Baby Health

A baby’s immune system takes time to develop fully, which is why it’s so important to ensure it gets a helping hand from the right nutrients. If you’re breastfeeding, key nutrients and protective factors like antibodies come directly from your breastmilk. Your breastmilk will also provide prebiotic oligosaccharides, which encourage the growth of healthy bacteria to protect them.

This section looks at how your baby’s immune system operates; how everything from a natural childbirth to immunisation against diseases can help to boost it.

Baby Sleeping Hours And Naps

Lack of sleep is one of the things that new parents find the most difficult, so helping your baby settle into his natural sleep pattern is important. Getting enough rest is essential for both babies and parents, but how much is enough?

Let’s look at how much the average baby sleeps at each stage, and some practical tips for those asking ‘how can I get my baby to sleep longer?’:

How much should my baby sleep?

Newborns can sleep for up to 18 hours a day, so it will seem like your baby is hardly awake in the first month or two. However, from around two months old your baby will start to learn the difference between night and day.

Every baby is different, but these are the average baby sleeping hours you might expect as they grow up.

Under 6 months old

A baby between two and six months old will usually be having between two and four daytime naps (totaling 4-5 hours), and sleeping at night for up to 10 hours.

6-9 months old

At around six months old, your baby might start to sleep continuously through the night. By nine months old, daytime naps may have reduced to one in the morning and one in the afternoon (totaling under three hours), so they might be sleeping an hour or so longer at night.

9-12 months old

At nine months old, most babies will be sleeping through the night, with a continuous stretch of at least five hours. Some will be sleeping for a full 10 or 11 hours without waking.

One year old

The average one year old will be napping for around 2.5 hours a day, either in two naps or just one. At night they should be sleeping for around 11.5 hours.

Practical tips for napping and sleeping

Every baby has natural sleep patterns that are unique to them, and if your little one seems to be getting the right amount of rest (i.e. they seem happy and healthy), then there’s not normally any need to worry about how much they sleep. If you do have any concerns though, your doctor should be able to reassure you.

If your baby seems tired and irritable when awake, this could be a sign that they’re not getting enough rest. Here are some practical tips to help encourage quality sleep:

Try to get your baby used to the difference between day and night. During the day, open the curtains to let in daylight, have fun playing with your baby, and don’t worry about keeping the house silent while they take their daytime naps. During the night however, keep lights low and try to keep interaction with your baby to a minimum. If they need feeding or changing, speak in a low voice and meet their needs as quickly and quietly as possible.

Think about where your baby is sleeping. The UK National Health Service and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations are that baby sleeps in a cot in the same room as you for at least the first six months (ideally until baby’s first birthday), so ensure that your bedroom is a restful place to be. Don’t watch TV after bedtime, and use a lamp or nightlight instead of bright overhead lights.

If you decide to move your baby to his own room, ensure that their bedroom is calm and quiet. Putting toys out of sight at bedtime might be a good idea. A dim nightlight will comfort some babies.

It’s important to note that the NHS and the AAP do not recommend sharing a bed with your baby because of the association between co-sleeping and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Your baby is never too young to establish a good bedtime routine. This might include a last milk feed (but don’t feed your baby to sleep), bath time, lullabies and stories. Avoid screen time, electronics and energetic games for at least two hours before bed. Always make sure that your baby has a fresh nappy – and don’t forget to brush any teeth they might have.

Teething, growth spurts and illnesses can all disturb your baby’s natural sleep pattern. Be patient with your baby and get advice from your doctor if baby is especially upset or going through prolonged periods of poor sleep.

Share the load as much as possible with your husband. There are many different approaches to ‘sleep training’ a baby. Some people swear by a ‘cry it out’ method, where baby will be left to cry for short periods between comforting. Others prefer a ‘no-cry’ approach, where baby is comforted immediately. And there are other methods that fall somewhere between the two. Whatever method you choose, consistency and patience are key, as improvements won’t be seen overnight!

How can I help keep my baby safe during sleep?

While SIDS is thankfully rare, there are some simple steps you can take to help lower your baby’s risk of this and other sleep-related potential dangers:

  • As detailed above, share a room with your baby for at least six months – but avoid bed-sharing completely.
  • Always put your baby to sleep on his back in the feet to foot position (with feet touching the bottom of the cot).
  • Don’t cover baby’s head during sleep.
  • Keep the temperature of the room your baby sleeps in between 16-20 degrees C.
  • Ensure your baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep in an adult bed.
  • Ensure that your baby sleeps alone in the bed.
  • Baby should sleep on a new mattress in a safety-approved cot, crib or bassinet.
  • Use a fitted bottom sheet and breathable cotton or cellular blankets that can be easily layered.
  • Avoid cot bumpers, pillows and duvets.
  • Keep soft toys out of your baby’s crib.
  • Never smoke or let other people smoke around your baby.

Contact us

Our team of experts is ready to answer your questions and support you on your journey from pregnancy to toddlerhood. For more information and relevant advice, please contact us between 9am–6pm from Saturday to Thursday:

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