October 30, 2023

Help, My Baby Won't Sleep!

“Help, my baby won’t sleep!”These words have probably been spoken by just about anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being a parent.

Solving Baby’s Sleep Struggles: 10 Reasons Why Baby Won’t Sleep & What to Do

Ah, the sweet dreams of pre-baby days when the nights were long, and the sleep was peaceful. Now, they seem to be replaced by the whims of an infant crying a tiny human who seems to have mistaken night for day. But fret not, dear parent, for you are not alone in this nightly adventure.

Many have navigated the rough seas of baby sleep and lived to tell the tale.

And guess what?

We’re here to share the treasure map of wisdom that will guide you through these challenging nights.

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns

baby won't sleep

Every baby is unique, and so are their sleep patterns. Monitoring and adjusting to your little one’s sleep patterns is vital for ensuring their better sleep and overall well-being. Newborns sleep an average amount of 14 to 17 hours per day. Babies aged 4 to 12 months require 12 to 16 sleep hours daily for them to be energized and alert. Keep in mind these numbers while observing your baby’s sleep habits.

Sometimes, your baby might have trouble falling asleep or experience changes in their night sleep routine due to factors such as illness, teething, or developmental milestones. These are temporary disruptions, so don’t worry! With patience and understanding, you’ll soon find your way back to a regular baby bedtime routine. Following a checklist of good practices like consistent bedtime routines and comfortable sleep environments can help avoid infant sleep problems.

Age-Related Sleep Changes

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns naturally evolve, offering them different amounts of sleep and good sleep habits at various ages. For example, a 4-month-old baby can benefit from getting 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day, which will help them feel refreshed and energized when they wake up. By understanding these age-related sleep changes, you can better adjust your baby’s routine to suit their needs and promote healthy sleep habits.

Being aware of your baby’s nap transitions as they grow older is also vital. Most babies transition to just one long midday nap around 14 to 16 months, but very young babies may still require multiple naps throughout the day. Babies aged up to 9 months need sufficient rest. For this, they should ideally stay awake for approximately 2 hours after their last sleep.

So, what can you do to help your baby adapt to these age-related sleep changes? Be patient and flexible! Adjust their routine as needed, and try incorporating an abbreviated bedtime routine before each nap, such as quiet music, a massage, or some storytelling. Remember, every baby is different, and these changes are completely normal.

Growth Spurts and Developmental Milestones

During growth spurts and developmental milestones, your baby may experience temporary changes in their sleep patterns that can leave you both feeling a little frazzled. These exciting periods of rapid physical and mental development are completely normal and offer a great opportunity for you to bond with your baby as you support them through these changes.

Some common growth spurts and milestones that can affect your baby’s sleep include learning to roll over, teething, and language development. To help your little one during these challenging times, you can give them more milk and/or solids throughout the day and switch up their routine a bit. Remember, patience and understanding are key as you navigate these sleep disruptions together.

As your baby continues to grow and develop, their sleep patterns will evolve too, moving from more active sleep to deeper sleep. By being aware of these growth spurts and developmental milestones, you can better support your baby and help them maintain healthy baby’s sleeping habits.

Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine

baby won't sleep

A consistent bedtime routine can work wonders for your baby’s sleep. It not only helps them sleep longer at night but also helps them fall asleep faster. Establishing a bedtime routine is integral to set up your baby’s circadian rhythm and ensuring they get a good night’s sleep. Plus, a consistent routine can bring great benefits such as improved eating habits, increased cheerfulness, and a more tranquil life for both you and your sleeping baby.

To create a soothing bedtime routine, you can incorporate calming activities that help your baby wind down and prepare for sleep. These activities can include a warm bath, gentle massage, and storytelling.

Maintaining consistency and appropriate timing in your baby’s bedtime routine is also crucial. This includes:

  • Setting a regular bedtime
  • Feeding your baby about 30 minutes before their usual bedtime or nap
  • Ensuring that the sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep.

Calming Activities

Calming activities, essential to your baby’s bedtime routine, help your little one relax and prepare for a peaceful night’s rest.

Some examples of calming activities you can incorporate into your baby nap or bedtime routine include:

  • A warm bath to relax their muscles
  • Getting cleaned up to feel refreshed
  • Getting into jammies to get cozy
  • Cuddling to feel connected

Gently stroking your baby’s back, chest, or tummy can also help calm them, as can providing a pacifier or a distracting toy. Swaddling your baby can give them the feeling of a hug, and sensory activities like water play or playing with playdough can be great calming activities too.

Remember, the goal is to create a sense of calm and security for your baby, so feel free to get creative and personalize your calming activities to suit your baby’s preferences and needs.

Consistency and Timing

Consistency in your baby’s bedtime routine is vital as it regulates their sleep drive and promotes better sleep through appropriate timing. To ensure consistency, it’s important to set a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your baby. This helps your newborn baby establish their circadian rhythm, which is their internal body clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

To maintain consistency in your baby’s bedtime routine and ensure an optimal sleep environment, you should also pay attention to the timing of feedings, naps, and other daily activities. For example, aim to feed your baby a good 30 minutes before their usual bedtime or nap schedule. Creating a peaceful sleep environment with the right room temperature, lighting, and noise levels can also contribute to a consistent bedtime routine.

Focusing on consistency and timing sets the foundation for your baby to cultivate healthy sleep habits, ensuring a more restful night for both and helping to manage sleep pressure.

Addressing Common Sleep Disruptors

baby, bear, bed

There are several common sleep disruptors that can make it difficult for your baby to get a good night’s rest, such as hunger and sleep environment factors. Addressing these sleep disruptors can help your baby sleep more soundly, making bedtime a more peaceful experience for all.

One helpful strategy for managing nighttime hunger is adjusting your baby’s feeding schedule, ensuring they are not waking up due to hunger. Additionally, you can consider nighttime feeding strategies, such as dream feeding and introducing short pauses before middle-of-the-night feeds, to help your baby get more restful sleep.

Hunger and Feeding Schedule

baby bottle

Babies often wake up during the night because they’re hungry, especially in the early months when their stomachs are small and they need frequent feedings. To minimize night wakings due to hunger, you can adjust your baby’s feeding schedule by offering more milk and/or solids throughout the day, ensuring that babies wake less frequently at night when the baby wakes.

Many babies can usually go without middle-of-the-night feedings by 6 months old. This is a great milestone to reach as your baby grows. However, if your baby still seems hungry at night, you can try dream feeding, which involves giving your baby a feed right before you go to bed, without fully waking them up.

Another strategy is introducing short pauses before middle-of-the-night feeds, giving your baby a chance to resettle themselves before you intervene. This can help encourage self-soothing and may eventually lead your baby to sleep for longer stretches of sleep.

Sleep Environment Factors

An optimal baby’s sleep environment is vital for your baby’s restful sleep. Factors such as room temperature, lighting, and noise levels can all have an impact on your baby’s sleep quality.

To ensure a comfortable sleep for your baby, the ideal room temperature should be between 16-20 degrees Celsius. A dim and calming lighting is also ideal for creating a tranquil sleep environment.

Noise levels should be kept to a minimum, but you can use white noise machines or fans to create a soothing atmosphere. By addressing these sleep environment factors, you can help your baby sleep more soundly and minimize disruptions caused by external influences.

Tackling Sleep Associations and Props

nursery, crib, chair

Sleep associations and props are items or routines that your baby relies on to fall and stay asleep, such as being rocked or fed at bedtime or when they wake up in the middle of the night. While these associations can provide comfort, they can also hinder your baby’s ability to sleep independently.

Dealing with sleep associations and props can encourage your baby’s independent sleep, leading to better sleep for both the baby and the parents. Developing a consistent bedtime routine and creating a calming environment can also contribute to breaking these associations and promoting independent sleep.

Remember, patience and consistency are key when dealing with sleep associations and props. With time and perseverance, your baby will develop the skills they need to sleep independently, ensuring a more restful night for the entire family.

Recognizing and Managing Sleep Regressions

Sleep regressions are a normal part of your baby’s development and can occur at various ages, such as 4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, and 18 months. During these periods of sleep regression, your baby may experience more frequent night waking, trouble falling asleep at bedtime, increased fussiness, and resistance to naps.

Understanding sleep regressions as a normal part of development can help you tackle them with patience and empathy. To manage sleep regressions effectively, you can maintain a consistent bedtime routine, avoid overstimulation before bedtime, and provide comfort and reassurance when needed.

Recognizing and managing sleep regressions supports your baby through these tough periods while upholding a regular bedtime routine to encourage healthy sleep habits and fight sleep issues.

When to Seek Professional Help

While many sleep issues can be resolved with patience and consistency, there may come a time when you should seek professional help for your baby’s sleep problems. Persistent sleep issues can be a sign of a more serious issue, and it’s important to ensure that both your baby and you are getting the rest you need.

Before commencing any sleep training, make sure to consult with your pediatrician to rule out any sleep disorders or medical issues that could affect your baby’s sleep.

If you’re unsure about whether to seek professional help, observe your baby’s sleep habits and consider if their sleep problems are persistent and affecting their overall well-being. If so, don’t hesitate to consult with your pediatrician or a sleep specialist to discuss potential solutions and support.

Encouraging Self-Soothing Techniques

Self-soothing techniques can be incredibly helpful for babies in learning to fall asleep and resettle themselves independently. These techniques can include using a pacifier, rubbing a soft blanket, or simply sucking on their own fingers or thumb.

Encouraging self-soothing techniques can equip your baby with the skills necessary to sleep and settle independently, leading to improved sleep for both the baby and parents.

To promote self-soothing, you can:

  • Create a consistent bedtime routine
  • Maintain a calming environment
  • Avoid sleep associations and props that may hinder your baby’s ability to self-soothe

With patience and consistency, your baby will learn to self-soothe and enjoy more restful nighttime sleep as they gradually master the skill of baby fall asleep, ensuring you both recover any lost sleep.

Adapting to Changes and Transitions

Throughout your baby’s life, they will experience various changes and transitions that can impact their sleep, such as illness, travel, or developmental milestones. Adapting to these changes, while keeping a consistent sleep routine, can minimize disruptions and foster healthy sleep habits.

To ensure a consistent sleep routine for your baby, follow these steps:

  1. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
  2. Establish a calming bedtime routine.
  3. Avoid overstimulating activities before bed.
  4. Be mindful of any changes or transitions that may affect your baby’s sleep and adjust the routine accordingly.

By being flexible and adaptive, you can help your baby navigate these changes and transitions while maintaining a healthy sleep routine that promotes restful sleep and overall well-being.

Sleep Training Methods and Considerations

Various sleep training methods are available, and considering their potential benefits and drawbacks for your baby’s sleep and overall well-being is important. Some well-known sleep training methods include the Ferber method, which involves gradually increasing the amount of time a baby is left to cry before being comforted.

When choosing a sleep training method, consider factors such as your baby’s age, temperament, and your family’s preferences and values. It’s also important to consult with your pediatrician before starting any sleep training program to rule out any underlying medical conditions or sleep disorders.

Remember, every baby is different, and what works for one family may not work for another. By exploring various sleep training methods and considering their potential benefits and drawbacks, you can find the approach that best suits your baby’s needs and promotes healthy sleep habits.


In conclusion, helping your baby develop healthy sleep habits is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and adaptability. By monitoring and adjusting your baby’s sleep patterns, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, addressing common sleep disruptors, and promoting self-soothing techniques, you can create an environment that supports restful sleep for your little one.

Remember, every baby is unique, and their sleep needs will change as they grow and develop. Stay flexible and open to adapting your approach as needed, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring a more restful night for both you and your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do when the baby won’t sleep?

Try establishing a bedtime routine for your baby and providing comforting stimuli like swaddling, shushing, swinging and sucking to help them relax. Also make sure they’re getting enough sleep during the day to balance out any lost sleep at night.

Why is my baby struggling to sleep?

It’s likely that your baby is not getting enough light during the day, is taking too many naps or may be hungry. They may also be affected by developmental milestones, changes in routine or trying to adjust to an adult sleep schedule. Make sure they get enough exposure to morning light and ensure they are fed before bedtime to help them drift off to sleep.

How much sleep does my newborn need?

Your newborn needs 14-17 hours of sleep per day to stay energized and alert, so make sure you get plenty of rest too!

How can I create a calming bedtime routine for my baby?

Create a soothing bedtime routine for your baby with activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, and storytelling to help them relax and drift off peacefully.

How can I help my baby learn to self-soothe?

Help your baby develop self-soothing techniques such as using a pacifier, rubbing a soft blanket or sucking on fingers/thumb. Create a consistent bedtime routine and maintain a calming environment to support them in this.

About the author 

Jeff and Yvette

Jeff & his Wife Yvette live in Anaheim Hills, in Orange County California.

They're fans of Disneyland, and traveling, and are parents to TWO Awesome Kid, Steven Andrew (10/21), and Amelia (9/19) :-)

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