This is a question I often asked my first son when he was an infant. I asked it in a sweet voice, I asked it in a pleading voice, I asked it in an angry voice, but no matter how many times I asked, he never gave me the answer.
I can remember the night— and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about— when I felt like I could not take it anymore. My son just would not stay asleep and I had hit rock bottom, exhausted from waking up multiple times every night and having to soothe him back to sleep. My husband found me at 3:00 in the morning sobbing away in our living room.
When our babies don’t sleep well, we tend to look for an explanation. 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 goes on and on.
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 sleep or stay asleep is that they just haven’t learned how.
We all have strategies that help us make the journey into sleep each night. We have bedtime routines that we tend to do without really thinking about it, and we do these things because they help us transition from the business 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, others can’t sleep without the window open. Some need a cup of herbal tea, and some have to read for ten minutes…Whatever the differences might be, these are all sleep strategies, and without them we’d have trouble drifting off.
The same goes for babies. Many parents who haven’t developed a sleeping 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.
While this might be true, the trouble is, by offering these props, parents are creating a situation where their babies are dependent on something external to help them sleep. And that’s why they don’t sleep well.
Night waking is very common in babies who have not learned to sleep properly and are relying on a prop. When they wake up and the prop isn’t there to put them back to sleep, they have to wake up fully and cry in order to be soothed back to sleep. It’s not personal, Mom and Dad… they haven’t made it their personal mission to wake you up ten times a night. They just have no idea how to go to sleep without your help.
Luckily there is hope. There are lots of ways to give your child the tools she needs to be able to sleep independently, even from a very young age. Babies are capable of sleeping through the night, and learning those skills young will help make bedtimes and night times relatively hassle-free.
A well-rested child is a happier, healthier child. And a well-rested parent is healthier and happier, too!
NOW TELL ME.......
Is your baby no sleeping?
Post your comments below, I'd love to see them!
Daylight saving time is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is:
If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. I think it really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults, too. In fact, statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does have an effect on all of us, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.
So what is the best way to handle it?
My advice is to “split the difference.”
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 10:00 for the three days after the time change. Do the same for afternoon nap. If your baby goes to sleep at 7:00pm then put her to bed at 7:30pm. This will mean that your baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps, but again it’s not so much so that it’s going to interfere with her schedule too much. It may take her a bit more time to fall asleep since she may not be as tired, but in a week’s time she will be back on track again.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
Give it time and know that your baby will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two!
NOW TELL ME.....
Do you have questions about daylight saving time?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
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!