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Newborn baby boy in his father's arms

Sleep, baby, sleep

New parents: Here's how to tackle common baby sleep challenges

Common baby sleep challenges

If your baby isn’t sleeping, you’re likely not sleeping. For moms and dads who are fortunate enough to have a child who’s a good sleeper, it may be short-lived. Odds are, the first (or next) baby sleep issue may be right around the corner.

Baby sleep regressions: How to survive them

Sleep regressions are one of the most common sleep issues. Babies who previously slept well may start to wake up during the night or fight sleep altogether. During a sleep regression, you may notice that your child is more fussy or cranky than normal. This may last anywhere from two to six weeks. 

Sleep regressions are thought to be caused by major developmental leaps or growth spurts and occur most commonly at:

  • 4 months
  • 8 months
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months

Putting your baby to bed a little earlier, covering windows during the summer months or dressing your little one in warmer jammies can help.

Sleep regressions can be challenging. As difficult as it may be, try to let your baby cry it out and soothe them as much as possible without creating bad sleep habits. This is just as tough for them as it is for you.

Sleeping anywhere but the crib

Most new parents know that babies don’t always like to sleep alone, and some don’t like to sleep at home. If you have a baby who sleeps at the grocery store, in the car or at daycare but won’t get a single “Zzz” at home, you’re not alone.

Sleep training is a particularly useful tool if your baby has difficulty sleeping in their own crib. Sleep training is a process of helping your baby learn how to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep throughout the night. Start by putting your baby to bed when they’re drowsy, but still awake. Teach your little one to self-soothe by leaving them alone for longer stretches until they no longer need help going to sleep. During bedtime or naptime, don’t spring to action the moment your baby cries for you or allow too much interaction. This will help your baby self-soothe.

Wide awake at bedtime

If your little one is still awake at bedtime, a too long or too late naptime could be to blame. It could also mean you’re putting them down for bed too early. Try moving their naptime up a little earlier so they’re awake longer before bedtime rolls around. An overtired baby won’t sleep well either, so make sure they’re getting enough rest.

Even at a young age, your baby has an internal clock — which is why, just as with adults, sleep consistency is key. Your baby should wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Turn down the lights and keep the house a little quieter for about an hour before bedtime. This will help set your child’s internal clock and boost the production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in the body that affects sleep.

To help your little one wind down, keep them away from TV, phone and tablet screens for at least an hour before bed.

Your baby’s habits won’t change overnight, so allow a few days to introduce a better sleep routine.

Keep your baby on their back for sleep

The safest sleep position for your baby is always on their back, in their crib. This position reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Be sure to avoid placing blankets or stuffed animals in the crib and keep them dressed in warm pajamas.

Lastly, as you’re probably learning, when it comes to babies, things don’t always go as planned. Schedules are key. When your baby has difficulty sleeping, stay calm. By introducing good sleep habits now, you’re helping set your little one up for a lifetime of restful sleep. Here’s to fewer sleepless nights and more restful ones.

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