Just sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. Yeah, right. If only it were that easy! But let’s be real here, as new parents, we are all too familiar with the struggle of getting our little ones to snooze through the night.
And it’s not just the lack of sleep that’s a pain, it’s the constant questioning and second-guessing of what we’re doing wrong.
Well, fret not, dear parents, because we’re here to help shed some light on the common reasons why babies have trouble sleeping, and more importantly, what we can do about it.
Day/Night Reversal Schedule
First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room: the day/night reversal schedule. This is when your little one is all sunshine and rainbows during the day, but a night owl once the sun goes down.
It’s a temporary phase, but a frustrating and exhausting one, nonetheless. But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to help your baby learn the difference between night and day.
- Keep them awake a little longer during each waking period during the day. This will help increase the need for sleep later. Some sleep experts recommend playing with your baby for a few minutes after a feeding instead of letting your baby fall asleep.
- Get your baby outside and in the sun (make sure they’re well protected, of course). Natural light helps reset their internal clock. If you can’t get outside, place your baby’s crib or sleeper near a window that gets steady, bright light.
- Avoid sleep-inducing activities, if at all possible, during the day. Don’t fight your baby’s need to sleep. But if you can keep them out of the car seat for a bit, that extra time awake will help them later.
- Keep lights low or turn them out at night anywhere near baby’s sleeping area. Likewise for sound and movement. Your goal should be zero disruptions.
- Consider swaddling your baby at night so their arms and legs don’t move and wake them. You can also try putting them to sleep in a small crib, so they feel snug and secure.
Next up, we’ve got the midnight munchies. Yes, you read that right. Babies can get the munchies just like us adults, except they’re much more demanding about it.
As newborns, they don’t eat a lot in one go, so it’s not uncommon for them to wake up hungry during the night. And we all know how hard it is to resist a hungry baby’s cries. But, the solution here is simple: feed the baby!
Discomfort and Illness
And it’s not just hunger that can wake a baby up. Discomfort and illness can also play a big role in disrupting your little one’s sleep. It could be anything from teething to a cold to constipation.
The key here is to identify the cause and address it. Consult your pediatrician if you suspect pain or allergies to be the culprit. And if it’s gas, a little tummy massage might do the trick.
Attachment to Parents
But sometimes, it’s not what’s going on with the baby’s body that’s the problem, it’s what’s going on in their hearts.
Some babies are just plain smitten with their parents, and they can’t bear to be apart, not even for a little shut-eye. It’s sweet, but it can be a real sleep killer. If this is the case, sleeping in
the same room as your baby can help. This way, they still feel close to you, but you’re still able to get some rest. (Note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing, but not bed sharing, with your baby.)
Last but not least, we have the overstimulation culprit. Babies are sensitive little creatures, and too much stimulation can throw them off their game.
It could be anything from too much noise and activity during the day, to certain foods that may be in your diet if you’re breastfeeding.
The key is to learn to gauge your baby’s threshold for activity and avoid over-stimulating them. Maybe a trip to the park and a visit with the grandparents is all they can handle for the day.
In conclusion, there can be many reasons why your baby may have trouble sleeping through the night, but the good news is that most of these are temporary and can be addressed.
Remember to consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns or suspect any underlying issues. In the meantime, try out these tips and see if they make a difference.
And to all the exhausted parents out there, hang in there. This too shall pass. And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask for help or take a break when you need it.
- “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp, MD
- “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley
- “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber, MD
- “The Baby Sleep Book” by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears
- “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, MD
Just remember, every baby is different and what worked for one may not work for the other. So, keep experimenting and above all, be patient and consistent with your baby.
And as a last resort, if all else fails, don’t be afraid to bribe them with a little bit of bribery, whatever works for you and your baby. With love and patience, you’ll find the right solution for your little one!