Sleep Problems? 
12 Reasons Why Your Baby Is Not Sleeping

Sooner or later, every mom complains about her baby's sleep problems. How about putting your baby and his sleep issues to bed, once and for all?

If your newborn keeps on insisting to stay awake or cry all night long, he may be going through one of the following sleep issues:

  1. Ear infection
  2. Gas
  3. Stomach pain
  4. Nasal blockage
  5. Not feeling well due to fever, diarrhea, or vomiting
  6. Newborn Colic
  7. Full or (leaky) wet diaper
  8. Empty stomach or a thirsty feeling
  9. Feeling uncomfortable
  10. Improper sleeping habits
  11. Co-sleeping issues
  12. Teething pain (if s/he is 3-4 months old or more)

Ear infection:

Make sure your newborn does not have an ear infection, as an irritating ear can never make a baby fall asleep. Since your baby may not be old enough to speak out his mind, you may find him holding one ear or both, especially if he cries or screams. This is an indication that there is something that hurts in his tiny ear. If your baby can communicate with you with a yes or no, try asking him if it hurts or itches in the ear region.

For more information, read our well researched article on your baby's ear infection.

Teething pain:

Baby teething hurts! If your little one gets up at night and cries a lot while trying to chew his hand, blanket or anything that is in front of him, he may be suffering from severe gum pain. This may be normal at his age (4 months or older) and every baby goes through it. Make sure you know how to soothe him down by applying pain-relieving ointments on his gums. Ask your doctor before using a medicated gum gel.

You can also put a spoon in the freezer for a while and then gently massage this spoon over the delicate gums – this helps tremendously in soothing the baby and helping him fall back to sleep. However, make sure you don't leave the spoon unattended with your baby.

To get more tips on how to help reduce the teething pain, read our article on baby teething.

Stomach pain:

If you are breastfeeding, you may eat something that might end up getting heavy on your little one’s stomach. The result: a painful little tummy.

Or, if you are formula feeding, make sure the consistency of the milk is the same as specified on the formula milk’s label. Many mums think that giving a relatively thicker dose of formula milk will ensure a fuller stomach of the baby which will result in a longer sleep duration. This is something that should never be done. Always follow the label.

Trust me, if high consistency of formula milk could eliminate newborn sleep problems, they would happily write it down on the milk box with capital letters as this is something every mom wants – to have a baby that sleeps through the night.

Click here for information on baby diarrhea, and here for information on baby vomiting.

Nasal blockage:

Unable to breathe properly during the night might be the reason your newborn baby keeps on waking up. Nose drops specially saline drops are the best cure for this. Just pour a single drop in both the nostrils and it will temporarily clear the blockage. A constant blocked or runny nose can give your baby a lot of sleep problems. Talk to your baby’s doctor for a long-term unblocked nose. It might be an allergy, viral infection or cold that is causing the blockage.

An itchy baby is not a happy baby:

Does your sleeping newborn have a diaper rash? Is she experiencing skin rash all over her body due to any lotion or cream that you have recently applied? And this involves your perfume, cream and washing powder as well. Your baby might be allergic to a certain perfume or lotion that you use. Read our articles on diaper rash and skin rash for more information on how to eradicate these issues.

Wet diapers:

Try sleeping on a wet bed – it is torture! Now think of your baby sleeping on one. It is very uncomfortable for a baby to sleep well when he has a full or leaky diaper. Make sure you change his diapers right before putting him to sleep. If your little one pees a lot during night-time, try changing the diaper once in the middle of night as well.

For a low-cost, highly effective recipe of Homemade Baby Wipes, click here.

Empty stomach or feeling thirsty:

Newborn babies get up many times during the night primarily due to an empty stomach, especially in case of babies that you breastfeed. Breast milk digests quicker than formula milk, so expect your breastfed baby to wake up more during the nights.

This does not mean you should replace it with formula milk. No! Instead, make a habit of breastfeeding your baby till his stomach is full, not until he falls asleep, because if he falls asleep drinking milk, there is a probability that he would wake up just to resume his routine.

For babies who have started taking solids, you can give them a nice filling dinner (not too heavy though) to ensure they have a full tummy through out the night. Also make sure that the water intake of your baby (provided he is six months old or more) is adequate so he does not have to wake up at nights.

Feeling uncomfortable:

Make sure your sleeping baby is wearing comfortable clothes and is dressed according to the room temperature. Sleep problems arise when your baby is wearing clothes that have zippers or buttons that make him feel uncomfortable.

Also, check if the diaper is not too tight, as generally happens with many new first time moms, who, in order to avoid a leaky diaper, tie it too tightly.

Another reason why the newborn might feel uncomfortable is due to an uncomfortable crib (cot) or mattress. Make sure you read our article on buying the perfect baby crib before making the purchase, to make sure your baby is on a safe and comfy cot.

Is colic the culprit?

If your baby suffers from colic, he may also have problems in sleeping through the night. Make sure you go through our article on Colic to have a clear idea on how to cope with newborn sleep problems caused by bouts of crying.

Sleep problems due to improper sleeping habits:

If you have checked all the points mentioned above and your baby still does not sleep well through the night, make sure your little one’s sleeping habits are proper. Your baby should know the difference between day and night time. Make sure at night, you give your baby a nice bath, put on his night suit, dim the lights and sing a soothing lullaby or read a nice story to him - even if he doesn't understand most of the words you are saying. This will signal his brain that "it’s time to sleep".

Make sure your family members understand this and do not produce any noise especially from a loud TV. Do not fluctuate your baby’s sleeping time. Even if you are busy, make sure you tuck your little one into his cot first before continuing with your chores.

Also, if your baby is taking too many naps at day time, try minimizing them by either reducing their frequency or duration, or both. Improper baby sleep habits are one of the main reasons both babies as well as parents (specially mothers) remain sleepless through the night.

For detailed discussion on your baby's sleep problems, make sure you go through our highly informative sleep section.

Co-sleeping issues?

If your little one co-sleeps with you and your spouse, any disturbance created by you will have a direct effect on his sleep. Even the slowest volume of TV or talking and giggling in whispers could cause your baby to encounter sleep problems. Make sure you are keeping this factor in mind. For more on co-sleeping, click here.

It is natural for your newborn to encounter sleep problems in his initial weeks or even months. Your newborn may still wake up during the night early in his first year, and this habit will start to decrease slowly until he starts running around the house and has a proper solid meal. This will tire him up and fill his stomach in order to make sleeping through the night achievable. Don't forget to read our highly read article on What to do when baby sleeps through the day and stays up at night.

My daughter used to wake up 4-5 times at night in her initial weeks, but a constant sleeping routine made her give up her bizarre sleep habits and by the end of the first year, she was sleeping through the night, and so was I!

A sleep deprived baby leads to a sleep deprived parent. I am sure by covering all the above mentioned points, you will soon put your baby's sleep problems to bed - for good!

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