This is a discussion on Babies Day & Night Patterns during early months within the Newborn Baby and Infant Care (up to 12 months old) forum, part of the Growing Up & Parenting category; Feeding patterns Newborns can breastfeed very frequently at times to ensure a good supply of milk is established. They may ...
Day time patterns
- Newborns can breastfeed very frequently at times to ensure a good supply of milk is established. They may need 10 to 12 feeds in 24 hours.
- Babies continue to need plenty of breastfeeds in the early months, at least 6 to 8 a day and sometimes more.
- Bottle fed babies also need to feed fairly often at first, about 8 times a day, gradually reducing to 5 or 6.
You and your baby may find it helpful to develop a rhythm or regular order of doing things by day. This may make it easier for both of you to predict what comes next.
After the first couple of weeks babies do not need to sleep all the time between feeds. You may find you are spending a lot of effort getting them to sleep when they really need some awake time.
- You will gradually learn to recognize the signs that mean your baby is ready for sleep, feeding or a playtime.
- Babies grow rapidly, so their signals and patterns do change over time.
When your baby has been awake for an hour or so and shows she is getting tired (frowning, grizzling, clenched fists, jerky movements) you can settle her in her bed for a sleep.
- Babies are often awake and alert after a feed (though they may doze for a few minutes first if they’ve fallen asleep while feeding).
- This is a good ‘get to know you’ time.
- Talk to and smile at your baby.
- Copy the expressions on her face and her noises, and watch for her to copy yours.
- Walk around with her and show her the house and surroundings.
- Put her on the floor for a kick without her nappy, or hang some toys in front of her. Watch for her early efforts to hit them.
- Give her some ‘tummy time’ each day.
- It is quite safe to do this when she is awake and it is good for her development.
- Make sure you are close by and dont’t leave her on her tummy if she falls asleep.
When the baby wakes it may be time to feed again, followed by play time and sleep as above.
- Average times for babies to stay awake (including the feed) are about an hour for newborns, 1½ hours by 6 weeks and 2 hours from 3 months. After 6 months it may be 3 hours or more.
- Day sleeps can last from 1 to 2 hours, and some babies need to be resettled once or twice to get a good sleep. You will gradually work out what are the best play and sleep times for your baby. Some babies are sleepier in the mornings and more wakeful in the afternoons.
With these sorts of patterns, babies tend to feed about every 2½ to 4 hours during the day, with breastfeeders feeding a bit more often than bottle feeders on the whole. Breastmilk is digested more quickly than formula.
- Some babies prefer to play first, then feed before going to sleep, which is fine.
- As babies get older they may switch from the first type of pattern to the second.
Day and night confusion
- If it suits you and your baby, you can breastfeed more often by feeding when the baby first wakes then giving a short ‘top-up’ feed at the breast after the play time before settling your baby for sleep. This is a great way to boost your supply if you feel it is a bit low, or to help get through the fussiness that many babies have at the end of the day.
- Bottle fed babies may like extra feeds at times too, but dont’t re-offer a bottle more than an hour after the baby has first fed from it (as germs may grow and cause illness). Use a new bottle of formula.
Even though newborns feed fairly regularly around the clock, most soon learn to sleep between night feeds and be wakeful after day feeds. Some, however, get night and day confused and tend to have at least one really long day sleep with some lengthy periods awake overnight.
If this suits you and your family that is fine, but it is possible to change this pattern around if you want to.
- Make sure your baby has plenty of day feeds. If it has been 4 hours from the beginning of the last feed, wake him gently and offer a feed.
- Encourage good active play times before or after day feeds, when your baby is awake and alert.
- Keep night feeds 'boring'. Keep the light low, try not to talk to him (a smile is OK), only change the nappy if you really need to, and get him back to bed and sleep as soon as you can.
- Even quite young babies tend to have one longer sleep in each 24 hours. If you want this at night, make sure he doesn’t get in the habit of having this sleep during the day. It is OK to wake a sleeping baby if you are trying to change a pattern.