How do you spot issue with your baby’s sleep and how do you fix them? We discuss the most common.
Babies really are tricky little things. Just when you think you understand them, they go and change. Small babies and routines can seem elusive at times and yet all the experts tell you a routine is the only way to stay sane.
Here at SnoozeShade, we are huge advocates of non-judgemental parenting. If it works for you, it works for you and never mind what anyone else says. But that's not to say we can't all benefit from some tips and advice now and then. So, do you want to hear more about the top three baby sleep problems? Read on...
What 'Baby Sleep Problem'?
Put bluntly, a sleep issue is only a problem if it affects you adversely. If your baby is up until 11pm each night and you're perfectly happy with that, then it's not really a problem. So, take no notice of Great Aunty when she tells you you're 'making a rod for your own back' each time you choose to rock your baby to sleep. If it isn't a problem for you, it shouldn't be a problem for her.
BUT if your baby's sleep is causing you and your family some kind of upset, then perhaps it could be classed as a problem. If you're exhausted and want to make some changes, then it's a problem.
So, what are the top three baby sleep problems?
Problem 1: My Baby Won't Fall Asleep Independently
If feeding, rocking, bouncing or patting your baby is the only way that they are able to fall asleep and you'd really like her to be able to go to sleep independently, then don't fret. There are ways to make positive changes.
Babies are creatures of habit and let's face it - who wouldn't want to be held as they fall asleep? You are only doing what comes naturally as a parent after all and comforting our babies is the first thing we want to do when they're upset or cranky through tiredness. Also, parenting is exhausting! So if you know that your baby is more likely to fall asleep if you rock her in her pram for 10 minutes first, then why would you not do that? You need down time too, right?
The problem occurs when your baby wakes in the night and then can’t get back to sleep by themselves. Every human wakes up at different times during the night and babies, just like us, sometimes need help to get back to sleep again.
So, the theory goes that if you teach your baby to fall asleep independently, without any of the rocking and cuddling they are used to, then they will eventually be able to do this for themselves during in the night. This assumes your baby does not have any needs to be met such as being hungry, wet or cold.
So, when your baby is ready for bed, give them a last cuddle and a feed and then put them down sleepy, but not yet asleep, in their crib. Pat their tummy and talk gently or sing to them, then start to gently leave the room. Eventually, they will get the hang of it and learn to self-settle.
Problem 2: My Baby Wants to Drop a Nap
Newborns sleep almost all the time. As your baby grows, their need for plenty of sleep starts to diminish and they will eventually not need one of the naps they have previously had. When babies decide to drop one of their daytime naps, it is always much harder for the parents to deal with than the child - nap time was invented for parents, after all. At first, many babies decide they want to drop a nap before they are truly ready, which can result in an over-tired and cranky baby, plus an over tired and cranky parent too. Signs that your baby is not ready to drop a nap include:
- Falling asleep on short car journeys
- Showing signs of being over-tired
- Finding it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime (due to being over-tired)
- Waking through the night (again, due to being overtired)
This is where a good sleep routine and nap routine will help you. Bear in mind that from around the age of 12 months, it is usual for your baby to drop one nap. The next step is that your baby wants to drop their naps altogether... this will usually happen any time from around 18 months but you may find that your baby will still need at least one nap a day until the age of three, or even four years. Getting them to agree may not be so easy though!
Problem 3: My Baby is Ready to Move From a Cot to a Bed
This is a key developmental milestone and a big transition for your child. It also tends to create problems for you. Whatever your situation (if you bed share, room share or baby is in her own room), moving to a big bed can be fraught with problems if you're not careful.
For more guidance on sleep training, we have compiled a short guide so you don't have to wade through lots of information.