If your baby or little toddler is crying excessively and inconsolably day after day after day and both you and they aren’t getting sufficient sleep, the first thing that will probably be on your mind is what is wrong with your little baby?
This is a natural response for any concerned parent. So lets first address some of the more common sleeping issues with toddlers and babies so that you can have a better understanding of your little one’s needs and thereby take incremental steps to alleviate what may be causing your baby to cry and not get enough sleep.
Why Does My Baby Cry
As you will appreciate, crying is the only effective means for a baby to communicate. If you are new to parenting you will begin to learn to recognize what your baby needs and what’s the most likely reason for why they are crying.
By about 4 to 6 months you should be able to differentiate your little one’s crying as they will cry slightly differently when they are in pain, just whining from boredom and so on. Sometimes babies just cry for no explicable reason and some just like the sound of their own crying. However, whatever the possible cause, be alert to the differences between a cry due to pain and a cry because perhaps your baby is looking for some attention, is hungry or tied.
If you’re concerned that your baby or little one is crying inconsolably due to a possible medical problem, you shouldn’t hesitate to go to your family doctor for advice. Inconsolable crying is very often down to colic, especially between the ages of 3 to 6 months. A telling sign of colic is if your child shows signs of tummy discomfort and pull their legs up to their abdomen, while some babies will pass a lot of wind.
The Importance Of A Sleep Routine
Once you have ruled out the common causes of crying, such as being hungry or hot, has a wet nappy and is simply uncomfortable, next its important to set up a routine, especially a good sleep routine which is the main focus here.
Experts tell us that sleep habits formed in childhood can affect mood, health, performance and learning, both now and in the future and for this reason it’s importance to set up a good sleep routine so your child can reap the benefit for the rest of their lives.
So why set up a sleep routine, why not just let your child sleep when he or she is feeling tied?
One of the most common causes of infants and little toddlers not being able to sleep well and waking up every hour of the night is because they’re not yet in a good sleep routine.
Human beings learn how to act and behave through repetition until that they form into habits, hopefully good habits, in order to function efficiently day in day out.
Babies and young children have no concept of day and night and that come night-time it’s time to sleep. As adults we unreasonably expect children to instinctively behave as we do, but the truth of the matter is that they need to be taught how to behave. Children therefore need to be taught through repetition that they need sleep as certain times of the day and night, so that their biological clock gets programmed to tell them that its time to sleep.
So unless you begin to set the scene with a fixed routine that your baby or little toddler recognizes as his cue for sleep time, you may find yourself having problems getting your little one to sleep both during the day and at night and as a result not getting enough sleep.
Studies have shown that its important for your child’s development that they catch enough sleep during a 24 hours cycle. On the issue of exactly how much sleep your child needs, I will leave that subject for another blog post as it deserves discussion in its own right.
Instead lets take a brief look at the most common causes why your baby or little toddler is sleeping restlessly during the night with frequent inconsolable crying that’s probably leaving you exhausted too.
Why My Little One Keeps Waking Up At Night
Here’s an important fact that you need to know about sleep. Sleep is a dynamic activity involving a complex series of phases as the body moves from drifting off to sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep, which is when we are in the dreaming phase of sleep. Our body goes through 4 main phases of sleep, moving from one to the other during the night and back again. It is thought that sleep that produces the most benefit in terms of rest and rejuvenation is one in which the body runs through the 4 main phases of sleep between 4 and 6 times in the night.
For both children and adults, we briefly wake up at least five times during the night as we move through these sleep phases. A good sleeper will not even notice these brief wakings and they’re normally accompanied by a shifting to a more comfortable position, fluffing of a pillow or a quick glance at a partner or baby, then fade straight back into sleep.
Babies and children will respond differently to these brief awakenings. If your child is comfortable and feeling secure, they’re most likely to drift back into sleep again. However, if your child is more difficult and demanding, they are more likely to become fully awake in search of whatever security they need to get back to sleep.
Unfortunately, children are predisposed to being either demanding or not, as that is the very nature of being human. We are all different and we all have different emotional needs from the very moment that we are born. Some babies demand more attention and holding, whilst others are quite content to playing quietly by themselves.
Also, consider from your own experience how difficult it can sometimes be to get to sleep when your mind is still racing ahead, perhaps because of high physical activity prior to going to bed, or perhaps just because of general excitement for whatever reason. It’s very difficult to sleep until your mind and body relaxes.
Babies and infants are no different. Their minds are developing at an extraordinary pace and like adults they may find it difficult to slow down with all the new information that’s constantly bombarding their little minds. Using various techniques, the most important being to get them into a sleep routine, helps because it programs their biological clock for sleep time
The Use of Sleep Comforters To Get My Child to Sleep At Night
Babies and little toddlers that have trouble in sleeping, frequently search for that something that comforts their anxiety enough for them to fall back asleep. Exactly what that comforter is will vary from child to child. It could be the sound of the television, the humming of a fan, the presence of a parent or a familiar cuddly bear.
Children quickly associate things with sleep and they will tend to believe that they need those associations in order to sleep. If a child wakes up during the night and fails to get the comfort from something that is familiar to them and that makes them feel secure and comfortable, they will frequently cry or call out to the parent in the middle of the night because they need the parent to right the sleeping situation so that they feel secure and comfortable again so that they can fall back to sleep.
If a child is a difficult sleeper it is important that you get them into a sleep routine as quickly as possible and set up a cosy sleeping environment that helps your child to fall asleep. You may want to try dimming the lights instead of turning them off completely, have quiet soothing music playing or perhaps a favorite cuddly toy. You may need to play around with this in order to find that comforter that works for your child.
If you feel you need more help with sleeping issues with toddlers or your baby, then check out this link for more information.