Updated: Jul 28
We’ve all had those days where no matter how hard you try it’s just impossible to get your baby to sleep. You spend hours rocking, bouncing, shushing... just for them to have a 20 minute nap.
That feeling of anxiety that takes over as bedtime approaches because you know you’re in for a long night.
Your baby’s sleep is like a rollercoaster. It’s like taking two steps forwards, one step back. One day you think you’ve got it all under control, and the next it all seems to fall apart and you’re back to square one.
I get it! You’re exhausted, your baby is exhausted. So why won’t they just go to sleep?!
Here we look at the main reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping.
The basis to healthy sleep is sleep environment. Where your baby sleeps has a big impact on how well they fall asleep and stay asleep.
Too much light will block the production of sleep hormones needed to aid the process of falling asleep. Too much noise can be a distraction and interrupt sleep. Temperature also impacts your baby’s ability to sleep well. Are they too hot or too cold?
Click here to read more about setting up the perfect sleep environment.
This can be a common cause of sleep troubles, particularly in younger babies who are still exclusively milk fed i.e. breastmilk or formula. Put simply, a hungry baby won’t sleep. For the first six months your baby will need to be fed 3-4 hourly during the day to make sure they are not hungry at nap time and to prevent excessive feeding at night.
Once your baby is well established on solids they will need plenty of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats throughout the day to promote good sleep. At this point they will generally be ready to sleep through the night with just one or no feeds.
Find out more about how feeding and nutrition impact sleep here.
Over or Under Tired
Being overtired is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor sleep. If your baby has been awake too long, they will start to produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones not only make it difficult for your baby to fall asleep, it also prevents them from linking their sleep cycles and entering a nice deep restorative sleep, especially overnight.
On the flip side, being under tired can also be a cause for sleep troubles. Over the course of the day, your baby builds up sleep pressure which is essential for sleep. If you try to put your baby down for sleep too early, when they are simply not tired enough, they may become frustrated with your settling attempts or just lay in their cot happily babbling to themselves, refusing to sleep.
Over the first few years your baby’s awake time gradually increases. This means their sleep needs are constantly changing and their routine needs to adjust to compensate.
For age appropriate routines from age 3 weeks through to 3 years, download my comprehensive Feed and Sleep Routine Guide.
If you feel you have ticked all these boxes and you are still having trouble settling your baby to sleep, book in a consultation with me today, so we can discuss your situation further and put together a personalised plan for you and your baby.