It may be the most talked about topic among new parents: sleep – or the lack there of.Babies – through no fault of their own – are notorious for keeping mom and dad up day – and night. We've got the reasons why – and ways to cope step-by-step.Newborns spend a good deal of time in Rapid Eye Movement – or REM sleep. That's when active dreaming takes place. You'll notice twitching, startling or jerking movements.Non-REM sleep consists of four stages, drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep and very deep sleep. Very little dreaming goes on during this time and babies' motions and breathing slow down.As they grow, there will be less REM – and more non-REM sleep – sound slumber that enables more restful nights.Even though newborns sleep an average of 16 hours a day – how long they stay asleep for any given stretch can vary greatly.Naps start out in spurts – usually for an hour or two – but at first, usually there's no predictable pattern. And it can take several months before there's any semblance of a routine or schedule.
Mom and Baby:
How you doing sweedle? Huh
Then there's the dreaded day-night reversal. So named because of the tendency for some babies to sleep for long stretches during the day – then decide they want to eat and play all night!All of these sleep behaviors will change as baby grows and matures. In the meantime, there are ways to move baby toward a sound night's sleep.
Mom and Baby:
You are closing your eyes to the sun. That's bright, huh.
Get outside when the weather permits.Go for a stroller ride and soak up a little vitamin D – but don't forget to dress your baby in protective clothing and apply a small amount sunscreen to areas of the skin that might be exposed.Then at night, draw a distinction for the routine, using a softer tone of voice, a gentle massage or a soothing lullaby when it's time for lights out.After six weeks, most babies begin to settle in – sleeping longer, but still waking to feed during the night. By four months, some may sleep through the night.And at nine months to a year, nighttime sleep will be the longest of the day, lasting ten to twelve hours without interruption. Hurray!It takes time for everyone to adjust – so best to take your baby's cue – and sleep when they do.For WebMD, I'm Dr. Kimberly Manning.