In your baby’s first couple of weeks, getting sleep was something you could only daydream about. Now that your baby has reached her sixth week, though, her sleep and wake patterns may be starting to vaguely resemble the one you had before she was born. Those patterns will become more firmly established as your baby learns the concept of of day versus night and she gets more deep sleep.
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Phases of Sleep
Your baby sleeps in the same cycle as adults. He goes through a drowsy period and experiences rapid-eye-movement sleep and then goes through light, deep and very deep sleep, according to Kids Health, sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. But your 6-week-old spends less time in each cycle and more time in the REM phase of sleep, probably because REM sleep aids in his brain development, according to the Baby Center website.
Your baby should spend 12 to 16 hours a day sleeping after she’s a month old, but she won’t sleep more than two to four hours at any given time in her first weeks, according to Baby Center. Because REM sleep isn’t as deep as non-REM, your baby is likely to awaken to small disruptions. At some point in her sixth to eighth week, she should start having shorter REM-sleep periods and longer deep-sleep periods. She should also be able to sleep for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night. She will probably continue to feed at least once a night.
Sleeping Through the Night
Sleeping through the night is typically a milestone that occurs when a baby's 3 to 6 months old. Some babies are able to sleep this long when they're as young as 6 weeks, according to Baby Center. But don’t get your hopes up too high. Through the night generally means five to six hours.
Help your baby delineate between night and day by interacting with him and exposing him to daylight and daytime sounds, suggests Baby Center. When bedtime draws near, follow a consistent bedtime routine. For example, dim the lights 30 minutes before bed, give him a warm bath and sing a relaxing lullaby. Whenever he squirms and fusses in his sleep, let him try to settle back down for a few minutes, unless you think he might be sick or uncomfortable, suggests Kids Health. If you don’t let him learn to self-soothe, he will continue to have trouble falling back asleep without being rocked and cuddled.
When to Call the Pediatrician
Talk to your pediatrician if your baby seems irritable and is difficult to soothe, suggests Kids Health. Also ask your pediatrician for input if you have trouble rousing or feeding your baby after she has been sleeping or if you’re concerned with how often or long she sleeps.