As a loving parent, it’s easy panic and think worst case scenario when your baby is crying and not sleeping. If your little one is crying there will be a reason or reasons why and in a healthy baby, these reasons are often relatively straight forward, basic and easy to address.
Here are some of the reasons why your baby may be crying and not sleeping -
Overtired – When a baby is not getting enough total sleep, day and night, they become overtired. Exhausted babies cry and find it hard to wind down and switch off. Babies need a large amount of sleep every 24 hours and when they don’t get that, they often struggle to fall off to sleep and stay asleep for long periods. Babies, particularly young babies, do not need to be wake for long before they need to sleep. Responding to your baby’s-tired signs and getting them down for a nap or at bedtime when they are tired and not overtired and exhausted, will help them settle off to sleep easier, without those extended periods of crying. It will also help with the quality and length of their sleep.
Hungry – If your baby is hungry, they will cry, and they will not sleep. Feeding and sleeping go hand in hand and a well-fed baby, who has a nice, full feed or meal will be satisfied and able to sleep much longer than a baby who is hungry. A hungry baby needs to be fed however babies of all ages do not need to be fed constantly. If they are feeding, or snacking constantly, their sleep will be disrupted. It’s important that you space out your baby’s feeds, during the day and overnight, allowing them to build up a hunger so they then take a full feed / meal when they are in fact hungry. This will help keep them satisfied so they nap longer and sleep solidly before needing another feed overnight.
Cold – Babies need to feel warm and cozy and when they don’t, they don’t sleep well. A cold baby will cry out and seek warmth and that might be when they are trying to fall off to sleep, when they rouse in between sleep cycles, stages overnight or during a nap. Pay attention to what you are dressing your baby in during sleep time and the temperature of their room and don’t be afraid to add layers and use a safe heater during the colder months.
Conditions Change – If a baby is falling to sleep under a certain set of conditions i.e. being held, fed, rocked, sucking a dummy, they may fall off to sleep with ease however when they are then put down in their cot or bassinet alone or their dummy falls out, they rouse during sleep and they will realize the conditions have changed, they will cry. Get into the habit of putting your baby down by themselves, in their cot or bassinet for naps and at bedtime. When they wake during sleep, they will see the conditions they fell asleep under will be the same and familiar and therefore they will feel happy falling back to sleep without needing your help.
Illness – An otherwise healthy baby who is coming down with a cold or who is unwell with a tummy bug may cry more and sleep less. If you are worried that your baby is unwell or coming down with something, don’t hesitate and take them to your GP or Paediatrician. If you need to feed your baby more and hold them more during this time, then do. In saying that, when your baby is unwell, sleep is as important as ever so make it a priority. A well-rested baby will cope with illness much better than an exhausted and sleep deprived one. The same applies to poor mum and dad too. Change your routine and habits temporarily however, go back to the normal way of doing things as soon as you see signs of recovery.