“Why Won’t My Baby Sleep Through The Night?”
When he was an infant, I often asked my firstborn this question. I asked it in a sweet voice. I asked it in a pleading voice. I asked it in an exhausted voice. But no matter how many times I asked, he never gave me the answer. I did not understand why my baby was keeping me up at night.
I can remember the night— and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about— when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. My son just would not stay asleep and I had hit rock bottom. I was exhausted from waking up multiple times every night and having to soothe him back to sleep. My husband found me at 3:00 am, sobbing away in our living room.
When our babies don’t sleep well, we tend to grasp at every possibility. We think it might be teething or gas. We worry that she’s too small and she needs to eat in the night, or he’s too big and he needs to eat more or he won’t feel full. The list of reasons is endless.
Are any of these explanations the real truth? Sometimes. But barring those times when your child has a burning fever or a new tooth coming in, the real reason most babies won’t fall asleep easily or stay asleep is that they just haven’t learned how.
The #1 Reason Why Babies Don’t Sleep Well
We all have habits that help us fall asleep each night. We have bedtime routines that we follow without really thinking about it. And we rely on these routines because we’ve learned that they help us transition from the busyness of our day to a restful sleep.
Most of us have a favorite position on the bed that we turn to when we feel sleep about to come. Some of us need a glass of water beside the bed, some need white noise or music, while others can’t sleep without an open window. Whatever the differences might be, these are sleep strategies, and without them, we’d have trouble drifting off.
The same goes for babies. But there’s one major difference.
Many parents who haven’t developed a sleep strategy for their babies will complain that their child can only fall asleep with the bottle, or while breastfeeding, or while being rocked or patted.
The trouble with offering just these types of routines is that it teaches a baby to associate their parent with the act of falling asleep. So when they awaken in the middle of the night, they can’t doze off again unless they are rocked or patted or given a bottle. They haven’t learned how to connect the act of sleeping with any other routine. And that’s why so many babies, and parents, are up at 3 am, exhausted, and crying.
Night waking is common in babies. But when they wake up and a parent isn’t there, they tend to come fully awake and cry. They don’t know what to do. Unlike older children who have learned to snuggle a toy or change positions to fall back to sleep, babies are waiting for that interaction with mom or dad.
And they’ve learned that crying not only allows them to express frustration, but it also makes mom or dad magically appear at the side of the crib.
And then they get rocked or fed and the familiar routine soothes them back to sleep.
But it isn’t long before both parents and babies discover that this routine doesn’t always work. It begins to wear off. Baby doesn’t always fall back asleep. Or she wakes up more often and can’t go back to sleep on her own. So she fusses more. And mom and dad sleep less and less.
And everyone starts getting cranky.
Creating Better Sleep Strategies
There are lots of sleep strategies I can help you teach your child so that her bedtime routines will allow her to fall asleep, even from a very young age. And when she wakes up in the middle of the night she’ll be able to go back to sleep all on her own.
Contrary to popular belief, babies are quite capable of sleeping through the night. And helping her learn those skills while she’s young will make future bedtimes , and nighttimes, less stressful.
A well-rested child is a healthier, happier child. And a well-rested parent is a happier and healthier adult.
If you’re ready to discover my tried-and-true sleep strategies for you and your baby, please let me know. I’d love to help you get a good nights sleep. Book a complimentary call with me today!