7 reasons your baby may not be sleeping.
Your little one doesn’t have a set wake up time
Babies have no idea what the time is – only you do, so it’s up to you to show your little one when it’s still meant to be ‘sleep time’ and when it’s ‘wake up time’. Many parents let their babies lead the way when it comes to wake up time, but the truth is, if you don’t show your baby and help set their little body clocks as to when it’s wake up time and when it’s still sleep time, they will have no idea, therefore being very likely to wake earlier and earlier until you have a problem on your hands with a little one waking very early in the morning to start his/her day! You are in the lead, and you have to guide your baby. You are the adult and the parent, and your baby is following you. If you help your baby understand the difference from an early age, you help set your baby’s little body clock, and your little one will naturally learn that ‘this is still sleep time’ and ‘this is wake up time’. Babies cannot be expected to know this for themselves, as with mostly everything in the beginning of their lives, they learn from you. If you do not show them and do not guide them, they will never learn and never know, and you may have a little one waking you up with the roosters each morning.
Your little one isn’t getting enough sleep or the right quality of sleep during the day
Daytime sleep and nighttime sleep work hand-in-hand, so the better your little one’s daytime sleep, the better your little one’s nighttime sleep. You may think that if your little one sleeps well during the night, he/she doesn’t need to nap during the day or that if your little one sleeps during the day, he/she won’t sleep during the night. It seems counter-intuitive but this is untrue. Babies and young children need to sleep in the day. It is imperative. Without napping during the day, your little one will become overtired, and studies show that they will not be able to learn and develop at the same rate as a child who does sleep during the day. Your little one should be put down to nap at around about the same time every day. Babies love to know what’s coming next and when their needs are going to be met. By putting them down roughly at the same time each day, you help set their little body clocks and give them the comfort and reassurance of knowing what’s coming next, setting them up for a longer, deeper sleep.
No routine and your little one is left guessing what comes next.
Babies thrive on knowing what comes next. What are you up to this afternoon? This week? This weekend? You probably have some kind of an idea and, as reassuring as it is for us, that’s how reassuring it is for your baby to know what’s coming next too. Without having some kind of structure to your little one’s day, they have no idea what to expect next. Twelve hours of not knowing what comes next is quite unsettling, for any of us.
Inconsistent or no bedtime routine in place
A bedtime routine is imperative. It helps your baby know that bedtime and sleep are coming next. It helps your baby calm and settle and turn it down a notch from their busy little day. It prepares them for sleep and for the night ahead. A bedtime routine usually consists of a bath, perhaps reading a storybook, the last feed of the day and a bedtime lullaby of your choice which will act as a sleep association. “Oh my, music… oh, time to go to sleep’. A bedtime routine should happen at the same time each day. No matter what kind of a day it’s been, a bedtime routine helps you reset and prepare your little one for sleep.
Your baby has become dependent upon you to get him/her to sleep
By putting your little one fully to sleep each time he/she needs to go to sleep, you are in turn teaching your baby that that is the way to go to sleep. Your baby will take you at your word. If you say, for example, rock your baby or feed your baby each time he needs to go to sleep, you teach your baby that that is the way to go to sleep, and he/she doesn’t believe there is any other way of going to sleep; only the way in which you have taught him/her. It makes sense then that when your baby comes to a lighter phase of his sleep cycle and finds himself in a different setting to the one in which he fell asleep in, he will wake up and wonder how he got there and need you to recreate the scene in which he fell asleep in. Think of it like this: imagine you went to sleep in your bed, all comfy and warm, and in the middle of the night you woke up to find yourself in the lounge on the couch with no pillow and no blanket. Would you just be able to roll over and fall back to sleep? Probably not, you would need to go back to your bed and snuggle up again in order to fall back asleep. The same applies to your baby; if you are putting your baby to sleep in a way that is different to how your little one wakes up (such as in his bed allowing him to drift off alone) then your baby will more than likely need you to help him fall back to sleep in the same way once waking during the night.
You go in the moment you hear your baby grizzle
By going in too soon you could be disrupting your little one’s sleep and even waking your baby up fully. Babies make a lot of noise when they sleep and as they pass through their lighter sleep cycles. By going in the moment you hear your baby, you could be disrupting your baby’s sleep. By going in too soon or as soon as you hear your little one rouse, you teach your little one that the moment they open their eyes, mummy needs to come get them. This, in turn, results in your little one waking up fully in-between sleep cycles and doesn’t encourage them to pass through and connect their sleep cycles by themselves. It also very likely means that if they wake a little earlier in the morning before their ‘wake up time’, they are less likely to learn how to play happily and entertain themselves until ‘wake up time’, and will need you to come in as soon as they’ve woken.
Your baby’s growing quickly and you haven’t adjusted accordingly
Your little one will be growing and developing very quickly, and it’s important to keep growing with your baby. Your baby’s sleep needs will change. Four naps will merge into three, then it will drop to two naps, and finally leaving one nap. Your little one’s feeding will change. From many feeds a day to fewer feeds per 24hrs as your little one’s tummy begins to get bigger and as he/she sleeps longer at night to weaning and eating 3 meals a day with milk, to only solids and 1 or 2 milk feeds a day. Stimulation needs will change as your baby gets older and your schedule will change too. There will be more time in-between naps and more time to play. It’s important to keep up with the changes and adapt swiftly or it might prove to be very frustrating for both you and your little one.