Sleeping is the most important thing a baby does over his or her first year of life. It's during sleep that your baby grows, develops a fully functioning immune system, and further develops, cognitively.
If you've ever had a baby, or even just babysat one, then you know that they don't always sleep when they should. Or, at least they don't sleep when we think they should. (There's a difference!) Even though it can be frustrating, there are several reasons why your little one won't drift off. Here are 10 of the most common reasons that your baby won't sleep.
10 They're Too Young
Your baby might not be sleeping because they're too young. Babies under six months rarely sleep through the night. Newborn babies might sleep between 12-16 hours per day, but it's never in one session. Instead, they sleep stretches during stretches of about two to three hours.
This happens because a baby's circadian rhythm, the internal, biological clock that regulates their sleep pattern, isn't fully formed at birth, so it takes a few months for their body to get into the swing of things. Give them time, they'll get there!
9 They're Hungry Or Wet
Babies really are just teeny tiny humans. They can't sleep if they're uncomfortable. For a baby, there's nothing more uncomfortable than a wet diaper or empty tummy.
If your baby isn't sleeping, the first thing you should check to see is if they're wet and/or hungry. It's nearly impossible for a baby to get to sleep if their core needs aren't being met, so that's usually a good place to start. Usually, changing them or giving them a bottle will help the drift back off to sleep.
8 They Have Acid Reflux
Acid reflux happens when the stomach's acid gets backed up in the esophagus. Most people assume that only adults deal with acid reflux, but babies deal with it too. Babies might even be more susceptible because their digestive system isn't fully matured.
If you've ever experience acid reflux, then you know that it's extremely uncomfortable. If you haven't, just imagine a constant burning sensation in the back of your throat. For babies, who can't talk and express themselves, it must be much worse, which is why it's really no surprise that it can impact their sleep.
7 They Have Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that prevents a person from getting a continuous stream of breath into their lungs. Sometimes, they may skip breaths and jolt awake, which is the body's way of making sure they don't suffocate.
You can imagine that a breathing interruption, of any kind, will impact a baby's ability to sleep soundly. But more importantly, sleep apnea can cause a baby to lose consciousness or contribute negatively to their development. If you suspect your baby suffers from sleep apnea, get them to the doctor ASAP.
6 They're Over Tired
Your baby might also be over tired. This means that they've been awake longer than they should have been, but aren't able to drift off. You can usually tell that your baby is overtired because they're acting a bit spacey, or they're rubbing their eyes.
You may then wonder why the baby doesn't just go to sleep, then. But it's not that simple. Being tired isn't always enough because they don't come out of the womb able to sense they're sleepy, and then let nature take its course. They have to learn.
5 They're Overstimulated
A baby's brain is constantly busy processing the stimuli around them. They're learning to interact with an environment outside of their mother's womb and learn how to essentially be a human, if you will. That's why it's important to talk to your baby and expose them to different colors, patterns, and environments.
With that being said, there's only so much that a baby can absorb over the course of one day. When they're exposed to too much chaos, they become overstimulated, and will have difficulty winding down at night.
4 They're Used To Sleeping In Your Arms
If your baby refuses to fall asleep in their crib, you might only have yourself to blame. Specifically, if you've been allowing your new precious baby to fall asleep in your arms.
Yes, it's tempting, but it's not good for their sleep routine, long term. If your baby gets used to only falling asleep in your arms, they will never want to get into their crib. Because they've been conditioned to associated bedtime with the soft, warm arms of their parent, their crib will always seem like the lesser option.
3 The Room Is Not The Right Temperature
Your baby spent nine months inside of their mother's womb. It was cozy and dark. Most importantly, it was warm. You might assume that your baby wants an environment as close to that as possible, but it's a little more complex than that. You see, your baby actually prefers different temperatures at different times.
During the day, your baby prefers warmer temperatures. At night, they prefer to be a little cooler. So, if your baby isn't sleeping, you may want to look to your thermostat as the culprit.
2 They Don't Have a Routine
Like adults, babies thrive when they have a consistent routine that regulates their daily activities. The sooner you get your baby on a consistent sleep schedule, the sooner their bodies will naturally fall in line with it.
If your baby's sleeping times are just completely unpredictable, it might be because you haven't established a routine for them. It's a little thing that affects more than you think!
1 Daylight Savings Just Ended
Even if you've managed to get your baby into a sleep routine, Daylight Savings can throw it off completely. Babies are incredibly sensitive to change. If they've been used to going to sleep a set time, which then gets shifted, they might not recover from it.
At least for a while. While Daylight savings can be a bit of an inconvenience, your baby will eventually adjust to the new change so that things can get back to normal. At least until it's time to set the clocks forward, next Spring.