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Sleep and Awake Stages

Babies have two sleep stages, namely quiet sleep and active (rapid eye movement or REM) sleep. They also experience awake stages that can be categorised in quite alert, drowsiness, active alert and then crying.  Understanding the different sleep and awake stages is important for parents to know, as the baby will be ready for interaction only in one of these stages. Sleep and awake stages

Quiet Sleep
Quiet Sleep is when your baby's eyes are tightly shut and still. Her breathing is regular and almost no activity is seen except for startles or mouthing. Babies rest the most and gain the most weight when they remain in this sleep stage.
Active sleep is when the eyes are closed, but slow rolling movements or REM (rapid eye movement) can be seen.  She  may briefly open her eyes, has irregular breathing and make sucking movements. She may also have movement of the limbs from minor twitches to stretching movements and your baby may respond to voices and other noises.

Active sleep

Drowsy is when your baby's eyes open and close, but have a glazed appearance.  It might look like dull eyes with droopy eyelids when the eyes are open.  Her breathing is faster and shallower than in quiet sleep and she has increased movement with mild startles.  Response to voices and other noises may be delayed.

Quiet alert babies have wide-open eyes with a bright and shining look.  They can focus attention on face or objects, and have little or no body or facial movements.  During this awake stage, the baby will also have regular breathing.  This is a good time to feed, talk, look at or hold your baby.  Premature babies may spend time in quiet alert normally only after 32 weeks gestation, and before this time only be awake for a maximum of two minutes a day.

Quiet alert

Active alert
Active alert is the stage when the baby’s eyes are generally open. Generalised movements are often accompanied by grimacing and / or brief vocalizations and the baby has regular breathing.  It may be difficult to get the baby to interact, since she is struggling to cope with her environment.

Fussing/Crying is a stage that any parent or caregiver wants to avoid, since it is so stressful to the parent and the baby.  During crying or fussing the baby shows generalised movement with agitated vocalization, which ranges from mild fussing to continuous crying.  She also has irregular breathing and colour changes (red or pale).


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