Forty percent of their childhood is spent by children in sleep. Sleep is extremely important for kids below the age of two as it helps in their mental and physical development. Quiet sleep and active sleep are the two alternating sleep states. During quiet sleep, blood supply to the muscles gets enhanced and as a result energy is restored. Tissue growth and repair also occur during this stage. During active sleep, brains remain active and dreaming takes place. Half of their sleeping time is spent by new born babies in each of the two stages and their normal sleep cycle is approximately fifty minutes.
Newborns sleep round the clock and the sleep-wake cycle is linked with their need to be fed, changed and nurtured. Newborns mostly sleep a total of eleven to 18 hours a day. Some babies will remain active even during sleep as they keep on smiling, sobbing, sucking and generally appearing restless.
It is always wise to put babies to sleep when they really feel sleepy, but are not asleep. Gradually exposing them to light and noise will encourage them to sleep less during day time. Signs of sleepiness vary from baby to baby and through constant observation mothers will be easily able to identify them. While they are asleep, always keep their head clear of blankets and other soft materials.
As they reach three months of age, it is better to inculcate regularized bed time habits. Make sure that the baby is made to rest in a “sleep friendly” environment. As far as possible, stick to the set bedtime routine. Always put your baby to sleep in the same crib or bed. It is not a good idea to change sleeping places often. Baby should be encouraged to fall asleep on his own. It is always better if the baby is trained to be a ‘self-soother’. Self-soother babies do not require parental aid to return to sleep.