Contrary to popular belief, babies do not sleep all the time. Sure, when they’re a couple of weeks old and barely able to feed for a few minutes without dropping off, it can appear this way. But after those early golden days, a new parent can get a rude awakening.
It doesn’t matter how prepared you are; your baby might not sleep when he/she is supposed to. And this can be for any number of reasons. There’s the obvious ones, like they’re hungry, they need a nappy change or they simply won’t go down without your presence. But there are a few, perhaps more surprising, ones that not every parent is aware of.
It’s so important that both you and your little one get enough sleep at this early stage. Especially if you’ve taken steps to ensure a extra pleasant, rested pregnancy – there’s no point in letting all that go to waste now!
So listen up: here are a few reasons why your baby might not be sleeping, and how you can get them sailing towards slumberland.
When a baby cries during the night, we usually assume they need a feed. Which of course, is often the case. But sometimes they might just be thirsty and need a drink of water. After all, how many times have you woken up, parched, in the middle of the night? Chances are, you haven’t been able to get back to sleep until you’ve had the thirst-quencher you need. So your baby could be in the exact same boat!
Tip: Prepare an extra baby bottle with water that’s been boiled and left to cool. Place it beside the cot so you’ll have it to hand for night-time cries of thirst. If your baby is under 6 months, check with your doctor first whether this is ok.
This is a tricky one to combat; there’s a fine line between your baby being sleepy and cranky! Again, it’s something that adults are probably familiar with. We’re exhausted, but we can’t get to sleep for some reason. This makes us increasingly frustrated, which in turn makes us feel more tired and more angry…it’s a vicious circle.
In the case of your baby, their routine might have been upset – maybe you were on holiday or had guests over – and they’re finding it hard to settle down. This over-tiredness can also be a result of having too many external factors going on, like television, radio or bright colours. In fact, the blue light that these devices emit can impact the sleep of both you and your little one, increasing alertness and over-stimulating the brain. Hardly a prelude to Sleepytown.
Tip: Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine to wind both you and your baby down for the night. If you’re having guests over, or if you’re visiting people yourself, try and bring your baby away from all the noise at least half an hour before bedtime. Dim the lights, turning off tvs and other electronic devices too, and focus on relaxing activities like baths and bedtime stories. If your baby still seems unsettled, try cuddling him/her in your favourite chair with skin-to-skin contact. This comforting time alone with you and away from too many distractions might be all they need to drift off.
As your baby gets older, their needs will change – and so too will their routine. For instance, they will probably go from 3 naps a day to 2 around the age of 6–9 months. Or they might go from being sleep-until-8am types until waking at the crack of dawn. Pity, says you.
The important thing to remember here is to respond to these changes accordingly. So if they’re waking earlier, maybe they need an earlier bedtime; otherwise, if you stick to their ‘usual’ bedtime you might find them over-tired and impossible to get down.
Tip: Although all babies are different, they will all go through some kind of change as they get older, and their habits will follow suit. So be aware of the changes they’re making in their routine – or lead these changes yourself, if necessary. Whether it’s shifting bedtimes or ditching certain nap times, it’s up to you. Do whatever works to get your bubs sleeping soundly!
So there’s 3 more reasons why sleep may be escaping your little one. Remember though, that just like adults, babies will wake up during the night as they move through sleep cycles. Don’t worry if you hear them shifting about over the monitor; chances are they’ll settle down themselves and get back to sleep. If you dash in at the first whimper, well, that’s when you’re wrapped around their little finger!
Let sleeping babies lie, as my version of the saying goes (!!!)…and who knows, you might even get some rest yourself.
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