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Your Baby and Sleep – What is normal?

Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest, most torturous experiences a person can endure, it’s such a shame that it is an inevitable part of what should be one of the most joyful periods in your life, the birth of a baby.

Before you become a parent for the firs time, it’s so difficult to understand the shear exhaustion that sleep deprivation can bring. Nothing can prepare you for it, it is completely relentless and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it, or is there?

There are many reasons why your baby is not sleeping through the nigh, perhaps if we explore some of the reasons why a baby doesnt sleep, we can manage our expectations and help to meet our babies needs and encourage our baby to sleep for longer.

Want to know when your newborn will sleep through the night? The vast majority of newborn babies do NOT sleep through the night and there are various reasons for this.

Hunger – A newborn babies stomach is reportedly the size of a walnut, this means they can only take small amounts of milk at each feed making them hungry more often until their tiny stomachs can stretch and grow to a more substantial size.

The type of milk – Breast milk is processed by the body much more quickly than formula milk meaning that Breastfed babies often need feeding more regularly than formula fed babies. Breastfed babies also need to encourage supply to meet their demand therefore tend to suckle at the breast more often to encourage an increase in milk production.

Reflux and Colic symptoms – Often the sphincter at the top of a babies stomach is not completely formed at birth, this means their tummies are like an open top jar, if they are laid down directly after feeding, the stomach contents (milk and stomach acid) can spill upwards into the oesophagus (swallowing pipe) causing pain and discomfort and sometimes vomiting. It helps to keep your baby upright for a short period after feeding, giving the stomach contents time to congeal and thicken. During this time is an ideal opportunity to throughly wind your baby. Babies are unable to remove excess gas themselves and trapped wind can prove very painful leading to colicky symptoms. Wind tends to be worse with bottle fed babies as bottles have the capability of allowing your baby to gulp any air within the bottle through the teat.

Teething – although most babies do not cut their first tooth until after the 6 month mark some babies teeth from very early on, there have even been reports of newborns being born with some teach already in place! So never under estimate the possibility of teething.

Sleep cycles – this is probably the main factor in why babies do not sleep throughout the night from birth. A baby’s sleep cycle is very different to an adults. As an adult goes off to sleep, we very quickly go into a deep sleep, this is followed by R.E.M. Sleep which is more of a light active sleep. We are more easily roused in R.E.M. Sleep. The full cycle takes around 90 minutes, meaning we have the capability of being easily woken every 90 minutes. We are rarely awoken as we generally sleep at night when it is dark and quiet. Babies sleep very differently. On drifting off to sleep they start in a light R.E.M. Sleep closely followed by deep sleep, and then again by light sleep, each full cycle takes around 40 minutes meaning that babies pass through the light stage of sleep every 20 minutes, this means they can be potentially easily awoken every 20 minutes, you often hear mothers stating that their baby only naps for 20 minutes at a time, this is why! Also when napping during the day they are more likely to be woken by day to day ordinary sounds.

How much sleep do babies need?