When we had our first baby, I thought we were prepared for parenting. After all, we’d read a ridiculous number of baby books. What those books fail to prepare you for, though, is just how much your sleep schedule is going to change. Oh, and by the way – it’s going to keep changing. Because, as your cute baby grows, they’re going to go through two types of infant sleep changes that’ll drive you bonkers. So let’s talk about those two types of changes – and how you can survive them with style.
What are the 2 types of infant sleep changes?
First of all, let’s talk about the two types of sleep changes your baby will go through.
The first is a healthy change in your baby’s sleep patterns. When your baby is first born, their sleep pattern is practically non-existent. They sleep when they want – and they’re awake for short periods of time. As your baby grows, they will be able to stay awake for more extended periods of time. And they’ll be able to sleep for longer stretches. Eventually, they’ll even figure out what nighttime means (it means sleeping!).
Okay, so what’s the other kind of change in a baby’s sleep patterns? It’s the unexpected kind. We generally call those a sleep disturbance or a sleep regression. Surviving Sleep Regressions and Sleep Disturbances is an important skill to learn as a parent – because they aren’t a one-time thing. They’re genuine – and they throw your whole family’s sleep schedule for a loop.
1. Expected changes to your baby’s sleep schedule
Consolidation is the name of the game here, y’all. Here’s a quick look at how a baby’s sleep patterns generally progress:
- From 0-3 months, newborns sleep anywhere from 13-16 hours each day. Their sleep pattern is generally all over the place, they fall into REM like nobody’s business, and they’re only awake for an hour or two at a time. Then, they’re back off to dreamland for however long they want.
- At 3-4 months, your baby will begin to fall into more adult-like sleep patterns (with light, REM, and deep sleep), though they may not be sleeping through the night yet. They’ll still be sleeping 12-16 hours per day, though.
- Between 5-6 months, most babies are sleeping through a good portion of the night. In fact, most are sleeping in at least 5-hour stretches – if not all night long. Naps are consolidating, as well. They’re still sleeping a lot, though: 12-16 hours each day.
- Sometime during 7-12 months, odds are your baby will be sleeping through the night. About 85% of babies will be, anyway. They’ll still wake 3-4 times each night, though they should be able to self-soothe back to sleep. Which means you’re finally getting enough sleep to leave the “mombie” stage. Oh – and your baby’s still sleeping 12-16 hours each day.
Now… let’s talk about the other kind of sleep change – the sleep disturbance.
2. Unexpected changes to your infant’s sleep patterns
Look, sleep disturbances and sleep regressions aren’t any fun. Yes, they’re real – and here are 7 Myths About the 8 Month Sleep Regression Debunked. They are survivable – and here are 7 Ways to Survive A Sleep Regression at Any Age.
They generally happen when your baby hits a new milestone – and suddenly everything is thrown out of whack. In fact, it’s a lot like their new skill (learning to roll over, sit, stand, or walk) takes up so much of their attention and brain that remembering how to sleep got temporarily forgotten. It’s a rough few nights – or even a couple of weeks. If they last longer than a couple of weeks or are really out of the ordinary, there could be an underlying medical condition – so don’t ever be afraid to talk to your doctor.In fact, it's a lot like their new skill takes up so much thought that remembering how to sleep got temporarily forgotten. It's a rough few nights - or even a couple of weeks.
But you don’t have to stress – because, with some solid advice, practical know-how, and practice, you can keep those sleep regressions on the shorter end of the timeline. In fact, ours are usually only 2-3 nights long – and that’s for a bad one. If yours are rough, too, be sure to check out our secret sleep-regression-be-gone weapon.
Whichever baby sleep pattern you’re in… you’ve got this.
Look, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s hard, exhausting, beautiful, and rewarding – and a whole lot more.
But the one thing that makes us all a better parent is getting enough sleep. And you’re here – you’re trying and reading all you can to make sure everyone’s getting enough sleep. So good on you for taking that first, most important step of research.
And now, with a little bit of guidance from a mom (and nurse!) who’s been there, you’ve got this. Hang in there. And never be afraid to ask for help. That’s part of how we survived a particularly bad 11-month old sleep regression.
More on Infant Sleep Changes:
- Baby sleep basics: Birth to 3 months by BabyCenter
- Baby sleep: 2-12 months by The Australian Parenting Website
- Baby sleep patterns: An evidence-based guide by Parenting Science
- 11 Terrific Tricks You Need to Get Baby to Sleep by SAHM, plus
- Surviving Sleep Regressions and Sleep Disturbances
My Must-Have Sleep Resources:
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- Wondering if you’re in the midst of a sleep regression? Use this Free Sleep Assessment to find out what’s up.
- Need help surviving the night? Join my free Facebook Sleep Regression Support Group
- Need to get bedtimes under control? Here – use my secret weapon.