Sleep is crucial for an Infant’s growth. On an average, a baby that is about 3 months old, needs 15-18 hours of sleep. The sleep pattern however fluctuates, as in the proportion of the sleep acquired during day time and night time. Babies tend to sleep around three to fours at a time. This means that during the night time, there might be one or two wake ups. Also, as the baby grows there might be a decrease in the sleep times by a few hours. If the baby wakes up too frequently, or if you’re observing shorter sleep periods, there might be a problem, with the baby’s comfort or health.
If the baby slept too little during the day, she may get tired early during the evening. In such scenario the baby may get agitated during the sleep time and may end up sleeping in fragments during the night. She may also fall into sleep early and wake up a few times during the night. The solution to this problem is naturally to make sure that she gets ample sleep during the day. This means that you should try to around 7 to 8 hours of sleep, in the day, if the baby is younger than three months. For older infants, this time may be reduced by an hour.
Another common reason for babies to wake up every one to one-and-a-half hours is due to the body’s natural tendency for 90 minute sleep cycles. Babies’ bodies not being exempted from human physiology, their sleep tends to get weak after a deep slumber of ninety minutes. This kind of waking my not always be pacified by feeding or cradling and the baby may go back to sleep in a half-an-hour or so. In some cases, you might need to cradle if that’s a habit.
Talking about sleep habits, one reason might also be that your baby has made sleep associations, the unavailability of which may cause disrupted sleep, and frequent waking. Babies are naturally soothed by sucking action, such as nipple, pacifier, of a bottle. This why they often fall asleep while being breastfed. Another kind of sleep association is cradling, or a swinging motion, which babies acquire within the first few weeks of being born.
This information will hopefully assist in diagnosing the problems that are leading to disturbance in your baby’s sleep pattern. As you may see, these problems may be with the environment and may be easily corrected. On the other hand, if the problem indicates an illness, it is better to consult a Paediatrician.