As young parents, you probably have many questions. Some of the most common questions are those regarding infant sleep problems. It can be due to you worrying about your infant’s well-being or because you have trouble getting enough sleep at night. No matter what the reason is, you need to understand that babies sleep much differently than adults. And many of the things that drive us crazy are actually part of normal behavior during a baby’s development. Generally, most infants don’t sleep longer than 4 or 5 hours in a stretch until they are at least 3 months old.
Things that lead to infant sleep problems
While infant sleep problems are in most cases a normal thing, there are still things that you can do to improve the situation. In order to do so, you need to understand what causes those problems. For example, your infant might not want to go to sleep because it’s hungry. And most babies have their own sleep schedule. You need to be patient and experiment. You need to get to know your infant before you come to any conclusions. However, if you think that it might be health related, you should definitely consult with your doctor.
Your infant might be hungry
One of the reasons for infant sleep problems is that your baby might be hungry. And that’s one of the reasons they sleep only in short cycles. They quickly get hungry. It can sometimes be really hard on young parents to adjust to it. But there’s not much that you can do about it. At least not until babies are that young. They need frequent feedings in order to grow and develop.
One of the things that you can try is to give your baby a big meal immediately before you go to sleep. That way, both you and your baby will get to sleep for a longer period of time. Another thing you can do is not to feed your baby immediately when it wakes up. You can start by first changing its diaper. Or holding it for a little while. It should help break the association between waking up at night and feeding.
Your baby’s internal clock might be out of sync
The first thing that you need to understand is that your baby still doesn’t make a difference between nighttime and daytime. It wants to sleep when it wants to sleep. Most infants don’t develop circadian rhythms until they are 12 weeks old. And some take even longer. And that’s one of the reasons that might lead to infant sleep problems.
There are also some things that you can do about this. Your baby needs to learn the difference between day and night. And you can help it do so faster. So, encourage your baby to wake up in the morning. Start your playtime during that period. And make sure to expose it to daylight.
You should avoid exposing your child to artificial light. It can negatively affect its development. So, get rid of all the lamps and nightlights. Keep things you don’t need in a safe storage until your baby grows up a little bit. It will help it develop a proper circadian rhythm faster. And it will lay the groundwork for future development.
You need to bring a day to a close
One of the things many young parents do is play with their baby before going to bed. It’s a nice evening activity. We all enjoy it. But it can also lead to infant sleep problems. By making the time before bed too exciting you are making it harder for your baby to fall asleep.
Even though your infant might enjoy watching cartoons or touching your tablet, it’s not good for it. Tablet screens emit a lot of blue light. And it is making it harder for both adults and babies to fall asleep at night. So, before going to bed, avoid playing with your child. You can dim the lights and sing them a lullaby. Also, you can gently swing them in the cradle. But avoid raising your voice. And avoid exposing them to bright light before sleep. That way, your infant will be sleepy and ready for a longer nap time.
You need to keep a regular schedule
In order for your baby to learn to sleep during the night, you need to keep a constant routine. You should decide on one specific time when you want you and your baby to go to sleep. And you should stick to it. You should also repeat the same activities that lead to going to bed. For example, you might want to bathe your baby, swaddle it for sleep and read them a bedtime story. But you should do it in the same order every night. Over time your infant will learn to associate those activities with bedtime. And it will be sleepy by the time you get to a bedtime story.
Try adjusting the bedtime
If you’ve tried multiple things from this list and still have infant sleep problems maybe you should try changing the bedtime. Maybe your baby, for some reason, doesn’t agree with the sleep schedule. So, try and change things up. You can try and move the bedtime for a little bit later. You shouldn’t force sleep on your baby if it isn’t sleepy. You have to have patience with infants. And it takes them a long time to learn to stick to a schedule. It’s important to go slowly.
You can also try and get them to bed earlier. Just because you like staying up until 11, doesn’t mean that they do too. Many parents make the mistake of putting infants to bed too late. Mostly because they try to get the baby used to their sleep schedule. It can make them irritable. And it can lead to infant sleep problems. You will have to do more adjusting than them, at least when they are very young.