The frantic, “I’ve been up so many times I believe I’m going nuts” feeling that hits in the middle of the night.
Being awake for hours every night is exhausting and challenging, even if it just happens a few times in a row.
Time passes, and the days, weeks, and months become years…
When no one in the house gets enough sleep, everyone suffers, including the new baby.
Your mental health disagrees with your heart’s desire to wait this out.
Fear not, though; human beings of all ages, even infants, were designed to benefit from rejuvenating sleep.
Sometimes babies need a little extra help getting to sleep, but with your patience and consistency (and a few new good habits), they’ll get there.
Top 10 Reasons Your Baby Won’t Sleep
Although they are not the only possible causes, they are among the more common ones.
Get our daily baby records to start detecting trends if you wish to improve your child’s sleeping habits. Just knowing that may help you zero in on the source of the issue.
Your baby can’t sleep because she’s overtired
One common misunderstanding is that babies will sleep better if they are extremely weary.
Not at all, in fact.
There will be less restful sleep for everyone involved, with the infant waking up more frequently and displaying increased fussiness and whining.
They will have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep.
This approach always ends up failing.
Keep your infant on a routine to avoid overtiredness. You should plan for both nap times and nighttime.
If you want to learn more about how to put a stop to contact naps in a way that doesn’t cause any tension, then read How to Stop Contact Naps
Overtired infants should be put to bed earlier than usual. Putting a sleepy infant to bed will make it more difficult for baby to stay asleep.
Baby is overstimulated
Babies have a hard time falling asleep when they are overstimulated for the same reason they have a hard time falling asleep when they are overtired.
When a baby is overstimulated, they are over-alert, fussy, and even fidgety and agitated since they are unable to quiet down in the stimulating environment.
Overstimulation might make it difficult for your infant to fall asleep and keep him sleeping.
Think about being in a long seminar, conference, or training session. You need a break from all the new information after a time. Stop taking in new information and start using what you’ve already learnt.
Babies are the same way. They will become overstimulated by the presence of too many screens, the noise of older siblings, toys, books, changes in setting, errands, and people talking directly to them.
You may avoid this by maintaining a regular schedule for them, protecting their sleep, and allowing them to wind down properly before nap or bedtime. If you’re experiencing witching hours, this is something you should pay attention to.
Baby can’t sleep because she doesn’t have a good routine
No two households have the same daily rhythms.
Also, that’s not the case at all!
You don’t have to do anything in particular; what matters most is maintaining a consistent routine with your infants.
Having a routine for your newborn is highly recommended, and there is no reason to deviate from it.
They’ll sleep better, eat better, be happier, and make life more serene.
These printable routine cards can be kept in the baby’s room as a visual reminder of the steps to take before bedtime.
Sleep aides are a fantastic approach to develop positive sleep association and these include listening to music, moderate rocking, and doing the same things at the same time every day.
Routines help babies establish their circadian cycle in a way that supports optimal sleep.
Baby is awake too long before napping and then won’t go down at naptime
Even though your kid has been awake for quite some time, that doesn’t mean they aren’t exhausted. It doesn’t matter if your infant can stay up late or not.
Except that they manage to stay up even when they know they should be asleep.
Infants younger than four months should be put down for a nap around an hour and a half after they first become up. Because of this, you should plan on taking several shorter naps each day.
That’s the way it should be!
Even by 9 months, infants should only be awake for about 2 hours following their last wake time. Now that they’re feeling sleepy, they should probably head down for a nap before sleep issues start to creep in.
Multiple naps throughout the day, practically after each meal. An outline of when and how long infants should be sleeping is provided.
Five babies of very varied personalities have all followed these instructions and napped well for me.
Too much time awake will cause your infant to resist going to sleep.
Baby has a sleep prop and can’t sleep without it
If your baby needs something only you can offer them to go to sleep, they have a sleep prop. (This does not include milk which they need to survive, but can’t get on their own.)
This may include rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, laying on you, and many other things.
If they can’t get themselves back to sleep because they need you to do something for them they won’t sleep long and they won’t sleep properly.
The best use of your time is spent sleeping, so make it a priority.
Baby has a physical or medical discomfort
Your child’s discomfort from acid reflux will prevent them from sleeping through the night. In order to soothe your infant, do as your pediatrician suggests.
A sore throat or ear infection could be to blame if your normally sleepy infant suddenly becomes restless. Before attempting sleep training, I would have any sleep disorders or health concerns checked out.
Additionally, teething has been shown to cause sleep disruptions. You should suspect a medical issue if they used to sleep well but suddenly stopped.
Babe can’t transition from active to passive sleep alone
Everyone has alternating periods of active and passive sleep. Babies will awaken gradually during the transition from one to the other (about every 45-60 minutes).
Once someone has learned how to put himself to sleep, they will likely never wake up. They will be unable to fall asleep with the aid of a sleep aid and will therefore be roused during the night.
Cause of short naps and frequent nighttime awakening.
Helping infants through this stage involves teaching them to sleep independently, which can be accomplished by placing them in their cribs when they are still tired but alert.
Baby won’t sleep because he doesn’t eat enough solids
There will be many nighttime awakenings if your infant is five months or older and you have not yet started feeding them solid foods.
I’m not suggesting that you start giving them solids before 6 months if your pediatrician has advised against it or if you’re not yet ready, but if they’re waking up, it’s because they’re hungry.
There will be a marked improvement in sleep quality if you introduce a healthy amount of solid foods to their diet. Prior to bedtime, it’s crucial that baby has a good meal and is nice and full.
The same holds true for when baby isn’t getting enough milk and is snacking too much: he won’t sleep.
Your little one is too hot or cold
The problem, as you always hope it will be, is this!
One of my sons once kept me up for a week until I figured out that he was cold.
I threw on an extra layer over his pajamas and he was ready for bed. The equivalent of a dead sleep, or a complete lack of wakefulness. Remove some clothing if you feel hot and sticky.
Baby can’t sleep because she’s having a growth spurt or wonder week
It’s very uncommon for our infants to go from sleeping soundly to experiencing difficulty.
One thing I’m always aware of is whether they are having a growth spurt. If that’s the case, I’ll supplement their normal diet with extra feedings of milk and/or solids.
To be able to provide them with more of what they require, I vary their usual routine. If you’re trying to increase your milk production, this will help with that, too.
This book popularized the idea of a “wonder week,” or the time around a newborn’s developmental milestones when the baby is most likely to start appearing fussy.
Sleep problems: 0 to 3 months old
Babies are still getting used to a regular sleeping schedule while they are newborns.
In a 24-hour period, newborns typically sleep between 14 and 17 hours, awakening regularly for feedings both during the day and at night.
The recommended amount of sleep for infants aged one and two months is 14 to 17 hours per day, divided into eight to nine hours of sleep at night and another seven to nine hours of sleep during a series of naps. A 3-month-old baby need 14 to 16 hours of sleep every day.
It may seem like your baby isn’t sleeping all that much despite all that dozing. Because they need to eat so frequently, very young newborns sometimes sleep in brief, catnap-like spurts.
Therefore, if it appears that your sweetpea is alternately sleeping and waking up, persevere. Right now, everything is perfectly normal, but soon, things will start to change.
Nevertheless, several difficulties may make it more difficult for newborns to go asleep. Two of the most typical problems at this age are:
When your baby is put to sleep on her back, she may protest or resist falling asleep. While babies do feel more safe when they sleep on their stomachs, this position is also associated with a significantly higher risk of SIDS (SIDS). Therefore, professionals advise that you always lay your infant to sleep on her back.
How to fix it: Consult your pediatrician if your infant simply won’t fall asleep on her back. He or she may want to look for any potential physical causes. Your infant probably just doesn’t feel as secure on her back, which is much more likely. If that’s the case, you can try a few methods, such as swaddling your child and giving her a pacifier before bed, to encourage back-sleeping. Simply omit the sleep positioner and maintain your regular schedule. Your infant will eventually become used to sleeping on her back.
Mixing up day and night
It appears as though your baby sleeps all day and then remains up all night (not exactly a party for you!).
Solution: Your newborn’s nocturnal tendencies should go away as she gets used to life outside the home, but there are some things you can do to help baby distinguish between day and night, such as keeping baby’s room dark when she naps and avoiding turning on the TV during nighttime feedings. Limit daytime naps to three hours.
Restless sleep due to frequent late-night feedings
What it looks like: Most 2- to 3-month-old babies still need to eat at least once or twice during the night, especially breastfed newborns. Contrarily, waking up every two hours for middle-of-the-night feedings is often too much of a good thing by this point and is unnecessary for most newborns.
What to do: First, discuss the frequency of baby’s midnight feedings with your child’s pediatrician. If you’re given the go-ahead to stop feeding your baby during the night, make sure they’re getting enough food during the day by giving them a feed every two to three hours. Then, gradually lengthen the interval between nocturnal feedings.
Sleep problems: 4 to 5 months old
By the time they are four months old, your baby should be sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day, divided into two or three naps totaling 3–6 hours during the day and another 9–11 hours at night.
How much sleep should a five-month-old get? Nowadays, getting 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night is typical. Additionally, your infant needs two to three naps throughout the day.
What it looks like: Even though you’re ready to drop, your formerly sleepy baby may be ready for anything other than bedtime at 4 months old. Welcome to sleep regression, a common blip on the radar of sleep that many infants encounter between 4 months and 6 months, then again frequently between 8 to 10 months and 12 months (though it can happen at any time).
Why is this occurring now? The 4-month sleep regression often occurs just as your baby begins to fully awaken to her surroundings. Life is simply too enjoyable at this point to waste time sleeping, what with all of this exciting new gear to play with, people to meet, and things to see.
Sleep regression cannot be “diagnosed” in a formal sense, but you will likely recognize it when you are experiencing it. You may be dealing with sleep regression if your infant was beginning to establish a routine of sleeping for predictable longer periods of time but is now resisting sleep or waking up much more frequently.
How to fix it
Continue or begin your baby’s nighttime ritual, which includes the bath, feeding, story, songs, and cuddling. As it is even difficult for an overtired baby to fall asleep at night, make sure your kid gets enough sleep during the day to make up for lost sleep at night. Also keep in mind that sleep regression is transient. Your baby’s sleep patterns should revert to normal after she gets used to her new developmental abilities.
Changing nap routines throw baby off at night
What it looks like: Older babies take fewer naps. If your baby appears content with her new routine and sleeps soundly at night, celebrate this achievement and move forward. However, if your child is fussing more and waking up less rested, or if she has difficulties falling asleep at night, she may be overtired and in need of extra naptime encouragement.
How to fix it: Before each nap, try a shortened version of your normal bedtime routine (try some soothing music, a massage, or some storytelling), and be patient; she’ll get used to it.
Sleep problems: 6 months old and up
Your baby’s sleep schedule today probably differs greatly from what it did a few short months ago.
Your kid should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night and 2 to 3 naps during the day by the time they are 6 months old.
She will begin sleeping for a little bit longer at night by 9 months, perhaps 10 to 12 hours, and will only need two naps during the day. Your infant may begin to show symptoms of readiness to switch to just one lengthy midday nap around the age of 12 months (though for most babies, that happens at around 14 to 16 months)
Additionally, infants 6 months and older are fully capable of sleeping through the night. However, there are still a lot of things that can interfere with their ability to sleep.
Not falling asleep independently
What it looks like: Both adults and children wake up a few times throughout the night. Babies need to learn how to fall asleep on their own both at bedtime and overnight because it’s a skill they’ll need for the rest of their lives. If your six-month-old infant still need feedings or rocking to go asleep, you might want to think about sleep training (also known as sleep teaching or self-soothing training).
Starting with a new nighttime routine will help you find a solution. If your infant needs to be breastfed or bottle fed to fall asleep, start planning the last feeding at least 30 minutes before her regular bedtime or nap time. Then, when she is nodding off but still awake, take action and put her in her cot. Yes, she will first complain, but give it time. She won’t need you at bedtime until she learns to comfort herself, maybe by sucking on her thumb or a pacifier (harmless, good behaviors for babies).
It’s ok to go in to your baby if she wakes up at night as long as she can fall asleep on her own. But that doesn’t imply you have to carry her around or take care of her. Once she learns how to soothe herself, your voice and a light touch should be sufficient to lull her back to sleep.
You can decide how to approach sleep training. It typically works to let your 6-month-old (or even 5-month-old) cry for a while before comforting her (or letting her cry it out). Why? By the time they are six months old, newborns are aware that crying will usually result in being picked up, rocked, fed, or sometimes all three. However, after kids realize that their parents aren’t interested in what they’re selling, the majority of them will stop weeping and go to bed, usually after three or four nights.
Remember that for at least six months and maybe a year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against sharing a bed with your infant. But even if you run into this issue while still sharing a room, the fundamental principle of sleep training holds true: When your bedtime ritual is complete, say goodbye and mean it, even if you hear cries and complaints as you leave the room.
While you’re sharing a room with your baby, it’s good to reassure her that everything is fine, but you should have a strategy in place for how (and how frequently) you’ll respond to her cries.
You don’t yet have a plan. There are numerous sleep training techniques; choose the one you believe will work best for you and allow it time to take effect.
Restless sleep due to frequent late-night feedings (again)
What it looks like: Most infants stop requiring nighttime feedings by the time they are 6 months old. Therefore, if your baby still refuses to fall asleep without nursing and rocking first, or if she wakes up repeatedly throughout the night and won’t return to sleep without the same send-off, she may have realized that crying frequently gets her picked up, rocked, and fed, which is a pretty good incentive to keep crying. Before stopping your baby’s nighttime feedings, see your pediatrician.
What to do: Sleep training might be a helpful choice for babies who wake up frequently during the night to eat if you feel comfortable giving it a try. In either case, your child needs assistance learning how to comfort herself so she can go back to sleep without assistance.
What it appears to be: Your infant is waking up early and remaining awake, often even before the sun rises.
What to do: If your child is at least six months old, there are a few methods you may attempt to encourage her to stay in bed later, such as altering her nap schedule, trying out various bedtimes, and making her room more sound- and light-proof.
Teething pain keeps baby up
What it looks like: If your baby exhibits daytime teething symptoms like drooling, biting, fussiness during feedings, and irritability, teething pain may also be keeping her awake at night. Remember that sleep problems brought on by teething can start nearly at any point throughout the first year: While teething pain can begin as early as 3 or 4 months old, some babies don’t erupt with their first tooth until they are 6 months old, while others wait until they are 1 year old.
How to fix it: Try to avoid picking up your infant, however you shouldn’t ignore her either. Offer a teething ring instead, as well as some soothing comments and pats, and perhaps a lullaby. Though you might need to leave the room for it to happen, she might settle down on her own. Ask your pediatrician about giving your child some baby acetaminophen or baby ibuprofen at bedtime for infants 2 months and older if she experiences persistently uncomfortable sore gums.
Sleep problems at any age
Throughout your baby’s first year, some sleep concerns may recur (and well beyond). There are two significant ones you might run into:
Disruptions in routine
What it looks like: It doesn’t take much to completely disrupt a baby’s sleep schedule. Sleeping patterns can be severely affected by a cold or an ear infection, as well as by emotional struggles like Mom going back to work or adjusting to a new babysitter.
Another certain way to throw off your sleep routine is to travel. Important life events, like mastering crawling or learning to walk, can also temporarily interrupt your sleep cycle.
You must give your kid some leeway in the sleeping arena throughout these transitions, even though babies with fluctuating sleep schedules can be a little fussier. Try your best to reassure your young child as her schedule is disrupted.
Then, make an effort to quickly return to your customary routine by going through the same calming pre-bed ritual in the same order as usual (a bath, then a feeding, then a story and so on).
Trouble settling down to sleep — even though baby seems very tired
What it appears to be: What occurs when infants don’t get enough sleep? They may become overtired, which leaves them drained and irritable but also too wired to unwind.
It is a typical illustration of what might occur when infants don’t get enough sleep: Your infant is irritable and exhibiting other indicators that she is more than prepared for a nap or bedtime. She won’t actually turn off, though.
Younger infants may resist calming techniques like feeding or rocking that typically help them go asleep. Additionally, babies who are older than 5 or 6 months old and are capable of falling asleep on their own find it difficult to fall asleep when placed in their cribs or wake up and find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Put your infant down for a nap or bedtime when she’s sleepy but not yet exhausted. Get your baby into her bed or bassinet as soon as you notice symptoms that she needs to rest, such as wiping her eyes, yawning, turning away from you, or fussing a lot.
Avoid attempting to convince her to stay up later because doing so is likely to make her overtired and make it more difficult for her to go asleep.
Additionally, make an effort to make sure that your child is getting all the sleep that she requires. Consider putting her to bed a bit earlier to make up for the missed sleep, for instance, if she gets up unusually early after her final nap of the day. Offer her more naptime that day if she has a difficult night or wakes up earlier than usual.
Sleep problems after illness
Babies (and adults, too!) may find it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep if they have a scratchy or painful throat, congestion, or fever.
Obviously, you want to do everything you can to calm your little one and ensure that she gets the rest she needs. If your child’s pediatrician approves, this may include popping in for a dose of fever-reducing medication (either infant acetaminophen for babies at least 2 months old or infant ibuprofen for babies at least 6 months old), a quick nursing session, or even just holding her upright while she sleeps to relieve her congestion.
However, it is occasionally feasible for a baby to grow accustomed to the nocturnal visits, cuddles, and even feedings, especially if they occur on a regular basis. And even once she feels better, that can cause sleep problems.
What it looks like: Despite being healthy again, your baby is still waking up in the middle of the night to cry for you. When she was sick, her generally reliable sleep patterns were interrupted.
It’s time to resume your baby’s regular sleeping patterns at night if she is feeling healthy and happy during the day. Hold on, it can take her a few nights to become used to the regular schedule again. She will understand that the evenings are for sleeping, not hanging out, the sooner you are consistent.
Sleep difficulties are a regular, even expected, aspect of being a newborn. The good news is that they can frequently be resolved.
And even if you can’t do anything to correct them (like a newborn confusing days and nights), take solace in the fact that they’re only going to last a short while. Her sleep patterns will change and develop as your baby does.