Sleep! As parents, this is probably your number one topic of conversation. The questions from your friends and relatives are endless: Is he sleeping through the night yet? How many hours does he nap for? Does he keep you up all night?
Your baby’s sleep patterns can directly influence the amount and quality of sleep that you get. With a recent study showing that more than 50% of women still experience excessive daytime sleepiness four months after giving birth, you may be wondering how to get your baby to sleep better so you can get some much needed rest.
Here at BabyHealthCareTips.net, we’ve put together a list of 3 common sleep problems and their solutions.
1. Your baby can’t sleep without you
This is probably one of the most common complaints moms have about their baby’s sleep (or lack of it!). A baby who can’t sleep alone, no matter how tired, will battle sleep until you rock them, pat them, or nurse them to sleep.
For some moms, this isn’t a problem, and they see it as just another part of normal baby behaviour. For others, however, it becomes an unbearable cycle of sleepless nights filled with endless rocking and nursing.
When your baby is between 4-6 months old, and you feel that you want them to learn how to self-soothe, you may consider trying ‘sleep-training’.
There are different types of sleep-training. Some methods, such as the Ferber Method, involve letting your baby cry for a few minutes in order to give them a chance to learn to soothe themselves.
Other methods, such as the No Tears method advocated by Elizabeth Pantley in her book The No Cry Sleep Solution, advise against letting your baby cry. Instead, this method advises following predictable bed-time routines and comforting your baby, until they are ready to fall asleep on their own.
A method that serves as a middle-ground between the two theories is the Fading method. This involves the parent slowly reducing the amount of involvement they have in getting their baby to sleep, until the baby learns to soothe himself.
Not all methods are suitable for every baby, and it is important that you research the benefits and disadvantages of each method, before choosing one that works best for you and your baby.
2. Your baby is too distracted to nap
Your baby’s eyes are sleepy and he’s in a cranky mood. He is obviously tired, yet he seems full of irritable energy. His eyes pop open at the slightest noise, and he is too distracted by the world around him to sleep.
If your baby is around 4-6 months, this behaviour is actually very common, and part of their normal development.
Starting at around 4 months old, your baby becomes more aware of what is happening around him. His brain is developing, his eyesight is becoming clearer, and his evolving motor skills mean that he can start purposefully moving his arms and legs, and even reaching for toys.
At this age, your baby becomes very interested in his surroundings, and the tiniest of distractions can prevent him from sleeping.
Look around at your baby’s sleeping environment. Are there too many brightly coloured toys on display? Is there a noisy window blind that rattles in the breeze? Can your baby hear you talking in another room of the house?
Try to find and eliminate all distractions to provide a calm environment for your baby to sleep in.
At times, it is not practical or possible to minimize all of the sounds around the house every time your baby needs to nap. In this case, you can try playing white noise sounds or even run the washing machine, so your baby has a repetitive background sound that masks any sudden noises that may startle him awake.
3. Your baby only sleeps for short naps
Does your baby only sleep for a few short minutes, leaving you with no time to get anything else done before he needs your attention again?
This could be normal, depending on the age of your baby. Babies have different sleep requirements to adults, and, as a newborn, have drastically different sleep cycles.
A newborn baby may have a sleep cycle as short as 50 minutes long, before waking up. Babies 3 months and older tend to have sleep cycles of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Ideally, a baby should move from one sleep cycle to another, without waking up.
However, this is not always the case, and if your baby is uncomfortable during the lighter sleep at the end of a sleep cycle, he may wake up. This is one reason your baby may only be sleeping in short bursts.
If your baby is a newborn, it could be normal, and your baby may just need feeding.
An older baby may be waking because they are too hot, too cold, hungry, or they don’t know how to soothe themselves back to sleep between sleep cycles.
Try to find out what could be causing your baby to wake up between sleep cycles, and experiment with different solutions, such as making sure they are fed before a nap or making sure their room is the right temperature.
If your baby is older than six months, it may be that you are putting them to bed before they are tired, and they are therefore not tired enough to continue sleeping between sleep cycles.
In this case, make sure your baby has plenty of activity when he is awake, and consider dropping one of their daytime naps if they are ready.