What defines infant sleep patterns?
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Infant sleep patterns are not only what baby is born with and
naturally, but from research we know that also
and circumstances at
home influence sleep patterns
temperament: easy-going babies who are happy overall,
usually in a good mood and sociable often sleep more and better than
their moodier peers.
sleeping sufficiently also has a positive effect on baby's
there is a bit of chicken-and-egg
parents: Parents with a natural calm, who live rather
regularly and restfully, have a positive effect on their baby's sleep
you are a busy person, or often nervous by nature, you can help your
baby with a regular routine and trying to include restful moments where
I know it is too much easier said than done, but if at all possible,
- maybe with some simple
. The effect on your baby's sleep
patterns can be big.
stimulating or busy baby's day is:
Babies who have very active days, with a lot of activities, noise and
people around, tend to sleep less and for shorter stretches. Of course
no need to ban all activity from baby's life: activities are also good
for her development and above all for fun ...
baby's environment will be peaceful and restful, but with several fun
activities specked throughout the day.
differences also affect baby sleep patterns, as many studies have
range from where baby sleeps (in parents room/bed or not), when she
goes to sleep (early or late nights), is being carried (from all day in
to never) to how much parents tend to entertain their
baby (from constantly offering stimulating toys to 'leave
breast feeding and bottle feeding have their influence on infant sleep
Breast feeding is
adjusted to baby's needs: it is light and easily digested. It does seem
to favour night awakenings more but overall sleep would be healthier.
Parents usually do not report worse sleep from breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding hormones are found to help regulate baby's sleep as they
make baby drowsy and sleepy.
Formula feeding is
heavier and, with a full stomach, baby may sleep a bit longer on
average. Overfeeding is possible though and may make baby sleep longer
naturally would, which can be dangerous.
Formula is not
a guarantee for sleeping through though: many mums
have tried switching from breastfeeding to formula hoping that would
help but it usually doesn't. On the contrary, cramps from the heavier
milk often make sleep more difficult.
Refer to the baby
page for further practical tips on
how to steer your child's natural infant sleep patterns.