Baby Won’t Sleep – Things That Cause Baby Sleep Issues and How to Solve Them

Baby's standing in a white crib at home and crying. Medium shot.

Baby wont sleep in bassinet?

Baby wont sleep on back?

Teething baby wont sleep? If you have any of these issues, you will understand that baby sleep is different than adult sleep. A lot of the stuff that drives us crazy is developmentally normal behavior.

For example, newborns need to feed frequently (8-12 times every 24 hours), and the transition to longer, consolidated bouts of sleep is gradual.

In general, we shouldn’t expect babies to sleep for more than 4-5 hours at a stretch until they are at least 3 months old. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve things. On the contrary, there’s a lot we can do. Might your baby’s sleep troubles be caused by a medical condition? That’s possible, so you might want to review these common infant medical problems that interfere with sleep.

However, the aim of this article is to discover the reasons why your baby wont sleep and how to get baby to sleep without pacifier. This article will list the numerous stressors that can cause you baby not to sleep.

At the end, I talk about that controversy that every new parent faces — the “cry it out” controversy — and then I sum things up with a checklist of good practices for avoiding infant sleep problems.

1. Baby wont sleep in bassinet or isn’t drowsy?

It might be because your baby’s internal clock is out of sync with the 24-hour day.

First things first: Does your baby appreciate that nighttime is for sleeping? If not, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Most infants don’t develop strong, hormonally-driven circadian rhythms until they are 12 weeks old, and some babies take considerably longer.

You might assume that this is one of those developmental things we just have to wait out. But that’s not quite true. The evidence suggests we have help young babies attune themselves faster. If we lay the right groundwork early on, we may avoid some infant sleep problems later on.

Be sure to try these tactics:

  • Support your baby’s tendencies to wake up at the same time each morning, and expose your baby to daylight during the morning and afternoon.
  • Include your baby in everyday activities. The hustle and bustle of social life helps set your baby’s inner clock.
  • Avoid exposure to artificial lights before and during bedtime — particularly LED lights and other light sources that feature light from the blue part of the spectrum.
  • Experiments show that blue light is particularly effective at blocking the brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness. A little exposure to blue light can delay sleepiness for an hour or more. And it affects adults as well as children!

Child Psychologist’s Trick Any baby to sleep >>

2. Will your baby sleep when he or she is hungry? Probably not.

This is one reason why newborns sleep in short bouts. They get hungry!

What can we do about it? Not much, not when our babies are very young. They need frequent feedings in order to grow and thrive. But you can probably improve your own ability to sleep with smart timing. Dream feeding is a technique in which you provide your baby with a big meal immediately before you attempt to fall asleep for yourself. The idea to help your baby “tank up,” so your baby (and you) will sleep longer. For tips on this practice, read more here.

Another tactic is to introduce brief delays before beginning those middle-of-the-night feeds. For example, instead of feeding your baby immediately, you might change your baby’s diaper first. As babies get older, this might help them break the association between night wakings — which all babies experience — and feeding.

Do these tactics work? One experimental study suggests they do.

Researchers recruited 26 families, and assigned half the parents to offer their babies a big meal between 10pm and midnight. They were also told to avoid feeding babies immediately after they woke up during the night.

In addition, parents were instructed to expose their babies to strong cues about the natural, 24 hour day.

The intervention appeared to be very successful. Eight weeks after training began, 13 out of 13 infants in the treatment group were sleeping quietly from midnight to 5am (Pinilla and Birch 1993). Only 3 out of 13 control infants were doing so.

It sounds promising, but keep in mind: This is a small study that needs replication.

Moreover, the study design doesn’t permit us to tell which of the interventions were important, and we don’t know if the effect was long-lasting. It’s also unclear if going 5 hours without feeding is in the best interest of every 8-week old infant. But as long as your baby is getting enough food and fluids — and your pediatrician approves — these tactics are worth trying. For more information about nursing young babies, see this article about feeding infants on cue.

And if you are interested in trying out dream feeding, check out this evidence-based guide.

Child Psychologist’s Trick Any baby to sleep >>

3. Do you know how to calm your baby before bedtime?

Research suggests that some parents make the hour leading up to bedtime too exciting, and this could make it harder for babies to nod off. Rambunctious play and energetic talk can rev up your baby’s sympathetic nervous system—the system in charge of keeping him or her alert.

In addition, research suggests that screen time could cause trouble. In a recent survey of 715 British parents, researchers found that babies who spent time playing with touch screens (on phones and other devices) took longer to fall asleep at night. These babies also had shorter nocturnal sleep times. For every additional hour that an infant used touch screens, the infant was likely to sleep 26 minutes less at night. So researchers recommend that parents make the last 2-3 hours before bedtime quiet and calm.

But exciting interpersonal activities aren’t the only sources of trouble. In a recent survey of 715 British parents, researchers found that babies who spent time playing with touch screens (on phones and other devices) took longer to fall asleep at night.

These babies also had shorter nocturnal sleep times. For every additional hour that an infant used touch screens, the infant was likely to sleep 26 minutes less at night. The researchers didn’t collect information about when babies used touch screens, and can’t say for sure if touch screen use contributes to infant sleep problems.  But the blue light emitted by tablets and other electronic devices is known to delay drowsiness. So it’s plausible that this blue light, and the stimulating nature of media content, are to blame.

What should we do?

It makes sense to be cautious about screen time. It’s also a good idea to avoid excitement in the evening and to consider introducing a soothing bedtime routine.

4. Is irregular timing — or a lack of routine — is making it harder for your baby to settle down?

Young children may sleep longer at night when they observe regular bedtimes.  Research also suggests that children fall asleep faster, and spend less time awake at night, when their parents implement a consistent bedtime routine at night — like bathing, quietly dressing for bed, and reading a bedtime story.  So if you’re struggling with infant sleep problems, it’s worth introducing a bedtime routine. Indeed, in one experimental study, parents improved infant sleep problems after introducing bedtime routines. But are regular bedtimes really necessary to avoid sleep trouble?

Cross-cultural studies suggest otherwise. In many parts of the world bedtimes are fluid or irregular, and babies go to sleep without fanfare.

Indeed, it’s the norm among hunter-gatherer societies — the peoples whose life-ways most closely resemble those of our ancestors. And hunter-gatherers are remarkable for their lack of sleep complaints.

Child Psychologist’s Trick Any baby to sleep >>

It’s evident, then, that there is more than one way to achieve healthy sleep patterns. But before you conclude that anything goes, keep in mind these crucial points. First, irregular bedtimes can cause trouble if they lead to irregular morning wake-up times. If you wake up at different times each morning, it can disrupt your circadian rhythms. Maybe that’s why anthropologists have observed morning regularity among hunter-gatherers: They tend to get up at the same time each morning regardless of when they fell asleep the night before.

Second, babies might get less sleep at night — a deficit they’ll need to make up during the day. This isn’t perceived as a problem in many traditional societies, where babies are expected to take short daytime naps while being carried in a sling. Parents, too, may sometimes take naps to compensate for a short night’s sleep.  But you? If your schedule doesn’t permit this flexibility, irregular bedtimes could leave you short-changed.

So it really isn’t anything goes. Babies and adults alike benefit from waking up at the same time each morning, so that’s something to aim for. And when irregular bedtimes lead to shorter nighttime sleep bouts, be prepared to make up for lost sleep during the day.

5. Is your baby’s bedtime is too early? Or too late?

When should babies go to bed? It can be hard to figure out. Some parents overestimate infant sleep requirements, or try to force bedtime on an infant that isn’t sleepy. That’s bad for a couple of reasons. In the short-term, the baby resists bedtime, and everyone is unhappy. In the long-term, your child is learning to associate bedtime with the failure to fall asleep. It could be a recipe for developing bedtime resistance and insomnia  .

Other parents keep their babies awake too long, making their babies irritable. It can be an easy mistake to make, especially if your baby seems very active and energetic.  Isn’t that proof that your baby isn’t yet ready for sleep?  Maybe, but there is another possibility: Your baby might be hyper-reactive or “overtired.” If so, you’re baby’s behavior is deceptive: He’s not alert because he’s well-rested. He’s alert because his stress response system is stuck on high gear.

What to do? If you’re uncertain, review these signs of infant tiredness, and consult this article about the range of sleep times observed in normal, healthy babies. It will help you home in on your baby’s needs.

Then, if you suspect your baby’s bedtime is too early, try these gentle infant sleep training solutions. They are safe to use, and don’t involve any “cry it out” tactics.

 If overtiredness is the problem, pick an earlier bedtime, and help your baby wind down by introducing some soothing, low-key bedtime rituals. For tips, see this article about solving bedtime problems.

Child Psychologist’s Trick Any baby to sleep >>

6. Are you too quick to intervene when you think your baby has awakened?

Babies sometimes make noises–and may even cry out–when they are still asleep or only partially aroused. In other words, babies are “sleep talkers.” So it’s easy for newbies to make a crucial mistake — assuming that a baby is awake and signalling for attention when she’s really just sleeping in a fitful, noisy way. If you intervene under these conditions — touch and talk to your baby — you may be doing the very thing you most want to avoid: Waking up a sleeping infant!

That’s one reason to be cautious before interacting with your baby. And here’s another:

Video recordings of sleeping infants reveal that babies as young as 5 weeks can spontaneously resettle themselves after waking up in the middle of the night.

During the study in question, babies sometimes went back to sleep quietly. In other cases, the infants cried or fussed briefly (for about one minute) before going back to sleep on their own. But either way, these babies fell back to sleep on their own, without coaching or marked distress. That’s the sort of thing you want to promote.  So intervening too soon can backfire. You think you are being proactive, responding quickly so your baby will be able to go back to sleep quickly. But instead you are awakening a sleeping baby, or interfering with a drowsy baby who was about to nod off. Ouch.

To avoid becoming the cause of infant sleep problems, don’t jump in at the first signs of movement or noise.

Baby Won’t Sleep

Things That Cause Baby Sleep Issues and How to Solve Them’, ‘Baby wont sleep in bassinet? Baby wont sleep on back? Teething baby wont sleep? If you have any of these issues, you will understand that baby sleep is different than adult sleep. A lot of the stuff that drives us crazy is developmentally normal behavior.


Child Psychologist's Trick Any baby to sleep >>
Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *