My baby sleeps about 3 hours a day until night time when she sleeps longer. Is there a guide to how many hours of sleep a baby should get?”
Sleep is vital for a baby’s brain development: recent studies have found that babies who sleep for more than 30 minutes every four hours learn more quickly and better retain information.
When it comes to total time spent sleeping a day, babies under the age of 3 months usually vary from 14 to 19 hours out of every 24, but in the form of naps instead of the night-and-day sleep cycles of adults. This can make it seem like the baby sleeps a lot less than she actually does.
Also it can be tough to tell when a baby is really sleeping, even for researchers who study sleep for a living. Unlike children or adults, newborns have a unique long transitional phase to their sleep/wake cycles, when they’re not completely awake or asleep. You’ll know your baby is in this phase when she’s feeding or sucking with her eyes closed and only her mouth moving, or when you’re rocking her but then here eyes snap wide open if you try to put her down! It’s also not unusual for babies to have a more-wakeful day or two, then sleep a lot the next day.
It can help to think of baby’s sleep patterns more as six four-hour cycles every 24, for example, bedtime at 7 p.m., feeds at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., up for the day at 7 a.m., naps at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and then bedtime. Infants aren’t robots, of course, and you can’t force a baby to sleep, but you can offer her the space and time. If you track her patterns over time you’ll start to see trends emerge and set up a real schedule, and as your baby approaches her first birthday you’ll likely find afternoon naps get shorter and that the overnight wakeup feeds phase out.
So bottom line, of your baby is cheerful and alert while she’s awake you’ll know she’s well rested. If you think your baby is sleeping too much or too little and she’s cranky and lethargic when awake, keep track of when she sleeps for for a day or two and then talk to your pediatrician about your concerns.
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