Why baby won’t sleep and wakes when they do

We often wonder why a baby won’t sleep. If only they knew how fabulous it is to sleep, and how lucky they are to sleep so much! It seems totally counter-intuitive that a tiny baby would resist sleep so much to the point that they are inconsolable, and ultimately unable to get to sleep. But why is this so?

Sleep and settling problems are very common, in fact it is estimated that about 30% of children experience some difficulty sleeping such as trouble falling asleep and waking during the night. And it is also known that these sleep problems can go on and on, for months and even years, and so can become a chronic problem for the whole family.

The most common problems in young babies are reported to be that the baby:

  • Needs to be rocked or held to sleep
  • Needs a parent to be present when they go to sleep
  • Wants to be fed to sleep
  • Wakes several times overnight or several nights during the week.

At birth, young babies are not able to regulate their sleep and wake cycles, however over the first few months this changes and they can distinguish between night and day and by six months they should have established a clear sleep-wake cycle with day time naps becoming shorter and night sleeps becoming longer. Well, that is what they are supposed to do!

Now I know that that is all well and good but some babies, even by six months, are still waking frequently and not able to settle themselves off to sleep, plus they are often still catnapping during the day.

So what can you do? The million dollar question!

From what I have seen over my 10 years of working with babies, and from looking at the research, it is clear that to help babies sleep better, parents want to do something that feels “right” to them. They don’t want to leave their babies to cry it out, but sometimes parents feel they have no alternative.

At BabyBliss, we use a gentle but effective settling technique. There is no controlled crying and no leaving babies to cry for long periods. In fact, we never leave a baby when they are upset. We also like to establish “positive sleep habits” with babies, such as having a great night-time ritual, using a comforter to help the baby separate from the parents, and trying to put the baby down awake so they know where they are, and feel safe and secure in their cot.

We also know from recent studies that sleep is so important for babies’ development. Ongoing sleep problems can have a negative impact on mood, behaviour, academic achievement, learning and memory consolidation. Not to mention the impact it can have on the parents, especially when returning to work and the stress associated with that.

So if you feel like you are struggling with sleep, day or night, we can help. And it is never too late. I am often asked if a parent has left it “too late” to sort out their baby’s sleep. No way! You can always do something to get them sleeping better and sometimes it is a lot easier than you think.

I remember when my sister returned to work and her son, who was about three, still had a dummy (pacifier). She felt like she couldn’t deal with returning to work and taking the dummy away from her toddler, so she just left it. A few weeks later she went away for a night with some friends and her husband decided he would tackle the dummy issue. So he explained to his son how he was a big boy now and he didn’t need the dummy anymore. He showed him as he threw the dummies into the bin, and continued on with the day. That night S asked for his dummy when he went to bed. His dad reminded him of what happened earlier and S just said, “Okay.” And that was that!

I often hear the same feedback from parents who have set out on a program to get their baby sleep better. Babies are such sponges; they are able to learn new habits really quickly. So don’t be afraid, make those changes today. We can help you.

To see our services and how we can help, click here.

Do you have a baby that catnaps and need some help?

Do you have a baby waking more than they need to overnight?

Do you need some help with establishing a routine for your baby?

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