Nothing is harder on a new parent than the lack of sleep. It affects parents hard and as soon as they bring that little baby home from the hospital. It is a point that has a lot of parents stressed before the baby comes, because everyone loves and needs their sleep.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done. Newborns wake frequently, and it is important that they do. Their tummies are so small that they need to eat often to grow and thrive. This means that mom or dad will be up every few hours throughout the night attending to the baby. Just at the point when mom is thinking she is going to lose her mind from sleep deprivation, she starts to wonder if there is anything she can do to get just a little more sleep at night. She becomes obsessed with sleep and the amount she is getting, or not getting.
It turns out that there are some things mom can do, because it is not always hunger that is keeping that newborn awake. There are 20 other things that may be going on with the little one that is keeping them awake. Figure out which one it is, and mom may get a couple extra hours of sleep a night.
We often forget that it is a hard adjustment for babies when they come into this world. One of the hardest things they have to adjust to is the temperature. In the womb, they were constantly in an area that was room temperature. They were comfortable and never experienced being cold. Now, they are in a place where the temperature is constantly changing.
Their body has to constantly work to adjust itself to the temperature. They won’t like being cold, so if they are cold at night they will not sleep. Mom is used to the changing temperature, so she may not notice that her baby may be feeling cold. A good rule of thumb is to dress baby in one more layer than mom would normally wear.
Just as babies are not used to the temperature, they are also not used to wearing clothes. They have only known the freedom of being naked, so clothes are a little overwhelming for them. Babies also do not have the ability to talk, so mom may believe her baby is comfortable in her cute little sleeper, when they are not.
It is always best to place your baby in kinder fabrics, things that are 100% are going to be your best place to start. Fleece and polyester can be itchy and can make your baby quite hot. If you worry about cotton not being enough to keep your little one warm, just layer up.
Along with sleep, diapers are another thing that can cause parents stress. There are so, many to change and it is not the prettiest job. However, diapers play a big part on if your baby is comfortable. Some babies are not bothered by diapers much and do not need as many diaper changes as other babies. They can sleep right through a blowout or a wet diaper.
Other babies will need a fresh, clean diaper to fall asleep. It is about a lot more than being dry though. Sometimes, in our beat-down and tired states, we may not be putting the diaper on correctly. If mom has put the diaper on too tight it will cause discomfort which will keep that baby awake.
17 Too Much Coffee?
Now, the baby is not exactly drinking coffee, but if they are breastfed, they may be getting some caffeine in their system. If the mom drinks coffee, which let’s be honest we need, some of it may filter through to the baby. This is not the same for all babies, and a lot of babies handle caffeine just fine with no change. Some babies can become stimulated by the smallest amount of caffeine.
If you drink coffee and you notice your baby is restless and you have a hard time getting them to bed, try cutting out the caffeine. We know, it is going to be hard, but you are going to have to pick sleep or coffee!
16 “Dream” Feed
This is one that may help a lot of breastfeeding moms sleep a lot better. Newborn babies do not have the ability to sleep all night, but they normally do have one long stretch in them. Sleeping through the night for a brand-new baby is about 5 hours. The problem is, mom wants this to happen at the time she is going to bed so that she can reap some of the benefits.
One solution is to put the baby to bed when mom is ready to go to sleep. If that is not possible, mom may want to do a ‘dream feed.’ A dream feed is when mom goes in and offers the baby one more feeding session without waking them up. It is not an easy thing to master, but when perfected, it may give mom just a few more hours of sleep.
15 Sleep Patterns
We put a lot of pressure on our babies to sleep, and that is not always fair. We don’t do it intentionally, we are just exhausted. It is important to remember that babies have their own sleep patterns that are biological, and there is not really much we can do about it. Babies are not able to stay awake for very long, and it is often this misunderstanding that keeps babies awake.
If mom misses the window to putting her baby to sleep, her baby may become overtired and will have an even harder time falling asleep. If mom tries to force sleep when the baby is not ready, the baby will fight back and not be able to sleep. Get to know your baby and their sleepy cues and they may sleep better thanks to it.
14 Day vs. Night
Here is the big one. Newborn babies are born not knowing their days and nights, they have them all confused. This could be because when they were in the womb they slept when mom was moving and woke up when she was sleeping. This could be a big reason why your baby is up all night. This bothers us because we have been conditioned to know that nighttime is for sleeping. You got to let that idea go.
There are some things we can do to help baby learn the difference between night and day. Keep the house full of light and day-to-day noise during the day and make sure nighttime is dark and quiet. Your baby will pick up the conditions that are necessary for sleep.
This one is a bit tricky and parents need to be careful on how they approach this one. Newborns often have a great ability to sleep through a lot of noise, but we want to be careful with how much noise we make. Anyone will wake up if they hear loud noises, it disturbs their sleep. However, we don’t want to make too much noise to wake the baby up.
The reason you want to incorporate some noise when the baby is sleeping is so that they get used to background noise. This way they will be able to sleep through almost anything and mom and dad will not have to tiptoe around when the baby is sleeping.
12 Lack Of Noise
When we want to solve our newborn sleep problems, it helps to think about what the womb was like and try and recreate the same environment. They are all new to this world and they were a lot more comfortable in the womb. The womb is not a quiet place. There is the heart beating, blood flowing and all the outside noise that filters through.
This means that the baby is not used to complete silence, and this can keep them awake. You may be trying to create a quiet environment, so the baby can sleep, but that’s because that’s how you sleep. The baby may need some noise. White noise machines are great tools to use for babies to get them to sleep. It helps provide a similar environment to the womb.
Sleep associations can be a big problem, and they may create ‘bad’ sleep habits over time if they are continued. A sleep association is something that is used to get the baby to sleep, something like breastfeeding or rocking are very popular associations. We all wake up during our sleep, including babies. We briefly wake up, check our environment and then go back to sleep. We often don’t remember doing it in the morning.
When this happens to a baby who is used to being nursed or rocked to sleep, they will need that same environment to fall back asleep again. This means they will cry out for mom. Stopping this will be hard with a newborn, but mom should try and put her baby down drowsy but not asleep to allow them a chance to learn how to fall asleep on their own.
10 Not Swaddling
Remember how we said that we need to try and recreate the womb when trying to get our babies to sleep? Well, swaddling is another thing that will help your baby sleep. Swaddling is an art form and it takes practice to really master it, so if you are expecting now it is a good time to start working on your swaddling skills.
Swaddling helps them feel safe and confined, much like they were in the womb. It is often a great way to prevent the Moro-reflex, which is when their limbs flail out. This reflex will happen in the baby’s sleep and it is often the main cause they will wake up.
It will almost never fail that when something is wrong with the baby and mom can’t figure it out, she should try burping. It is almost always the first go-to of many parents when trying to calm a fussy baby. If a baby is gassy, they are going to have a hard time going to sleep. All of that built up air in their bellies can make them very uncomfortable.
If mom is having a hard time releasing that gas, she may want to give her baby gripe water to help clear it all out. If mom thinks the gas is a little extreme and her baby will not settle, she may want to talk to the doctor about the possibility that her baby may have colic.
8 Tiny Strings
This is one that not a lot of parents would immediately think of, but it is happening more and more. Thanks to social media, parents are being warned about the possibility of tiny strings getting wrapped around their baby’s toes. This cuts off circulation and can be quite uncomfortable. Due to babies not being able to talk, they can’t tell you what is wrong, so mom and dad have to put their detective hat on.
If your baby is not settling and you can not figure out what could possible be wrong, check their toes. Check to see if they may have gotten a little string wrapped around their digits. This could be a loose string from their sleeper, or it could even be a strand of mom’s hair that has gotten mixed in.
7 Mom Gets Upset
It is normal and understandable that mom may get a little frazzled during the newborn phase, especially when she is sleep deprived. We don’t really understand what sleep deprivation does to us until we have a baby. However, it is really important that mom says calm when she is trying to get the baby to sleep.
Babies feed off of mom’s energy, especially if they are breastfed. They will sense that mom is upset, and they will feed off it. Dads out there, if you are reading this, if you sense mom is getting a little frustrated, please take over and give mom a break. Even if this means you take the baby for an hour-long drive so mom can have a little nap.
6 Stimulation Galore
Probably the biggest factor on whether a baby sleeps or not is if they are in the right environment to sleep. Babies are very easily stimulated, and that is because they are seeing everything for the first time and it is rather exciting. Mom and dad want to make sure they have baby in a calm room when trying to get them to settle down, because it will work much better.
You will want to make sure the room is dim, there is a white noise machine playing and everything is calm. If a baby becomes over stimulate by bright lights, moving objects and noise it can be a lot harder for them to settle. When you notice your little one getting sleepy, take them to the ‘sleep zone’ for them to fully fall to sleep.
5 Needs Constant Soothing
Sometimes, we can try every trick in the book to get our little ones to sleep and nothing will work. What this normally means is that your baby just needs to be with you. You are all the newborn knows, and they feel the safest when they are in your arms. This is when they will fall asleep. Nothing can frustrate a mom more than when she places a sleeping baby down and their eyes pop back open. It is exhausting.
When times like this happen just remember that these moments are fleeting, and they don’t last. Before you know it, your baby will be grown and won’t need your warm arms to fall asleep. You will wake up one day and miss these moments even though right now they are frustrating.
4 Hunger (Plain And Simple)
Sometimes, the solution is an easy one. Chances are what is keeping your baby awake is hunger; simple as that. Newborns have very tiny stomachs, and they need to eat every few hours to keep it full. Breastmilk is digested a lot quicker than formula, so it is normal for a breastfed baby to wake even more frequently than your formula-fed baby friends.
A breastfed baby may also be up all night because they are cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when a baby wants to be at the chest every few minutes without really eating. What they are doing is they are preparing for a growth spurt by trying to get mom’s body to produce more milk.
3 Routine Is Still Important
When you are expecting, you will get a lot of advice. One of those nuggets of advice will be to start a routine early. Get that baby on a schedule. While a schedule may be difficult to create for a newborn, it is never too early to at least try and start a routine. Babies are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and they have the ability to learn to piece together certain events.
That means if you start early and initiate some form of bedtime routine, they may catch on quick that it is time for bed. If mom does a bath, a baby massage and even a short story the baby will start to connect these actions with going to sleep.
2 Too Much Light
Imagine being in a dark room for 9-months. A room with no light, no windows and nothing to see. Then imagine leaving the room and walking outside, it is safe to bet that your eyes may hurt, and it may take them some time to adjust to the world. This is how it is for a baby. The womb is a very dark place, and while there may have been some light that filtered through for the most part it is dark.
When you want the baby to sleep, it is important to try and keep the environment dark, or at least dim. Don’t have lights shining on the baby. Remember, we are trying to recreate the womb as best we can. A bright light may also distract the baby who can see the shadows and wants to know what that is.
1 Air Irritants
You may notice a theme with this article, and that is we keep talking about the fact that your baby is brand new and is experiencing this world for the first time and everything in it. Their little systems were in a sterile environment and didn’t have to deal with all the stuff outside. By stuff, I mean dust, pollen, pet hair and many other things.
All of these can be known as irritants, and they may bother the babies breathing system. Don’t worry, they won’t stop breathing but they may struggle as mucous builds up in the nose. This can make it difficult for babies to eat because they need their nose clear to breath. Invest in a good air purifier and it may help wonders.
References: Health Line