August 6th, 2021

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Help me! Why isn't my baby sleeping through the night?

Being a parent is no easy job, especially if you have a baby that keeps you up all through the night. Whether they are playing or crying their eyes out, dealing with babies during the night is hard, as our bodies are required to get rest and sleep at night. We have seen people taking naps while at work because the baby kept them up all night. In this blog, we will look at what causes improper sleeping behaviours in babies and solutions for addressing these causes.


What causes your baby not to sleep at night?

Ok – without wasting any time, let’s get straight to some of the main reasons why your baby is not sleeping through the night:


Baby is not ready yet

First and foremost, lets understand that when babies are born – the first 3 months are known as the fourth trimester for a reason. It is the time when the baby is getting adjusted to the world outside of mother’s womb and needs constant support and nutrition to sail through. During those months, baby will be required to be fed every 2-3 hours and hence they will not be able to sleep through the night. Its only after the fourth month that their day/night confusion is settled, and they can go for longer stretches of sleep.

Lack of age appropriate schedule

As mentioned above, between the age of 3 and 6 months, babies begin to adapt to a sleep pattern. That means they will have specific times of the day and night for sleeping. It is important that we follow an age appropriate schedule for them to ensure proper wake windows, nutrition, activity time etc. It will also ensure that your baby is not overtired or under tired. Additionally, it is important to note that the baby can have a troublesome night if they sleep heavily during the day because it means that they will only have to sleep for a few hours during the night.

Non-conducive sleep environment

A simple change in the environment can cause the baby to lose sleep, and these can be simple things like too much light getting into the room or a shift in weather. Because they are in an unfamiliar environment, a baby can get anxious and confused that they would either cry or have their parent around them. If you have been sharing the same room with your baby and you finally decide to move them to another room, it may take a few nights before they can fully adapt.


Gastroesophageal reflux

Young babies may also be suffering from reflux or silent reflux symptoms of which include vomiting during the night or spitting out of milk etc. Reflux can be extremely painful and uncomfortable for babies, making it difficult for them to sleep. If you observe reflux symptoms, you should consult your paediatrician as soon as possible to administer proper medication.


Illness and teething

The reason why these two are put together is that they usually portray the same symptoms. When your baby is sick or teething, they are likely to get a high fever, among other symptoms depending on the kind of illness. Since babies can't explain what they are feeling, an illness can keep them up and crying the whole night. Note that babies begin to teeth as early as from 4 months or as late as ten months old – all the way up to three years! Therefore, if you think that your little one is in pain due to teething, it is important to consult your paediatrician for remediation.


Achieving a new developmental milestone

When babies learn to roll over, sit, crawl, walk or stand, they become so excited that they don't want to do any other thing but enjoy their new ability. The excitement tends to preoccupy the baby that they will want to practice non-stop, and not even sleep can stop them. That is because even when they are asleep, they will be dreaming about their new ability. The new development milestones are often accompanied with sleep regressions and its important to ensure that you provide additional support during this time to your baby.


Separation anxiety

Between 6 and 12 months, babies start to become more alert about what and who is around them. During this time, they start recognizing parents, primary care givers and can cry once they don't see you around. It is a normal development milestone and signifies that your baby’s mental and physical growth is progressing as normal. During this time, spend a lot of time with them during the day, play games such as hide and seek so they understand that even if you are not around for some time, you will be back.


Change in routine

You may find that your baby's routine changes because of reasons like illnesses. For example, your baby gets sick, and instead of having them sleep throughout the night, you find yourself keeping them up all night while checking upon them. Going back to their usual routine then becomes a challenging task, and instead, they get attached to the new routine, and since they are no longer sick, they want to play the whole night. Other than falling ill, traveling is another major reason that can mess with the normal routine and may result in a few off days post that.


How to make your baby sleep at night

Now that you know of some of the major reasons why your baby may not be sleeping through the night, here is some good news! Every reason mentioned above is solvable and you can enjoy a good night's sleep even if you have a baby. Some of the ways through which you can make your baby sleep better at night include:


Wait for the right time!

The baby is not developmentally ready to sleep through the night till at least four months. While it may seem like a never-ending time, enjoy this special time with your baby and follow some age appropriate tips to build a solid sleep foundation for when your baby is ready. Try swaddling, shushing, putting down to sleep drowsy but awake etc.

Make night times boring for the baby

Babies are quickly excited and distracted by simple things like television and music. To help them get into a sleeping zone much faster, you can always make the nights less lively by dimming the lighting and keeping the television off when feeding. Likewise, you should keep your young ones active and occupied during the day. This will help them understand that night time is for sleeping and daytime is for playing.


Make the baby comfortable

Baby can refuse to sleep at night because they are uncomfortable. Uncomfortable diapers, hunger, irritations, and high temperatures can make the baby comfortable at night, which can deprive them of their sleep. Always ensure that the baby is well fed and comfortably dressed for the night.


A visit to the doctor

This is a no brainer - you must keep the health of your baby in check, especially if they can't seem to sleep at night no matter what you do. As already stated, illnesses and conditions like gastroesophageal reflux can keep your baby awake the whole night. You can never know what is ailing your baby unless you take them to the doctor for a check-up. Doctors know all there is about babies, and they can tell you more about any illness that is resulting in your baby not sleeping well and what you can do about it.


Give baby some time to self-soothe before responding

Babies make some sounds while sleeping – it can be a soft moan or a loud noise, which you may confuse as crying. It is advisable that you wait for a few minutes before responding to your baby as she may be able to self-soothe her. An immediate response from you may in fact disturb and wake her up as she is transitioning between sleep cycles. When you hear your baby crying, you can wait a few minutes before responding. Do ensure that the baby is in absolute safe sleep environment so any other reason for a discomfort or cry is ruled out.


Identify the sleep crutches and get rid of them!

The most common reason why your baby is not able to sleep through the night is their inability to bridge sleep cycles. They are unable to bridge sleep cycles by themselves as they fall get used to crutches such as feeding, rocking, singing patting etc. to sleep. Imagine waking up and finding yourself in the bathroom instead of bedroom, you would be startled right? The same happens with babies as they find a totally new environment from what they slept in – and as a result end up crying and wanting the same environment again.


Consider sleep training

If your baby is 4 months and above, you can provide them with sleep training to help them sleep through the night. Through a sleep consultant, you can get a personalized schedule for your baby, details on sleep environment, nutrition guidance and a sleep training technique that matches your family’s philosophy. Good sleep training should be able to help your baby understand how to prepare for sleep and fall as well as stay asleep. They should also be able to differentiate between night and day.


If your baby is over four months old, she should no longer be keeping you awake all night long. Note that exhaustion and lack of enough exercise can hamper growth in babies and may make parenting a draining experience for you.


If you need an advanced help to make your baby sleep better at night, contact us for personalized programs that will help your baby to sleep independently and throughout the night. We follow only gentle sleep training techniques to ensure your little one can sleep well without a lot of tears!


Are you ready to take charge of your family’s sleep? Book a 15 minutes consultation to find more details.


Sweet Dreams,



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