Help, My Baby Is Not Sleeping

Helpful tips for a good night sleep

I haven’t had much sleep these past few weeks.  My youngest son’s sleeping habits are not in sync with those of the rest of the family.  I know that many parents go through this and I want to share how we are dealing with our little night owl and some helpful tips.  

A baby that is not sleeping napping or resting, in a manner that also allows parents to relax and function, can put much stress on the whole family.  Tired parents, maybe with other children and full-time jobs, can feel the heaviness from lack of sleep and lots of tasks to do.  Older children sometimes get less attention and time to do activities because parents are too tired to function and can only do what is necessary.  Fortunately, for the most part, lack of sleep or irregular sleep only lasts for the first few years of a child’s life.

The reasons for irregular sleep in young children range from awareness, growth spurts, attachment, curiosity,  to simple things like hunger, wetness, teething, and colics. Understanding and planning could ease the frustration and exhaustion we parents, experience.   Remaining calm and positive is important. It is not good for the baby and you to be stressed out or overwhelmed.  

Set your mind on finding out what is causing the baby’s lack of sleep.   Take a notebook and write down what you see about your child concerning his/her sleep. Pay close attention to your baby, his/her things, the atmosphere in your home, other children, you and your spouse.  Do this because there might be a combination of things affecting your baby’s sleep. For example, your other children go to bed later. Alternatively, your spouse stays up doing something that gets the attention of the baby and, for that reason the baby doesn’t want to go to sleep.  

If you are not looking at everything, you can miss important facts.  Write everything down every day.  Don’t skip this step. Making notes of your observations could point you to new findings. Do this for at least two weeks.  Go over your notes periodically and at the end of this timeframe, consider your findings and develop conclusions.  

In my case, my findings clearly showed that my son enjoyed being awake late at night when his siblings are asleep, and he can have all the attention for himself.  In a few instances, I noticed that he fiercely fought his sleep to rush to the living room and be with his dad. He was asleep but suddenly wanted to get off his bed and kept saying “no” with his index finger.   It was funny and sad at the same time. After finding out what keeps him up at night, I took steps to let him know that in our home, 8:30 is sleep time.

Here are some techniques that I use that can help to put reluctant kids’ to sleep:

-Approach the situation with a fearless mentality.  Focus on helping your child find his rhythm and prepare your mind for the work ahead, the possible setbacks,  and the amount of work and time this will take.

Set aside a good routine that is full of love and patience and instills security.   Consider things like a good meal, a nice bath, warm pajamas and little chats and hugs with your baby.  

-Make sure your children have outlets that help them use their energy. For instance, babies can spend some time playing on their tummy, or using a toy like a jumper or a walker.  For toddlers, make sure you observe energy levels and provide activities accordingly. Taking a toddler to the playground, when the weather allows, is a great outlet to burn some energy.  

Limit naps & sweets – Keep naps to no more than two hours and ideally before three in the afternoon.  Don’t give your baby sweets after four o clock.

– Set your house on sleepy mode at least one hour before bedtime.  Dim all the lights and turn off any distracting electronics. Play some classical music and act sleepy too. Kids are more aware of our emotions than we give them credit for. They like to do what we do.  

-Offer a nice warm bottle of milk or breastfeed your baby.    Lay the baby down in his/her bed or crib and stay by him quietly.  If the baby cries and wants because to be picked up, try soothing him/her by singing a song, rubbing his back, talking in a low and calm voice.

-Make sure the room temperature is comfortable.  Cool temperature is best. Also, during the winter months, make sure the room is not too dry.  Try using a humidifier. It will help the baby breathe better.

– Share with your partner what you are doing and let him/her try to put the baby to sleep.  Don’t interfere unless you are asked to help.

-After the baby falls asleep, remember to take care of yourself and rest.  If the baby wakes up, don’t be discouraged.  You are doing a great job by trying to help your baby. Be gently persistent.  

If things are not getting easy after three weeks of trying, consult the doctor to rule out any medical conditions.   Always observe your child and adjust as needed.  Remember, one day your baby will sleep just fine, and all your family members will have a good sleep too.

Suggested Reading: The Power of Intention and Observation


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