Lack of sleep, or broken sleep can be debilitating and exhausting, so when a baby regularly has trouble sleeping it can understandably cause stress and upset for mum and dad.
The problems rarely persist for too long, unless there is some underlying medical reason for your child being so unsettled.
But if your baby is struggling to grasp sleep and is keeping you awake there are things you can try out to solve your baby
Get the setting right
Your newborn will want to be close to you and hear your familiar voice. But she has to learn that sleep time means sleep and not cuddle or feed.
Create a peaceful setting for bedtime. Close curtains, read or sing to her. Follow the same routine every evening to signal it’s bedtime and try to start each morning at the same time too.
Baby sleeping problems can be triggered by her being too hot or cold. Cold hands don’t signify baby is cold. Test her body. A clammy neck means she’s too warm and uncomfortable.
Noise and light:
Some babies don’t like the room too quiet and prefer soothing background noise – maybe a fan or music.
A night light, for example the light on a baby monitor, is comforting for many babies.
Many babies need a comforter (maybe a blanket or soft toy) to fall asleep and, used correctly, it can put your baby into sleep mode. Don’t let her have the comforter at other times and she’ll come to recognise that comforter means sleep.
Very young babies are ready to nap after just a couple of hours awake. Never stop her napping to fit in with your routine as an overtired baby will sleep more fitfully than a well-rested one.
Quiet night feeds:
Your baby needs to recognise the difference between day and night feeds so she’ll go straight back to sleep after a night feed. Day time feeds can be lively but keep night feeds very quiet. Don’t engage with, or stimulate, your baby, just feed in as low a light as possible making quiet soothing. A good, old fashioned “sshhh” noise can work wonders.
Keep bedtime routines short and simple: bath, nappy and pyjamas, followed by a story or song. Having things happen in the same order at roughly the same time every evening will help her get into sleep mode.
Don’t make a problem for yourself:
Parents who wait for their babies to fall asleep in their arms, or rock, or breastfeed their baby to sleep to sleep are inviting baby sleeping problems as baby will come to expect this every time. Put your baby to bed and let her fall asleep by herself.
Many babies like the feeling of being swaddled (your midwife to show you how). Many settle well in a swaddle for the first 2 or 3 months and are then ready to move on to sheets, blankets, or a special baby sleeping bag.