Baby Sleep Issues

Its not uncommon that baby sleep issues stress parents. Here are three common sleep problems and pointers to deal with them.

Last Updated: 22 October 2020

Baby Sleep Issues
Baby Sleep Issues

Every baby is unique, so is his or her sleep behavior and patterns. Until you get to understand what your baby’s unique sleep preferences are, you might see yourself struggling with your baby’s sleep issues. In addition to preferences, your baby might also be facing sleep problems which can leave you stressed. Here are the three common sleep problems in babies:

Is your baby sleeping enough?

In the first few months, babies are pictured to be sleeping most of the time than anything else. If this doesn’t sound like your baby’s way, you might want to cross-check if your baby is getting enough sleep.

How long should your baby sleep?

Newborns undergo constant physiological developments and how many hours of sleep they need keeps changing with months. Again, what one baby requires may be higher or lower than another baby of the same age. Hence, it is important to follow your baby’s cues to understand if she has a contented sleep or is sleep deprived.

Here are the average sleep hours for babies below twelve months:

·         0 to 3 months

Newborns are still adjusting to the environment outside of the womb. In the first few weeks, they are learning to adapt to the daylight, the sounds around, the temperature, and the sensations of touch. They might not essentially understand the day and night cycle yet.

Up until 3 months, babies sleep anywhere between 16 to 20 hours a day. This is the total hours of sleep but doesn’t mean a baby is to sleep for 16 hours continuously. They wake up intermittently several times to take feed, but they will soon fall again to sleep quickly.

At this phase, babies do not have a definite sleep pattern.

·         3 to 6 months

Babies between 3 and 6 months need around 10 to 18 hours of sleep in a day. They could be beginning to show distinctive day and night sleep patterns, mostly 2 or 3 naps in the day for about 2-3 hours each and longer sleep hours at night for about 8 to 14 hours.

It is common for babies at this age to still wake up in the middle of sleep to take feeds.

·         6 to 12 months

By 6 months, babies become aware of day and night. They need around 14 hours of sleep in a day. They take a couple of shorter naps in the day and they may continue to wake up in the night.

How do you identify if your baby is sleeping enough?

If your baby’s sleep hours follow within the average total sleep time, you shouldn’t worry. If your baby below 12 months of age is not having at least one nap in the daytime or if the total hours of sleep is significantly low, below the average hours, it is likely that he or she is facing sleep issues and needs a medical consultation to rule out any other underlying sleep problems.

Is it difficult to settle your baby to sleep?

Babies have a natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Well-fed and active babies fall asleep on their own without the need for the parents to settle them to sleep. However, some babies make pre-sleep time hard for the parents for a number of reasons. If it is difficult to put your baby to sleep for more than 30 minutes, check if you are doing the following right:

·         If you follow a bedtime routine like giving bath and a story time, make sure that these rituals are not making your baby get excited instead of calming down. Some babies can react to night bath differently. They may get excited and thus they are more likely to be awake for a long while after bath.

·         Make sure the room curtains are done and the lights are low. Also, observe the sound preference of your child. Unknown to many, complete absence of sound can be one of the sleeping issues to your baby. In the womb, they have been used to listening to a variety of sounds and environments which are completely devoid of sounds can be a sleep disturbance to some.

·         Babies have individual preferences for settling them to sleep like rocking, swaddling, nursing etc. Choose one which you think works best and follow it routinely.

Does your baby wake up in the night?

Most parents will answer yes. It is common for young babies to wake up during nights and needs a parent to settle them to sleep again. Babies below 6 months of age may need a round of feeding in the middle of the night even if they’ve had a full feed just before dozing off, which is absolutely normal.

Babies below 12 months might experience a separation anxiety from their parents during long hours of sleep which can wake them up. A gentle pat or cuddling should make them to sleep again in a few minutes. This behavior is normal as well.

On the contrary, if settling them back to sleep after waking becomes difficult, or if the number of times your baby wakes is more than 3-4 times, it can become a sleep issue to you. Being disturbed often during your sleep can make you fatigued and stressed to face the chores of the following day.

 

To gain clarity of what kind of sleep issues your baby is showing up, observe a chart of your baby’s sleep-wake routine for a week. This will give you a fair idea of where the problem is and how you can solve it. 

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