I see you there, parents of a newborn! You’re wondering whether you will ever feel like your old self again; fresh, energetic and lively. As someone who has come through and lived to tell the tale, there is light at the end of the tunnel, though it may not feel like it now. I am going to give you a few generic stats about newborn sleep, but I want to caveat this by saying that not every baby follows this exactly.
Newborns should be sleeping between 14 and 17 hours a day. When this might happen is anyone’s guess. They can’t tell the difference between day and night. Tragically, you can.
Four to five months old children should be sleeping between 12 to 16 hours a day. It is worth pointing out that somewhere around here they experience a sleep regression, just as you fool yourself into thinking that you’ve got them sorted. It is around this time as well that you can begin implementing a routine so that they can sleep o your terms, not theirs.
Six months old children should be getting around 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. Can you imagine the joy of getting this in as an adult? Bliss…
By about nine months, your child will start dropping a day nap and so they may sleep longer in the night.
But of course, for every rule, there is an exception. You might be shooting daggers through the screen as you consider the three hours sleep your child (and you) have had over the past 24 hours. If this is the case, there are a number of things that might be getting in the way, and it is worth exploring all options.
Hunger - One of the main reasons a baby will be unsettled during the night is if they aren’t getting enough food. If you are breastfeeding, you should consult a lactation consultant to make sure your supply is ample and their latch is getting the job done. If you are bottle feeding, double check to make sure that you are giving the correct amount for their age. Before you go rogue, and decide to give more than the recommended amount on the packaging, it is worth consulting a pediatrician. You don’t want to accidentally make it worse by overfeeding (which comes with its own range of problems.)
Gas - I bring this up next, because it flows directly out of feeding. If your child feeds incredibly quickly (we are talking less than 10 minutes), they will have built up quite a sizable amount of gas which you need to help them get rid of. It might take half an hour of gentle patting on the back, before some comically large burps emerge out of a tiny tummy. If your child is on the slower side, you might find they are almost ready to go down straight away with just a minute or so of patting. Formula is always a tricky one. Your baby might be getting too much formula too quickly if the nozzle is too wide. If your baby wolfs down the formula and is very unsettled after, consider buying a bottle with a narrower teet.
Wet - I don’t think this needs much explanation. I can only imagine sleeping with a wet nappy to be fairly uncomfortable. Fortunately, I have a few decades before that becomes a reality for me again. Moving on.
Collic - This is straight from the workbench of satan himself. If your baby isn’t settling, turning red or purple, sounds like they are in pain, and is arching their back. The sad thing is, doctors still aren’t entirely sure what causes colic. But it is extremely upsetting as a parent when you cannot sooth your baby. Ten minutes of tears is one thing, ten days is something else altogether. The best thing you can do is seek advice from your GP or pediatrician straight away. There are also probiotic drops you can pick up from most chemists that go some way in settling your baby. But look after yourself as well. It is a battlezone.
Reflux - Another fun one. This is when your baby can’t keep their food down. Now, to some extent this is a normal part of the process. But when your baby can’t put on weight because they can’t keep their food down, we can run into problems. You might also find that (like colic) it causes pain and tears to the poor little thing as their oesophagus becomes irritated over time. You need to seek help from your GP to rule out something like GORD.
Teething - This one is at least productive. When the teeth begin to burst through the gums, it brings on cold like symptoms. The best thing to do is to crack some panadol baby to reduce inflammation, and to give them something cold to chew on. You can also pick up a anaesthetic gel which can dull the sensations, but at the end of the day, all you can do is be confident that this too shall pass.
Common Cold - If you thought you were a bit useless when struck down by a cold, wait until it hits your baby. Their immune system hasn’t really come across anything like this before and it hits them for six. And by extension, it hits you for six also. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do. Panadol baby becomes your best friend. You just need to patiently weather the storm, keeping up their fluids. It can also be good to get them out of sleeping completely horizontally, as this helps drain the mucus and phlegm away from their nose and throat. Just keep up the panadol baby and it might take a week or so, but you will make it.
So there you have it! The seven most common reasons why your baby might not be making it through the night. As strange as it sounds, there is a beauty to this season. Soon they will be teenagers and you can’t get them out of bed…
Floyd - Senior Pharmacist