Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Lori Pace
All new parents will tell you: one of the hardest things about welcoming a new baby is the sleep deprivation side of the business. While it’s perfectly normal for babies – especially newborns – to wake frequently through the night, there are plenty of things you can do to help things along when your baby won’t sleep.
Below you’ll find seven of the most common baby sleeping problems you may be experiencing right now (or in the near future!). And we will provide some tips on how to gently resolve them.
Baby Won’t Sleep Sleep All Day But Wake All Night
This is a common problem facing the parents of newborns – very small babies have no concept of night or day. If you’re currently experiencing this, don’t worry! In most cases, such nocturnal habits will naturally correct themselves as your little one gets older, and – as difficult as this period is – it’s likely to be a short-lived one.
There are some things you can do to help things along and get your baby settled into a day and nighttime routine. Limiting daytime naps to no more than three hours can help. As can make a clear distinction between night and day, such as using blackout curtains in the baby’s room at nap times and keeping things quiet during night feedings.
Baby Only Falls Asleep When Held
Another common baby sleep issue, and one that’s very solvable. To start, if the baby particularly likes to be held by my mom to fall asleep, have Dad do the bedtime routine for a few nights. Sometimes, this can be enough to break the sleep association. You could also try sitting in the same room, close to your baby, as he falls asleep. Also, you can pick him up if he cries or fusses but then put him back into his cot or crib when he’s drowsy. Repeat until your baby falls asleep.
The Four-Month Sleep Regression
Developmental milestones typically trigger sleep regressions. These milestones also bring about an evolution in your baby’s sleep cycles. The 4-month sleep regression is a classic example. This is often precipitated by important steps such as your baby learning to roll over, making babbling sounds, becoming more active, and smiling at familiar faces.
Following a consistent bedtime routine can help you navigate this phase. And you may also want to start using earlier bedtimes so your little one can catch up on lost sleep from more unsettled nights. It can also be a good idea to give your baby a short time to settle herself before picking her up or offering her a feed. Remember – feeding at every waking could create a habit that’ll prolong the nighttime wakings.
Baby Won’t Sleep But Want To Feed All Through The Night
While it’s very normal for newborns to wake up to feed frequently through the night (their tummies are tiny, after all), by about four months old, your baby should be doing most of their eating during the day and shifting to a pattern of sleeping through more of the night. To help this along, think about:
- Re-jigging your baby’s schedule
- Shortening their daytime naps
- And offering more feeds during the day.
Very Early Wakings
So, your baby is sleeping through the night (hooray!) but is waking up extremely early in the morning. Ironically, early wakings can be a result of a too-late bedtime – over-tiredness can cause extra early wake-ups. Although this may go counter to intuition, try putting your little one to bed a little earlier to solve the problem. If your baby is older or approaching toddlerhood, very early wakings could mean – sorry to say! – they’re ready to drop one of their daytime naps.
While the age of teething varies, most babies will begin teething at around six months old. The discomfort of teething can cause problems with disturbed sleep at night. But there are things you can do to help.
Teething rings and gels are available that can help soothe your little one during this stage. Although it’s crucial to check that anything you give your baby to chew isn’t a choking hazard. Some teething rings may be cooled in the fridge before giving to the baby to provide additional relief.
Generally Unsettled Through the Night
Sometimes, just a few small tweaks will help your baby fall asleep faster and sleep for longer stretches through the night. For example, it’s really important to ensure that the room in isn’t too hot or cold and that the bedding provides the right level of warmth. A consistent bedtime routine can also be extremely helpful, even for young babies, signalling that it’s time to settle down. This could include a bath, a story, a feed, and a cuddle.
Helping Baby To Sleep Well When They Won’t Sleep At Night
While it’s normal for newborns to wake regularly through the night for feeding (and comfort), getting good sleep habits in place early will likely serve you well – as will an awareness of the development and other milestones that could cause a temporary hiccup in your baby’s sleeping patterns.
Always remember, however, that if you’re worried about your baby, always follow your instincts and seek advice or help immediately.