Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns

If you’re watching your baby sleep, you may notice that her sleep pattern is slightly different from yours. Twitching is perfectly normal when the child first settles in, and a deeper, less active sleep will soon follow. This is all standard behavior, especially during the first few months of life.

When a newborn sleeps, they have an equal amount of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. The stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1: General drowsiness, eyes start to close and the baby begins falling asleep.
  • Stage 2: REM, or active sleep. The baby may twitch her arms or legs, and her eyes may seem to move under closed eyelids. Breathing may also seem a bit irregular, with 5-10 seconds of non-breathing, followed by rapid breathing for 10-15 seconds. This cycle will continue for a bit, but know that it is perfectly normal. This is typically outgrown by around 6 months old.
  • Stage 3: Light sleep, breathing will become more regular and the child will be less active.
  • Stage 4: Deep non-REM sleep or quiet sleep. Activity and irregular breathing will fully stop, and the baby will fall into a deep sleep. When the baby is in this type of sleep, it may be difficult to wake her.

If you have questions about your baby’s sleep patterns, please talk to your pediatrician.