A major concern, aside from feeding and caring for young children, is sleep. Most parents have poor knowledge about baby sleep and what good sleeping habits are. Most of the time they just accept the reality of sleepless nights and aren’t aware of the ways to overcome it. Without starting with good sleeping habits, sleep problem would occur and it usually lasts up to two or even three years old.
Baby sleeping problems can drive parents crazy partly because parents feel they can’t fix it. Sleep in young children is so different from adults – you can’t make a newborn sleep for eight hours straight. If you’re happy for your child’s bedtime to be the same as yours, then that’s fine. However, if you and your child are suffering from lack of sleep, you may want to start prioritising sleep in your family. Find out which sleep routine is suitable with your parenting style and your baby’s temperament.
In a few cases, underlying medical conditions may cause sleep problem. These medical conditions can be dangerous so it’s important to seek help from your pediatrician. A majority of baby sleep problems are caused by behavioral and environmental factors, and are dependent on your baby’s age. In this article, I cover five of the most common baby sleep problems and tips to improve sleep.
1. Baby is Hungry
Newborns need to be fed every two to three hours and spend very little time being awake. During these early months, putting them on a predictable and flexible routine throughout the day – plus using Dr Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s to sleep – would help calm and soothe your baby.
2. Baby’s Bedtime is Too Late
To know when is a good time to put your baby to bed is to review how many of hours of sleep she needs for her age. Usually a good time to put your baby to sleep is between 7pm and 8pm. When your baby goes to bed late, she gets into a state of overtiredness. This is a state where your baby suddenly becomes wired, hyperactive and energetic even though he was showing signs of sleepiness just a while ago. The remedy for this is to pick an earlier bedtime and help your baby wind down by introducing some soothing, low-key bedtime rituals.
3. Baby’s Bedtime and Wake Up Times Are Irregular
Our biological clock or circadian rhythm runs on a 25-hour cycle. It will reset to 24 hours everyday when we bask in the morning sun. Most babies develop strong circadian rhythm when they are 12 weeks old, though some take a little longer time. Make sure your baby gets exposed to sunlight during the early morning and that he wakes up about the same time every day. This encourages his body clock to work for him hence easier to time his sleep and naps throughout the day.
4. Baby Doesn’t Nap in the Day
This is a recipe for disaster. The number of day naps and hours of sleep depends on their age. When your baby skips a nap and goes into the overtiredness state, you’ll most likely encounter meltdowns by early evening. He will cling to you because he’s too tired and nothing else can calm him down. When he finally sleeps, it will be in a ‘tense tired’ mode instead of ‘calm tired’ mode. As a result, this leads to frequent night awakenings or early rising (before 6am). Find out what the age-appropriate sleep needs is for your baby’s age and do your best to protect their naps – even if it means using motion like rocking or car rides to get them to nap. It’s better than no naps at all.
5. Baby Has Sleep Props
In other words, your baby isn’t able to self-soothe. How important this is depends on the parents’ expectation and values about nighttime parenting. In Western countries, it’s expected of the baby or toddler to sleep alone. In Asian culture on the other hand, helping baby to sleep by rocking or breastfeeding is a normal thing to do. Co-sleeping as a way to cope with the night feeding is very common and well accepted in our culture. Where do we draw the line? When the rocking or breastfeeding to sleep is required at each night awakening and cause sleep disruption to the family, perhaps it is time to review the best way for everyone to get a good night’s rest. There are various methods to teach your baby independent sleep. Choose one that resonates well with your parenting style and responsive to your baby’s needs. Then be consistent with the method chosen.