"'Lack of sleep' is a phrase that most new parents are all too familiar with. The first few weeks at home with a new baby can be exhausting and overwhelming. Despite the happiness and joy a new baby brings, parents often find themselves eagerly anticipating the time when their newborn will sleep through the night.
There are many books and DVDs that offer strategies and techniques designed to help babies sleep better. Plus, parents are often given lots of advice (some good, some bad) by well meaning friends and family members. The combination of sleep deprivation + information overload can, at times, be exhausting and misguiding. Here are some basic facts to help you understand infant sleep.
Brief awakenings (night waking) actually are a normal part of human sleep regardless of age. We all experience night waking on a regular basis, but it isn’t a problem because we know how to get ourselves back to sleep. But infants and toddlers need to be given the chance to learn and figure out how to get back to sleep on their own. It’s very common for loving parents to rush to pick up the infant and try to feed him/her, assuming the waking is due to hunger. It is important to recognize that babies aren't always awake when they sound like they are; they can cry and make all sorts of other noises during light sleep cycle.
Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that it is important to remember that healthy infants under 6 weeks of age generally need at least one feeding between midnight and 6am. If your baby is very restless and unable to get himself back to sleep within 15 minutes, or if she/he is crying then she/he may need to feed.