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Advising parents on infant sleep

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Creating a bedtime routine can aid sleep Creating a bedtime routine can aid sleep

Infant sleep problems are common and parents have different perspectives on what constitutes a problem. For most parents the goal is to help their child sleep through the night. An overtired baby might be irritable and difficult to settle. An overtired toddler can present difficult behaviour. Lack of sleep can be associated with poor learning in the classroom.1

In the first few weeks of life, babies can sleep for 16 hours in a 24-hour period, often divided into several periods of sleep.2 The sleep/wake pattern might be influenced by hunger. By 10 weeks of age most babies can distinguish between day and night, which develops into a sleep/wake pattern.2 This means that a baby will sleep longer at night and may have up to four naps during the day.2 At three to six months of age, sleep requirements can reduce to 14 hours a day. At this stage in development a bedtime routine can be developed.3 From six to 12 months sleep at night is longer and a baby might nap a few times during the day. From one to three years of age, most children will drop their morning nap and might be sleeping for up to 11 hours at night. After the age of three, circadian rhythms are more established.2,3

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