There’s nothing worse as a parent than a baby who won’t sleep. You get tired pretty quickly after spending hours caring for an infant who’s fussy and unhappy. In fact, everyone in your house (especially your significant other) is going through the same thing, as they’re awakened constantly by a crying baby.
What can you do? Thankfully, before you panic and give up out of frustration, Paperclip has a few suggestions of methods that have worked for other parents just like you. One of these tried-and-true tricks may work just great for your little one, although you might have to try a combination of them before you discover the best option for your infant.
Find Out Why They Won’t Sleep
What’s bothering your little one? Besides the fact that they won’t sleep, is there something else wrong? Are they dealing with a painful diaper rash that needs to be soothed? Are they suffering from gastric reflux? Do they need to be burped? Are they hungry? Do they have a fever? Is their diaper wet or dirty? Are they constipated?
In most cases, one of these reasons is why your baby simply will not sleep. Figuring out which one it is will help solve the problem, because once your baby is comfortable again, they might just fall asleep peacefully.
Use a White Noise Machine
If the environment is too noisy, your little one won’t be able to sleep soundly. Of course, this varies widely, and some babies can sleep through chaos, while others need absolute silence. If the latter is the case and your infant is having a hard time settling down due to the noise, then your best bet is to combat that noise in the best possible manner – with a white noise machine.
These devices play soothing sounds, like a heartbeat, the ocean, or jungle noises, that cancel out any outside sounds. This prevents the noise from waking your baby up while also helping lull them to sleep. Just make sure to choose a white noise machine that transmits at less than 50 decibels and only use it when necessary. Otherwise, your child may grow dependent and won’t be able to sleep without it.
Lower the Temperature in the Room
Did you know that cooler rooms can help induce sleepiness? While you may be used to warm environments equating to sleep, such as when you’re driving and slightly tired, only to find your eyes drooping due to the heat being on, the opposite is true in a home. Studies have shown that rooms that are between 68 and 72 degrees are better to sleep in.
Changing the temperature in your home to reflect this while your little one is trying to sleep will make their naptime more successful. Simply adjust the thermostat back to normal once they wake up.
Movement May Help
You’ve no doubt heard of this age-old trick for getting a baby to sleep – placing them in a car seat in a moving vehicle and driving around for a bit. The idea here is that the motion lulls them to sleep, and hopefully, they stay that way once you arrive home and remove them from the car. If you’re having trouble getting baby to sleep, pop them in the car, toss in your diaper bag in case of emergencies, and hit the road.
However, you may not want to do this all of the time. Yes, it really does work, but if you constantly need to drive around so that your little one can conk out, they are definitely going to get used to sleeping while moving, which is a tough habit to break. Plus, sleeping in a car seat places them in an unsafe position, and their airway may get closed off if they lean their head over too far. It’s always best to have your child sleep in their bed, on their back, so that they can breathe properly.
Swaddling Can Do the Trick
The entire act of swaddling is designed to help calm and soothe a baby. The swaddle blankets that envelop them from the shoulders to the tips of the toes are designed to mimic the feeling of being in the womb. That’s why this is such a calming act.
If you have an infant who won’t fall asleep, it’s possible that they just aren’t comfortable. Placing them in a swaddle might be just enough to soothe them to the point that they easily fall asleep and stay that way.
Follow a Routine
Routines are important when you have a baby. Sure, those first few weeks are a little crazy, with them adjusting to being home and you adjusting to being a parent. Expect some chaos at that point. However, once things settle down and everyone is used to each other, it’s time to get into a routine.
Have them sleep, eat, get their diapers changed, and so on at certain times of the day. While you don’t need to be particularly rigid (ten minutes here and there won’t make much of a difference), the idea is to have them used to sleeping at certain times. This will make it easier for you to put them down because they will hopefully fall asleep right away.
For the first couple of months babies will eat and sleep on demand, which is crucial for their early development, so hold off on creating too strict of a schedule until after the 2-3 month mark or until you get the OK from your pediatrician.
If your child was sleeping but woke up suddenly and doesn’t want to go back down, it’s important to find out why. For example, if they dropped their pacifier, have a new one on hand to give them. If their sheets are wet due to a diaper blowout or sweat, have a new set nearby and change them quickly.
The faster that you rectify the situation and make your little one happy again, the more likely they are to fall back asleep. Otherwise, you may end up having to deal with a cranky little one who has decided to be awake, even though they are tired.
Watch for the First Sign of Sleepiness
Are you able to tell when your infant is sleepy? Odds are, after the first few weeks, you know which signs to look for. This method involves understanding when that small yawn, cranky look on their face, or droopy eyelids signify that it’s time for a nap – because they are more than ready.
If you’re able to put your child down in their crib or bassinet at this point, then they will more than likely sleep soundly. It all comes down to knowing your baby, following up on their cues, and trying to meet their needs when they need them to be met.
Follow the Four “Bs” Method
There are four Bs to follow as a part of every sleepy time routine. In the following order, they are: bath, book, bed, bottle, although feel free to switch them up as needed. Start out with a bath every evening, calming your baby down in the process. Then, get them dressed in their pajamas and diapered for bedtime, read them a book, and give them a bottle at the same time. Place them in bed, and they will hopefully be ready to fall asleep. If they are used to the routine, then you won’t have an ongoing battle night after night.
Remember That This Doesn’t Make You A Failure
A sleepless infant can make you – the parent – feel like a failure. You begin to think that many other parents have done this before, so why can’t you? You look on social media and see pictures of comfortably sleeping infants and wonder what you did wrong.
The truth of the matter is that you didn’t do anything wrong. Your child is fine. You are a good parent. You’re just going through a bit of a rough patch, exacerbated by the fact that you probably haven’t slept well either. Be patient, and don’t let these small incidents bring you down.
A crying and sleepy infant who simply won’t go to sleep can cause plenty of alarm, especially if it makes you feel like a less than perfect parent. Rest assured that many other parents go through this as well, so you aren’t alone. Taking the time to test out these methods will help you determine which will work best on your child, so both of you get the rest that you desperately need.