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As a first time mom to a current 10-month-old, it feels like just yesterday I was up at 2 am googling “top reasons my newborn won’t sleep” as my eyelids weighed down heavily to the sound of a soft baby cry
If you find yourself here desperately looking for answers, please keep reading as I’m about to share my TOP reasons your newborn baby won’t sleep and what you can do to turn it into a thing of the past!
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical or licensed professional on this topic. I’m a mom sharing her experiences and tips she learned along the way!
Why won’t my newborn sleep?
Before we list out all the top reasons your baby won’t sleep, I want to make sure we cover this fact.
The fact is that most babies are not able to begin consolidating their naps until about 5 months of age.
This means prior to 5 months old, your baby just isn’t developmentally ready to take on a nap schedule.
What you should do instead is focus on nighttime sleep! Depending on the age of your baby, your baby may wake anywhere every 1.5-3 hours to feed which is still ok!
In the meantime, you can still implement healthy sleep habits before then, to prepare your baby to be a super-duper awesome sleeper!
Now that’s covered, let’s begin with the top reasons your newborn baby won’t sleep!
1) Baby’s sleep space is not dark enough
Most babies prefer to sleep in the dark. Not a kind of dark, we’re talking no light in the room dark. I mean think about it, they just spent 9 months in your belly with literally no light.
I was a hard offender of this – thinking we should keep a night light on or something to help our son know we’re there, however it was only causing issues.
This applies to day time sleeping as well. If your room isn’t dark enough, look into getting some travel blackout curtains to put up along the windows or areas that let in outside light.
2) You’re not using a white noise baby machine.
Not only is this very soothing for baby, but it’s something you can use for a long time without the worry of needing to stop or wean off!
Some people think they can train their baby to sleep through anything and honestly, they may have you fooled for a bit until they become more aware of their surroundings.
Some babies are just naturally great sleepers, but for the most part, those days of ‘sleeping through everything’ will come to an end.
3) Baby isn’t eating enough before bed.
Not to get confused with relying on feeding baby to sleep, but they should nurse or eat from a bottle a few moments before going to bed. This will help to disassociate feedings with sleep, but also ensure they get a good meal.
We chose to follow a “eat, play, sleep” pattern throughout the day with the exception of nighttime.
The reasoning for this pattern is to get baby accustomed to eating, being awake to in turn tire themselves out (therefore building up the want to sleep), and then eventually develop the ability to go to sleep on their own.
That pattern allowed us to ensure our son ate a good solid meal before bed, then we’d change him into his PJs, put on his swaddle and do a short little book reading or singing before placing him down for bed.
4) Baby is being overstimulated
It is extremely important to pay attention to your baby’s sleepy cues. This means when the baby gets sleepy, you may see them yawn, rub their face, let out a cry, stretch their legs, etc… It can be many different things they do to indicate they’re sleepy.
The key to helping them sleep is getting them down not long after you notice that sleepy cue!
This is the prime time when they’ve built up the want to sleep, so keeping them awake for much longer can cause overstimulation and then struggling to sleep.
Think back to a time where you were so tired you could fall asleep standing up, but then you got sidetracked on your phone before you know it 4 hours have passed and you’re still awake! The same thing applies to baby!
5) Baby doesn’t want to be swaddled.
I’ve heard this so many times and I was actually in the same boat. I thought my son didn’t want to be swaddled and that he just wasn’t meant to sleep with one.
As much as that seems true, it’s more likely that you need to dial in those swaddling skills so that baby can’t get their arms up and startle themselves OR try a different swaddle that allows their arms to stay more upward, but keeps them tucked in so they don’t startle themselves awake!
We were in a 2 week period where all of a sudden our son just seemed like he hated his swaddle. He wouldn’t sleep until he’s got a finger out and eventually the entire arm out. It really sucked. Until we found the Love2Dream Baby Swaddle!
I can’t say enough great things about that swaddle. Around the 2 month mark, we switched into those and never looked back. I really liked that they zip up easily, come in different thicknesses for different seasons, and lasted us until he was ready to move into a sleep sack.
6) Baby is relying on a sleep prop
One of the most important skills we can help baby to learn (once they’re developmentally ready) is how to be independent sleepers. This means they shouldn’t need to rely on sleep props such as the pacifier or nursing to actively fall asleep.
One of the top culprits as a sleep prop is the pacifier. Pacifier falls out while they sleep, then they cry and fuss because they can’t put it back into their own mouths.
This is something we sort of slipped into on accident because our son was hospitalized in the NICU & they really love those little green pacifiers!
Well, he loved them too and we, at the time, didn’t see any reason why to take it away.
Until we would be waking up every 10-15 mins every single night back to back. Eventually, I just decided to take it away and cut it cold turkey. Surprisingly enough, it only took 1 full day for him to get over it and move on. 10 months later, I think he probably forgives me now 🙂
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I hope you mamas found these top reasons your newborn won’t sleep helpful!
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