Sleep comes so naturally to us adults, that when a baby fights it at every turn it can seem totally bonkers — who doesn’t love their bed?!
The fact is that being outside of the womb means needs aren’t met instantaneously, also, the barrage of sensory stimuli is constant; it’s not easy to adjust to this new life, and even tougher to wind down to catch a break from it.
Here’s 7 needs/stimuli-related reasons your little one may not be drifting off easy.
It seems an obvious one to be able to discern, but if you’re feeding on a schedule you may be less aware of your baby’s hunger cues – especially if they’re needing to up their intake due to a growth spurt. Plus, being super-sensitive creatures, a number of things can throw off babies’ normal eating patterns, like teething or changes to routine. Offer bubs a feed – or a top-up – to rule out a rumbling belly.
If your tot’s been to a new place, or missed a nap and been doing and seeing for a little too long, they might struggle switching off from all the excitement. The key here is to slow down the flow of sensory input; darken the room, drown out household sounds with white noise, and have some one-to-one cuddles without interruption.
They’re growing and changing
The first rule parents need to learn about routine is that there is no routine; at least not one you can rely on for an extended length of time. Babies are dynamic beings developing at phenomenal speed – so what works one day might not work the next. Don’t freak out, get flexible; and see if changing things up – like increased awake time, feeds, or naps – remedies the insomnia.
They need to move
Anything that mimics their time spent in-utero could help settle babies into slumber. Try movement – rocking, being walked about, toted in a sling or even travelling in the car – to replicate the lulling motions of the womb.
They need to suck
The sucking reflex is both calming and developmentally beneficial for tots; try relaxing your baby by allowing them to enjoy their favourite pastime at the breast, bottle or dummy.
They miss you
Your babe has spent nigh on a year inside you, so moments of solitude are more of a shock than a welcome opportunity to rest. Bear in mind that ‘teaching’ your baby to soothe themselves can only intensify anxiety – weather the storm with your lil’ ‘un and their sense of security will be stronger for it. If you’re struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements – and take friends and family up on offers to help out with meals, chores, or babysitting siblings.
They feel poorly
The fact that babies can’t talk makes it particularly difficult to diagnose an underlying ailment as responsible for their wakefulness. The usual suspects tend to be teething, colic, ear aches and colds, but make a note of symptoms, and if the struggle with sleep persists, run them past your family doctor or paediatrician.