One thing about a baby under 3-months old is they don’t have a sleep schedule.
A baby needs up to 17 hours of sleep every 24-hours. Ideally, the range is somewhere between 14 to 17 hours. They get this often in short spurts of 2 to 4 hour increments during the day and night.
Throughout the first 3-months, babies sleep at any time and don’t adhere to a sleep schedule. Understandably, they don’t know the difference between night and day.
However, as they progress in age through the first 3-months, they start developing a circadian rhythm that does affect their sleep. The first notable indication is they start sleeping for more extended periods during the night and shorter periods during the day.
The more natural the light is during the day in the first three months of life, the sooner the baby starts to develop its circadian rhythm and begins sleeping longer during the night.
What happens when babies sleep?
For babies, sleep is critical because of their rapidly developing brain and body.
The type of sleep babies have is REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming that takes new memories and interplays them with older memories. The dream state of REM sleep is also responsible for interconnecting experiences, learning, and the development of cognitive growth.
Babies also twitch in their sleep. Researchers think that this twitching may have more to do with developing motor skills and learning how to control various body parts rather than dreaming.
Summary for parents
It’s normal for babies three months and younger not to sleep throughout the night. They wake because they’re hungry and also because their circadian rhythm is still developing.
To develop their cognitive and physical growth, babies need between 4 to 17 hours sleep every 24 hours.
What’s unfortunate for any parent is that the baby sleeps in spurts of 2 to 4 hours. That’s a content baby but often a stressed-out parent. The good news is that it does get better, with most infants having an uninterrupted 6-hour sleep by the time they reach 1-year.