10 Reasons Your Baby's Not Sleeping and How to Cope With It - Guest Post by Brigitte Evans
You’ve been up several times already. Your body is pushed to the edge, exhausted, and you really feel like breaking down because your baby’s upset, and you can’t calm them down. You feel like a bad parent for just wanting some peace and quiet, for not knowing how to make them stop crying. And then it keeps happening night after night and your tired body can barely function from all the stress and the weariness. It’s probably safe to say that you’re getting a little desperate, but don’t worry. We’re here for you, and the first thing you need to know is this: it’s going to be okay. You’re a good parent, and your baby is going to be okay. Now let’s see how we can get you both a good night’s sleep.
Your baby doesn’t have a regular schedule
All of us thrive with a good routine, but for babies, it is legitimately one of the essential things in life. If you keep putting them to sleep at different times it may be difficult for them to adjust, and so it’s always a good idea to have a regular schedule for both the day and the night.
They have separation anxiety
Your sweet baby could be missing you! If the child can’t stop crying it’s possible they just want some snuggles, so it’s probably a good idea for either one or both parents to cuddle them and kiss them gently to make them feel loved and soothed.
They are missing their favorite toy
If they always sleep with a toy and you take it away at one point because it needs a wash, or maybe it’s just too old and shabby and you have to throw it away, your baby will be confused. They’ve come to relate that toy with sleep and comfort time, and now that it’s gone it feels like an integral part is missing. Either return the toy as quickly as possible, or help them adjust to a different one.
They are missing a part of the routine
Bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily need to be a toy that’s missing. Did you forget to kiss them good night? Maybe you always read them a story, or maybe you always sing some lullabies. If even a tiny part changes, it could throw them off and make them anxious.
They don’t feel comfortable enough
Maybe it’s the crib mattress, maybe it’s the scratchy blanket, or maybe they aren’t wrapped right. To comfort your baby and help them settle down, you will need to keep some soft swaddle wraps at hand, and then gently wrap them into a warm cocoon. Swaddling definitely helps them sleep longer and feel safer, especially because they’ll feel like their parent is hugging them close while they doze off.
There is a medical reason
Perhaps your baby is colicky, or maybe they got sick and the discomfort is making it difficult to rest. You should check whether they have a fever or any other symptoms of illness, and if they persist, take them to a doctor immediately.
They are teething
Teething can be very achy for the baby, so if their first teeth are starting to show they might be very nervous and fussy for a few weeks before settling down. Giving them a good chew toy could help a lot.
They are hungry
Yes, you’ve fed them as soon as they started crying, but it’s possible that milk is simply no longer enough. Most babies should start switching to solids around their sixth month, so it could be that their bellies are simply craving more food. However, always follow a doctor's advice with regards to the timing of weaning.
The room temperature is off
Your baby could be too hot or too cold! Infants usually need more layers than adults to stay warm, so it’s possible that simply adding a small blanket over them could help. However, if you notice that they’re sweating, then remove a layer and let them breathe more easily.
They are too tired
One would think that exhausted babies would go to sleep much more easily, but, in truth, it just makes them really fussy and it takes forever to get them to rest if they’ve been over-exerted. That’s why naps are so important for babies! Infants under 4 months of age will need a nap every 1.5 hours, and as they grow older they will be able to stay up for up to 2-3 hours. If you let them be awake for longer than this, it will strain them and mess up their sleeping pattern.
Remember, if you are really worried that something is wrong with your baby then take them to the doctor. Try to take a deep breath and relax when you can, because one last thing that could be making your child too nervous to sleep is your own tension. Don’t worry folks, you are good parents and you’ll get through this.