Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sleep and Awake States

Newborn Sleep/Awake States

Recently I was talking with some of my friends who are pregnant with their first child. Like most (if not all) first time moms, they had concerns regarding how to respond to their baby. This reminded me of the different newborn states (patterns of consciousness and responding). Basically, there are sleep states and awake states. Knowing the different newborn states can be helpful in understanding your precious little baby.

Sleep States:

Yes, newborns sleep A LOT! For 0-2 month infants, they may sleep on average around 16-17 hours a day (unfortunately for tired moms, it’s not continuously).
  • Quiet Sleep: During quiet sleep, your newborn is motionless with regular breathing. This sleep state is important for their growth. Have you ever seen a peacefully sleeping baby in a busy/loud mall and wonder how that baby could possibly sleep through all that noise? Well, it’s because that baby is in quiet sleep, focused internally, and loud sounds are not likely to cause him/her to waken.

  • Active Sleep: This is when your baby is dreaming (linked to learning). Do not be alarmed if you see your baby startle, have slight body movements, or have irregular breathing. You’ll also want to be quieter when your baby is in an active sleep state because they are more easily awakened.

Awake States:

  • Drowsiness: This is the transition between sleep states and awake states. Eyes open and close, regular breathing, occasional smile.

  • Quiet Alert: Your baby will be still, and scan the environment with their eyes. Their focus is on observing the world around them. Usually this is an easy time to feed your baby.  This is also a fantastic time to interact with your baby (talk to them, make faces, etc.). A newborn will be in a quiet alert state for about 2 hours of the day so take advantage of interacting with them.

  • Active Alert: This state takes up about 1 hour of the day for newborns. Your baby will be more active in their body movements and are less likely to focus on external things.   When your infant is in an active alert state, it’s great to give them “tummy time”, where you lay them on the ground and allow them to learn/experience what it’s like to move their body.

  • Crying: Do I need to describe this state? Crying varies by different babies and across different days. Two things to keep in mind about crying are that when a newborn cries, it’s because they’re trying to communicate a need they have (such as “I’m hungry” or “I’m wet”). The other thing to keep in mind is that crying typically peaks around 2 months and will decrease with time.

For you first time moms, hopefully learning about these different newborn states was as interesting for you as it was for me when I learned about them.

To learn more about Newborn states, check out this link    http://www.marchofdimes.com/nursing/modnemedia/othermedia/states.pdf

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