Why is baby awake?
There are many reasons why your baby is waking up. The first reason is hunger. Their little tummies are just too small to eat very much at once and they are growing so fast. After the first few weeks they will get bigger and as they are able to eat more at one setting they will be able to sleep longer. It does not matter if you are breast or bottle feeding, baby still needs to eat frequently.
Another reason your baby wakes often is dreaming. Babies do not sleep the same way adults do. Adults fall into a deeper state of sleep first and then they enter the dream state on and off for short periods of time. Babies enter the dreaming stage first and then slowly move into deeper sleep. This dreaming is vital to their brain’s development, but it is easier for your baby to be woken up during this dream state. When your baby is dreaming, their eyes will flutter and their bodies will twitch. It is very noticeable when this stops and they enter a deeper sleep; wait until they reach this deeper sleep to lay them down. By the age of four months babies are sleeping more like their parents and entering the deeper dream state when they fall asleep. You should notice and improvement in their sleeping by this time and they should be sleeping through the night by six to nine months.
Babies also wake up to stay safe. Newborns have just come into this world with new legs, arms, lungs and brains. If they were to sleep too deeply they would not wake when they needed to move their muscles or find a position where they can breathe a little better. After your babies first six weeks they should settle into a pattern of sleeping three or four hours at a time and as they get older, this time will increase.
But What About Me?
This can be a very difficult time for new moms and dads, but take heart in the fact that you are doing what is best for your little one. This time will pass by more quickly than you can ever imagine. One day you will look back and wonder how your baby got so big so fast. The early years fly by in a heartbeat. There are things that you can do to help alleviate some of the difficulty during these first weeks. The most important thing to do is sleep when your baby sleeps. You may be tempted to get up and get things done, but you need your rest and everything else can wait. When people offer to help you, you should say yes. You should welcome help from family and friends whenever it is offered, even if it is just for an hour so that you can take a nap.
It is very important that you get help if you start to feel overwhelmed. Being constantly woken up can lead people to not think clearly. If you find yourself feeling angry at your baby for waking you take the time to wake up fully before you pick up the baby. Get a drink or wash your face; you will be much better at handling the stress when you are fully awake. If it gets to a point where you cannot handle it anymore, and this can happen to anyone, call someone immediately. Get your mother, sister or a friend to come help you. Consider hiring a postpartum doula, go to DONA.org and search for a postpartum doula near you. Many cities have a crisis nursery for people who do not have a support system. If all else fails go outside until you calm down. As long as your baby is in a safe place it will not hurt them to cry for a few minutes while you take a break, hand him over to your partner and take a shower or warm bath. Keep remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Your baby is changing rapidly in the first few weeks of his or her young life. Things will continue to get better everyday, so try and keep your spirits up. Pretty soon your little one will be sleeping through the night.
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A newborn may sleep as much as 16 hours a day (or even more), often in stretches of 3 to 4 hours at a time. And like the sleep all of us experience, babies have different phases of sleep: drowsiness, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and very deep sleep. As babies grow, their periods of wakefulness increase.
At first, these short stretches of 3 to 4 hours of sleep may be frustrating for you as they interfere with your sleep pattern. Have patience — this will change as your baby grows and begins to adapt to the rhythms of life outside the womb.
At first, though, the need to feed will outweigh the need to sleep. Many pediatricians recommend that a parent not let a newborn sleep too long without feeding. In practical terms, that means offering a feeding to your baby every 3 to 4 hours or so, and possibly more often for smaller or premature babies. Breastfed infants may get hungry more frequently than bottle-fed babies and need to nurse every 2 hours in the first few weeks.