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The Science of Baby Sleep and How to get your baby to "Sleep Like A Baby"

The Science of Baby Sleep and How to get your baby to "Sleep Like A Baby"

Newborn sleep patterns usually include sleeping for 16-18 hours in every 24-hour period. When they're not sleeping, they're probably eating.

Until they reach 8-10 weeks old, most newborns will spend most of their days sleeping. As your baby gets older, their wake windows get longer and they spend more time awake and fewer hours sleeping.

Types of Sleep

To really understand newborn sleep and why they sleep so much (and why they have no concept of night and day), you need to know about the two different types of sleep: REM sleep and non-REM sleep,

REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is light sleep, where dreams occur. Your eyes move rapidly back and forth. About half of the sleep that newborns have is REM sleep. 

Non-REM sleep has four different stages:

  1. Drowsiness, drooping eye, dozing
  2. Light sleep; babies may startle or jump when they hear a noise
  3. Deep sleep; babies are quiet and don't move much
  4. Very deep sleep 

Baby sleep patterns include cycling through non-REM sleep during the night. Once they get through stage 1, they cycle through stages 2-4 several times during their sleep. As they pass from one stage to another, they may waken slightly and find it difficult to go back to sleep. This is why some babies wake many times during the night, even if they aren't hungry. 

Sleep All Day, Party All Night? 

If it seems like your baby doesn't know the difference between night and day, it's because they don't. Adult sleep is controlled by circadian rhythms, which babies haven't yet developed. Circadian rhythms govern our 24-hour internal clock and tell our body when it's time to wake up and wind down. 

Because newborns spend 9 months in the womb, where it is dark all the time, they aren't born with these rhythms. Instead, it takes time to teach them when it's time to sleep and time to be awake. 

You can help your baby develop their circadian rhythm by doing the following: 

  • Reduce stimulation at night (keep lights to a minimum during bedtime and night feedings; try a nightlight or a red bulb in a lamp)
  • Make sure to expose your baby to plenty of daylight during the day—get outside, open the blinds and curtains, etc. 
  • Create a bedtime routine that is the same each night

Even if you get your baby to recognize the differences between day and night and teach them that night time means it's time to sleep, it still may take months (or even longer) for them to sleep through the night. 

Babies, especially newborns, have small stomachs and often need to eat every 3-4 hours. These stretches get longer as they get older, but it will take some time to get there. Your pediatrician may also have you wake your baby to feed them if they aren't gaining enough weight.

Sleep Like a Baby?

Whoever came up with that saying must not have really known how babies sleep! Now that you have a bit more insight into the answer to "how much do newborns sleep," you can start working on helping your newborn learn circadian rhythms and know what's going on as they cycle through non-REM sleep. 

To help you keep track of your baby's sleep, check out Wunder. We have a new product coming in summer 2020 that uses AI to help keep track of everything about your baby and assist you in parenting. For now, you can ask a Wunder coach from the comfort of your home) about sleep or download the Wunder app with over 600+ activities you can do with your baby to help them reach critical developmental milestones!

How To Talk To Your Infant or Toddler About Race

How To Talk To Your Infant or Toddler About Race

It’s been a difficult, often painful week in the United States. Not for the first or last time, our national tension around race has come to a head, setting off events we still don’t know the outcome of. It can be hard to know what to do as a parent, especially if your child is under 2. You might be processing your own feelings, or you might worry about how to protect your baby. You might feel that your little one is simply too little -- can’t they learn about race when they’re older?

Yes, it’s too early to talk about George Floyd, or more generally, America’s long and fraught history of racism. But it’s not too early to talk about race. Studies show that by 6 months, babies begin to notice differences in skin color and hair textures, and prefer to look at people of their own race; one study found this preference in babies as young as 3 months. 

Yet few families start talking about race early and often, especially those who are less likely to feel its effects. Many parents fear that talking about it will somehow bring racism into their home, or that they’ll say the wrong thing -- that it’s better not to bring it up at all. It’s an understandable fear, but it’s better to set a positive message about race from the start. That way you can be sure they’ll learn from you, and not from the biases they see in the world around them.

Okay, so: how?

Start With Visuals

If you’re still social distancing (and you probably should be!), begin with your home: buy books, toys, art, and media that showcase a wide variety of people and cultures. In particular, look for materials that feature people of color as a part of everyday life -- not just in exotic or historical settings.

Once it’s safe to stop social distancing, make sure your baby gets real-life exposure to many kinds of people. Try to find playgrounds or playgroups with a diverse mix of families. Take your baby to family-friendly cultural events. If your own neighborhood isn’t especially diverse, visit different areas to give your baby a positive experience of other cultures. 

Celebrate Difference

Talk about differences in general. Race isn’t the only way people are different, and focusing too much on it alone probably won’t send the right message. Teach your child that we all have similarities and differences: things that bring us together and things that make us special. Isn’t it great that we’re not all exactly the same?

Be Mindful

Your baby learns everything from you, so take a moment to think about your own relationship with race, without guilt or judgement. How do you interact with people from different races? If you don’t have a diverse social network, how can you develop one? What assumptions do you have about people of different races? It’s okay if the answers to these questions aren’t “perfect.” The goal isn’t perfection! The goal is challenging yourself to become a more socially-conscious person -- so you can teach your baby how to do the same thing.

It may feel awkward and uncomfortable to start talking about race -- but as with any routine, the more you do it, the more natural it will become. More importantly, it will teach your child important values right from the get-go, and prepare you both for the day you have to start teaching much more difficult lessons.

AND… If you need some inspiration to get started, check out some of the books below:

Babies LOVE to look at pictures of babies, and these three books deliver! Each features babies of all races and ethnicities, with slightly different focuses: Global Babies showcases different world cultures, My Face Book is full of feeling words, and Two Eyes… teaches all about (no surprise) facial features.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes This book by Mem Fox also lets babies look at babies -- this time illustrated ones -- and notice how similar they are, even when they’re also different. 

Baby Dance Set to “Hush Little Baby,” this sweet, simple little rhyming book challenges stereotypes about fathers of color and their babies.

The Snowy Day This book is a classic for a reason, and a must-have on any parent’s shelf.

Happy In Our Skin A lovely story about a diverse city neighborhood and the many different kinds of families that live in it.

Feeding Your Baby: What to Do When Your Baby Refuses to Eat

Feeding Your Baby: What to Do When Your Baby Refuses to Eat

There are 130 million babies born each year.

With each baby comes a worried parent, or two, who are very nervous if their baby refuses to eat. After all, many parents are closely monitoring growth charts to ensure their child is caught up to their peers. 

While we understand this can be frightening and worrisome when your baby won't eat, so let's take a look at some of the top reasons your little one is refusing their food. We'll also offer up some tips for feeding your baby.

Change up Their Food

Babies are tiny humans. While they can't talk, that doesn't mean that they don't have food preferences, or that they don't get bored with the same old, same old.

If you find your baby not eating, try switching up what's on the menu. They may have just become bored with what they're being served and want to move on to something more appetizing.

Add More Fiber to Their Diet or Give Them Prune Juice

While babies are tiny humans, they eat when we feed them. Because they can't necessarily eat out of boredom or "eat their feelings," they aren't like their adult counterparts who may be able to continue to eat despite being constipated.

If your child is constipated, they may very well refuse what you're giving them. Try giving them prune juice or adding more fiber to their diet. But make sure you're using age-appropriate constipation solutions.

If they don't work, consult your child's pediatrician, as they may have more insight into your child's constipation.

They May Be Temporarily Sick

If your baby has a cold, cough, or ear infection, they'll be less inclined to eat their food. After your child has been diagnosed with one of these, don't overanalyze your baby's eating habits too much. In the event that it continues after your child has recovered, then it is time to seek the advice of a professional.

They're Teething

Teething doesn't feel good. Cutting teeth is dreadfully painful, and often, babies become moody during this time. Food temperature may affect them, or they may simply not want to eat because food doesn't feel great on their teething gums.

If this is the case for your baby, don't force them to eat the same foods. You may wish to switch up to something softer or cooler on their teeth, which may prompt them to want to eat again.

You may need to seek advice from a pediatrician

Parents often jump to this conclusion first, and it's easy to understand why. It's human nature to jump to the worst-case scenarios.

Not eating may be a sign of something more sinister, but it also may be a sign of something much more common. Some serious conditions can be treated and then your child will resume their normal eating habits, whilst others are lifelong conditions.

It is important that you don't let your imagination run away with you, and to seek advice from your pediatrician.

What to Do When Your Baby Refuses to Eat

If your baby refuses to eat, it is important that you take everything into consideration before jumping to a conclusion. It is also imperative that you seek professional advice before attempting to diagnose or treat your child.

Most often, if your baby refuses to eat, it is an easily fixable issue and may include switching up what to feed your baby.

Want to learn more about Wunder? If so, visit our frequently asked question page.