It took me 5 YEARS to find the miracle that saved my sleep!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your baby’s sleep patterns, or lack thereof. I sure have!! It took me 5 YEARS to find the miracle that saved my sleep. But first, lets look at the ‘how and why’ of baby sleep.
During the first year as a new family, no one in your home is likely getting much sleep. Persistent all-nighters are extremely draining and it feels like the more exhausted you become the more your baby won’t sleep.
In this article we are going to set realistic sleep expectations, discuss common reasons why babies won't sleep and provide ways to get the restorative sleep you and your baby need.
How much sleep do babies actually need?
The National Sleep Foundation breaks down a baby’s sleep needs by age group:
- Newborns (0 to 3 months) – 14-17 hours
- Infants (4 to 11 months) – 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years old) – 11-14 hours
Keep in mind that these are broad guidelines that parents should use as a moving target rather than a hard and fast rule. Every baby is different, so don’t worry if your child needs a little more or less sleep than the guidelines say.
As a new parent, you’ll be asked countless times, “Is the baby sleeping through the night yet?” This question creates an unrealistic expectation that a baby should sleep through the night by a certain time.
Sleeping through the night is an eagerly anticipated milestone and while we are waiting for our baby to learn to sleep through the night, it is important to have realistic goals around what constitutes a “good” night.
Nonetheless, some parents find themselves struggling to get their wiggle worm into bedtime mode and finally crash after a long day. You may be one of those who is wondering why won’t my baby sleep through the night?
Possible reasons why baby isn’t sleeping
Don’t worry mumma, better nights are ahead! Here are some common reasons why babies won’t sleep and how you can help.
Think of your "circadian rhythm" as an internal clock telling you when it's time to be awake and when it's time to sleep.
Trouble is the "clock" doesn’t come pre-programmed.
Newborn babies' internal clocks do not automatically sync with our 24-hour cycle of being awake during daylight and asleep during darkness.
But, we do not have to wait for our baby's clock to sync with ours. Studies show that babies adapt quickly when they get cues from their environment about the time of day.
Try these baby sleep solutions to help sync circadian rhythms:
Keep an active day environment
At morning time, enthusiastically greet your child by saying “good morning.” Opening the curtains and engaging your baby. With the exception of nap time, be sure to keep lights on and noise at a normal level during the day. This will help signal that it’s time to be awake.
Encourage a sleepy environment at night time
As bedtime approaches, close the curtains, keep lights dim or off, minimize noise and other disruptions. As your baby grows, introduce a night time routine to signal that bedtime is near.
Nap when your baby naps
This tip is more for you than for them, but if you rest while baby is resting it will help take the edge off of sleepless nights.
There’s a fine line between encouraging wakefulness during the day and creating an overstimulating environment.
Babies are sensitive, and even an active day environment should be mindful of stressors like visitors, loud televisions, rough siblings or pets.
Your daytime routine should minimize visitors, establish a consistent nap routine and keep errands to a minimum.
Overtiredness is one of the most common reasons babies will fight sleep. Not surprisingly, as we are all a bit more cranky and agitated when we lack sleep.
To avoid this “too tired to sleep” situation, be mindful of their early signs of sleepiness; this may look like yawning, pulling ears, or rubbing eyes.
Total and complete silence can make it hard for your baby to stay asleep: They’ll be able to hear a pin drop or the smallest scuffle.
If your little one seems distracted when trying to sleep or is waking frequently, consider investing in a white noise machine. This will create a relaxing environment that allows other family members to move around without disturbing the baby's sleep.
Speaking of comfortable sleeping wear. You know the feeling when a sock slips down while you’re wearing boots - or when the tag on your shirt keeps scratching the back of your neck?
As adults, we can do something about that. Babies can’t. So it’s important to check for signs of discomfort associated with clothing: Are they too warm or cold? Is fabric scratchy, too tight or too loose?
Puckering, smacking or licking lips. Turning head, clenching hands and bringing hands to mouth. These are all signs that your child is not sleeping because they are hungry.
Did you know human milk only takes about 1.5 hours to digest? This explains why your little one is awake and hungry every 2 - 4 hours.
Research has shown that in the early weeks and months, babies nurse most frequently between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. It is tiring but I promise this stage doesn’t last forever! Babies do grow out of the need for constant night time feedings.
Straining faces, grunting, kicking legs, a firm belly. These are signs that your baby is not sleeping because of a tummy trouble caused by gas or constipation.
Burping during and after feedings is one of the simplest ways to relieve gas pains. If that doesn’t do the trick try massaging their tummy or cycling their legs. Cycling their legs is basically pumping their legs back and forth like they’re riding a teeny tiny baby bicycle, while they’re laying on their back.
Drooling, chewing, increased comfort nursing, overall fussiness and irritability. These are signs that teething pain may be keeping your little one up at night.
Try settling with gentle words, a lullaby, rhythmic patting or a teething ring. If tender gums are keeping everyone up night after night, talk to your pediatrician about pain relief options.
If your little wiggle worm was sleeping for extended periods of time but is now fighting sleep or waking up frequently, you may have entered a sleep regression. A sleep regression is a normal, temporary blip on babies' sleep radar that many children begin around 4 months old.
Don’t get discouraged, this is only temporary. Be sure to stick with your bedtime routine and daytime nap schedule. After your baby masters their new skills, sleep patterns should go back to normal.
REMINDER: Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your baby
Raising a family requires a superhuman level of patience.
Remember to take care of yourself, talk to your partner about how you’re feeling and get support from friends and family.
Be sure to fuel your body with healthy food and plenty of water. And, meditate, daydream or take a catnap when your baby is sleeping. Taking even just a few minutes to allow your mind to wander can give you the energy you need.
If it’s getting too tough, and you feel like you and your baby aren’t coping, reach out to your local GP.
But what if baby STILL WONT SLEEP!!!!
If you’re still struggling to get your baby to sleep, then it might be time to try one of our sleep aides.
In an experimental study of newborns, 80% of infants assigned to hear playbacks of white noise fell asleep spontaneously within 5 minutes. Only 25% of control infants fell asleep spontaneously (Spencer et al 1990).
We stock 2 amazing sleep devices which feature a combination of different options proven to promote relaxation and sleep.
Introducing the secret to sweet baby sleep...
Our sleep devices incorporate the following:
White noise helps calm your little one into a peaceful sleep, where they not only fall asleep quicker, but stay asleep longer.
Essential oil diffusers are best known for their calming effect on the mind and body by reducing stress, anxiety, irritability and creating a calm and soothing environment for sleep.
Night lights and light projection:
Whether it's a newborn baby, a toddler or a bigger child: there is good chance they will not feel safe in a pitch black room.
A soft night light is reassuring and helps make your baby feel safer.
Feeling safe and secure is one of the basic 'conditions' to be able to sleep.
There are many amazing benefits to sleeping with a humidifier. Keeping this device running throughout the night can help you:
- Breathe easier throughout the night
- Prevent influenza
- Reduce snoring
- Keep skin from drying out
- Fall asleep faster
- Create a cozy sleeping environment
Want to learn more about these amazing products?
Click here: Sleep aides and night lights – Hush Little Babe and see for yourself.