The 9 most common baby sleep challenges... and how to solve them
Together with Sabrina from Baby Schlafprofi.de , we have worked out for you in two blog posts the 9 most common sleeping situations that always bring young parents almost to the brink of despair. What to do if your baby just doesn't want to fall asleep or is awake again very early in the morning? In the first part we will look at 6 situations and give you the relevant tips that have already helped numerous mothers. Have fun reading & implementing :)
But before we get started, we would first like to look at what “norm values” there are for small children. In our experience, some perceived challenges are simply part of babies' natural development.
1. How often and how long should my child actually sleep?
Parents often ask themselves what exact sleep their child needs in the first year of life and how many hours a day or night are “age-appropriate”. The following table is intended to answer this question. It represents the sleep needs of a child in the first year of life.
But be careful: the values listed are intended solely as a guide. Please note that every child is different and therefore may have slightly different sleep needs!
2. Baby sleep challenges
2.1. My child takes a long time to fall asleep
If it often takes longer than 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep during the day and/or evening, it can generally be said that it is not the right time.
If you put your child to sleep too early and he or she is not tired enough, then your child will simply find sleeping too boring. This is often reflected in the increased number of times you get up or sit down in bed, or your child cheerfully tells stories.
In this case, you should tend to put your child down a little later over several days. Proceed step by step!
However, if you put your child to sleep too late, it may already be overtired.
When you are overtired, the stress hormone cortisol is released and this in turn makes it difficult for your child to fall asleep even though they are dead tired. This is often shown by the fact that your child has already had a certain low point at an earlier point in time and is suddenly wide awake and cheerful again.
Therefore, try consistently over a few days to go back to sleep times and pay close attention to your child's signs of tiredness and signals.
Attention: you should never sleep at night before 6 p.m.!
2.2. My child skipped his afternoon nap and is therefore tired much earlier in the evening
If, for whatever reason, your child has missed the last nap before going to bed, then put your child to bed around 6 p.m. on such days to avoid becoming overtired!
Important: It is a fallacy that children sleep longer in the morning if they go to bed later in the evening and your child does not necessarily wake up at 5:00 a.m. - quite the opposite 😉
2.3. My child only takes very short daytime naps (<1 hour)
There are many possible reasons why your child only sleeps very briefly during the day:
- unusual noises
- too much total sleep
- Developmental spurt/regression
- too little sleep pressure (not tired enough)
- Discomfort / illness / pain
- used sleep aids
However, in our experience, the sleep aids used are the most common reason why a child wakes up again after a short time and usually only falls asleep again when this state of falling asleep for the first time is restored.
If you can rule out all of the other factors listed above and suspect the use of sleep aids, then try to reduce them little by little.
2.4. My child took an unplanned power nap in the afternoon. Therefore, the original bedtime is no longer appropriate
Such an unplanned power nap in the late afternoon is pure horror for every mother! You've only just been on the road for a short time and you're almost home, you look in the rearview mirror and see that your child is blissfully asleep in the car seat.
This 10-minute power nap can then give the child a real energy boost. The sleep pressure that has built up up to that point is then gone!
Important: stay as relaxed as possible and take a deep breath! Then postpone going to sleep in the evening by 30 to 60 minutes to save yourself and your child a lot of stress!
2.5. My child goes to sleep relatively early and wakes up very early in the morning (5:30 a.m.) in a good mood
If your child wakes up so early in the morning in a good mood, then he or she has probably had a good night's sleep. But what can you do to ensure your child sleeps longer in the morning?
Delay bedtime by 15 to 20 minutes each evening for 3 to 4 days. Then after 3 to 4 days you postponed your evening bedtime by an hour.
Important: It can take around 3 weeks for your child's biorhythm to get used to the new time. So be patient if nothing changes immediately!
2.6. My child has periods of waking at night and is in a good mood
Nocturnal waking phases occur more frequently in the 11 or 24 month regression, as your child's sleep needs change during this time.
The nocturnal waking phases occur due to an excess of daytime sleep.
To ensure that these waking phases disappear again, you can either completely eliminate a day's sleep or shorten it, or you can put your child to bed an hour later in the evening.
Slowly make progress in reducing your daytime sleep! Don't let yourself be unsettled: you know best which of the options listed is best for your child.
2.7. My baby can only get to sleep (again) with several bottles
If your baby can only get back to sleep with several bottle feeds, there is not just ONE general tip. There are several things to consider here.
Of course, your child can drink something at night if he or she is thirsty! However, if you notice that the bottle is the reason why your child still wakes up several times during the night even at the age of 1 year or older, then it may make sense to reduce and/or eliminate the bottle meals at night . It is also often the case that children do not eat well during the day if they have several bottle meals at night.
Important: Offering water instead of a bottle of milk will not prevent you from waking up!
If you don't want to cut out a bottle meal completely and prefer to take a gentle step, you can first start by reducing the amount of bottle in 50 ml to 100 ml increments over several days!
Danger: Simply reducing the amount of powder alone does not help. This will of course reduce calorie intake at night and your child may eat better during the day, but the impulse to wake up will still remain.
If you decide to completely eliminate bottle feeding, be prepared emotionally that 1 to 3 nights may be a challenge. Important: Give your child all the love and affection they need during this time! But afterward, your child will be able to get the sleep they need for healthy development and wake up less often.
2.8. My baby only falls asleep when breastfeeding or only falls back asleep when breastfeeding
If your baby often wakes up at night and only falls asleep at the breast or through breastfeeding, we hope that the following tips will help you.
Especially in the first year of life Breastfeeding is an absolute basic need and is also part of the special relationship between mother and child. The WHO recommends “Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years or beyond.”
Basically poses Breast milk is a valuable source of energy, protein and energy It also offers valuable minerals and long unsaturated fatty acids, which are important for the development of the central nervous system.
The instinctive behavior and hormones that both mother and child release when breastfeeding support the mother-child bond and promote effective communication between the two. All of this strengthens the child's basic trust.
But what if your child is 9 months old or older and wakes up several times during the night and can only be put back to sleep when breastfed? So that your baby only falls asleep when breastfeeding or at the breast? Do you often notice that it's often not necessarily about eating, but rather about suckling your breast to sleep?
Then it may well be that your child has one “negative sleep association” has developed - your child thinks that he or she can only fall asleep (again) with the help of the breast.
First of all: You don't have to wean your child so they can get the sleep they need for healthy development!
If the situation is stressful for you and you notice that your child is not getting restful sleep due to frequent waking, you can start by reducing the breastfeeding meals to an appropriate level. To do this, you can either eliminate entire breastfeeding meals or, for example, always do so a little earlier in the breastfeeding process undock. If your child only falls asleep on the breast, you can use both options to break the habit.
If you decide to completely eliminate a breastfeeding meal, be prepared emotionally that 1 to 3 nights may be a challenge.
Important: give your child all the love and affection they need during this time! As with the bottle, offering water instead of the breast will not prevent you from waking up!
2.9. My baby only falls asleep with a lot of movement
Especially in the first 3 to 4 months of life after birth , many babies struggle with severe abdominal pain and flatulence . These three-month colic can be very distressing to babies and cause them a lot of pain.
Being carried can help children's digestion . This is also the reason why babies who suffer from gas and stomach pain seek closer proximity to their parents.
But what if the child can only sleep well beyond the 3-month period of colic when it is carried?
If your child needs some kind of movement to fall asleep and begins to cry bitterly or even scream if you don't give him this movement, there are many indications that your child has developed a so-called "negative sleep association" .
This usually happens from the 3rd/4th. Month of life when the children reach a new level of cognitive maturity.
Negative sleep association means something like: your child thinks they need xyz in order to be able to fall asleep (again) - in this case the factor of movement.
If you notice this with your child, you can try to use the movement a little less little by little.
It is important to find the necessary balance so that, for example, if you carry it in your arm, you can then put it down in bed without causing a huge roar again.
Since it is not always easy to find the instinct for the necessary intermediate steps on your own, it can be very useful to seek support in this regard.
We hope we were able to help you with our tips and give you a few helpful tips if your baby only falls asleep at the burst or while breastfeeding, needs movement to fall asleep, or needs several bottles to fall asleep peacefully :).
If you would like to see more helpful videos about the most common sleep challenges, please take a look at our Youtube channel over. We are happy!
We wish you and your baby healthy and safe baby sleep.
Your Wombambino team & Sabrina from Baby Schlafprofi.de.