For new parents, one of the biggest problems they experience universally is a lack of sleep. I am often asked my advice on the subject from bleary-eyed moms everywhere and for tricks to “finally” get their little ones to sleep.
Many parents feel desperate to solve their baby’s sleep issues, but often feel helpless and don’t know what to do about it. To them I say, “You are not alone!” But, instead of tricks, perhaps an explanation of why your baby is not sleeping is in order.
Sleep During a Fussy Phase: Your baby’s world changes completely and suddenly when he makes a mental leap. (For further explanation about mental leaps, see the blogs posted on November 22 and December 1, 2010.) He did not ask for it, and cannot influence it, but suddenly everything is different!He gets upset and you can see this in his sleeping patterns as well. Each baby reacts differently. Once may almost stop sleeping altogether, the other may sleep less during the night and more during the daytime and still another may try to sleep but cannot. Here’s some inside information for you about sleeping patterns while in a leap.
How Much Sleep Does a Baby Need? Not everyone is the same and needs the same amount of sleep. The number of hours our brain and nervous system needs to rest is highly individual. This applies to your baby, toddler and preschooler, too. Of course, there are averages.
An unborn baby sleeps an average of 23 out of 24 hours. Shortly after birth, the average baby sleeps approximately 16 hours per day. However, the duration of sleep varies between 10 and 23 hours! A four-year-old preschooler usually sleeps 12 hours straight and has an afternoon nap of one-to-two hours.
To Busy to Sleep During a Mental Leap (Fussy Phase): Some babies have such a strong natural drive to master skills after having made a leap that they don’t take the time to sleep until they are successful. You see this behavior already at a rather young age.
These babies allow themselves no sleep before they have reached their goal. It demands much of them – and of you! That is a personal quality that can be very useful later in life, but at this young age, these children must sometimes be protected from themselves and the demands they are putting on themselves.
Instead, put the emphasis on trying something. Praise him for his efforts, regardless of the outcome. That way, you distract your baby. If you find that it really requires too much from him, take a break. Get him out of that challenging environment for a while and do something calmer with him, like reading a book.
How You Can Help Your Baby Sleep During a Mental Leap: There is no magic formula to get your baby to sleep. If only there was one!
However, you can help him by giving him the opportunity to process or digest the new abilities that come with his latest leap. Take it easy during those days when your baby goes through a leap. Put off demanding things and let him rest for a few days. It may be inconvenient to change your calendar around him, but in the long run, your baby – and you – will be more at ease and have peace of mind.