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What to Do When Baby Won’t Sleep
If your baby isn’t sleeping, there’s probably something that needs to change in their daily schedule, nighttime routine, or sleep environment. There are times when, despite our best efforts and intentions, our baby just won’t sleep. Even good sleepers need a little help every now and then. Here are some of the things to consider that may be preventing you and your baby from getting a good night’s sleep. Adjusting even one of these things might just do the trick if your baby isn’t sleeping well.
The baby is overstimulated
If your baby has trouble falling asleep or wakes up 20 to 30 minutes after going to sleep, then you may need to establish a good bedtime routine. The baby needs time to go from a playful, excited state to a restful state. By using a good sleep routine every night and every bedtime, your baby will calm down and relax into a state of rest. Try things that will contribute to the baby’s overall calm, comfortable state, such as dimming the lights, swaddling the baby, and playing soothing music or sounds from the womb.
The baby is hungry
If your baby used to sleep for long periods of time and wakes up suddenly every 3-4 hours or wakes up at night crying and eating full, then your baby may be hungry. Newborns need to be fed about every 2 hours, but by around three months old your baby should be able to go for 5-6 hours without needing to feed. Sometimes these late night feeds can be avoided by giving your baby a full feed around 10 or 11pm. Another good thing to do is to feed your baby every 2-3 hours during the day. The idea is that if your baby is getting enough calories and nutrition during the day, he won’t need to ask you for it at night. Also, during growth spurts your baby will need to eat more. Prevent additional feeding at night by adding another feeding during the day.
The baby is very attached to you or something else
If your baby needs something outside of himself to be there to sleep (like being rocked or a pacifier), or needs to be held and can’t be put down, or won’t sleep in his own cot, then he may you need to be very deliberate about correcting these things. Improving these behaviors will help your baby and yourself in the long run.
If letting your baby sleep in your bed once in the past has made your baby dependent on sleeping next to you, then you need to take steps to correct this. Start by helping her associate her sleeping space with positive things and give her time to adjust.
If your baby needs his pacifier in his mouth to fall asleep to the point where you are constantly putting the pacifier back in his mouth, then he is overly dependent on that pacifier. Start by teaching the baby to breastfeed his hand and only give the baby the pacifier when he fusses. Once the baby is calm again, remove the pacifier. After three months, consider getting rid of them completely, as they are no longer developmentally beneficial.
Also, a common misconception is that the baby needs to be comforted every time he gets up during the night. This is not true, as the baby often gets up when sleeping. Night waking is something everyone does. Most people will wake up, look around and check to make sure they’re still safe where they are, and then go back to sleep. So even if a baby wakes up at night and makes a lot of noise, it could just be a night awake and should be given a chance to settle down. Most of the time, your baby will be able to go back to sleep without your help.
The baby is insecure
If your baby has trouble falling asleep or wakes every hour (except for newborns) or only sleeps during the day but doesn’t sleep at night, you may need a strong daily routine. An unstructured, unpredictable daily life can cause insecurities in the baby. Fix it by making sure there are at least 3 separate daily markers of consistency, such as feeding baby every three hours, tummy time and sleep. Follow the pattern of eating, playing and sleeping.
It’s very hot in there
If your baby wakes up every 2 hours and needs to feed and the soft spot on his head is more pronounced, he may be dehydrated. At just 5 weeks old my daughter was sleeping in 5-8 hour stretches, however when the first signs of falling hit she started waking every 2-3 hours and needed to be fed. I soon realized that since it had gotten colder, we left the heater on. The same reason I was getting up to get my water, my daughter was crying for me. The simple solution is to use a humidifier. By keeping the air moist, you will prevent or at least postpone those night feedings caused by dry, warm air.
The baby is very warm
If the air temperature is too hot or too cold your baby will let you know. Newborns have a hard time regulating their body temperatures, so they rely heavily on you to keep them cool. It is recommended to put a layer on top of what you are wearing. The room temperature in your baby’s room should be kept between 65 and 75 degrees.
Creating a strong daily schedule, nighttime routine, and peaceful sleep environment will go a long way in ensuring restful nights and lively days. These baby sleep tips help your baby blossom into a great sleeper. Take a few tips and be sure that your baby will never sleep the same again.
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