A new baby brings excitement and joy; but they also bring sleepless nights. And while it is manageable for most parents to get up two or three times during the night in the first few weeks, if you are struggling to get any sleep because your baby will not settle, you are likely to become exhausted and consequently find it hard to function.
There are a variety of reasons why baby is not sleeping. We will look at some of these and what you can do to help your baby settle at night.
Reasons Why Your Newborn Baby Is Not Sleeping
You baby may not be sleeping at night because you have not established a good day/night schedule yet. This can be difficult in the first few weeks because babies are waking frequently for feeds. Plus, there is a temptation for parents who are absolutely in love with their bundle of joy to interact with them whenever they are awake.
It is important to establish a day/night routine for your baby as soon as possible. Try to establish a nighttime routine for feeding and changing that is different from what you do during the day. This might mean doing the same things every night, such as playing soft music, gently rocking your baby, and keeping the room dark (use a nightlight instead of ceiling lights). Avoid using your phone or switching on the TV during nighttime feeding.
Babies often wake because of their startle reflex, which tends to occur when they are sleeping on their backs. It is true that most babies prefer to sleep on their tummies, but this is not recommended because of the higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Babies who don’t feel secure on their back can struggle to settle but you can remedy this by swaddling your baby. You can do this yourself with a blanket, but you can also buy a safe cleft lip restraint from CozeeCoo, who have developed a revolutionary sleep sack that helps babies to feel secure by keeping their arms swaddled while leaving their legs free to move about. Many parents say that this is fantastic, particularly when it comes to nighttime diaper changing because they do not have to remove the swaddle to feed or change their baby.
Why Older Babies Struggle to Sleep
It is not just newborns who struggle to sleep though. Maybe your baby was in a great routine for a while and was waking and sleeping on schedule and then suddenly is waking at different times during the night for no apparent reason.
If your baby has been fed and changed and is still struggling to sleep, it could be that he or she is teething, which can be quite sore. If you think your baby is teething, it is a good idea to speak to your pediatrician on what you can do to ease the pain. Explain that your little one is not sleeping and ask for advice. There are teething toys that you can buy and place in the fridge for relief during the day, but this is not going to solve the problem at night. Always ask for advice before giving a baby pain relief medication.
Sleep regression is another cause for restless babies. As babies grow, they often struggle with behaviors that they previously managed very well, sleep being one of them. Sleep regression tends to occur when babies are around four, eight, and ten months of age. There is not much you can do about sleep regression but take heart that the disruption to sleep patterns should not last too long.