Newborn Sleep Behaviour: Birth to 12 Months Old


Newborns’ sleep can look fully disorganized, and it’s no wonder. The sleep patterns of newborns are distinct from those of grown-ups. A child’s sleep can be arbitrary, waking up and falling asleep at any time of the day or night. Crying is how newborn communicate with you. In the first three months, newborns cry a lot because they need your help to feed, change or settle them so they can go back to sleep. Although they feel they spend a lot of time sleeping, generally 12 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period. They don’t have established sleep and wake arrangements like we do. These first three months are important for you and your baby to start learning and understanding each other. Occasionally agitated babies cry for no apparent reason; indeed, you’ve helped calm them down. This is normal if your baby is growing, gaining weight and happy at other times. 

newborn sleep patterns

Significance Of Sleep:

 Sleep is veritably important for your newborns’ growth and development. It helps shape and ameliorate their attention, mood, language skills, learning and motor skills. Sleep plays an important role in a baby’s cognitive development. That’s why it’s important for parents to understand and encourage good sleep. 

Sleepy Baby – When to Worry:

It is normal and necessary for your baby to sleep a lot because he is growing and developing quickly. They need sleep to support all aspects of their physical and mental health. If you are concerned that your child is sleeping too much, talk to your paediatrician. They will help you find out what is normal for your child and what may be worrying. For example, if your child sleeps too much, he may have a cold or a fever. Less commonly, excessive sleepiness may be a symptom of a medical condition (such as congenital heart disease) that requires treatment. Your child’s paediatrician will evaluate any signs and symptoms and make sure your child gets the care he or she needs.

Baby sleep patterns are not an exact science and every baby is different. However, in general, babies have certain sleeping habits because of how often they need to eat (i.e., a lot). Page 1 of 2 Newborns also cannot tell the difference between day and night. They need some time to develop an internal 24- hour rhythm that tells them when to be awake and when to sleep. This is what adults called as a “circadian rhythm”. 

Everyone has a sleep cycle where their type of sleep changes. Sleep cycles for adults are generally about 90 minutes. Babies’ sleep cycles are generally around 40 minutes, so they wake up more often. 

Grown-ups and adolescents tend to have further non-REM sleep; thus, they are heavy slumbers. Meanwhile, babies are naturally lighter sleepers. They will spend further time sleeping in REM sleep rather of non-REM sleep because REM sleep is important for:

  • brain development
  • memory conformation

 In REM sleep, children can: 

  • breathe shallowly 
  • twitch arms and legs 
  • they flutter their eyes under the lids 
  • make sounds

Babies can be easily awakened from REM sleep. As your baby grows, he will have less active sleep and more deep sleep. 

Normal Sleep Patterns of Babies:

Newborns are little individuals, and every baby is different. Some nap for long days, while others only have quick naps. Some wake up frequently during the night, while others may sleep or wake only occasionally. Try not to spend too much time comparing how your child sleeps with other children. Their sleep patterns can also change numerous times in the first year. Don’t be anxious if your baby’s sleep is different.

Birth to 3 Months

Newborns sleep during the day and at night. They begin their sleep cycle and spend utmost of their sleep time in “active” sleep. Total sleep time varies between children – it can be around 8 to 18 hours a day. The sleeping pattern of newborns is substantially influenced by the need for feeding. They are awake when they are hungry. 

Some babies will wake more frequently than others, depending on their: 

  • metabolism 
  • stomach size 
  • brain growth rate 

Your baby will generally sleep in short bursts due to hunger and the need for regular napkin changes. They generally wake up every 1 to 3 hours. Around 4 to 8 weeks, your baby’s sleep will begin to respond to light and dark rather than hunger. After 8 weeks of age, they may also start sleeping longer. 


Between 3 and 6 Months:

Between 3 and 6 months of age, your baby will begin to have lower “active” sleep and further “deep” sleep. They begin to enter deep sleep at the beginning of their sleep cycles. Your baby can sleep a aggregate of 12 to 15 hours. They may take many naps during the day – up to 2 hours each. At night, some babies will sleep up to 8 hours, others will keep waking up. At this age, your baby’s sleep patterns will be more influenced by light and dark. 

Between 6 and 12 Months:

From around 6 months of age, your baby’s sleep patterns will act yours. They will sleep up to 16 hours a day in aggregate. They can sleep for 2 to 4 hours during the day, and up to 12 hours at night. 

At this age, your child may witness:

  • Physical growth such as learning to crawl 
  • Emotional growth such as overcoming separation anxiety 
  • Social development.

This can affect their sleep. They may be bothered about being down from you at night. They may take longer to fall asleep or wake up more frequently. Your child may go back to sleep. 

After 12 Months:

By 12 months, utmost babies tend to sleep better. Your baby can sleep around 11 to 14 hours a day. They will sleep lower during the day and longer at night. Toddlers between the periods of 1 and 3 can still take naps during the day. Numerous toddlers also wake up at night. Your child may have agonies, which generally occur generally during REM sleep. You may need to help them fall asleep again. Their sleep patterns may change further as they develop. 

How To Make Sure Baby Gets Enough Sleep? 

Regular routines during the day and at bedtime can help your child fall asleep and stay asleep. Help your neonate or infant learn to sleep more at night by: 

  • expose them to light and play with them during the day 
  • furnishing a muted and quiet terrain at night 

still, you can see your doctor or the mama ‘s child nurse, If you’re upset that your baby’s sleep is disturbed. You can learn further about safe sleep and sleep hygiene for babies.