Baby sleep - what makes it so special?
Babies and toddlers sleep a lot - because sleep is extremely important for early childhood development and health. Here you can find out what makes baby sleep so special and how you can help newborns to find a stable sleeping rhythm as quickly as possible.
Table of Contents
- Baby sleep - the special features
- How long do babies sleep?
- The right sleeping environment for babies
- 5 sleeping tips for a peaceful baby sleep
- Not recommended.
1. Baby sleep - the peculiarities
Good sleep is irreplaceable, especially for babies, because during sleep the immune system is strengthened, the brain processes the impressions of the day and important hormones for growth and child development are released.
How much a baby sleeps varies greatly from child to child. In principle, the sleep of babies differs in many ways from the sleep of older children and adolescents. Not only is the total sleep time significantly longer at 16-18 hours, the distribution of the sleep stages is also different. A baby spends around half of its sleep in so-called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, i.e. almost four times as much as in adolescence and adulthood. This has to do with the fact that REM sleep is an elementary part of the development of the child's brain and that the brain develops very dynamically, especially in the first few months of life.
In addition to the longer total sleep time, sleep in babies is also significantly more fragmented. This means babies sleep in multiple stages spread over day and night. Frequent periods of waking are completely normal in the first few months of life and should not be a cause for concern for the parents involved.
2. How long do babies sleep?
While newborns sleep a lot in the first few months of life, the sleep requirement and the composition of the sleep phases change with increasing age and maturity. Below we show you the special features in the individual months of life.
In the first three months of life, babies sleep 16-18 hours a day. Sleep is fragmented and the baby sleeps between day and night with regular wake-up phases. During this time, the baby's sleep rhythm is only formed. The high REM portion of sleep indicates the dynamic development of the brain at this early stage of life.
3 – 6 months
The babies develop a more stable day-night rhythm. There is an increase in nighttime sleep and a decrease in daytime sleep. Most children at this age fall asleep at about the same time each night and wake up at about the same time each night and morning. Until about the 6th month of life, a longer continuous sleep duration develops. Some babies still need one or more meals at night.
6 – 9 months
The sleep rhythm becomes increasingly stable and the sleep cycles become longer. Some babies are actually sleeping through the night at this age – for a full six to eight hours. For parents, however, this still means preparing for their child to wake up at night. The proportion of REM sleep has already decreased significantly at this age and is still approx. a third of the total sleep time.
The total sleep time after one year of life is now approx. 14 hours. The individual sleep phases and wake phases become longer and longer and the majority of sleep takes place at night; supplemented by 2-3 small naps a day.
The need for sleep continues to decrease and after the 2nd year of life approx. 12-13 hours. Toddlers get most of their sleep while they sleep at night. The afternoon nap becomes more pronounced and there is more one instead of two sleep periods a day. By the age of 18 months, almost everyone is only sleeping once a day and by the age of 24 months, some can even do without a nap altogether. But here, too, there are major differences from child to child.
It should be considered at every age that every baby and toddler is individual and that the sleep behavior of children can also develop differently within a family. This is no cause for concern and everything usually settles down again after a while.
3. The right sleeping environment for babies
The right sleeping environment is important for a safe and healthy sleep for babies and there are a few things to consider when choosing sleeping positioning and bed surroundings.
Supine position - The recommended sleeping position
It is recommended to lay a baby on its back to sleep in the first months of life. Lying on your side is not recommended because the baby could turn over on his stomach during sleep. Positioning in the prone position is generally strongly discouraged in the first 1 to 3 months of life. The sleep laboratory showed that babies in a prone position respond less well to disturbances than in a supine position. In this phase of life, the risk of sudden infant death is greatest. The baby should therefore only sleep in a prone position when it is strong enough to be able to roll back onto its back on its own and can also lift and hold its head independently.
The bed environment for babies
A baby bed should be rather spartan. It should be ensured that the head cannot be covered by a duvet or pillow. Here are a few pointers.
- Use sleeping bags instead of blankets
- If a duvet is nevertheless used, it should be folded under the mattress at the foot of the bed and fastened so that the child is only covered up to the chest
- The mattress in the cot should not be too soft
- Babies and toddlers under the age of 3 years do not need a pillow yet
- The bed environment should be safe and no cords or straps should be within the reach of the child
Temperature & Air Quality
- The room temperature should be around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius, even for babies and small children
- A body/undershirt and pajamas are usually sufficient clothing. If it is too hot, even a part can be left out
- Caps and headgear should be avoided in bed.
- The cot should not be placed directly next to the heater or in the blazing sun. Hot water bottles, heating pads, "nests", skins and thick duvets should also be avoided in the baby bed
- The bedroom should be well ventilated and it should be ensured that no smoking is made in the bedroom
4. 5 sleeping tips for a peaceful baby sleep
#1 A fixed daily routine
As with us adults, it also applies to babies and small children that a fixed daily routine and a day/evening routine has a positive effect on sleep. That is why one should make sure that the child is always put to bed at the same time so that it can get used to regular sleep at fixed times.
#2 Get some rest early
One hour before going to bed you shouldn't play and romp too much. Loud noises and lots of activity can disrupt baby's preparation for sleep. A short trip in a stroller or car can help promote sleep.
Introduce #3 rituals
Habits are very important, especially for babies and toddlers. In this way they learn what to expect in the evening and can prepare for it. Which bedtime ritual is best for the little ones depends on the individual child. However, there are a few popular rituals that have proven to be very effective:
- Bathing: A bath can be very calming for many children. The warm water also has a positive effect on body temperature and can promote sleep. Carefully drying off and applying lotion can also have a relaxing effect on the child and prepare it for a peaceful sleep.
- Put on pajamas: Cozy pajamas can give the child the signal that sleep is approaching and prepare them to fall asleep.
- Darken the room: Darkening the room is a very effective ritual to prepare babies and toddlers for sleep. A dark and quiet sleeping environment also promotes sleep.
- Sleep song: Repetitive melodies that are already familiar to the baby can have a calming effect and promote falling asleep. The melody of a music box can sometimes work wonders.
#4 Don't play at night
If a baby wakes up at night, the nocturnal waking phase should not be used as playtime. There is a risk that the baby will get used to the activity at night. Soft speaking and soothing gestures show the child that it is actually bedtime.
Babies are familiar with many monotonous noises from the womb. So, soothing sounds can help promote sleep. Babies like to fall asleep to the sound of the sea, the hum of airplanes or so-called white noise sounds.
There is definitely something for you and your little ones in our SLEEP-SOUNDS.
5. Not recommendable.
In addition to the many classic bedtime rituals, there are also things that should be avoided at an early stage. Babies are often carried around, driven around in strollers or laid on the chest until they fall asleep and then into their bed already asleep placed. However, if the baby gets used to it, it will soon be asking for these sleeping aids again and again. It is possible to get used to it later, but it can be very exhausting for parents and child.
It is also recommended not to delay falling asleep. Babies have a harder time falling asleep when they are tired or overstimulated. It is therefore advisable to pay particular attention to the signs of tiredness in babies. A common sign of sleep deprivation is crying. Babies and toddlers who cry frequently and for a long time (so-called “crying babies”) often have a lack of sleep. They don't get enough sleep during the day, which makes them overtired and over-excited, making it difficult for them to rest.
Adequate sleep is essential for the development and well-being of babies.
During the first 24 months of life, babies' sleep patterns and needs change. This is perfectly normal and should not worry parents.
The right sleeping environment promotes falling asleep and staying asleep.
Routines and calming rituals can help you fall asleep.
Best regards and see you soon!