As a parent, watching your child grow and develop at their own pace is both rewarding and nerve-wracking. But for parents of premature babies, it can be especially frightening as so many aspects of care must be tailored differently for preemies. One of many questions that may arise during this time is how much do preemies sleep.
Sleep patterns in premature infants rotate between important deep sleep cycles, lighter periods of restful state, and waking moments. To gain insight into the sleep needs of preemies, read on to discover information on when they fall asleep and what kind of naps are beneficial to them!
What Is Considered Premature?
What does it mean to be considered premature? When a baby is born before 37 weeks gestation, they are considered a preterm or premature infant. Preemies have specific needs and require extra care.
They often require assistance with developmental milestones such as eating, sitting, crawling, and walking that are not needed by babies born at full term. Additionally, preterm babies tend to sleep longer than newborn babies; so parents of premature babies should expect their infants to require more sleep each day than those born at full term.
Ultimately, the extra attention that preemies require for growth and development can be met with patience and understanding from family and friends to help ensure a safe and healthy childhood for the little ones.
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How Much Do Preemies Sleep?
Every premature baby is unique and patterns may vary. However, in general, most preterm babies will spend up to 22 hours a day sleeping due to the extra energy they use while growing and developing.
How often and how long the preterm baby will be asleep may depend on their adjusted (chronologic) age and any medical issues that they may face. For example, if your baby was born 6 weeks early, your newborn’s age would be approximately 2-4 weeks adjusted – meaning it will take 8-10 weeks for them to get into a regular sleep schedule.
To help ensure that your preemie or premature infant has enough rest time each day and establish appropriate naps throughout the day, it is highly recommended that you work with your pediatrician or child specialist to come up with a customized sleep training plan for your baby.
Implementing The Preemie Sleep Schedule At Home
Implementing the preemie sleep schedule at home for your premature baby is an excellent way for them to get the rest they need throughout the day. To help with sleep training, using their adjusted age as a guide for naptimes and bedtimes can be extremely helpful.
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For example, a preemie born at 36 weeks may have an adjusted age of 32 weeks, which means their sleeping patterns will likely resemble those of a 32-week-old. As such, their preemie sleep schedule could look something like this: 7:00 am bottle feed, 7:45/8:00 am nap, 10:00 am bottle feed, 10:45/11 am nap, 1:00 pm bottle feed, 1:45/2 pm nap, 4:00 pm bottle feed, 4:45/5 pm nap, 7:00 pm bottle feed, 7:45/8 pm bedtime routine; 10:00 pm bottle feed then straight back to bed; 1:00 am bottle feed then straight back to bed; 4:00 am bottle feed then straight back to bed.
Although it can be challenging at times to implement the preemie sleep schedule consistently and effectively at home every day, parents must stay consistent for their premature babies to get all of the rest they need for healthy development.
Signs Your Preemie Is Ready For Sleep
Signs your preemie is ready for sleep can be difficult to identify since they are still developing. Signs vary greatly depending on the baby’s adjusted age.
Signs to look out for that may indicate your preemie baby is tired and ready to go to sleep include yawning, decreased activity, and fussiness, eyes that flutter or start to glaze over, jerks and twitches, a decrease in talking and vocalizing, an increase in eye rubbing.
Crying may increase or decrease right before bedtime; this depends on the individual baby’s personality and can help you identify their sleep cues. While all of these signs do not need to be present for your preemie to be ready for sleep, looking out for any combination thereof should give you an idea as to when it’s time for them to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
With a bit of practice, it won’t take long for you and your little one to develop a consistent bedtime routine which will allow both of you some much-needed rest.
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Can A Preemie Sleep In A Bassinet?
The answer to this question typically depends on the age, size, and weight of the baby. If your preemie is under 1 month old, weighs less than 5lbs 8oz (2.5kgs), and is 17 inches or shorter in length, then they likely won’t fit in any standard bassinet because it may be too big for them. It is recommended that you select a lightweight wooden cradle or compact bassinet for a preemie until at least three months of age, or when the baby can comfortably lay flat without rolling over onto their stomach.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding where your preemie should sleep, contact your doctor and healthcare provider for advice specific to your individual needs.
Tips On Helping Your Premature Baby Fall Asleep
As with any baby, helping your preemie fall asleep takes practice and patience. Here are some tips that may make the process easier:
1. Follow A Schedule
Try to keep your baby’s sleep schedule consistent by setting an ideal wake-up and bedtime schedule each day. Even if you don’t think your preemie needs as much sleep as full-term babies do, it’s still important to stick with a routine to get them into the habit of sleeping on their own and make sure they get enough restful sleep every night.
Additionally, try not to let naps go too late in the day, as this will make it harder for them to go down at night when it’s time for bed.
2. Establish Bedtime Rituals
You can help soothe your preemie and prepare them for bedtime by establishing calming rituals that they come to recognize each night before they lay down for some restful sleep. This could include swaddling them in a warm blanket or giving them a gentle massage with lotion before laying them down in their crib or bassinet, among other things.
The key is to find something that works best for both you and your preemie so that it becomes part of the nightly routine and signals that it’s time for bed soon!
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3. Keep Noise Levels Low
Preemies tend to be more sensitive than full-term babies when it comes to noise levels, so try not to let sound disturb their slumber if possible! To help reduce noise levels in their room, consider getting blackout curtains or blinds installed on the windows, using white noise machines around the house (if necessary), or simply keeping televisions turned off during nap times and after dark hours.
You should also avoid talking or making any loud noises close by while they are trying to fall asleep as this can easily wake them up again!
4. Utilize Sleep Training Techniques
For many preemies, learning how to self-soothe is an important step towards getting better quality rest each night without having mom or dad intervene all the time; however, it can be hard for some parents who aren’t sure how best approach this milestone with their little one(s).
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Fortunately, there are several different techniques available today such as cry-it-out methods (which involve allowing babies to cry themselves back asleep) or fading techniques (which gradually teach babies how to soothe themselves). Ultimately though, whichever method you choose should depend on what works best for both parent and child!
So how much do preemies sleep? Although all parents of preemies want to know how much their infant will sleep, it is impossible to give a solid answer. Sleep patterns differ from day to day and are very unique to each child. The best thing that parents can do is try their hardest to provide their preemie with a peaceful and comfortable environment in which they can sleep soundly.