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Baby sleep problems can occur naturally and most babies will simply grow out of them. Infant sleep problems occur for different reasons, but most infants don't have sleep problems, they just have different sleep schedules than adults and older children. Infants usually sleep in half-hour to several-hour shifts throughout the day. This is normal sleep behavior. However, some babies have problems falling asleep and staying asleep for various reasons.
Infant sleep problems can occur because a baby needs to be taught how to fall asleep through a ritual like rocking. Most babies sleep better when a sleeping ritual occurs about half an hour before bedtime. Try not to rush a baby into a sleeping pattern. This creates tension and anxiety, and infant sleep problems will happen if the baby feels a stressed environment every night. Babies are also really susceptible to uncomfortable stimulus, such as the television or some types of cloths (like polyester). Hunger, wetness, gas, and bright lights can also prevent a baby from sleeping well.
Some babies will fall asleep quickly and easily, staying asleep through most of the night. More often than not, baby sleep problems happen because the baby needs help and comfort falling back asleep. Other babies simply have a naturally high-strung temperament, and may just need more attention and love to fall back asleep. Don't worry that you are rocking your baby too much or that you will spoil the baby if he or she sleeps on your chest at night. It is impossible to give a baby too much attention, and often a stronger bond is developed with more night-time cuddling.
What parents assume are infant sleep problems are really just the baby's natural developmental pattern. Research shows that babies who wake during the night do so because REM (dream-stage) sleep actually helps develop the baby's brain. Since REM is light sleep, babies wake up more often with more REM sleep. So babies who wake four or five times a night or who don't stay asleep more than an hour at a time without needed fed or rocked are actually just responding to internal development and growth as the brain is being stimulated by REM sleep. If your baby doesn't sleep for lengthy intervals for the first few months, it may actually be an indication of higher brain functionality!