One of the favorite milestones of a new parent is the first time the baby sleeps through the night. Months of interrupted rest, nightly feedings, and sleepy mornings finally gives way to restful sleep. In most babies, this period of respite won't last. A normal part of development is for babies to start waking up in the night again around 6 months of age. Although they will return to better sleeping patterns later, this second round of sleepless nights can cause parents to worry.
Newborn Sleeping Patterns
One of the most frustrating aspects of caring for a new baby is the problem of getting a good night's sleep. Although newborns sleep 16 or more hours per day, they sleep in many short bursts, so parents can't get a good stretch of sleep each night. Parents breathe a sigh of relief as their babies start sleeping through the night when the children are 2 to 4 months old. However, this stage may last only a few weeks and then parents find the baby waking up several times a night again.
Babies mature both physically and emotionally at an astonishing rate. Your baby quickly develops more social awareness and desires more attention from parents, especially the mother. The infant understands the concept of being alone in a way that wouldn't have been possible at an earlier level of development. The baby wakes in the night and becomes upset and cries for company upon realizing no parents are around.
Newborns are quite still when they sleep, but older babies become restless in sleep because they are learning new physical skills. During their waking hours, they learn to sit up or crawl. As they dream, they may imitate these movements in sleep. A simple movement like rolling over when asleep will wake a baby up because the action is unfamiliar.
Baby sleep patterns can be disrupted just like adult sleep patterns. They can become more aware of sound such as conversation or noise from the television. Shorter summer nights contribute to shorter sleep periods. A baby who wakes up in the night might have a fever, stomachache or have started teething. Babies are sensitive to emotional stress other family members might be experiencing and this can disrupt their sleep as well.
The best thing parents can do is not to obsess over a baby waking up. Infant sleeping patterns vary, so don't worry about what your other kids or a friend's child did at that age. Within a few weeks, your baby should settle back down to sleeping through the night. If the night waking becomes disruptive, try cutting back on daytime naps. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, both for putting the child to sleep and for getting up in the morning. Soon both you and your baby will be back to getting a good night's rest.