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You are here: Home > Baby > Baby Sleep

When Baby Won't Go to Sleep

by Elizabeth Keefe | November 3, 2013 12:00 AM
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It's been weeks since you arrived home with your new baby, and you are exhausted! Sleepless nights with hours of walking back and forth trying to get your baby to fall asleep can be draining. You wonder, "Will my baby ever fall asleep?"

Some Moms are blessed with newborn babies who sleep through the night beginning in the first few weeks. While this is rare, some babies just need and love to sleep more than others. Then there are the ones who are so excited to finally be out of the womb and cannot get enough of his new surroundings! Or there could be another cause that you just cannot put your finger on.

5 Reasons Your Baby Will Not Go to Sleep

Does your baby not feel well?

If your baby begins crying at night at about the same time, and does not stop for hours then he might have colic—a very painful condition that typically begins during the first few weeks after birth and can last up to 3 months. Colic is a very painful stomach condition that will keep your baby, and you, awake for hours every night! Try placing a warm water bottle on your baby's tummy. Colic might also be relieved by laying him on his stomach, or massaging the area to help expel some of the trapped gas.

If your baby is coming down with a cold, she might not feel well, and needs your reassurance that everything is alright. If she is sniffling, coughing, or sneezing that is a sure sign she might be sick.

If you suspect your baby is ill or have colic, schedule an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss ways to ease the discomfort.

Does your baby have separation anxiety?

Some babies can develop separation anxiety. Your baby has been by your side—literally—for nine months! He might just not be ready to be put down. Some babies have to be held or rocked to sleep every night. When you put him down, he wakes up crying, "Where are you going Mommy? I was just kidding! I'm not ready to sleep yet!" There are two choices in this case. You can pick your baby back up and continue to rock him all night. Or, you can see if he will fall asleep on his own. If you try the later, make sure you do not let your baby cry for too long! After five to ten minutes pick him up and show him you are still there for him.

Is your baby still hungry?

You know how you feel when you are hungry before bed. You just cannot sleep without that late night snack before sleeping. Babies are the same way! If you are breastfeeding, it can be hard to tell if baby is getting enough breast milk. Some babies will finish nursing, and then want more in a few minutes. If you don't give your baby an opportunity to finish nursing, she might just wake up, or not go to sleep at all until she has had her fill.

Is there too much activity going on?

Everyone needs downtime before bed, and your baby is no exception! Have you had a lot of guests? Are there other children in your house that go to sleep at different times? Are you running to the store with your baby in the evening? Too much activity around the time that your baby is due to go to bed can be a major cause of your baby not sleeping. Try limiting all guests, noise, and activity about an hour before your baby's nap or bed time. If other children making noise are a cause for concern, consider making their bedtime the same as your baby's. The older children might think about being a little quieter if they face having to go to bed earlier!

Does your baby lack a bedtime routine?

When you arrived home from the hospital with your newborn, did you have a set routine established to help baby learn the bed time schedule? Routines are paramount to help your baby fall asleep and to sleep through the night! A sound routine practiced every night will not only help your baby—and you—wind down from the day, but it will help your baby learn that when the routine begins, it is soon time to go to sleep. A routine could include turning off the TV, turning on some relaxing music, giving baby a bath, changing his diaper and clothes, nursing, and then laying baby down in his crib. Pick a song to sing to your baby every night while you are feeding her. Be sure to teach your husband the song too in case you are ever in a position where you cannot be there!

There are some babies that just do not want anything to do with a crib! If you have tried everything, and you are still spending your nights walking baby back and forth with no sign of sleeping on his own, it might be time to invest in a bedside co-sleeper. At some point your baby will have to fall asleep, and it just might have to be right next to you or in your arms. Be sure to take care of yourself, and get some rest by enlisting the help of your partner during the long nighttime hours!

Elizabeth Keefe is the mother of two children. Since 1998, she has been the editor and owner of Baby Corner, and enjoys sharing information and advice to new and expectant parents about pregnancy and parenting topics. She currently lives in NY with her family.
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