As a newborn, your baby probably slept on and off during the day and got about eight hours of broken sleep during the night. As your baby grows, his total amount of sleep gradually decreases, while his nighttime sleep increases and becomes more regular. During your baby's first year, expect his sleeping patterns to change a number of times. Growth and developmental milestones, such as teething, can impact his sleep -- and yours. Fortunately, these normal sleep problems last only a short while.
Tears, screaming and crankiness may signal that your baby is teething and lead to difficulty eating and sleeping. MayoClinic.com notes that babies typically begin teething by the age of 6 months and may continue for several months following. During this time, sore and tender gums can cause distress for both you and your baby, at any time of the day or night. She may become more clingy and refuse to fall asleep easily or stay asleep for very long. A cold washcloth or chilled rubber toy can help soothe your baby's mouth. Your pediatrician can recommend safe remedies to help ease your baby's discomfort and aching gums.
By 9 or 10 months, your little one has probably gained the ability to pull himself up into a standing position and is eagerly reaching for all the new things he can find. While supported standing gives your baby a whole new perspective of his world, this development can also lead to sleep problems. Instead of soothing himself back to sleep, your baby is now able to pull himself up by the bars of his crib and cry for you during the night. Being in a standing position could make your baby restless, and initially he may be unable to scoot back down to a sitting or lying position and settle back to sleep without your help.
Anywhere between 7 and 10 months, your baby is likely to be crawling around the house. This period may coincide with sleep problems for your baby -- and yourself. According to a study published by ScienceDaily.com, crawling involves a range of changes in your baby's psychological and motor development. This can lead to more periods of wakefulness during your baby's daytime naps and nighttime sleep. The sheer excitement and stimulation of being physically active and crawling around the house could make it more difficult for your baby to settle down and sleep when you lay him down for naps and bedtime.
While many of your baby's sleep problems are related to milestones in normal growth and development, some causes may be more serious. Illness can also cause sleep disruptions for your baby. Consult your child's pediatrician if your little one suddenly begins having difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep or if he can't be consoled or rocked back to sleep when he does wake up during the night.
- MayoClinic.com: Teething Tips for Soothing Sore Gums
- KidsHealth: Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month Old
- Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford: Infant Sleep
- AskDrSears: 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know
- ScienceDaily: If Baby's Crawling, You'll Probably Be Up More at Night, Study Reveals
- Parenthood.com: How Your Baby’s Developmental Changes Affect Sleep
- CNN.com: Your Baby, 10 Milestones for the First Two Years
- James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images