Help Baby Sleep at Night
Your baby doesn’t realize that you need to be up in the daytime. Babies don’t have work, cleaning or life activities to get too. Plus, they’re are getting anywhere from 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day depending on their age, personality and overall stage of development, so even though it’s completely appropriate to lose your cool every once and a while… it’s not the solution.
We’ve looked at some of the most common reasons why your baby won’t sleep at night and tried to explain them as well as offer up some tips and or solutions that may lead to a better night sleep. While this is by far not an exhaustive list, it is what many babies may be going through if they aren’t sleeping on a regular basis.
NOTE: If not sleeping is combined with any other symptoms, or you have a gut feeling, bring your child to a doctor. Their safety is priority 1.
Reasons my child won’t sleep
Hungry Babies Don’t Sleep:
Early on, you’re going to be trained and instinctively know that your child will need to eat. If you are a mother who is breastfeeding, your body will have a physical sensation letting you know. That, plus a screaming baby at 2am will be a clear giveaway. This will (hopefully) be your number 1 issue with sleep in the early days of being a new parent.
Newborn babies tend to eat on average every 2 to 3 hours. It goes without saying (although we’re going to) that ever baby is different, and you’ll notice the pattern. As the child ages they may stretch to ever 3 or 4 hours. Each feeding may then take 20 to 45 minutes. Adding all of that up and you’re looking at a seriously broken sleep program for new parents
While you can’t ‘solve’ this issue, because newborns and infants need to eat overnight, there are a few systems that can help new parents get more sleep during feedings.
The first is a bit of an element of timing. Knowing when your baby is expected to eat next and setting a bit of a routine around it can help. By anticipating the time of the next feeding, you as a parent can plan your own bedtime. Making it routine can help you fall asleep faster and knowing that you will sleep quickly through to their next feeding should help kick things off right.
We aren’t here to argue the merits of breast feeding over formula, there are plenty of other sites for that. From personal experience, we needed to do this and because of it we got our child got 25% more sleep between feedings.
As a tip for helping your baby sleep, there is some benefit in supplementing either some or all of your child’s ‘last’ feeding of the day with formula. Especially if you are having difficulty breastfeeding, or if your child is eating very often, adding formula into the mix helps keep your child full for longer.
One last tip for helping manage your own sleep as your feeding your new child is to take turns with your spouse, partner or nanny depending the situation. Allow one parent to sleep through a feeding to get a longer sleep and be more rested and then the other parent can skip the next feeding. In order to do this with breastfeeding parents, you’ll need to get ahead of the feedings so there is excess for the significant other can use.
Dirty Babies Won’t Sleep
Another unavoidable reason why young children won’t sleep is because they have a dirty diaper. As you can imagine, sitting in a wet or dirty diaper all night can lead to rashes or just general discomfort. However, it’s still better than the alternative; gassy, constipated babies.
While there is no safe way to stop your baby from pooping, you can help with your ability to sleep through the night. Your first opportunity is again to alternate between adults to change their diapers.
Another opportunity to sleep better as a new parent is to just focus on the timing. While, newborns operate on their own schedule, you can help it work with yours. Overnight feedings can easily coincide with a diaper change, allowing for one less reason to wake up overnight. Additionally, if you’ve noticed certain foods cause diarrhea or having a gassy baby, try to avoid these in their later meals.
A tip that won’t lead to less poop but may ease their discomfort is preemptively using petroleum jelly in their diaper. This may help prevent rashes which will wake a child up overnight.
Lastly, for older children that are slightly less predictable overnight, we have been able to control blowouts and general discomfort by using either overnight diapers or, if they are on the cusp of a new size, placing them in a larger diaper overnight.
Colic Babies Affect Sleep
Having a Colic Baby is means a baby cries for more than three hours at a time, more than three days a week from otherwise healthy children. It is worth noting that this is not a medical site, but a site to aid parents in getting a better night’s sleep. If you think your child is colic or may have another medical issue, please visit your pediatrician.
Obviously, crying/screaming for over three hours at a time can be discouraging and trouble for parents who need sleep too. While the good news is that colic typically only lasts until the age of 6 months, rarely lasting up to 1 year.
Unfortunately, there is less that can be done to help ease your child. Follow their doctor’s advice first and foremost. Additional things to try to help colic are eliminating allergens or adding probiotics from the mothers diet for breast fed babies or using sensitive formula for bottle-fed newborns**.
The two things to focus on for parents looking to increase their sleep with a colic baby are teamwork and timing. While it may not always be convenient to go to sleep as soon as your baby winds down, it may be necessary to avoid some of the issues that occur when parents don’t get enough sleep.
Teething Cuts into Your Sleep
Your child can start getting their first tooth sometime between 6 to 10 months and may experience discomfort and unusual sleeping patterns long before you realize it. If they start getting irritable, chewing on things and begin to drool a lot, it may mean there is a tooth ready to pop out.
Teething babies don’t sleep well, and you may not even realize why. Teething is a cause of sleep regression in toddlers. Besides sharing the load between parents, there are a few things you can help baby get through the night with minimal pain.
Focus on your child’s gums, they may have already begun self-soothing by chewing on a blanket or their hand, but you can help by massaging their gums with your finger or even getting a cold/damp washcloth that rubs against their gums. The constant soothing before bedtime is a terrific way to relax and can be worked into a routine.
One other tip, after you consult with your doctor, would be to administer pain medication to your teething child. Children’s Acetaminophen and/or Ibuprofen can help sooth teething pain in your child, just like it would an adult. Do not administer medicine before checking with your child’s physician. They will be able to provide you with dosage and safety information.
Sleep will come to those who prepare
Everything is new to your baby, and once you have it figured out that they will go to sleep one way, it’ll change. That much is almost guaranteed. Know your baby, pay attention and you’ll notice trivial things throughout the day that may indicate where they are and what may be causing it. Every child is unique, and your little bundles will figure it out.
The most important thing to remember is that your child is unique, and you’ll know them best. If for some reason your gut tells you to escalate it to the doctor… do it.
Sleeping Baby = Happy Parent