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Infant Sleep Information

What is Normal Infant Sleep?

Full term infants usually sleep 14-16 hours a day or so. This sleep is not continuous. They tend to wake up every hour or so. However, not all infants are the same and some normal infants only require 9 hours of sleep a day while others may need 18 hours of sleep a day according to recent published data. If you are in this first group, you as the parent may have trouble getting the sleep you need but it will get better as your baby gets older. Newborn infants tend to go directly into active sleep (similar to our REM dream sleep) followed by quiet sleep (Non-REM). Infants will spend as much as 50% of their sleep in active sleep (REM dreaming). This will decrease over time.

Normal infant sleep is very quiet. If your baby is making noise, sweating, moving around, or making extra effort to breath, they need to be seen by a pediatric sleep specialist.

Help with getting infants to sleep.

There are many methods that can help get your infant to sleep. The great debate is whether to let a baby "cry it out" (CIO). I will give you some ideas to help minimize crying.

What can cause infants to cry?

There are many things that can cause a baby to cry. Their circadian rhythms do not develop till they are 4-6 months old, so they can become hungry at any time and sleepy at any time. Look for clues to what they may be wanting. The American Pediatric Association has published warnings about trying to create schedules for infants that have not developed their biological (circadian) rhythms. It may be harmful to try and feed infants when they are not hungry or not feed them when they are hungry, but that is exactly what can happen if you try to put them on a schedule before they are ready to adapt to schedules. There are books that recommend this and the APA has warned against using the methods in these books.

Pain can cause crying and needs to be ruled out.

One major problem that can cause your infant to continue to cry is your reaction to their crying. If you get upset when they start crying, infants pick up your anxiety and it will make them cry worse. Staying calm is very important.

A Short Story.

You are sitting on a plane with a seat open next to you and a woman is coming down the isle holding an infant in her arms. You notice no one wants to make eye contact with the woman that may invite her to sit next to you. Everyone is praying, "please don't be sitting next to or near me". Suddenly the baby starts to cry, the mother begins to have anxiety fearing that her baby will not stop crying. The screams get louder and louder, everyone cringes and hopes that the mother will continue to walk by. By the time the mother reaches her seat the baby is wailing, everyone around the area is thinking "why me"?. The mother is helped by one of the flight attendants who takes the baby so the mother can arrange things and sit down. As soon as the flight attendant takes the baby, the baby stops crying. Everyone is astonished. What happened? How could this be? Eventually the mother has everything arranged and starts to feel better and most of her anxiety and stress about the crying has diminished. By the time the infant is handed back to the mother, the mother is now relaxed and the infant isn't crying and is peaceful in the mothers arms.

Some of you may have experienced this on a plane or in other situations. The moral of the story is infants are very perceptive and will pick up on their mother's stress and anxiety. So in situations where you want to help your infant stop crying try not to get upset. Stay calm and your infant will perceive your calmness and relax and just might stop crying. Try to notice the type of crying associated with different events like hunger, pain, and discomfort. Stay calm, crying is communication. Try to listen and learn what your baby needs.

Another common cause for crying.

Many parents find that their babies go to sleep easier in their arms and will get their baby to sleep by holding them. Next they take the baby to the crib, moving really slowly to not wake up the baby. Then about 15 minutes later they hear loud crying and wonder what is wrong.

Here is the case scenario. If you were to go to sleep in your bed and woke up on the kitchen floor, how would your react? You may not start crying but you would have a shock to say the least. This can be a major problem for infants and can be corrected by having the baby fall asleep where they will be waking up. It may take more time starting in the crib but it may be better for everyone in the long run.

Go to the Infant's Sleep Homepage for additional information.

Books to read:

Go to The SleepMall and click on Sandman's Bookstore. Most books that focus
on Infants and Children are listed in the Children's Sleep Books Category.


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