Sleep problems are common in babies. (Source: Getty Images)
Most babies suffer from sleep problems but a new study has suggested that by the age of two years, their sleep pattern improves. Published in the journal Sleep Medicine, the study found that the time infants took to fall asleep reduced to an average of 20 mins by the age of six months, as reported by PTI. And they would wake up only once during the night on an average by the time they turned two.
The researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Finland also found that the total amount of time spent in slumber reduced to 12 hours per day as daytime naps became shorter.
The study noted that the sleeping pattern varied between babies. For an eight-month-old child, it could them longer than 40 mins to fall asleep, noted the researchers. A six-month-old child normally wakes up about three times or more at night.
"Up until now, we have not had any reference values for good infant sleep that are based on large data sets. Now we know that the individual differences are very large, and that patterns relating to falling asleep, waking up, staying awake at night and sleeping rhythms often develop at different rates," study co-author Juulia Paavonen was quoted as saying.
Researchers suggested parents should consult a doctor if a child about a year old is awake for more than 45 mins at night or an 18-month-old baby is awake for over 30 mins.
Newborn babies typically require 14-17 hours of sleep a day till three months of age, which reduces to 11-14 hours a day between the ages one and three.
Why is sleep important for babies?
Studies have shown that sleeping difficulties can impact a child's cognitive development, and can lead to aggression impulsiveness and lack of concentration in future.
A baby who sleeps well will have proper development since it is during this time that the growth hormones are generally secreted. While sleeping, the body also produces proteins or Cytokines that help in battling germs and infections, protecting the baby from illnesses.
How to help your baby sleep
To ensure your baby gets enough sleep, set a proper sleep routine for the little one. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Make sure the baby sleeps in a room with minimum noise.
2. Feed the baby while he or she is still asleep. Dream feed encourages the baby to sleep longer.
3. For the first few months, the baby's reflexes are indeterminable. They may experience a jerking sensation and might wake up. To avoid this, you can lightly swaddle the baby.
4. If your baby wakes up in between, you can also gently massage their body to help them relax.
5. Your baby might sleep immediately after feeding so waking them up for changing the diaper can disrupt sleep. Make sure you change their diaper before feeding.
6. The room your baby is sleeping in should be kept dark. Soothing white music can also help them sleep better.