Babies sleep a little bit differently than adults sleep. We’re not just talking about the amount of sleep that babies need to get in a given day, nor are we talking about the length of time that babies sleep in a given session. Obviously, both of these areas are vastly different between babies and adults. No one needs to tell you that, it’s just something you’ll experience as a new parent.
One of the most important differences between how babies sleep and how adults sleep has to do with how we fall asleep. You see, adults enter a deep sleep state much more quickly than babies. When you get ready for bed at night, you probably do a variety of things to start winding down such as watching a little bit of TV or reading a book. Once you do fall asleep, you’re very quickly into that deepest stage of sleep called “deep sleep” “quiet sleep” or “Non-REM” sleep.
Babies aren’t like that, however. Their minds and bodies don’t just go from being awake into deep sleep. They take longer because they have to transition from a lighter sleep into deep sleep. This is the reason that many parents find their baby will awaken after being placed in a crib, when the parent thought the baby was already asleep. It’s because baby wasn’t actually asleep, at least not deeply.
This is why you have to spend some time putting your baby to sleep. Once your baby first seems to be sleeping, you need to wait. It can often take as long as 20 minutes for your baby to go from that light sleep stage to a deep sleep stage. You’ll notice the transition, however, because his breathing will become more regular and more deep, and his muscles will relax, and he won’t be twitching or smiling.