Losing sleep over your baby not sleeping?

Here are some pointers on making your baby sleep

I REMEMBER losing sleep over my baby not sleeping. I remember my aunts worrying about why the baby didn’t sleep like a baby! I also remember my neighbours lamenting over it with good reason—imagine intermittent crying spells through the night. Everyone was worried that the baby was not getting enough sleep; everyone, except the baby itself.

So, last week, when a friend called me in a state of panic to share that her baby was showing no signs of sleeping, I had some pointers to share from my experience.

One of the top reasons for sleeplessness in babies (often accompanied with crying spells) is attributed to colic pain. Babies that suffer colic pain start sleeping only after the fourth month. Tough luck.

It is true that in babies, the growth hormones produced during sleep are triple than those produced at any given time. Most paediatricians have, however, concluded that today's babies grow up by spending the day exploring (creep, crawl, cruise), and reacting to their surroundings, with a couple of catnaps thrown in. Get help to assist with baby care, or you will get exhausted.

Increased stimuli (a television that is constantly blaring in the living room, a cellphone constantly buzzing in the bedroom) and our fast-paced lives also contribute to increased levels of curiosity and activity in our babies.  Switch off, turn down, slow down and snuggle up.

By themselves, babies take a long time to establish proper sleep patterns. Our world has a lot of stimuli for a young baby. This could be harmful or your child could be lapping it up, revelling the pace of the adult world and trying to keep up with it by staying awake and exploring it.

It is worth noting that not all babies struggle to sleep, and those who do, do not struggle all the time. Age does really catch up. So will some amount of physical exertion every day. Pre-school/school routine will also begin to tire them out.

As long as your child is cheerful and not cranky throughout the day and records steady weight gain, you can be certain that she is getting enough sleep or is well-rested. If your baby is snoring, showing abdominal discomfort (which could be due to acid reflux, allergy or constipation) or has skin rashes, these could all contribute to disruption of sleep. In such cases, consult a doctor.


Invest in a baby carrier/sling/wrap (babies do fall asleep like a baby in it!).

Keep the bedroom devoid of gadgets and other unnecessary stimuli (even harsh lights).

Formulate a bedtime routine that includes a warm bath, a bedtime story, calming music or anything else that you can keep up every night.

Consider weaning for the nights (if the baby has reached 10 months). Babies who are nursed through the night will get up just to have the sensation of the areola in their mouth. This disrupts the sleep of the baby and mother.

If there are no other health issues and the baby is still struggling to sleep at four months, consider adopting a sleep training technique elaborated online or in books like The Happiest Baby Guide To Great Sleep and Sleeping Through The Night: How Infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

Next issue: Growth milestones for the Indian baby