New parents are obsessed by how much sleep their baby needs. (Nearly as obsessed as by how much sleep they get themselves.) Most newborns sleep 16 to 22 hours a day in the early weeks. ‘Nobody’s sure why babies need so much sleep,’ says Dr Louise Reyner, sleep researcher at the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. ‘It’s not just to do with growing as they grow when they’re awake, and it’s never been proved it’s connected to the brain development.’
Research shows newborns spend nearly half of their kip in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – a sign of dreaming in adults. So do babies dream? Again, the experts don’t know for certain. ‘Babies can’t tell us about dreams so we can never be sure,’ says Dr Reyner. But if you’ve watched a baby smiling and moving in their sleep you’d swear otherwise!
‘In some ways Aidan and I are still getting to know each other and in others I feel like we’re the oldest friends. It’s strange to think he could already hear my voice months ago from the womb!’
Helena Corbett, 31, mum to Aidan, 2 months
5 ways to realise your baby is a one-off
1. Treat him as an individual right from the start. He’s his own unique person and you can’t compare him with other babies. You’ll learn something new about him every day.
2. If this is your second or third baby, don’t presume your newborn will be like his siblings and handle him in the same way. You need to adjust to this new little person and his ways.
3. Accept him for what he is today, but remember he could be different in a week, a month or a year.
4. If your newborn never seems contented, do your best to make him look, listen and smile at you by lavishing attention on him.
5. Do whatever your baby needs to make him happy now, but don’t assume that’s what he’ll always need from you. Give him the space he needs to settle and change.