Trying to get your baby to sleep can be really difficult and frustrating, especially if you are also sleep deprived. However, there are a number of reasons why your little one may be struggling to fall asleep.
All babies are different. While some may sleep like a log from a very early age, others may need a bit more help until they are older. We have a few suggestions below that may just do the trick. Sometimes the smallest change can make a big difference.
Your Baby Is Hungry
Your baby might be waking up during sleep, or struggling to get to sleep, because they are feeling hungry. If you don’t have a regular feeding schedule, your little one might not be having enough food to stay asleep. Regular small feeds throughout the day are similar to having lots of little snacks.
Most of us have the tendency to feed the baby just before bed. However if your little one is tired, they may be too exhausted to have a full feed, even though they are hungry. Try feeding your baby as soon as they wake up, in order to make sure they have a full feed.
Do your best to create a regular routine for feeding, playing and then sleeping. Once your baby has fed following their nap or sleep time, they can then play until they get tired and repeat the cycle.
Your Baby Is Overtired
If you’re hoping to keep your little one awake to tire them out so they will sleep longer, your efforts may be wasted. If baby is overtired, they are less likely to sleep properly, and will wake up more often. The best way to fix this is to carefully look for your little one’s sleep window.
Look for signs that show baby is becoming tired; this may be a yawn, rubbing their eyes or a general lack of interest. These are all signals from your baby that they are entering their sleep window. Get ready to settle them down as soon as you see these signs.
The length of time that a baby should be awake in between sleeps varies depending on their age. As they get older, this time increases gradually, so make sure you are not trying to keep them awake for too long. Here are some suggested waking time brackets for your reference:
- Birth to six weeks: 45 to 60 minutes.
- Two to three months: 1 to 1½ hours.
- Four to five months: 1½ hours to 2½ hours.
- Six to seven months: 2 to 2¾ hours.
- Eight to nine months: 2½ to 3 hours.
Your Baby Is Not Tired
Following on from the above point, your baby may not be sleeping simply because they are not tired enough. Make sure that during their waking time they are played with and stimulated. Also be sure to check that they have been awake for the recommended time according to their age, before putting them back to bed.
Younger babies don’t need a great deal of stimulation to tire them out. Simply singing to them or playing with a rattle is usually sufficient in the short time they are awake. The older your little one gets, the more you can try to do with them during their awake time.
Your Baby Is Overstimulated
While it is important to play with your baby and keep them stimulated while they are awake, overstimulation can also affect their sleep. Babies are always ready to learn, and love to play and explore new things. With that said, it is important not to create too much excitement in a short space of time.
Loud noises, too much activity and too many bright colors can quickly overstimulate babies. Keep an eye on your little one and look for signs that they have had enough. If they begin to look away, fuss or yawn, it is time to wind down the fun.
Your Baby Is Too Hot or Cold
Babies need to be comfortable in order to sleep through, just like adults. If they are too hot or too cold, they can find it difficult to sleep, or wake up fussing. A great way to test whether your baby is at the right temperature is something called the toe test.
When little one wakes up, remove any socks or blankets and feel their toes. If they feel too hot or cold then you may need to adjust their clothing, bedding or room temperature (air conditioning/heating) for their next nap.
Your Baby Has Separation Anxiety
This particular reason tends to happen most often between the ages of eight and 10 months old. Around this time, your little one may begin to understand that bedtime means that they will be apart from you. It is also common for babies who had no previous problems sleeping, to go through such a phase around this age.
The best way to deal with a separation anxiety problem is to continue your regular sleep routine as best you can. Remember, this is usually just a phase that will pass and get better. Help to make your little one feel more secure and offer comfort when needed.
However, do so with caution and try not to make the problem even worse. When comforting them try your best not to pick them up, offer attention by gently talking or singing to them instead. If baby needs body contact, gently stroke their arm or back. Keep the room quiet, dark and calm so they know it’s still time to sleep.
It can be very frustrating when your little one won’t settle. However, try not to get frustrated and don’t give up hope. The key could be in the smallest and simplest changes to your everyday routine.
Give the above points a go, and try your best to maintain a set routine. This will really help to get your little one into a better sleeping pattern. Remember, it won’t be forever and is just a phase that they will grow out of very soon.