As babies approach their first birthday, they tend to sleep better. They will usually sleep for longer periods, wake up less often, take one or two naps during the day, and sleep more at night. From around four to six months of age, babies can learn to fall asleep on their own, although they may still wake up during the night. Studies have shown that using various “sleep training methods” does not lead to attachment, emotional, or behavioral problems later in childhood.
Newborns should be woken up every three to four hours to feed until they show good weight gain. After that, it is okay to let them sleep for longer periods at night. Babies usually start their sleep episodes in the newborn equivalent of REM (sometimes called “active sleep”). To improve your baby's sleep, make sure their sleeping environment is comfortable and not too hot or cold.
Babies may sleep up to 17 hours a day, but this may be broken up into shorter periods of time. Lack of sleep can be very stressful for new parents, especially if their baby is particularly restless or prone to crying. There is a strong relationship between baby's sleep difficulties and symptoms of postnatal depression in both women and men. New parents should remember that in the first few weeks, their baby's sleep schedule will be largely dictated by their eating pattern.
As the baby grows older, their sleep patterns will change and they will need fewer hours of sleep and longer periods of sleep during the day and night. It is important to let the newborn take comfort in returning to sleep rather than developing a need or partnership with a parent or guardian. Napping can help reverse changes in salivary interleukin-6 and urinary noradrenaline caused by lack of sleep.