When baby won't sleep, what can you do?

When baby won't sleep, what can you do?
"Baby won't sleep" are words that are open to interpretation, dread and anguish at times. It must be remembered that all babies are different, just like us some need more sleep than others. There is no magic answer but usually trial and error as well as being adaptable.

So what is a "normal" sleeping pattern for a baby? This depends on what book you are reading or who you talk to. Like everything to do with parenting there are numerous thoughts on this issue. In the early weeks baby is adjusting to a new environment and sleep can be linked with feeding. As they get older changes occur as they are developing or habits can form that will impact on sleep. Understand some babies can take up to 20 minutes to get into a deep sleep with a sleep cycle that last about 40 minutes, where they wake and then start another cycle.

What can you do if your baby won't sleep; this will depend on the age of the baby. All babies sleep better when they are loved, fed, warm and dry. This means that you cannot spoil a baby by picking them up and responding to their cues. Your baby is communicating with you by crying and you are responding.

How you deal with putting your baby to sleep is always going to be your decision. The best expert on your baby and family situation is you. Trust what your gut tells you. Below are some suggestions:
!. Recognise the signs baby gives you when they are tired.
Baby may be grizzly, upset or cry.
Clench their fists, have jerky movements of hands & feet.
Rub their eyes or yawn.
Lose their concentration & co-ordination.

2. Feel confident that your baby has fed well.
Babies that feed effectively usually sleep, gain weight and are contented. Yet if they are tired they might not feed well.
Your breasts should feel drained and baby looks contented.

3. Check baby is not too hot or cold.
In the early months babies do like to be wrapped which helps them to feel secure and minimises waking.
The wrap used should reflect the season - light cotton in summer, heavier material in winter.
When wrapping leave baby's hands so they can touch their face, a self comforting gesture.
At about 4 - 6 months stop the wrap (they are moving around the cot) and tuck them into the cot firmly.
Feel baby's forehead to gauge their temperature and change room temperature if needed.
A nappy change may help if for some reason it has leaked and the clothes are wet.

4. Sleep routines are useful whatever the age of the baby. They provide consistency, predictability and stability for both baby and mum. The idea is to have a regular routine that relaxes the baby making it easier for them to fall asleep. There is no perfect routine for all babies. Each family has to make decisions on what suits their lifestyle and circumstances.
Young babies may fall asleep while breastfeeding. This is their time to relax, have cuddles and feel loved.
Baby might need to have a wind down time e.g. relaxation bath, cuddles, story.
Playing some soft easy listening music to ease the transition from wake to sleep.
Some babies like to have a transitional object either animal or material to go to bed with.

5. A settling plan for sleep only works if you are going to carry through with it and give it time to work. A baby needs time and consistency for change to happen.
Talk with your partner and discuss what your goal is, how you think you can achieve it and how you need him to help.
Try to keep baby in the bed or room that you want them to sleep in.
Techniques that can help; patting, rocking, relaxation bath, massage, playing music, minimal lighting, treating interaction during the day differently from night, having your baby in the same room.
Don't do anything that you are not comfortable with as you will probably not carry through with it.
This can be a time that is very draining for you so making sure you are looking after yourself.
If nothing is working for you seek help from a health professional, community nurse or parenting centre.

Sleep derivation is probably the greatest source of stress for parents. It is important to recognise when you haven't had enough sleep to deal with everyday life.
Try to sleep when baby sleeps or at least lie down & relax.
Give sleeping a higher priority than the housework.
Where possible share the settling at night between both of you.
Talk to each other about sharing the load and when each can get added rest.
Be careful not to try and be superwoman. Perfection is impossible.
Ask for help from family and friends.
Remember if you are getting a lot of advice from different people, you are under no obligation to follow it. Trust your instincts.
Eating a well balanced diet and staying in touch with the outside world will give you a positive practical approach to parenting.

This is an overview of the above topics and a guide only. For more information and if you are at all concerned about your baby or toddler then speak with a health professional or your family doctor. Enjoy them as they grow rapidly.

Ask Tommee Tippee's Midwife Judy a question - www.tommeetippee.com.au/midwife-enquiry.asp