Ask any new parent. The first few months at home with a newborn will have some of the toughest nights you’ll ever experience in your life. A baby’s sleep schedule is madness -- sporadic and random are not enough to describe it! There seems to be no logical sense as to when they prefer to sleep or wake up. But one determined mom had attempted to find a pattern in the chaos -- and we love her for it.
The mom's husband, Reddit user jitney86, was the one who shared his wife's mission on the community website. He related, “My wife started collecting data after three months because we were going crazy due to the lack of predictability that comes with having a newborn. We found it helpful and just kept going.”
The mom recorded her baby's data, from the time her daughter was 3 months old up until she was a little under one and a half years old. Then they turned the data into a graph. Here’s what she ended up with (each column is one day, and each row is a 15-minute block of time):
It's hard to make sense of the graph at first especially since it looks more like the result of a brain scan or a lie detector test you see on movies. But look closely, and you'll see the latter half of the graph shows she started to develop a sleep pattern. She had slept through the night with two naps during the day. The dad adds, “She switched to 1 nap just after the end of this plot.”
You also see the mom started breastfeeding without a clear schedule; she was most likely following the newborn’s hunger cues. Notice that breastfeeding before bedtime takes longer in her case. Nursing before bed can be very calming and the perfect time for parent-child bonding.
Now, the graph may not be able to help new parents cope with the nighttime waking. But it helps parents-to-be to anticipate what lies ahead, making them better prepared (we hope). It also offers relief: it will be hard at first, but it does get better.
Parents can be rest assured nighttime wakings will lessen as a baby grows. Sleep expert Dr. Agnes Tirona-Remulla, head of the Sleep Lab at Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa said, “Research shows that sleep rhythms begin to develop at around 6 weeks, and most babies are developmentally capable of regular sleep-wake cycles by 3 to 6 months.”
“As your baby begins to understand the difference between night and day, it’s the perfect time to help improve his sleep routine,” said Dr. Tirona-Remulla. A sleep routine will make putting your baby down to sleep easier at night. Start with the most energetic activity progressing to the most calming. It can begin with a warm bath, she said, that increases the baby's body temperature, helping the baby prepare for sleep. Then move on to a massage, and end with quiet time where you sing her a lullaby or read to her.
Want to know how much sleep your baby should be getting? Watch the video below: