Sleep – second month until the first year

General sleep time is 12-13 hours. There is great variability in sleep needs: night sleep could last 9-10 hours, naps can be 3-4 hours.
The frequency of naps decreases until reaching one year of age, from four times to one. The duration of naps should be 30 minutes to 2 hours. By the sixth month, most children sleep 2 times a day. The morning nap is longer.


Factors influencing sleep and development

Some milestones for development (such as twisting-turning, crawling, standing up, walking, etc.) might change the sleep rhythm and there might be more night awakenings. The child will feel shy after six months. Separating the child from parent/parents makes falling asleep more difficult and increases the number of night awakenings.
Fixing sleep times starts at the sixth week and could be fixed by the third month of life. After reaching six months of age, children are capable of sleeping without interruption from midnight until five in the morning. In these cases, parents do not need to get involved. 60-80% of children are capable of sleeping without interruption at night when nine months old.


Parent’s role in shaping sleep rhythm

Between the second and twelfth month of life, it is reasonable to consciously develop the child’s ability of self-soothing. Sleep regulation starts to develop around 12 weeks of life. This means that the child is able to fall asleep himself, both at the beginning of night sleep and in case of short awakenings at night. Steady rhythm and activities preceding bedtime and associated with it should be fixed already by the third month of life.
Mothers of children under one year old should use the child’s nap time for resting themselves as well.


Waking up at night

In this age, there are many awakenings at night. These are related to the rhythm of normal sleep, during which sleep periods alternate with short awakenings. 2-6 awakenings at night are considered normal. Children are divided into two groups: those who calm down on their own and those who do not. Children who calm down on their own wake up for a short time and can fall asleep immediately. Such ability might be related to the habit of putting the baby to sleep when sleepy, but not over-tired. Over-tired children wake up at night for longer periods more often.
Should parents react immediately when a child wakes up at night? Parents who “rush to help” quickly create a trained night time weeper. For calming down, the child could be offered, both during night sleep and naps, familiar items associated with sleep, such as a pacifier, twisted cloth with knots. At the same time, it is not recommended to create a night time feeding habit or take the child into the bed next to yourself.


Feeding at night

After six months, night time feedings is no longer required from a physiological point of view nor does it improve the quality of night sleep. In case feeding is associated with going to bed, the child might also presume a similar behavioural pattern with night awakenings and falling asleep again – therefore, this is the so-called learned hunger. Night time feeding could also contribute to the discomfort caused by wet diapers. In addition, food offered at night increases the risk of dental caries.


Using a pacifier

There are different views regarding the use of a pacifier. Some researchers find that this is a long-term habit, one which the child may experience difficulty in breaking. Also, a parent must intervene at night to find the pacifier in the bed. Meanwhile, the 2005 AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines state that using a pacifier reduces the risk of sudden death for infants.


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