This is the most important question I ask my clients and a tell-tale sign of WHY their baby is not sleeping well. The 3 answers I get most often are fed to sleep, rocked to sleep and bounced to sleep.
I hear so often that if the baby is waking during the night then it MUST be hungry. For any healthy baby that is 6 months or older and has gained weight well, food is not the problem. If you have a baby who’s been struggling with weight and has any kind of health issues, yes, food might be the issue.
Humans are creatures of habit so if a baby has been rocked to sleep, fed to sleep or bounced to sleep then what they have done is associated the rocking, feeding and bouncing with sleep.
Therefore, an hour and a half to two hours into their night they’re going to have a wake-up. Everybody has wake-ups throughout the night that are totally normal and natural. But, if you have a baby that has been fed, rocked, or bounced to sleep they will wake again and again looking for that to put them back to sleep and be unable to put themselves back to sleep without it.
For example, feeding to sleep, which is by far the number one thing parents do to put a baby to sleep and it is the reason why the baby is waking through the night. They have developed a strong association between feeding and sleep and they wake because of this association, not because they are hungry. It can be confusing for parents to understand this.
You think your baby’s waking up from hunger, but really it’s the strategy that got the baby to sleep that they are looking for over and over. It’s nice that he gets food with it. That’s a little bonus, and I’m sure he appreciates it, but it’s more the strategy.
If your baby is struggling with many wake ups at night, I want you to stop and have a good look at how this baby fall asleep at night? That is the first place you need to look in order teach him to sleep well and through the night.
If you need help getting your little one to sleep well, contact me today. Together we can decide the best approach to helping your child sleep well.
It's not always obvious when a child is getting tired... Here's how to recognize "sleep signs" so you can get your child to bed BEFORE they become overtired!
The following question is from Trish, who wrote:
"Help! Why can’t I recognize my three-month-old’s sleep signs? No yawning, no eye rubbing. She seems to go from quite happy to very upset in a split second and then it takes awhile to settle her down and get her to sleep."
Usually when someone refers to “sleep signs,” clear signals that the child is tired, they think of yawning and perhaps eye rubbing. Some signs you may not be aware of though are nose scrunching and ear pulling, anything that has to do with rubbing the face.
Once a client's son kept rubbing his nose and he looked tired. She replied “Oh really? I thought he just had allergies.”
It’s easy to miss some of the signs of fatigue, but if your child is doing any type of rubbing or pulling, they’re definitely tired. Don’t wait for a yawn.
Trish’s baby seems to go from happy to upset at the drop of a dime. Her baby is probably very good at hiding her fatigue. Sometimes when they start to have feelings of being tired they’ll push through those feelings with perhaps more active play and maybe even get a little hyper. They’ll kick into “overdrive” and almost become a bit manic.
That squirmy baby, the one who doesn’t want to sit on your knee, doesn’t want to stand up, arches their back, crawls around very quickly, laughs one moment and cries the next is a tired baby and ready for sleep.
If your child is happy one second and crying the next, you might have to keep more of an eye on the clock than you do on your baby. A three-month-old like Trish’s baby can handle about an hour and a half of awake time. If she woke up at 8 a.m., then by 9:30, she’s most likely ready for a nap.
In this case, even if they’re calm and happy and not showing any “sleep signs,” I always suggest that it’s better to put them down too soon rather than too late. Sometimes the calmer the baby goes down, the faster sleep comes and it becomes an easier transition for them.
Keeping an eye on your child’s individual sleep signs, along with the clock for those who don’t show any clear signs, will definitely help your child sleep well.
NOW TELL ME.....
Can you tell when your baby is tired?
Post in the comments below!
Before we have children, our ideas about what it will be like and the reality don’t always match up. Many of us are starry-eyed and, let’s face it, a little naive, about kids and marriage when we’re starting out, and we invent “ideals” about what it means to be a good parent.
Sometimes we make decisions before we even give birth, claiming that our children won’t watch TV, or have sugar, or ever step foot in a McDonalds.
Before I had kids I said I would never let my kids play video games. Yeah, right!
Some of these are good ideas, and you might stick to them. But others can cause more harm than good. I got a letter the other day that really showed me how, sometimes, we hang on to these ideals even when they are hurting our family. This mother started her letter by telling me she was against any sort of cry-it-out method for sleep training. She had deemed that this was just wrong. But she went on to write three very desperate paragraphs about how her two-year-old daughter would not go to sleep at bedtime and woke up about five times a night, needing to be rocked back to sleep.
She told me that she was so tired and frustrated that she was going through the day feeling angry with everyone around her, even her daughter.
She said that she often yelled and cursed, and on occasion, she even felt herself getting a bit rough with her child.
She hadn’t slept in her own bed for twenty-two months, and (no surprise) her marriage was suffering.
My heart broke for this woman. Not because I felt sorry for her, but rather because she was so committed to this notion that her child “crying it out” was bad, even though that was the only way to fix the situation.
By hanging on so tightly to this ideal, she was actually hurting herself and her family.
Sadly, she couldn’t see that by NOT sleep training her child, her exhaustion and frustration were hurting the ones she loved the most. Which means she wasn’t parenting very well, in my opinion.
Sometimes, being a good parent means doing the hard thing; the thing that hurts you because you don’t want your child to suffer, even for a few minutes. But would you let your child eat only chips and candy because you don’t want her to be sad that she has to eat her broccoli? Would you let her run out on the road because you don’t want to limit her freedom? No. Your job is to teach her to eat well, to teach her to stay away from traffic, and to sleep well, too.
I urge you to look at your own ideals and genuinely think about whether they need to be changed or loosened up. Parenting is a thousand times harder than we could have imagined before we had kids, so sometimes we need to shed some of those philosophies and standards we had for ourselves and our children, and look at the health of the entire family.
Jo Anna Inks
I help tired, frustrated parents get their babies sleeping through the night and napping well so everyone in the family can get the rest they so desperately need!