Whoever coined the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ really should have articulated what they meant. Did they mean not sleeping at all? Sleeping on a crowded bus, but screaming blue murder in a warm quiet bed? Sleeping like a baby…
When you’re the parent of a newborn, all you want is for them to sleep well. But for most of us, that wish is unfulfilled and we become well acquainted with the early morning hours. Today, I want to track through a few reasons why your baby won’t go to sleep, and offer some solutions. Hopefully after this, they’ll be sleeping like a teenager (which is a much better expression, in my opinion).
First up, what is considered ‘normal’? What are we aiming for? Apparently, a newborn should be sleeping anywhere from 14-17 hours a day. My blood pressure rises thinking about this, because there is no way my children were so compliant. In hindsight, it is highly likely they suffered from any one of the following afflictions.
If your baby seems to cry and fuss for no apparent reason (they aren’t hungry, gassy or need a nappy change), they might be suffering from colic. Or rather, you might be suffering from them suffering from colic. Doctors still aren’t entirely sure what causes colic, but it has to do with them being unable to deal with the gasses and pressure in their stomach. You might start to suspect your baby has colic if:
- Their cry is high pitched
- They are almost impossible to soothe
- Their face turns red, or the skin around their lips turns pale
- They arch their back, tighten their legs, clench their fists or stiffen their arms
Although colic generally goes away by itself, you will probably want to get on the front foot. There are various medicines that can alleviate this pain, such as Nestle nan care probiotic drops. It also helps to cut out dairy, gluten and soy from your diet so that these don’t inflame the baby’s tender stomach as it deals with life on the outside. There are a number of things you can do to offer pain relief in the moment:
- Go for a walk with the baby. The movement can distract and sooth the unsettled tummy
- Put them in their baby capsule and go for a drive. Works similarly to the walk, but it also gives you the chance to see the outside world.
- Take a warm bath
Remember, a colicky baby is difficult and breaks everyone. It is not your fault. Not even a bit.
This is when the food moves back up from the baby’s stomach and out onto all of your clothes. You find yourself doing several hundred loads of washing a day and wondering whether this was all worth it. Now, this happens in all babies to some extent. They are still learning how to keep their food down, but when it becomes excessive, this can become a problem. You should definitely seek advice from your doctor if your baby:
- Isn’t gaining weight because they cannot keep food down long enough
- Refuses food
- Is projectile vomiting
- Is vomiting after most feeds
- The vomit is green, yellow, bloody or brown
- Is super irritable after feeds
- Has blood in their nappy
- Is continuing to vomit after six months
If these symptoms are showing up, it could suggest GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or blockage in their digestive system.
A temperature in an adult is annoying. We feel a little bit under the weather and try to sleep it off. A temperature in a child is serious. If they are trucking along happily, they will be showing a temperature of around 36.5 to 38 degrees. If they are anywhere above that, you need to seek help. Panadol baby is a bit of a godsend in these moments, but there may well be something bigger happening behind the scenes. It could be the result of:
- Gastroenteritis: This will involve diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and headaches. It will usually last a few days, but when it is a small child who has no idea what is happening, you will feel every second of those few days.
- Common cold or influenza: Depending on which virus they have picked up depends on how serious this is. Influenza on a young immune system can be life threatening.
- Chickenpox, measles or mumps: The symptoms tend to be much less severe in younger children than if you were an adult, but that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. Panadol baby is still your friend in soothing the pain.
- Ear or throat infections: This is super common in children; over 80% of kids will have had one by the age of three. You can reduce the pain and pressure in the head by giving a paracetamol like Panadol baby.
- Meningitis: Saved the worst till last. This is an infection of the brain or spinal cord that is a medical emergency. If your child is nauseous, has neck stiffness, difficulty with bright lights, a rash which doesn’t balance under pressure, you should go and get checked out immediately. Best case scenario, you took an unnecessary trip to A&E. Worst case scenario is that your child might have contracted a life threatening illness. It’s not a gamble worth taking.
Just when you start falling into a manageable pattern with sleep, your baby will start teething. This can seriously disrupt their sleep because they are genuinely in pain. It usually kicks into gear around the 4-6 month mark, and they will have all twenty baby teeth by the age of two. If you’re a praying person, ask whatever deity you pray to that it might happen a few at a time. You will know your child is teething if they:
- Cry more than usual
- Have red swollen gums
- Have flushed cheeks
- Have a slight temperature.
It’s perfectly normal. Get some kind of teething toy and some Panadol baby and you will get through it. You may not feel like you will, but stay strong. The end is in sight.
Godspeed you, young parents. Godspeed.