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Why Won’t My Baby Sleep?! – Tips for Tricky Babies!

Babies and Their Unwillingness to Sleep – Why Won’t My Baby Sleep?

It’s unanimously agreed upon that sleep is a 100% needed, absolutely essential and healthy part of our lives. Sleep is extremely important in both adults and babies alike. Babies, however, needs sleep to help develop in a healthy way. Just as nutrition is important for their physical aspects and growth, sleep is just as important for their mental development and growth as well. Once your baby finally develops a regular and consistent sleep schedule, they will be able to gradually sleep longer and longer with a less awakenings throughout the night. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

However, not everyone’s baby is this cooperative and willing. You might be asking yourself the question: why won’t my baby sleep during the night? The answer might be pretty shocking to you. In simple terms, they might not even know when the correct time to sleep is. They might not even know the difference between night and day yet! How could this be possible you might be wondering? Well the answer is actually much simpler than you thought.

Essentially, when they are growing up, they weren’t able to tell the difference, simply because they couldn’t tell where they were while inside your belly. Something as basic as seeing light is completely new to them. However, eventually they’ll reach a point where they are able to understand the difference, which you can achieve through sleep training your little one. As they start to understand the world, they’ll be sleeping for the majority of the start. However, your child will eventually start to sleep more throughout the day and less throughout the night. This is a problem because it means less sleep for everyone. What you supposed to do for this situation?

Let’s start by taking a quick overview and focusing on key points on how you can get your little one to sleep at night.

How To Get Your Baby To Sleep

Keep a Daily Log

In your long journey of trying to figure out how to get your baby to sleep, having a notebook with a daily log of their sleep patterns and habits will be very helpful. You can even keep it nearby your baby’s bed so that you can note anything down, even in the wee hours of the morning. Trying to go back and recount everything in your busy and sleepy brain is going to be ineffective and a waste of time. By understanding your baby’s own individual patterns, you’ll have a powerful asset that can help pinpoint your baby’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to sleep.

Some things worth noting down:

  • The location and time of your baby when they fall sleep, feel sleepy, take a nap, wake up, eat, or cry
  • Total time that they cry for, when they cry, and the severity of it
  • When and how often they wake up during the night, including the total time it takes for them to get back to sleep, including anything done to help them sleep such as rubs, rocking them, singing, and so on

Give Your Baby the Opportunity to Fall Sleep on Their Own

There are a variety of different ways for babies to fall asleep. Despite what many of us believe, rocking them to sleep or holding them until they are asleep aren’t ideal ways to get them to sleep. For example, if you rock your baby to sleep every night, when they do wake up at night, your baby will expect you to get them back to sleep once again. This is why self-soothing is so important, because if they learn how to get back to sleep by themselves, once they do wake up, they’ll have all the necessary skills needed to get themselves back asleep without you helping. What you should be trying to do is laying them in their crib when they are very sleepy, but still awake. The trick in general to getting your baby to fall sleep on their own is to have them learn self-soothing techniques so that they can independently return to sleep.

  • Look for signs of tiredness in general, and use that opportunity to capitalize on the moment and put them down for sleep
  • If you typically rock your baby to sleep or swing them to sleep, or do anything to completely make them sleep before they’re put in their crib, now is the time to stop. You can still do these things, but don’t wait until they are completely asleep before putting them in their crib
  • If you nurse them to sleep, make the feeding right before bedtime a bit shorter, and try to take note of when your baby appears to be drowsy – such as when they noticeably slow down during feeding

Creating Your Baby’s Own Unique Routine

Once your baby turns six weeks old, having a bedtime routine for them will be very important. Having a routine is one of the first steps you can take to prep your baby for sleep training. Routines help signal to both children/babies alike that sleep is soon approaching. It will help them stay asleep longer and fall asleep quicker. Routines help give your child a sense of familiarity that eases them into sleep. It can help calm them down and put them in the right mind-frame so that they can capitalize on sleep. Below are a few tips:

  • A bath is a universal great choice for nighttime routines, as typically every baby will enjoy a nice and relaxing bath. If you’re not sure where to start your baby’s nighttime routine, you can’t go wrong with a bath!
  • Afterwards, you can give them a gentle massage. Make sure not to do this in a bright environment, as this might confuse them or keep them awake
  • Consider nursing your baby after a bath as well
  • Snuggling, rocking, or swaddling your baby are all other greats options as well
  • Consider singing a lullaby, or reading a story. It doesn’t matter if they can understand or not, the sound of your voice is familiar to them and can give them a sense of comfort – which is much needed to fall sleep for babies

Swaddling Your Baby

Swaddling your baby can help give them a sense of familiarity – one that reminds them of being inside their mother’s womb. Feeling snug and tightly wrapped together can instill similar and comforting feelings that they felt while growing up and developing. I know that some others might think that babies feel uncomfortable being so tightly wrapped, but this is a common misconception.

  • Because babies typically flail their arms everywhere, being tightly wrapped prevents this and can help them feel calmer. They spent a very long period of time in a position that is similar to swaddling, so it’s one that they are comfortable with
  • Make sure that the blankets aren’t nearby their face or it could potentially cover them and prevent them from breathing
  • Always check that they aren’t overheating or are too hot when swaddled. You don’t want to swaddle them in the middle of summer when it’s humid and hot out either

A Tired Baby = A Well-Rested Baby

Have you noticed that when you’re completely exhausted, that you usually sleep pretty well during the night? If you had a very long day and were active and occupied, you probably fall asleep pretty quickly. The same concept can apply to your baby. You can’t expect a baby who naps excessively throughout the day to sleep as well as a baby who truly is tired. However, it’s important to find a balance. You can’t make your baby too overtired, as that will potentially make them sleep even worse than usual. Striking a balance is key!

  • Try to ensure that your baby is at least somewhat active during the day, so that they will feel tired and react more positively to sleep. If the environment is nice, taking your baby outside at least one time each day could be very beneficial. If it’s cold, then you can practice swaddling even more!
  • Interact with them with colorful objects, toys, etc.
  • Make the environment bright and lively when you do play with them, but make it dim and relaxing when it comes time for sleep!

Tolerating Your Baby’s Crying – Why Some Crying Is Actually Good

Important: this does NOT apply to newborns. Newborns are not old enough yet to practice self-soothing, so trying to let your newborn cry will not only give you a headache, but it won’t help them in any way. This DOES apply to babies are older than four months. Give them a few moments to cry and see if they stop at any time. This is how you can help them practice self-soothing. Obviously, if they are crying more and more and wail like you’ve never heard, then you should check on them and address the situation and help them.

  • Try to listen to your baby and check their levels of crying. Low levels such as gentle cries or whimpers are okay. When they screech, you should absolutely check on them! It means that they REALLY need your help at that point.
  • When you do put them down to sleep, gentle whispers and talking will be very beneficial for them
  • Bedtime should be something that your baby anticipates in a positive way

Using Your Baby’s Sense of Smell and Sound to Their Advantage

Because your baby’s senses are still developing, they can be very helpful tools to aid sleep. Babies love soothing sounds and are very familiar with constant sounds. They heard their mother’s heartbeat for several months for 24/7. White noise is a wonderful choice to help babies feel calmer. It can help give them a sense of familiarity because white noise sounds very similar to the sounds that they heard in their mother’s womb. Read more about white noise and how beneficial it can be for babies and my post here.

Not only do sounds help your baby sleep better, but so can their nose. Great smells such as jasmine or lavender can help your baby relax and catch some ZZZ’s! Try to aim for a nice balance. Don’t go overboard and try to make the entire room smell. Subtle smells should be your goal.

  • Use white noise from something such as a fan, your phone, or even use a dedicated white noise machine help your baby focus on these signs so that they can get to sleep and stay asleep longer
  • Use sounds from nature, something peaceful and serene such as ocean waves or rain
  • Keep sound and smell levels on the lower end
  • Avoid loud sounds and overwhelming smells

The Importance of Being Flexible

Not every baby will be the same, and it’s important to realize that as parents, we need to be as flexible as possible when it comes to our children and their mental and physical well-being. Being successful in sleep training your baby and helping them sleep all depends on trial and error. There will be periods of time where no matter what you do, you won’t see results and your baby will make you lose your mind from all the crying.

As new parents, it’s impossible to avoid making mistakes. Mistakes are how we all learn and grow. It’s how we learn certain aspects about our children – what they like, what they dislike, how to handle them, how to talk to them, and so much more. Just try to be vigilant and take note of things that you feel would be helpful and approach any possible problem with a well thought out solution when it comes to your child. Sometimes, you also need to go with your gut feeling. I truly try to provide parents with helpful information that will have a positive impact on their child’s sleep. However, through trial and error, you will eventually have your own methods of doing things that will be effective in your specific child. That’s perfectly fine as well.

Having the knowledge to tackle your baby’s sleep isn’t simply enough to handle all of the issues and headaches that come along with your little one. If you’re practicing sleep training, this is why you need to be consistent and stay on track as closely as you can. Before you are ready to throw in the towel, make sure that you gave whatever you are trying to accomplish a chance in the first place. This means that you shouldn’t try a method and give up a day or two after you don’t see any results. Babies are much harder to figure out than that, and it will take a lot of determination, willpower, and consistency to achieve the results that many parents dream about. However, it IS entirely possible to get there! Keep an open heart and mind because at the end of the day, your little one is part of your family now and forever, even if they’re driving you crazy! 😊