Baby sleep problems are those, you can solve without turning to the specialist, unlike sleeping disorders. In order to determine, whether the baby’s sleep problems are not connected with the most common sleep disorders, you have to consider the daily sleep need of your baby and be attentive to the evident features of the sleep disorders in a baby.
Baby Sleep Problems or Disorders?
There are several most common sleep disorders in babies, which have both: psychological and physiological reasons.
Baby sleep apnea – a temporary suspension of breathing during sleep (called yet. OSA – Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome), often neglected as a source of inferiority and poor sleep and, later reflected in poor reaction and bad mood. Apnea is usually triggered by an obstacle in the nose or throat, significant for creating breathing difficulties: blocking the nasal passages or adenoids. If the air path is narrowed, the baby wakes up due to a lack of oxygen. The fear provokes the discharge of adrenaline that awakens the nervous system and prevents the baby from falling asleep.
Night terrors – incomplete awakening with severe anxiety shortly after falling asleep. The child is not able to recall any of that in the morning. Since the baby is crying and gets very scared through the night, parents get worried about the reasons for the night terrors, which are usually observed between 3 and 8 years. This problem occurs in toddlers due to the wider specter of the emotions and experiences, gained through the day.
Violation of rhythmic movements is common in children of one year or less. A child can lie flat, raise the head or the upper body, then sharply flop back on a pillow. The syndrome of rhythmic movements can engage hands and knees (swinging). These symptoms usually occur before falling asleep.
Anything, preventing your baby from getting the necessary quantity of sleep hours may indicate one of the sleeping disorders.
How Much Sleep does my Baby Need?
The average daily need for sleep in children is as follows: up to 3 months – 16-20 hours; 6 months – 14.5 hours; 12 months – 13.5 hours; 2 years – 13 hours; 4 years – 11.5 hours; 6 years – 9.5 hours; 12 years – 8.5 hours.
These are the guiding numbers and in case your baby is active through the day, doesn’t have the behavioral deviations, and doesn’t seem tired – the sleeping problems are more likely to be connected with your demands on getting your baby to sleep. Means the baby won’t sleep as you expect her to. And it results in the deviation of your sleeping schedule, which in its turn may affect the way you concentrate on taking care of your baby.
Who Really has the Sleeping Problem – the Mother or the Baby?
Many new mothers seek solutions to the baby’s sleep problems, but it turns out that they expect too much from the baby, whose sleep mechanisms depend on the way the parents participate in the issue. Perhaps, you’re trying to get your baby to sleep right at the moment and came across these lines and need the immediate solution. Before resolving baby sleep problems – you have to satisfy all the primary needs of the baby to make sure you’ve done everything. You will be surprised, but these actions may resolve the baby’s sleep problems in the majority of cases.
- Commodity. Make sure your baby takes a comfortable position and there’s nothing that may prevent her from falling asleep. No upside down hanging, no straight sitting. Try to have your baby as comfortable as you would need to fall asleep. Remember – the babies got used to all the positions, while being inside of you, so for the first three months they are not so demanding as later. I can’t even sleep while sitting… My daughter used to fall asleep at her 6 months while sitting on my arm straight up with her legs hanging down. But still – make sure there are no irritating seams, disturbing tags.
- The temperature of the environment. It is natural for the baby falling asleep in the arms of the mother (or father). Although many pediatricians suggest that the comfort temperature of the environment for the baby is +64,4 °F under the blanket, I would disagree that +64,4 °F has something to do with comfort. One of the sleep problems may occur at putting your baby into her cradle: she’d wake up at once and start crying. And you simply can’t get your arms liberated. The reason for that is simple: the baby is COLD! She is begging you to get her back into the warm arms “Mommy, hold me tight, I’m so cold there on my own”. She came out of the +98,6 °F! +77 °F is 21 degrees colder than the infant’s comfort temperature. They feel warm next to your body and it’s natural. Provide something warm to them, make them feel cosy. And vice versa for the heat. If you are melting in the sun – your baby, probably also does. Take your baby away from the straight Sun rays – the baby can’t take the sunbath yet.
- Feeding. If you are breastfeeding – everything is simple: WHO recommends to breastfeed on demand, so don’t be afraid to overfeed your baby. Maybe it would become a bit chubby till you stop breastfeeding, but that is all right – it’s a brown fat, reserve for a case you… are not available anymore. So try to feed your baby – this is my #1 method for getting my baby to sleep. By the way – it gives your baby the sense of safety. Everything is a bit more complicated with formula. You can overfeed, so you’d have to observe the nutrition schedule.
- Wet diaper, full of poo diaper, too tight diaper, too hot diaper, sensitive irritated skin. Think of your baby like of yourself: would you feel fine in a pee bag, all wet or pooped to the bones? I guess, the baby feels near the same. The dry and clean diaper may win you hours of calm sleep.
- Stomach aches (aka baby colic). Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do. Weird, but it would immediately stop as the baby turns three months. Maybe, it’s a natural way they make us feel sorry for them and have us closer, train us to be patient and devoted? Baby colic seem to have a schedule – normally appearing in the evening, by 8 pm, three times per week for three months. You may be dieting, feed your baby as recommended, give her the dill water, put a warm cushion, but you may never find out what exactly helped. Most mothers admit that putting the baby close to your body, breastfeeding her, hugging her, letting her sleep in your arms – is something that may solve baby sleep problems. But not yours.
- Check, if it’s really time for your baby to sleep. It may happen you have forgotten to count hours, or you baby simply doesn’t need that much napping during the day. Don’t force the baby to sleep – she would naturally fall asleep, when exhausted, in case she has no sleep issues.
The Ways to get your Baby to Sleep
Any full-time mother is concerned about the baby’s sleep problems and starts to think her baby has sleeping issues just because the baby is crying before going to sleep or at waking up. You have to understand, that this problem occurs because their mechanisms of falling asleep are not yet in place and it’s you, who has to become the conductor of the baby from reality to dreamland and guide the baby back. That is all. Love your baby! Sleeping problem is not a problem if there’s a bed and a caring mother around. Just don’t get irritated – your baby is very sensitive to your emotions.
Tips on Getting your Baby to Sleep:
- If you calm your breath down and breathe in deeply, letting your baby hear the waves of serenity – the baby will repeat the way you breathe, the way she used to while in a womb.
- The white noise of the TV, hairdryer sound, calming music would calm the baby down. The sound of the sea surf is known for that calming effect.
- Add the repeated actions that later become a sleeping ritual. As you see your baby falling asleep – start caressing the limbs of the baby gently, slowly touching the head. The baby will remember the feelings and your physical contact will become the symbol of going to sleep. The warm relaxing bath may also become a part of a pre-sleeping ritual.
- Turn off the lights! Though the smaller babies are able to fall asleep wherever and whenever – the bright light may be disturbing for the sleeping mood.
- Try to avoid sharp sounds: the much the babies like white noise the little they like sharp, sudden sounds (clapping, knocking, whistling, ringing etc.)
Had All done? Sweet dreams… Both of you.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.