What Should You Do If Your Newborn Is Awake At Night
So what can sleep-deprived parents do, aside from waiting it out? McGinn suggests that you send your child environmental and social cues throughout the day and night. Keep your infant exposed to sunlight and everyday noises during the day, even while she sleeps at night, turn the lights low and keep your interactions quiet, she says. Nighttime feeds and soothing should be brief and boring.
You could also try keeping a log of your babys sleep habits. At the newborn stage, babies should be sleeping between 16 and 18 hours per 24-hour period, though they wake often. A log may help you discern some newborn sleep patterns you didnt recognize before, so you can get some rest.
What not to do? Keep your baby awake all day, thinking it will make her sleep better at night. It sounds good in theory, but this tactic backfires on babies, who get cranky and harder to soothe, and actually sleep less at night, than babies who nap regularly. McGinn recommends you pay close attention to sleep cues, including drowsy eyes, yawning and fussiness theyre how your baby communicates that shes ready to go back to sleep, even if she hasnt been awake for very long. By acting on early signs of sleepinessbefore she gets overtired and overstimulatedyoull help your baby fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.
How Much Sleep Do Babies Really Need
The amount of sleep your baby needs varies, depending on their age. Newborns nap a lot, with most averaging 14 to 17 hours sleep in a 24-hour period. However, this sleep is inconsistent and broken up, particularly over the first few weeks when babies wake for frequent feedings.
Things settle a bit as your baby nears their second and third month. Most infants can sleep for 6 hours a night, for example, by 12 weeks. But even as night sleep solidifies, infants and toddlers still need naps.
In fact, according to the Childrens Hospital of St. Louis, daily naps for children are essential for good days and good nights.
Infant Sleep Problems: A Troubleshooting Guide
Are you struggling with infant sleep problems? opens in a new windowBaby sleep is different than adult sleep. A lot of the stuff that drives us crazy is developmentally normal behavior.
For example, opens in a new windownewborns need to feed frequently , and the transition to longer, consolidated bouts of sleep is gradual.
In general, we shouldnt expect babies to sleep for more than 4-5 hours at a stretch until they are at least 3 months old.
But that doesnt mean we cant improve things. On the contrary, theres a lot we can do.
Might your babys sleep troubles be caused by a medical condition? Thats possible, so you might want to review these common opens in a new windowinfant medical problems that interfere with sleep.
But in this article well focus on other culprits the everyday stumbling blocks on the path to easier, more restful nights.
Here is a list of ten things that might be going wrong, and what you can do about them.
At the end, I talk about that controversy that every new parent faces the cry it out controversy and then I sum things up with a checklist of good practices for avoiding infant sleep problems.
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At Night: Newborn Sleep And Waking
In the first few months, newborns usually wake several times a night for feeds.
Between one and three months, your baby might start waking less often and have a longer period of sleep at night.
By the time your baby is around three months old, they might regularly be having a longer sleep at night for example, around 4-5 hours. But you can expect that your baby will still wake at least once each night.
If your baby is premature or low birth weight, your paediatrician or child and family health nurse might recommend that you let your baby sleep for only a certain amount of time at night before you wake them for a feed.
Take Into Account Your Childs Temperament
Different babies develop self-soothing skills at different rates and in different ways. The more reactive or intense your baby is, the more challenging it may be for her to soothe herself. These babies often need more help to be calmed. Babies who are less reactive tend to be able to handle minor stresses, such as a sudden loud noise, and therefore find it easier to fall asleep on their own.
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Dont Let Your Newborn Sleep In The Car Seat
This is a contentious one, because weve all been there: Your baby conks out in the car seat while youre driving home or running errands, and the beauty of the bucket seat is that you can pop it out and transfer your sleeping infant inside for the remainder of her nap. But according to the AAP, allowing an infant to sleep in a bucket car seat thats been placed on the floor or clicked into a stroller is a safety hazard, as the babys head can fall forward and cause something called positional asphyxiation. Due to the angle of the seat design, its much safer to let your newborn nap in the car seat while its attached to the base and installed in the car. Letting your baby sleep in a car seat overnight when youre not awake enough to check on her is a serious baby sleep mistake. In fact, experts actually recommend limiting the time your baby spends in a car seat, bouncer or swing to 30 minutes, mostly for developmental reasons and the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly . However, wed like to acknowledge that this 30-minute maximum is downright impossible on road trips, for parents who have long work or daycare commutes, or when the swing is truly the only place you can get your infant to nap. Wed love to see some more research on this recommendation.
He’s Not Seeing The Light
Too tired to go for a walk with the baby before 3 p.m. — or too busy to open all the shades? Keeping your baby in the dark may be causing his crazy sleep schedule. “Infants who get more exposure to light during the day sleep better,” says Dr. Mindell.
Sleep solutions: The key is exposure to morning light. “It suppresses melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle — so that it peaks at the right time,” says Dr. Mindell. Move your baby’s high chair or nursing pillow to the sunniest spot in the house and feed him there. A morning walk is a good idea too, even on a cloudy day, but if it’s not doable, turning on a bunch of lamps is a decent substitute. Remember to dim them an hour or two before bedtime, though. “You want your baby to associate light and activity with the day and darkness and inactivity with nighttime,” says Dr. Karp.
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Inability To Transition From Active To Passive Sleep
Infants don’t have the same sleep cycles as adults because their brains haven’t had time yet to develop fully. As time goes on they’ll gain this ability, but until then, much of their snoozing hours will be spent in active sleep, which is similar to REM.
During this stage, newborns are more likely to wake up, making them more prone to sensitive sleep habits. Infants endure about 50% of their dream time in active sleep, and adults only spend about 20%.
As a result, this allows for more chances to wake up due to a disturbance. While it’s not encouraged to keep quieter than you normally would when your babe is asleep, it does explain any sensitive wakings.
Your Baby Is Overtired
While this sounds counterintuitive, napping an overtired baby is tricky. When a baby is exhausted, they may have a hard time falling asleep.
To prevent this, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, suggests creating a schedule and keeping a keen eye out for signs of fatigue. At the first sign of them being tired, put them down, like when they start rubbing their eyes or yawning.
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Change In Regular Bedtime Routine
Consistency is the key with children, especially when it comes to sleep. Any change in your babys bedtime routine can make it difficult for him or her to enjoy sound sleep.
It is important to maintain the same sleep schedule for setting your babys internal clock, which will regulate day and night hormone cycles. This helps a baby get sleepy and fall asleep around the same time every day.
Do not try to put your baby to bed too early or too late . Do not encourage naps in the late afternoon or evening as your baby would find it difficult to sleep again at night when he or she has recently awakened from a nap.
A 2005 study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies reports that small babies needed less help falling asleep at night when parents lengthened the time between the last nap of the day and bedtime.
What’s Stopping Baby’s Slumber
My son, Zachary, spent the better part of his first week on this planet asleep, and my husband and I took all the credit. We’re second-time parents: We know what we’re doing this time! Everything is so much easier! And then Zachary woke up. The next few months were a blur of night wakings, napless afternoons, and pre-bedtime battles. And, of course, when he didn’t sleep, neither did we. Little did we know that there were a number of reasons behind his erratic sleep habits — and “he’s just not tired” wasn’t one of them. Read on to see if any of these culprits are keeping your family up all night.
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Your Baby Needs A Better Sleep Environment
If your baby struggles to sleep during the day and at night, the problem may not be with them or your approach, it may be with their environment.
Older children in particular need a quiet, dimly lit space. Draw the blinds and use blackout drapes, when possible. Consider a white noise machine, if/when appropriate, and keep babys room cool. It is also important you make sure they are dressed appropriately for sleep.
Reason : Allergies And Intolerances
Food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. According tofoodallerg.org, 1 in every 13 kids has some form of food allergy.and this doesnt even take into account those that experience symptoms but has yet to be diagnosed.
My middle child was the picture of a perfect birth. He showed up around 38 weeks . I had a quick easy labor and effortless delivery .
But about 4 weeks in, my perfect man started showing signs of colic. He had frequent hiccups, lots of uncharacteristic drooling, excess spit up, and a diaper rash that just would NOT go away. And, of course, no sleep. Through research and previous experience, I started an elimination diet. Because I was nursing, I removed things from my diet that are known as common allergens like dairy, soy, wheat, corn, etc. This process helped tremendously.
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Are You Being Inconsistent In The Way You Respond To Your Baby
Its easy to get off-track when you are frustrated or tired.
Sometimes you might use overly-stimulating soothing techniques. Other times when it seems that nothing works you might withdraw from your baby altogether . Its human nature, but its confusing for the baby, and it can make infant sleep problems worse.
To help avoid this scenario, take the time to create a single, consistent approach to your infant sleep problems.
Research opens in a new windowthe science of infant sleep patterns, and decide what approach is best for you and your baby.
Thinking things through ahead of time will help you stick to the plan, and may have additional psychological benefits for you.
Parenting studies suggest that getting informed can boost your sense of competence and confidence, and protect you from feelings of frustration and despair .
Not Napping During The Day
A daily nap is important for your babys growth and development. Without a daytime nap, your baby will become overtired, grumpier and less able to go to sleep later.
But it is important to make your baby nap at the right time. If your baby naps too late in the afternoon, it will be hard for him or her to fall asleep at night.
The next time your baby is snoozing during the mid-morning or early afternoon, join him or her to ensure they are sleeping soundly.
Also, do not make the mistake of waking up your baby from a nap. This can make your baby fussy and inconsolable.
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What To Do If Your Baby Isnt Sleeping Well
Every baby is different, so dont fret if your baby isnt following all the rules. While its normal for newborns to wake up multiple times throughout the night, dont hesitate to talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about your babys sleep patterns.
If your baby wakes up crying and doesnt fall back asleep after a few minutes, they might be hungry, uncomfortable, or need their diaper changed. Quickly and quietly take care of their needs, using a nightlight instead of the overhead light if possible. You may soothe an anxious baby by patting them or saying a few reassuring words, but try not to take them out of the crib unless its strictly necessary.
Giving your baby plenty of love and attention during the day and encouraging them to be independent at night may ease the that many babies start to feel around the 6-month mark. Your baby may also feel more comfortable with a pacifier.
Its not uncommon for babies to revert to an erratic sleep schedule once in a while. These sleep regressions are a normal part of healthy infancy and can happen due to teething, illness, growth spurts, changing naptimes, or when they are learning new skills such as how to talk or walk.
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She’s Struggling To Give Up Co
You’re finally ready to reclaim your bedroom, but your mini roommate isn’t interested in her lonely crib. And the longer you’ve co-slept, the harder this process is going to be.
Sleep solutions:“This takes a while, so make the break gradually,” says Dr. Mindell. First, have her nap by herself once she’s used to sleeping alone, do her bedtime routine in her room. Then move her crib into your room or put her down in her own room but continue to bring her into your bed if she wakes up during the night. If she doesn’t seem able to make the final transition to spending the whole night alone, you’ll have to let her fuss in her room for a while. But once she realizes you’re not coming to get her, she’ll learn to soothe herself.
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