As parents we all wait for the day when our baby starts sleeping through the night. We wait and anticipate this day to come when sadly sometimes it never arrives. Our child can be past the six month mark of when babies usually start sleeping through the night with no luck on your end. This can be exhausting, and frustrating.
When your baby isn’t getting regular sleep it can wreak havoc on the home. Sometimes what is even more frustrating though is not being able to find out what is causing your baby not to sleep at night. Is it a sleep regression, due to growing, teething, or your baby just hates sleep? It can be hard sometimes to figure it out.
Every baby is different. So don’t compare your baby to another one. Not even an older sibling. Some babies are extremely regular. Down to when they wake up, nap, sleep, eat, and even poop at the same time every day. These babies are the envy of the parents who don’t have regular babies. Irregular babies just never have a day like the one before. They will nap at different times, and eat at different times.
This can be very frustrating when trying to get your baby on a schedule. To alleviate some of the stress of having a baby who is irregular in routine, just know that everyday is going to be a little bit different then the last. This doesn’t mean you throw out the routine altogether, just make it more flexible.
Could it be a sleep regression?
The next question to ask why your child isn’t sleeping at night, is it something you are doing or not doing or is truly a sleep regression. Sleep regression is a term you hear a lot when you say your baby isn’t sleeping well at night. A sleep regression is a period of time when a baby who normally would sleep through the night all of a sudden stops. This usually lasts between two and six weeks. Sleep regressions can happen at 3-4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years. The most common ones are at 6 weeks, 4 months, and 6 months.
Sleep regressions usually happen because your child is learning something new developmentally. This can be learning to roll over, crawl, walk, or babble. It can also be caused by getting teeth or growing. A few signs that will accompany the lack of sleep are extreme crankiness from your child, the need for extra cuddles, and increased hunger. The good thing to remember with sleep regressions are they pass. They are usually short lived and as quickly as your child stops sleeping they will start again. During this time though try not to make bad sleep habits at night, this could derail your sleep as well.
If your child isn’t going through a sleep regression there are some things that could be causing their sleep to be so erratic.
Other possible causes for irregular sleep?
Is your child not sleepy at bedtime? This could be due to their circadian rhythm being off, or you are trying to put them to bed too early. To help get your baby’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock back on track, you will want to make sure they get enough natural sunlight and daylight. Make sure you get your baby out and about in the hustle of the day.
Your baby will give you cues when they are sleepy. This can be eye rubs, yawning, less energetic. Noticing these cues will help you get a better idea of a proper bedtime for your baby.
If your baby is hungry throughout the night it will make it harder for them to sleep. Increasing the food intake before bed can help increase the duration between needed feedings at night. If you still need to do nighttime feedings, make sure you don’t make them too stimulating. Too much fun in the middle of the night can make babies want to wake up for the day.
Naps too close to bedtime can also cause babies not to sleep at night. Trying to lengthen the time awake before bed can help a baby sleep more soundly.
Not having a bedtime routine can make it to where your baby doesn’t know it is time to fall asleep. Having a bedtime routine can help your baby know it is time to wind down and know that it is bedtime. A generic bedtime routine can start an hour before your baby will be asleep. Starting with a soothing bath, lotion, and clean diaper. Then pajamas, and swaddle to then follow a feed, rock, story, or song whatever your baby prefers. Also make sure you don’t have too much stimulation before bedtime. This can rile up your baby causing them to be less keen to be calm to fall asleep.
Other things that can cause disruption to your baby’s sleep could be your baby is unable to self soothe, or you are too quick to respond to your baby when they fuss at night. If your baby fusses just a little give them some time to calm themselves, reposition, and fall back asleep on their own. Make sure that both parents are on the same page when responding to the baby at night and keep those techniques consistent.
There are lots of things that can affect our baby’s sleep at night. Thankfully there are things you can try to do to help get your baby back to sleeping more soundly at night. For babies less than a year old sleeping through the night can mean only having 6-8 hours of sleep in one chunk. So don’t be discouraged if your baby only starts with six hours at a time at night. Sticking to a routine even a flexible one can be helpful in getting your baby ready for sleep at night. If it is a sleep regression your child is going through then remember that this too will pass.
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Same parents, second child, first child slept great, second child won’t sleep at all. Help! Find strength and comfort in the fact you are not alone.
To alleviate some of the stress of having a baby who is irregular in routine, just know that everyday is going to be a little bit different then the last. This doesn’t mean you throw out the routine altogether, just make it more flexible.
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