Newborn Sleep Tips: Reasons Your Baby Isn’t Sleeping (And How to Fix It)

Ah, newborn sleep. As a new parent, it can feel like an elusive dream. While newborns need a lot of sleep, they don’t always make it easy for us to get them there.

My first daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 18 months old. It was an exhausting time for everyone!

My second baby did Batelle Sleep School at 9 months old and slept through the night after that!

We’re on our third baby now, and some days are great while others are reallyyyy rough. He’s too young for sleep school right now, so it’s up to us to figure it out!

 After countless nights of pacing and shushing, I’ve learned a thing or two about what might be keeping your baby up and how to help them (and you!) get some much-needed rest.

Here are some newborn sleep tips for reasons your baby isn’t sleeping, and how to fix it.

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1: Hunger

One of the most common reasons why newborns wake up frequently is because they’re hungry.

Newborns have to be fed every 2 hours, even throughout the night, but if your baby has surpassed their birth weight, you can ask your pediatrician about letting them sleep longer!

If your baby is waking up on their own throughout the night to eat, and they’ve surpassed birth weight, it may help to get more feeds in during the day time.

I’ve noticed that when I feed my 3-month-old every 2-3 hours during the day, and then nurse him from both sides before bed, he will sleep for about 8 hours before waking up to eat again. He’ll usually nurse from one side and then sleep another 3 hours.

2: Overstimulation

Babies can easily become overstimulated by their surroundings, which can make it difficult for them to fall asleep.

Just like with adults, it’s best for babies to not be around anything too stimulating before bedtime like tv or other screens. A nice relaxing bath is great for getting babies to calm down before bed.

Going from a warm bath to cooler air helps with natural melatonin production, which helps baby get to sleep and stay asleep!

Make sure the baby’s sleep environment is dark (we love these blackout curtains!) and has a sound machine to help simulate what it sounded like in the womb. We tried many sound machines and this one is our favorite – and only $16!

Try to limit your baby’s stimulation during middle of the night feedings and diaper changes, as well. We use this book light that has a red light if we need to see in the middle of the night. It’s easier on everyone’s eyes and helps us all get back to sleep.

3: Diaper changes

Wet or dirty diapers can be uncomfortable for your baby and wake them up.

You may even want to use a night time diaper, or size up for overnights if you have a heavy wetter.

Make sure to change your baby’s diaper right before bedtime and consider using a diaper cream to prevent diaper rash. We love this organic cream which can also be used on cloth diapers without ruining them or your washing machine.

4: Temperature

Babies can be sensitive to temperature, so make sure the room isn’t too hot or cold. A temperature between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

We are also a big fan of bamboo pajamas, that way our kids are covered without getting too hot in the summer.

Another great option is the Magic Merlin Sleep Suit. It was a huge game changer for us! The suit was developed by a pediatrician and keeps kids snuggled without over hearing, since babies regulate heat through their heads and feet.

5: Gas or Reflux

Babies’ digestive systems are still developing, which can lead to gas or reflux.

If your baby is having trouble sleeping due to gas or reflux, try holding them upright during feedings and for 20-30 minutes after feedings. You can also try using a gentle baby massage or burping them frequently.

We like this video on how to help your baby get gas out, maybe it will help you, too!

6: Sleep Associations:

If your baby is used to falling asleep while nursing, being rocked, or with a pacifier, they may have trouble falling asleep on their own. Try gradually reducing these sleep associations.

Your baby may protest at first, but in our experience with sleep school, it only takes a few days for them to adjust to a new routine and make new sleep associations.

We also try to keep the routine the same for naps and nighttime so that it’s easier for our baby to create sleep associations. We always do a diaper change, turn on the sound machine, put him in his Merlin sleep suit, and close the blackout curtains.

7: Being overtired:

Believe it or not, more sleep during the day will help your baby sleep more at night!

A baby who isn’t getting enough daytime sleep can get overtired and may have trouble sleeping at night.

Make sure your baby is napping frequently during the day. I love the Huckleberry app for tracking wake windows and nap times.

8: Growth spurts:

Babies often have growth spurts, which can disrupt their sleep patterns.

 Babies go through a lot of changes in their first year of life, and sometimes these changes can disrupt their sleep.

During developmental “leaps”, your baby’s brain is working overtime to make new connections, which can make it harder for them to fall asleep or stay asleep. The Wonder Weeks app and Facebook group can help you know when to expect a leap.

If your baby is going through a developmental leap, try to be patient and offer them comfort and reassurance during this time.

Be patient and stick to your usual sleep routine, the leaps can be rough but they will pass!

9: Illness:

If your baby is sick, they may have trouble sleeping.

I always feel so bad for my kids when they’re congested or have runny noses and just can’t stay asleep.

We really like this top fill humidifier, and zarbees chest rub offers almost immediate relief!

Talk to your pediatrician if you suspect your baby is sick, and hopefully you’ll be able to get them healthy again and sleeping through the night quickly!

Remember, every baby is different and what works for one may not work for another.

Some babies require help to soothe to sleep, and others are able to fall asleep and connect sleep cycles on their own.

It may take some time and patience to figure out what works best for your little one.

By following these newborn sleep tips and sticking to a consistent sleep routine, I hope that you and your baby are able to get the rest you both need and deserve!

And remember, it’s okay to ask for help! Reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support. A quick nap during the day can do wonders for a sleep deprived parent, and make it easier to get through those long nights.

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