The term sleeps like a baby is laughable when you actually have a baby because more often than not, babies don’t sleep. Well, they do sleep most of the day...but for 2 or 3-hour increments at a time which can brutal for you! Some babies are great natural sleepers and catch on at an early age but more often than not, babies need a little help from mom and dad to become good sleepers. You may be feeling sleep deprived and hopeless right now but rest assured, if your little angel has got you pulling your hair out trying to figure out how to get them to sleep, you are not alone. There are more reasons that your baby may not be sleeping, but these 5 reasons tend to be the most common.
Your baby is uncomfortable - This can be a number of things from your baby is too hot or too cold or they have a wet diaper or pooped or it could be that they didn’t have enough to eat. I listed these reasons first because they're typically the easiest to figure out and solve. You can feel your babies skin to gauge their temperature. If they’re sweating, they’re probably too hot, if they feel cool or if you feel cold…then chances are they’re too cold. As far as hunger goes, you can usually solve this by offering them a bottle or boob. Putting them to bed with a clean diaper solves the too wet problem and checking the diaper for poop solves that problem. Once you’ve solved for these issues, you can move on to the next and more complicated reasons that your baby might not be sleeping!
Lack of routine - When I talk about routine, I get so many eye rolls because the idea of altering your life for a baby seems silly…but guess what? Whether you acknowledge it or not, your life has been completely altered…because you had a baby! Getting a routine in place is your way of getting your baby into the habit of knowing, hey it’s time to go to sleep. Your routine doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. It can be as simple as reading a book, singing a song and feeding but setting a routine helps your baby with consistency and is something that will stay with them for years to come.
Your baby is too tired - I know, this is confusing but its true. If your child is too tired, its harder for them to fall asleep. I know it can happen because it happens to me as an adult and I’m sure if you really think about it, it’s happened to you too. Ever had a night where you’re beat...absolutely dead, dog tired…all you could think about was going to sleep and finally, the moment comes when you get to crawl into bed...you close your eyes and just lay there, unable to fall asleep. Why does this happen? When we’re really sleepy but have to stay up, our bodies produce adrenaline to stay awake. Its one of those innate survival tactics that we have and because our babies are human, they have it too and this is what makes it harder for them to fall asleep when they’re overtired. The best way to avoid this is to put your baby down before they get too tired. There are many guides online that will give you a clue as to how long your baby should be able to stay awake based on their age, but because every baby is unique, you’ll probably have to play around with these times a little to figure out what works best for your baby. When in doubt, it's always better to put your baby to bed a little too early rather than a little too late.
Your baby is overstimulated - There are some babies that can sleep anywhere and through everything but I’ve met more parents with babies who are not capable of this than those that are. I ask you to think about it from your own perspective again. Sure you may be able to fall asleep anywhere but is it really a peaceful and restful deep sleep? If it’s hard for you to get good sleep in a noisy, busy or bright environment, then chances are, its hard for your baby too. There are going to be times when you’re out and about and can’t avoid it, but if and when possible, give your baby the same courtesy that you would want when you’re trying to sleep and give them somewhere calm, dark and quiet to sleep.
Your baby is going through changes - This is the hardest of reasons because there’s really nothing you can do but wait it out. Whether these changes be teething, learning a milestone like sitting, crawling or walking, sleep regression or experiencing a Wonder Weeks leap, babies go through a lot of developmental changes in the first couple of years that can put a damper on sleep. These changes are inevitable. Being prepared for them and knowing when and what to expect is about as much as you can do. You still won’t be able to do anything about it, but at least you won’t be completely in the dark about what is happening. I would encourage you to stay as consistent as possible with your routine during these changes and to return completely back to your normal routine as soon as your baby seems to have worked their way through these developments. Not returning back to your normal routine can make a short interruption in sleep stretch even longer than it should.