From Safe Sleep to Healthy Sleep: A Perspective on Sleep In the First Year

Description: It’s natural for new parents to have hundreds of questions about healthy baby sleep, what changes to expect over the first 12 months of the child’s life, and how to sleep train a baby. We’re covering all possible aspects here!

The baby’s first year of life is a highly dynamic process with numerous critical developmental changes and active growth. According to the research, baby sleep is a vital brain activity that plays a key role in early development. Future parents and new parents should understand that healthy sleep means a happy baby. Little ones who get quality rest are much more tolerant, patient, and engaging. All in all, understanding the science of baby sleep will help you avoid many mistakes that may delay your kid’s development or mature sleep rhythms. So, before buying one of the cutest personalized baby blankets, make sure you’ve learned all aspects of infant sleep.

A Perspective On Baby Sleep During The First Year

An infant’s brain is more active during sleep than while he/she is awake. That’s why quality night rest and daytime naps are so important – sleep facilitates the brain’s capacity to adapt and learn. In other words, it improves learning, growth, and overall health. In contrast, lack of sleep in the early years might affect the child’s IQ and increase the chances of behavioral and learning issues in the future.

The ability to go to sleep depends on the baby’s ability to self-soothe. Commonly, this skill isn’t present at birth, it develops as certain areas of the brain come “online” and an infant learns to bring his/her hand to the mouth or turn the head away. That’s why baby sleep training takes time and during the first year of life infants often need parent’s help to come down.

Across the first year, you’ll also face sleep regression periods. Sleep regressions happen due to advances in motor milestones or brain development, e.g., learning a new skill, crawling, walking, etc. Even formerly perfect sleepers can suddenly become fussy and restless. A period of sleep regression lasts about 2-4 weeks. However, self-soothing ability is hardly available for the baby, and your little one will need some help to go to sleep. Further in the article, we’ll describe some useful techniques on how to get a baby to sleep.

Baby Sleep Schedule

Here is a baby’s sleep schedule based on his/her age. However, remember that children should sleep in sync with their internal clock when they want to or feel like sleeping.

Baby’s AgeTotal Amount of SleepNumbers of Daytime NapsAmount of Daytime SleepNight Sleep Features
0-2 months                                15-16 hours3-5 naps7-8 hoursAt this period, a baby needs food every 2-3 hours. At the end of the 2nd month, one longer stretch, about 6 hours might begin to appear.
3-5 months14-16 hours3-4 naps4-6 hoursLonger sleep stretches may become consistent at night. However, around 4 months, you can see sleep regression as your child works on developing new skills.
6-8 months14 hours2-3 naps                                3-4 hoursDuring this period, sleep regressions may also occur since your child is hitting developmental milestones. However, he/she doesn’t need to eat during the night, so your life may become easier.
9-12 months14 hours2 naps3-4 hours               At this age, babies tend to sleep 10-12 hours at night. But sleep regression may happen due to major developmental milestones (pulling to stand, walking, talking).

Safe Baby Sleep

Every caring parent wants to build the safest sleep environment for the baby. Here are recommendations established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (the AAP):

  • Infants must sleep on the back
  • Infants must sleep on a flat, firm surface without any bedding or soft objects to decrease the risk of suffocation and SIDS.
  • Infants mustn’t sleep on a sofa, armchair, or sitting device.
  • Infants should sleep in the parents’ room but on a separate bed.
  • Make sure that the room temperature is cool and consistent, not more than 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Do avoid overheating!

Unfortunately, about 3500 infants die every year in the U.S. from sleep-related infant deaths. Following the above-mentioned simple rules could significantly reduce such sad statistics.

How To Get A Baby To Sleep?

Here are well-tried techniques that will help you sleep and train your little sweetheart.

Set a bedtime routine – play peaceful games; let your baby enjoy bathing; make bedtime conditions in the baby’s room consistent. These simple things will calm your baby down.

Dim the light – do not use even night-light in the baby’s room since light means daytime to infants.

Soothe the baby with music or sound – turn on white noise or baby sleep music, keep it on low settings so that the little one feels comfortable.

Put your sleepy child to bed – when the baby is drowsy put him/her down and let him/her drift off on his/her own.

We hope our post has helped you understand baby sleep science better. Have any ideas on the topic? Share them with us in the comment section below! We appreciate your experience!  

Author’s Bio:

Rachel Burns is an experienced copywriter and photographer with a design diploma. She works with startups, entrepreneurs, bloggers and companies from around the world. In addition to writing articles and promotional materials, she enjoys hiking, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.


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  1. 1.15.21
    Doua Xiong said:

    awesome tips!