Good sleep habits start at birth

Sleep problems – the most common complaints of new parents – should be addressed early, says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis


On average, most newborns sleep about 16.5 hours per day, but some may sleep as little as nine hours, and others as much as 22 hours per day. Infants tend to sleep for short periods of about two hours, and then wake for about 30 minutes before falling back to sleep. Others may nap for shorter periods while some may soon sleep for stretches of five or six hours.  The parents of a newborn are likely to have their own sleep patterns upset. This is normal and with time, baby will nap less often, but for increasingly longer periods. By about the sixth month, babies will likely sleep through the whole night and remain awake much of the day.

Ensuring good sleep patterns/habits: The earlier the better


Sleep problems are among the most common complaints that parents have about their young children. Needless to say, they can cause a lot of stress in the family. Typically, children with sleeping problems do not fall asleep easily and also wake up in the middle of the night. Whether a sleep pattern or habit is abnormal depends on the age of the child. Sleep patterns in babies take time to develop into normal sleep cycles of being asleep for the full night and awake during the day. In fact, most babies do not develop normal sleep patterns, until about four to six months of age.


Most sleep problems develop when parents react too quickly to a child who is fussy at night, not realizing that baby, if left alone for a few minutes, may indeed fall asleep by herself. When a parent reacts immediately to a first cry, baby gets used to being comforted. Not surprisingly, the baby soon learns to expect attention immediately.




Here are some simple tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to prevent sleep problems:


  • Keep baby as calm as possible by avoiding too much stimulation during the night so she can fall back asleep easily.