But good, restful sleep is just as important for the child as it is for us. Normally, with a little support, the child learns to sleep sufficiently and at the right time already in the first year of life. But if a child refuses to sleep, what then?
Is it a sleep disorder and should it be taken to a doctor? When does this happen and what can parents do to help their baby sleep?
Find out more exciting details about the sleep phases of babies and everything else that is important!
Table of contents
Baby Does Not Sleep
Babies need sleep for their healthy development. This is endangered if something is not right and the baby does not sleep. However, this is not always a pathological disorder.
Rather, the sleep behavior of babies changes with increasing age. If they sleep a lot at the beginning and at all possible times of the day or night, this regulates itself later.
When it is said that “baby is not sleeping,” a distinction must also be made between different problems.
Is it a matter of difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night, or is it a normal growth spurt of the baby? What about it corresponds to normal development and what does not?
Baby Does Not Sleep And Cries
Often crying is a sign of tiredness. However, there may also be increased difficulty feeding because the baby is overtired. An expert – the pediatrician – decides when real regulatory disorders are involved.
He should be consulted if the infant does not manage to return to a normal sleep-wake cycle for a long time.
Baby Does Not Sleep During The Day: Misunderstandings That Cost The Last Nerve
Especially in the beginning, there are still many misunderstandings between babies and young parents. What should be done if the baby doesn’t want to fall asleep and is constantly crying? When is the right time to go to sleep?
Is the crying just a normal growth spurt of the baby? Such questions are not easy to answer. To understand them, it is important to know the processes that influence a baby’s sleep. First of all, there are the sleep phases.
The Individual Sleep Phases In Babies
Waking up regularly is completely normal in the beginning. Your child has just not yet learned to switch effortlessly between the individual sleep phases.
We adults often can’t do this either, which is why we sometimes wake up in between. Most of the time, however, we fall asleep again immediately afterward. Then we often don’t even remember that we were awake before.
During sleep, babies go through the same two sleep phases as adults: deep sleep and light sleep (REM). During the deep sleep phase, a baby’s sleep is not disturbed as quickly as during the light sleep phase.
In addition, the rapid eye movements that are typical of the REM phase do not occur here (REM = rapid eye movement). Every night, babies switch back and forth between the two phases several times.
Baby Does Not Sleep Through The Night
This is exactly what your baby has problems with within the beginning: Switching between the phases of sleep overtaxes his brain. That’s why it’s perfectly normal for a baby not to sleep through the night at first.
In the first few months, a child this young cannot sleep through the whole night. That usually doesn’t happen until the child is about six months old.
Baby Growth Spurt Or Completely Normal? Understanding Sleep Behavior In Babies
These figures show how individual sleep behavior is in babies: A baby aged six months needs between 10 and 18 hours of sleep a day! It is difficult to determine individually whether these are real sleep problems or not.
Sometimes, for example, a baby’s growth spurt manifests itself in this way – more on this below. Sometimes, however, everything is simply related to the child’s development.
Especially shortly after birth, babies have a rapidly changing wake-sleep rhythm. Newborns sleep for so long because they simply continue the rhythm familiar from the womb.
And this was completely independent of day or night. This only changes in the second to the third months. From then on, the baby already distinguishes between day and night and begins to adapt its sleep phases.
How the brain develops in newborns also has an influence on sleep. Read more about this exciting topic here!
Nevertheless, your child still needs up to seventeen hours of sleep in the first months of life. It only gradually shifts this to the night, which is why it still often wakes up at night.
During the day, your child will experience awake phases of up to two hours, alternating with naps.
From now on, the proportion of awake phases increases. Most of the sleep shifts to the night
So a baby of six months often needs only up to three short sleep phases a day: one hour, a maximum of one and a half, then the child is awake again. From the seventh month, a child should be able to sleep through the night.
This is because sleep behavior is always dependent on environmental conditions, meals, and the sleep the child gets during the day. That’s why 12 percent of all babies older than six months still wake up at night without subsequently being able to fall back asleep on their own.
This Is How You Can Help The Baby Get Used To The Day-Night Rhythm:
The baby should recognize a clear difference between day and night. In addition to quiet and darkness, this also includes a bedtime ritual. A good-night song is probably something every baby loves to hear!
But there is even more helpful to distinguish between day and night. While everything you do is done at a normal volume during the day, you should muffle your voice, lights, and noises as much as possible at night.
This is the quickest way for your baby to learn that night is quieter and calmer than a day. An ideal opportunity for sleep!
At the same time, it is important to give the child time. If you frantically try all possible methods, you will only confuse him!
When Does A Baby Have Sleep Problems?
Baby doesn’t sleep, although it has already mastered it very well? And no cause is apparent, not even a growth spurt of the baby?
Then it’s time to call in the pediatrician: He can clarify whether there is an organic disease behind the sleep problems.
Rule of thumb: Tired babies sleep better! But that’s not so easy. Even overtired babies have problems falling asleep.
Here’s How To Recognize The “Sleep Window” In Your Child:
- Glassy eyes.
- Baby starts to whine or yawns several times.
- Clenching of fists, rubbing of eyes.
Baby Does Not Fall Asleep And Cries
If you neglect to put your child to sleep, the following will happen: Your child is now overtired and has difficulty falling asleep.
Then he often starts to cry to express his discomfort. It becomes harder and harder to calm the baby in this situation
Baby Does Not Sleep Anymore
This can also be a result of the missed window of opportunity. However, there may be something worse behind it. Therefore, the safest thing to do with unusual developments is always to go to the doctor.
Healthy, Regular, and sufficient sleep is very important for babies. If it is missing for a longer period of time, the child’s development will be hindered.
About Growth Spurt In Babies And Other Causes
- Physical: hunger, baby’s growth spurt, teething, undiagnosed illnesses, problems with premature babies.
- Mental problems: such as perceived lack of security.
- Environment: Not an optimal sleeping environment. Noise, smoke, too bright.
Newborns do not yet have large enough stomachs to survive the night. This is why they need to be fed so often, even at night.
So if a very small baby wakes up frequently at night, he or she is usually hungry.
But there may be other reasons why your baby is not sleeping. A normal growth spurt of the baby is one of them. According to a study, it has been shown that the development of babies is not uniform but occurs in spurts.
Then there may also be increased sleep problems, which, however, disappear later.
Baby Doesn’t Sleep: Sleep Diary Helps To Find The Cause
A diary helps to keep track of the development of the baby’s sleep. Important entries are above all the number of hours slept, what time it was and when it woke up. In addition, analyze the sleep conditions as precisely as possible.
Keep the diary for at least three weeks. If you then also note down the height and weight, you may even be able to read off a possible growth spurt of the baby yourself. However, if you have no explanation for your child’s behavior, contact your pediatrician.
Helping The Baby Sleep
There are many different ways to help your baby sleep through the night. Depending on the cause, sometimes one, sometimes the other takes effect. Young parents need to be patient and a bit experimental to find out what works for their baby.
The following measures have proven to be particularly effective.
Baby Does Not Sleep – Feeding As A Sleep Aid
Giving security: This explains why some babies can only be calmed down by feeding, even though they are not hungry at all. This gives security! The close bond during feeding, even from a bottle, calms the child and makes it easier to fall asleep again.
Nevertheless, you should make sure that this attitude does not become entrenched. With newborns, it is still acceptable, but after the first quarter of the year, you should clearly separate the feeding phases from the sleep phases.
A young child can go without a nightly meal from about the age of six months.
Teach The Child To Go Back To Sleep On His Own
Your baby may not sleep because he doesn’t recognize his surroundings at night. Young children are especially irritated when they miss something in their environment after waking up. It helps if a parent holds them in their arms.
However, this should not become the rule! Therefore, resort to other aids as the baby gets older. Give the child security, which also helps with purely physical causes such as the baby’s growth spurt.
A cuddly toy that can be reached at any time has proven to be a good sleep aid!
Ensure Calm And A Safe Environment
Baby does not sleep: This is how you put your baby to bed for the night:
- Lie down in a supine position.
- Avoid sweating. Test for this: Touch the back of your baby’s neck. It should feel warm, but not damp.
- Correct sleeping temperature: from 16 to 18 degrees Celsius.
- The right baby bed with an air-permeable mattress and a baby sleeping bag.
- Take special care that nothing covers the baby’s mouth or nose.