If there is anything that I have learned about motherhood, it is quite possibly that each and every baby and sleep situation can vary. While my two (so far) haven't been drastically different in the sleep department, there were several things that made them different as well as many things that seemed to go the exact same.
If you're like me, you're so over the talk about babies sleeping through the night. If you do your research, you'll learn that it is very unlikely that any baby will sleep through the night because they simply are unable to. They have too many needs and just like adults, they wake up too. You can on the flip side do other research and learn how to supposedly get your baby to sleep through the night but chances are, it's a short fix or you just have a damn good baby. I do believe some babies are just good sleepers for some reason and I don't feel it's because of anything done differently on any parent's part.
So what are some reasons that your cute, but oh so exhausting little one may not be sleeping so well?
1. Sleep Regressions. Perhaps one of the biggest and most important things I've learned about in the journey of motherhood so far. Sleep regressions are real people. If I didn't fully believe it after my first, I sure as heck do after my second. Both of my girls went through almost the exact same regressions just as "scheduled" to. Basically a sleep regression is when a baby who was recently sleeping decent or fairly well will take a decline and start sleeping poorly. This can be related to many things but typically it's just because of a growing baby and a growing brain trying to figure out life. Popular sleep regressions fall around milestone ages such as 4 months, 9 months and 18 months. There are also 6 month and 24 month regressions that can take place and they don't always happen at that exact time. Some regressions come a bit early or late (my 21 month old is going through one now).
2. Wonder Week Leaps. The wonder weeks are amazing to read about and if you download the app on your phone, you can track baby's development and understand why all of a sudden baby seems to be losing his/her mind (ha!). WW leaps are mental leaps that babies go through where they learn things like sequences, rules, patterns, habits, etc... These leaps can completely affect personality, eating habits, sleep habits and more. I kid you not that when my babies start sleeping poorly, nursing a ton or acting much more cranky, I can check the calendar and it's almost always a leap! AMAZING to me!
3. Teething and growth spurts. These are so hard because 9 times out of 10, baby can't tell you what is wrong. Some babies don't show a ton of signs of teething but perhaps they won't sleep too well because of it. Try and take a peek in there and see if that can possibly be why baby isn't sleeping so well.
4. Ear infections and Reflux. I've been blessed to have children who have had maybe 1-2 ear infections total (a breastfeeding perk). However I have noticed that around the few times we dealt with them, my baby wasn't sleeping as well and after being diagnosed with an ear infection, it all made sense. Laying flat like that doesn't always feel so well for a baby with an infected ear! Reflux has also at times affected both of my little ones by silently disturbing sleep. Silent reflux is hard to notice but look for a baby that wakes suddenly and screams in pain, arches their back and pokes their belly out. Odd throat/swallowing signs are also common indicators of silent reflux.
5. Sleep arrangement/bed time. Baby may be outgrowing a tactic or space that you are using. Perhaps baby doesn't want a swaddle or sleep sack anymore. Perhaps baby is at an age that a pillow may improve sleep. Perhaps baby is ready to move from crib to bed (a dreadful task in my opinion). Consider if baby seems uncomfortable and if their age may reflect that it is time for a change. Also, consider if the bedtime is appropriate for your baby and consider altering it by 10-15 mins either way to see if you notice a change. I am also a firm believer than an overtired baby sleeps poorly. The better the nap, the better the night.
6. Baby just needs you. This is important and my number one. I hate to break it you, but that baby may just need you and that is NORMAL and okay. Don't feel bad for responding to your little one and never take someone else's advice if it doesn't instinctually feel right. Babies are used to being cuddled and warm in their mother's embrace (or womb) and we can't just expect that to change overnight. I am all for responding to baby and making my child feel secure and loved. Of course if you don't respond and choose other techniques it definitely does not mean you don't love your baby, it's just a different approach. But for once, let's just do what our hearts tell us to! I recommend that all mothers do research before trying sleep training or CIO. Look at the tactics from both sides of the fence and see what you think feels right.
7. They're a baby. Period. They are supposed to wake up. They are supposed to have needs and wants that we don't always know the answer to. It's called motherhood and it comes with lots of caffeine, love and cuddles. Embrace it (or at least embrace it most of the time and cry on special, exhausting occasions).
I'm sure there are a million more reasons why baby won't sleep well, but these are just some of the ones that I have experienced so far. Never feel like there is something wrong with you or your baby just because they don't sleep through the night. Those that do so at an early age are just magical little babies who received an extra dose of sleepy dust from the sandman. ;)
What do you think makes a baby sleep poorly and how do you respond to it?