When your baby doesn't sleep much in the evening, it can be stressful for everyone involved. Not only do you not get your well-deserved rest, but your baby also feels the consequences the next day. Yet sleep is incredibly important, especially for infants and their healthy development.
But it doesn't always have to be like this: With a few tricks, you can make going to bed easier for your child and help your baby fall asleep faster. We’ll show you these tricks and more in this blog article.
Find the reason why your baby has a hard time falling asleep
At this stage in your baby’s life, they unfortunately can’t yet explain what’s bothering them. This is why our very first task in this situation is to rule out any and all possible physical ailments that could be causing their problems sleeping. While it’s completely normal for a baby to cry in their sleep when they’re hungry or when their diapers need changing, other ailments or conditions can also be the reason for poor sleep.
One of the most common problems babies experience before bedtime is gas. Breastfeeding just before going to sleep can be problematic, because swallowing and digestion can give babies gas. To sidestep this problem, make sure you have enough time spaced in between the day’s last breastfeeding session and your baby’s bedtime. In addition, you can improve your baby's digestion by giving them a soothing and relaxing massage in the evening.
Noise or light
Excessive amounts of loud noise and bright light disturb our sleep as adults. Although babies can fall asleep despite these circumstances, they can be harmful for your child's sleep quality because too much light causes less of the sleep hormone melatonin to be released. If your child is anxious or scared of the dark at night, you can purchase a nightlight.
Another common reason for restlessness at night is teething. This process can even drag on for months in some cases. Not only do their aching gums prevent your baby from falling asleep, but this can also give them a runny nose. Giving your baby a small piece of cold fruit can help in this situation.
Fever is not uncommon in babies and can often be the reason why your baby can’t fall asleep. Therefore, watch out for signs such as a forehead that is too hot. Other symptoms of a cold that you can recognize are a child who does not want to drink enough, cries excessively or feels overly fatigued.
Establish a regular daily routine
By the time they’re five months old, babies can already recognize certain patterns and get used to established routines. For example, they come to expect that the evening’s events will continue to unfold in the same order as they have previously.
Since babies haven’t yet developed a day-night rhythm at this stage, this difference can be made clear to them by setting fixed times for playing, eating and sleeping. Some babies even develop a regular daily rhythm on their own and wake up or get hungry at the same time every day.
A daily routine that is as repetitive and structured as possible can give them a sense of security and help them orient themself. In addition, this also applies to nap times for babies and toddlers. The more regular the routine, the faster your child can find their way to sleep.
Determine which sleep phase your baby is in
A baby’s sleep phases are quite different from those of an adult. Babies remain in the dream phase of sleep much longer than adults do, while the falling asleep, light sleep and deep sleep phases are not yet as well developed as ours. Since babies spend most of their time in a state of light sleep, they naturally wake up more frequently. It's not until the sixth month that they develop the ability to sleep through the night for longer periods.
Nonetheless, you can identify so-called sleep windows in your baby. Babies become tired during this time and we parents should be able to recognize when this window opens. If missed, your baby will be wide awake again and the next sleep window won't open for another hour or so.
Learn to recognize the signs of fatigue and sleepiness
As mentioned earlier, babies go through sleep windows during which they fall asleep faster than they do at other times. The most common signs of sleepiness in babies include:
- a rigid expressionor a frown on the forehead
- jerky movements or clenching of the fists
- eye rubbing, ear rubbing or yawning
- crying and whining
- sucking thumb or pacifier
Keep a sleep log to help you fall asleep
It’s a great idea to keep a sleep log for babies in order to keep track of how long your child is really sleeping and what patterns have developed in their sleep behavior. Every baby is different and each baby’s sleep patterns depend on the stage that their brain development has reached. Each baby’s brain develops at different rates, which is why differences in sleep behavior from baby to baby are completely normal.
A sleep log can help make these differences clear and help identify and resolve any sleep problems.
Engage in exercise and physical activity throughout the day
Physical activity should be allowed and encouraged in babies at all times. The more babies move around during the day, the better they sleep at night. If your baby is still very small, certain exercises can help them learn to turn onto their stomach or sit up on their own more quickly.
Getting adequate fresh air and undertaking small daytime outings are also important for your baby's development. The exposure to different temperatures strengthens your child's immune system and the images of nature stimulate their brain. To make sure your baby stays warm enough while in the stroller on cold days, you can wrap them in a baby blanket.
Establish sleep rituals
As with a regular daily routine, bedtime rituals have many advantages and can give your baby a sense of routine and security. For example, you can make a habit of singing your baby a lullaby and then giving them a kiss goodnight each night at bedtime. A relaxing bath before bedtime can also help some babies fall asleep.
Add snuggle cloths to keep your baby company
Snuggle cloths and stuffed animals can help your baby fall asleep by giving your baby a sense of security and helping the child feel less lonely. In addition, they can support the child's fine motor skills and train the sense of touch. When deciding which item to purchase, pay attention to the right material - since babies often put their snuggle cloths in their mouths, these should be completely free of harmful substances.
Create the right sleeping environment for your baby
The proper sleeping environment plays an important role in your baby’s sleep. Babies prefer it a little cooler at night and should therefore not be dressed too warm. The best choice for babies is a baby sleeping bag made from natural materials like wool or cotton, as these are breathable and ensure a healthy temperature balance.
Keep calm and learn to accept bad sleep phases
Even if your baby was previously able to fall asleep easily and could sleep through the night, this can quickly change again and again in the course of their development. However, this is by no means a cause for concern, as all babies have such phases. So there is by no means any reason to go crazy if your child does not sleep as well as before.