Many new parents believe that their new baby will sleep when she's tired, but they soon find out that a baby's sleep is often a bit more complicated than that. Below, we've addressed five of the top sleep concerns that most new parents have along with some tips for how to address each:
- Falling asleep while being held, carried or in a baby carrier
- Waking to feed all night
- Falling asleep easily but waking all night
- Sleeping well but waking too early
- Great sleeper and suddenly sleeps terribly
Your baby only falls asleep while being held or when carried in a sling or wrap.
One of the first things you want to do with a new baby is bond and holding your baby is a great way to do just that! In the beginning, this is wonderful, but sometimes this lasts for months making it difficult for some moms to do something as simple as go to the restroom or take a shower. Basic hygiene. When a baby needs to be held or worn closely by mom or dad in order to fall asleep or stay asleep, she may have developed a sleep association with being held. In other words, your arms have become your baby’s “bed.” One potential solution is to have your spouse or partner do the bedtime routine and put baby in a bassinet or bed. Sometimes getting your baby used to another caregiver can help break this sleep association with your arms. With sleep associations, in general, you want to put baby to sleep the same way they will wake up between sleep cycles.
Your baby wakes and wants to feed all night.
When your baby is a newborn, eating throughout the night is normal. Their tummies are still quite small, so they usually need frequent feedings. Once your baby is about 4 months old, he should be able to shift most of his feeing to during the day and start sleeping for longer stretches (usually up to about 4-6 hours). By six months of age, most babies can get through the night with just one or two feedings (sometimes less), and some babies (particularly breastfed) will still need to feed once per night up to 12 months. If your baby is sleeping longer during the day and not feeding enough, then it may be that he's making up for it at night. If this is the case, then you will want to work on shifting his schedule by shortening naps and offering more feedings during the day.
Your baby will go to sleep at bedtime, but then wakes up throughout the night
If any night waking is not due to hunger, then it is likely that your baby has some unresolved sleep associations or has not quite learned how to back to sleep on his own. How is your baby going to sleep at night? If she's not going to sleep fully awake, then you will want to work on helping your baby learn the skill of going to sleep on his own without your help. This will help him to also be able to put himself back to sleep when he wakes at night, which will lead to fewer night wakings that aren't related to feeding.
The quality of your baby’s mattress is also a major component for your baby to feel comfortable enough to sleep better all night. We spoke with Jamie Cantalupo, the President of Nook Sleep, who spoke on their mattresses. Nook's signature proprietary Pebble fabric promotes oxygen flow to help your baby breathe better. This breathability is an important factor to help babies sleep better and longer. Cantalupo additionally highlighted that Nook’s Pebble crib mattresses – have no inner-springs, no plastic covers – just simple, safe non-toxic organic materials. Their mattresses are developed to also offer the ideal firmness and structure for a growing body and spine, along with temperature-regulating materials that promote restful sleep and of course their soft and snuggly Pebble surface for comfort.
Also make sure your baby’s sleep space is safe and comfortable enough to sustain a full night’s sleep, including white noise and ideal room temperature.
Your baby is sleeping pretty well, but waking up far too early.
Early waking is for sure one of the most frustrating sleep problems we hear about. There can be a few different reasons for early waking. If your baby's bedtime is too late and your baby is getting overtired, then early waking will often be a result. Or, it might that your baby is napping too much during the day and not getting enough awake time, which means she needs less sleep at night and will wake early. Often, making some small adjustments to your baby's schedule can help with early waking. We also recommend treating early waking like a night waking and work with your baby to understand that it's not yet time to get up for the day.
Your baby has been a good or great sleeper so far, but suddenly starts sleeping terribly.
There are many reasons why your great sleeper has suddenly started sleeping terribly. It may be due to health or developmental factors like a growth spurt, reaching a new milestone (like rolling over), a sleep regression, illness or teething. In these instances, we recommend trying to remain consistent with your sleep routines and to be patient and wait it out. With bigger disruptions like moving, having a new baby or extended travel, you will want to try to get back to your sleep coaching or routines as soon as possible. Consistency and reassurance about sleep expectations will help your baby to get back to sleeping well.
While we have covered the most common sleep concerns, babies go through many different changes in the first few years of life and you may be having another issue not on this list. If that’s the case, know that you are not alone!
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Download the popular free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, to get started today.