake to Stay Comfortable and Safe
Babies are born with brand new lungs, muscles, and brains. Sometimes, their little bodies need a little time to get into synch. If babies sleep too deeply, they may get too hot or too cold or they may not wake when they need move their muscles or to get a little more air. This does not mean that babies should wake up all the time. After the first 6 weeks (when almost anything goes), most babies will settle down and sleep 3- to 4-hour stretches. As they get older and their bodies mature, they will sleep even longer.

But..."I Need My Sleep"...
Now that I've given you so much bad news, what can I say to reassure my bleary-eyed readers? I can tell you that all the sleep deprivation is directly supporting the health and development of your wonderful new baby. I can also tell you, that this time passes and before you know it, your baby will be a child, a teen, and suddenly, an adult. You won't believe me, but you'll miss these early months (well, maybe not those first 6 weeks). Meanwhile, rest when you can, even sitting quietly can be helpful. Get as much help as you can with household chores and other responsibilities. Most people love to help new moms.

Just one more thing! Sometimes interrupted sleep can be so stressful that parents may find that they can't think clearly. When we are very tired, the normal checks and balances in our brains don't always work the way they should. If you ever find yourself feeling upset or angry with your baby for waking you up (again!), make sure you take the time to get yourself fully awake before you pick up your baby. Splash some water on your face, have a drink of water, and then care for your baby. When you're awake, you'll be much more likely to make good decisions. If you find that you are often angry or having trouble controlling your emotions, get some help. It is important for you and your baby that you get help. Talk to your doctor or a trusted friend or family member. There are many people who will understand your feelings; you are not alone.
Sweet Dreams!

Next time: Baby Behavior Basics Part 2: The Many Moods of Babies

165 comments:

  1. Do babies that are born early still have the rooting and sucking relex? Or as they get closer to their due date will it appear? And,for the full tern or the preterm, if they show signs of fullness, will they still root? and more importantly will they still suck?

    ReplyDelete
  2. For the past three weeks, my son has been waking up either at 2 or 3am. He will wake up and I could see him sitting straight up with his eyes wide open. Either he wants to play or he just starts screaming for a bottle. I think he is teething up top as well so that could contribute to the reason.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, for two days my baby has s very weriod of sleeping. I think they do dream because her eyes move in her sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  4. All of my kids have been awesome sleepers since the time they have been born. I didn't know that babies dream differently then adults, that's pretty neat to find out

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, everything is so true. With my second child, things felt much more harder. I definitely slept a lot less than my first child and I always felt that my mind just wasn't there. I felt lost and dumb, choices I made were funny and sometimes even scary when I realized few hours later what I had done. My baby now 3 months old sleeps much longer through the night and wakes up 1 or 2 times at night and my brain functions normally now :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. when my baby goes to sleep, she has been having some bad dreams all i been doing is singing her a song and for some reason it been helping her feel more safe and comfort for her to fall back to sleep

    ReplyDelete
  7. I didn't know that babies dream when they are so tiny. It is true , when my one month baby sleeping , sometimes she is crying and sometimes she is smiling.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My eight month old just started sleeping more through the night. Im so glad, he used to wake up 3-4 times per night crying for bottle or just attention. so glad those days are behind.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My baby tends to have times were she sleeps through the night but it is rear and when she does sleeep thriugh the night she is awakw at 5:30 am. but even her naps through the day are only 15 - 20 min. long and she is only 8 months

    ReplyDelete
  10. wow... my daughter is nine months and still doesnt sleep thru the night well at first she did now she wakes up most nights unless i get lucky and she sleeps all night

    ReplyDelete
  11. this is so true ive been asking my self when my baby will start to sleep throughout the night. some nights i only get 3 hours of sleep. im so ready for her to start sleeping!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My son sleeps very well through the night. He wakes about 8am and then goes back to sleep and hour later. It's kind of nice. His schedule fits what I did when I was pregnant with him.

      Delete
  12. My baby is gonna b four months already and he still doest sleep through the night he wakes up like 3 times a night almost like he was still newborn . I wish I could get a good night sleep but I see that's not gonna happen!

    ReplyDelete
  13. my son just turned 2 and is barely starting to sleep thru the night, he would wake up at least 1-2 times for chee chee....im pretty sure it was just a comfort thing for him....and yes i still breastfed him till 2 years...i know i know it is a struggle...

    ReplyDelete
  14. My son is 9 months old, he sleeps about 12 hours a night, waking up a couple times crying but falls back to sleep quickly, he only takes one nap during the day for about 2 hours, I don't know how we got him on such a good schedule, but I am a very lucky mom!

    ReplyDelete
  15. my baby is 2 years old and she istill sleeps with me and my wife iam just hoping

    ReplyDelete
  16. my son is just turned 3 months, he sleeps good but there are times when the smallest sound, thats not his lallaby cd, wakes him up. He sleeps through the night,wakes up for a few minutes to feed and a diaper change. During the days he will only nap for about 30 min at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  17. my daughter is 10 months and sleeps very well overnight

    ReplyDelete
  18. im happy to say that my baby is starting to sleep through the night. but we still have some rough nights. it is slowly getting better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes we all go thru that period but haveing someone like a fam. member come around to help or even husbands to be their to help thru the night its great!!! that way wr can rest for an hour or so.

      Delete
  19. my baby sleeps through the night :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. My daughter is 5 months old and sleeps through the night most of the night. Once in a while she will wake up once :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have never had a problem with my baby sleeping. he sleeps really well for me.

    ReplyDelete
  22. My son is 8 months old and only wake sup maybe once or twice throughout the night :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. My daughter is almost 4 months now and has been sleeping for up to 9 hours for the past month! The first few weeks were very difficult sleep wise. Everyone would tell me, "It gets better." At the time I didn't believe them and now I wish I would have cherished the sleeplessness as a part of the "big picture" They do grow so fast.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My twins are 7 months now and they both still wake up every night. I'm super tired all the time, I can't wait till they are old enough to sleep through the night.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I always did wonder if my daughter was dreaing or not now we know thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  26. we can learn so much in this link i love it

    ReplyDelete
  27. this is a very good program for new mothers.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This helped me understand alot of new facts! Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  29. good article! It is very important to meet my babies needs. I feel I could always do better but I do try my best and that is whats important.

    ReplyDelete
  30. this was a very good article helped me understand that there are different reasons that babies wake up not just because they are hungry or need a diaper change

    ReplyDelete
  31. my baby is adorable.She wakes up every 3 hours just to eat and falls back to sleep. :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. I to have a 4 month old son that meets all that was stated about this topic it was so helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  34. if someone (family or friends) want to help take them up on thier offer babies often wake up for several different reason and it could deprive you of sleep and effect you the next day if youre a ne mom

    ReplyDelete
  35. This helped to understand a little more. Each one of my children where different. I can deal with the sleep lost when it comes to my children.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My leah is wonderful! I love getting up and having her smile and talk to me.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is Awesome!!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. this is awsome

    ReplyDelete
  39. you learn something new everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  40. this is a great good information for parents to learn from

    ReplyDelete
  41. good infor for new parents and parents who are still learning about their children.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I try to tell this to my husband.....

    ReplyDelete
  43. my 3month old son has always woken me with coos and a big smile. he makes me wanna have a million more!

    ReplyDelete
  44. my twin girls finally sleep through the night

    ReplyDelete
  45. My son just started to sleep for 4 hrs his 4 months

    ReplyDelete
  46. My one month daughter only wakes up once at night. It is really interesting to se her sleep because she sleeps and laughs and rolls her eyes if as someone was making funny faces to her.

    ReplyDelete
  47. My baby is a good sleeper.

    ReplyDelete
  48. my baby is a good baby he only cries when he need something

    ReplyDelete
  49. My baby start to sleep through the night, she is 4 month.

    ReplyDelete
  50. My daughter started sleeping through the night at about 4-5 months.

    ReplyDelete
  51. my babay is very good at sleeping st night,she never cries or get fussy.

    ReplyDelete
  52. this was great.

    ReplyDelete
  53. My baby sleeps well and started sleeping all night at around four months.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I am a proud grandma who is very excited to have the opportunity to do it all over again.

    ReplyDelete
  55. my baby is good. he sleeps through the night

    ReplyDelete
  56. I had always wondered if newborns dream because my son smiles while he's sleeping and its good that he's smiling but i wondered if its bec. he's dreaming or just happy.

    ReplyDelete
  57. my son now goes to sleep mostly throughout the night. he just turned a year

    ReplyDelete
  58. I found this article to be very informative. I found it interesting to learn about all the stages that babies go through during their sleep. My son has been sleeping through the night since 4 months old, but now our issue is naps. He is almost 9 months and has no time to nap. He takes 2-3 30 minute power naps and then is ready to party!

    ReplyDelete
  59. - this article helped me a lot , I now know how to tend to my baby boys needs.

    ReplyDelete
  60. my son is almost 8 months old. he still wakes up all through the night to eat. I asked the dr. if I need to break this habit. he told me to wait until he is a least a year old. he is still growing.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This article was full of things I did not know, and now have an understanding of. thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  62. My son is almost a year old and still wakes frequently throughout the night, probably 2 to 3 times. We are co sleeping and some say that co sleeping babies wake more frequently. The REM sleep thing makes so much sense now that I think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I learned many different things about understanding my baby.

    ReplyDelete
  64. things I didn't know this article was very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  65. My baby started sleeping through the night at 4 months.He might of woke up once in the middle of the night.

    ReplyDelete
  66. very helpful things i never new

    ReplyDelete
  67. lucky for me my baby sleeps all night but this article still helped a lot! you can never know to much about your baby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this was very helpful my baby sleeps all night now to

      Delete
    2. Very good points

      Delete
  68. it really helped its very helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  69. omg i didnt know that thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  70. i love it:) i cant wait to see the baby and wake up with him!

    ReplyDelete
  71. Very helpful!!! Thanks!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  72. Wow there was a lot of stuff i learned that i did not know about babies

    ReplyDelete
  73. There's a lot of things I learn

    ReplyDelete
  74. I like the part concerning sleeping cycles.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Great information that I read and it will be very useful for me!

    ReplyDelete
  76. My son is almost 8 months old and sleeps great thru the night....he is already pulling himself up and trying to walk. hes growing up so fast and its amazing to be with him and watch and help him develop :)

    ReplyDelete
  77. My baby sleeps well through the night

    ReplyDelete
  78. I have found this article helpful and understanding...I'm going to be a first time mom so we will just have to see how my daughter does;)

    ReplyDelete
  79. My son is 3 months and sleeps pretty well at night

    ReplyDelete
  80. my baby sleeps pretty good during the night!

    ReplyDelete
  81. iam learning so many new things from this page

    ReplyDelete
  82. these pages are very educational

    ReplyDelete
  83. This page has great information, and I recognize many of my babys cues.

    ReplyDelete
  84. my baby sleeps pretty good for the most part sometimes she has those moments at three in the morning where she just wants to play.

    ReplyDelete
  85. my baby sleeps all night at 3 month old

    ReplyDelete
  86. Wow, my baby must be something special or something special because, though he'll be 9 months in a few days, he still wakes up every 2-3 hours throughout the night. He is my most neediest baby and I pray for enjoyment of his baby years, because like you say, he won't be little anymore. *sniff* My first one will be 17 soon so I KNOW!!!

    ReplyDelete
  87. my baby is starting to sleep most of the night but there is days he wakes up alittle fussy

    ReplyDelete
  88. i found this very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  89. I also found this very helpful

    ReplyDelete
  90. New babies are sometimes hard to understand, this was helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  91. My baby is now 11 months old and still does not sleep all night. I do however get at least a couple of hours in a row sleep. I guess I am just spoiled because I was blessed with my first child sleeping the whole night at the age of 3 months old.

    ReplyDelete
  92. thanks helped alot

    ReplyDelete
  93. this is pretty cool

    ReplyDelete
  94. interesting to learn about their dreaming

    ReplyDelete
  95. i didnt even know they dream

    ReplyDelete
  96. my newborn started sleeping thru the nite when he was exactly 3 months old, which is great considering I work full-time and have 3 other kids to take care of

    ReplyDelete
  97. I was very lucky my baby started sleeping through the night at 2 months.

    ReplyDelete
  98. My grandson finally sleeps thur the night and wakes up at 5am, I can get him and myself ready for the day of daycare and work

    ReplyDelete
  99. I agree, this is very important to all parents with a newly born baby for them to understand what their baby's behavior and needs.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Thanks for all informations

    ReplyDelete
  101. thanks for all the helpful advice

    ReplyDelete
  102. Great information!

    ReplyDelete
  103. Thanks for the advice

    ReplyDelete
  104. Im just the grandma so thanks for the info ;)

    ReplyDelete
  105. good information

    ReplyDelete
  106. good information

    ReplyDelete
  107. My son will be 10 months in a few days he sleeps pretty good @ night,its just his timing of falling to sleep , he don't go to sleep until he here and see his dad when he get home and that @ midnight

    ReplyDelete
  108. VERY HELPFUL.... THANKS!

    ReplyDelete
  109. you miss so much sleeping.. and in my case this is my fourth child so i have learned to be more patient and understanding. im not so selfish now i suppose. so i enjoy the lil things more and watch my daughter while she sleeps now...what an amazing thing to bwe a mother..love my life and my four blessing...

    ReplyDelete
  110. very interesting information!

    ReplyDelete
  111. good to know, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  112. this was very helpful, thankyou

    ReplyDelete
  113. very helpful thanks

    ReplyDelete
  114. once my baby got here I realized that her sleeping patterns where similar to those she had a accustomed to when in the womb. so that was as helpful as reading this article.

    ReplyDelete
  115. Very helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
  116. i realize when my baby crys its because of dirty diaper or hungry

    ReplyDelete
  117. thank you this was very helpfull information

    ReplyDelete
  118. thank you very much i appreciate the help from who or what i can get from the wic program

    ReplyDelete
  119. I find this comforting that I am in the same postion as other parents

    ReplyDelete
  120. My son is 8 months old he's sleeps for 10 hours at night he don't fuss that much just when he is wet or want to get I never got this lucky with my daughter

    ReplyDelete
  121. Very Helpful. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  122. very good information thanks

    ReplyDelete
  123. great information

    ReplyDelete
  124. i like how you get alot of information about your baby

    ReplyDelete
  125. interesting fact didnt know babies had dreams this young

    ReplyDelete
  126. wow I had no idea! this is good to know

    ReplyDelete
  127. Helpful and Interesting! Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  128. interesting to know

    ReplyDelete
  129. Very good to know

    ReplyDelete
  130. i didn't know they woke up because they dream. interesting

    ReplyDelete
  131. very interesting enjoyed the article.

    ReplyDelete
  132. my son is 3 months old and has been sleeping all night for a couple of weeks i am one lucky mom thank you all for comments learned a couple of new things

    ReplyDelete
  133. very informative!

    ReplyDelete
  134. Great information!

    ReplyDelete
  135. Gets me excited just thinking about the baby being here with me. Changes the way I think... Can't wait. Great information, especially for new mothers.

    ReplyDelete