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3 Reasons Why Your Child is Not Sleeping Well

Yes, it’s true – what worked for one child might not work for another child so it’s up to you to really dig in deep to decode your child’s sleep challenges and understand why your child is not sleeping well. Click through to find the 3 reasons why your baby isn't sleeping well AND what you can do it fix it! #sleepbabylove #shortnaps #baby #sleep #babysleep #babysleeptips #sleeptips

Each baby is different.  I hear it so many times “this is not my first child but my other children have never had these sleep challenges”.   Do you know why?  Because every child is so unique!

Yes, it’s true – what worked for one child might not work for another child so it’s up to you to really dig in deep to decode your child’s sleep challenges and understand why your child is not sleeping well.

So how can you hone in on the sleep challenges of your child?  How can you start to fix them if you’re not sure what the problem is?

I’m here to help!

Let’s decode some of those frustrating sleep challenges to help your child LOVE sleep. 

***I should preface this by saying that these tips are for babies that are older than 4 months.  Before then, there is really no rhyme or reason to anything and your biggest focus for a young baby is to keep their wake time short to prevent an over-tired baby.  I am also making the assumption that your room your baby is sleeping in their crib in an environment that is conducive for sleep.  And my last disclaimer, without proper self-soothing skills, these suggestions aren’t the only answers.  I digress, again…

1. Is Your Baby Short NapPIng / Waking Crying

What it probably means:

  •  Your baby is overtired

Things to think about:

  • Was your baby up too long between wake periods?
  • Is your baby going down at the right time based on their age?
  • Does your baby have the appropriate soothing skills to get back down between sleep cycles?

What to do: 

Acknowledgment is the first step – your child is probably overtired (and there is a good chance that inadvertently you’re making mistakes resulting in an overtired baby 

Don’t worry you can fix short naps focusing on napping your baby at a time that is in sync with his biological sleep rhythm and make sure that your child is sleeping enough for his age.

sleep needs by age | how much sleep does your baby need | #babysleep #toddlersleep #sleep

Also, take stock of any sleep associations that your baby may have.   Do you have to rock him to sleep?  Do you have to insert a pacifier?  Make sure you provide him the opportunity to learn the skill of falling asleep independently to ensure you don’t regret having a baby that can’t sleep

Creating a sleep log is a great tool so that you can focus on honing your child’s sleep habits.  Are there certain times that your child is going down that get longer naps than others?

With a baby, you can rely on sleepy signs but as your child gets older those signs might not only be the magic answer so figuring out the best time that your baby will nap is key.

2.       Short Nap / Waking Happy

What it probably means: 

  • Your baby is undertired

Things to think about:

  • Was your baby up for only a short between wake periods?
  • Was your baby showing any tired signs when they went into the crib?
  • How long does it typically take for your baby to fall asleep – was it more or less than usual?

What to do: 

If your child has historically taken longer naps and it’s uncharacteristic of him to take a short nap and wake up happy – try putting your baby down 15 minutes later to see if he will take a long nap.  Again, I suggest sleep logging to help uncover trends.

What else could it be?

The opposite of undertired is overtired – so yes, it’s possible that you just have one of those happy babies who doesn’t outwardly show their overtired signs.

If your child is always happy after a short nap (30 mins or less)  then he could be categorized as the happy overtired child which makes figuring out what time to put them down more of a challenge.

Always err on the conservative side until you can figure it out.  If you find that your child will take a long time to fall asleep, (30 minutes or more) plus is taking a short nap, it’s a good clue that your baby should be put down earlier vs. later.

3.       Does Your Baby Wake Early?

What it probably means:

  • Your baby is going to bed too late

Things to think about:

  • When did your baby wake up from her last nap?
  • How is she acting in the late afternoon?
  • Is the bedtime that you are using best for you or the baby?

What to do:

Fixing early wake-ups is one of the hardest things I work on as a sleep consultant – but it can be fixed!  Start by moving your bedtime earlier –  this is the easiest way to solve early wakeup problems!

Just so it’s clear, a wakeup at 6-7am is not considered an early wake-up in my mind – but 4am-5am is!)

I hear from so many exhausted parents who ask why their child is waking up at 5 am when they were put to sleep at 8 pm (when they woke up from their last nap at 2:00 pm).  7 pm or 8 pm is not the magic bedtime, as much as we all want it to be!

Yes, for some a later bedtime works, but naturally, most babies are going to go to bed from 6 pm to 8 pm – most between 6 and 7 pm about 11 to 12 hours before their wakeup.  

Maintain a flexible bedtime based on how your child is acting about 2.5 – 4 hours after they wake up from the last nap.

Move the bedtime earlier, I dare you! 🙂

What else causes a baby to sleep poorly?   

Your child is in the middle of a nap transition (from 3 to 2 naps, or 2 to 1 naps).  An early wakeup is a solid sign of the transition.  Some nap transitions are easy and some are difficult and each child handles them differently.  Once you have successfully transitioned, I would expect the wakeup to normalize.

Your baby could also be dealing with a sleep regression (the most common one starting at 4 months).  But, I need you to promise me one thing – if your sleep regression has been going on for weeks, chances are bad habits may be to cause rather than pointing the finger at teething or wonder weeks.  

So is your head spinning yet?                   

Sleep challenges can be tough to fix and the information out there (including my information above) can be confusing.  Don’t feel like you need to go it alone!  Check out my sleep services page to pick the plan that works best for you!

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

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