Even after a baby begins sleeping through the night, parents may run into a number of common snags when it comes to their baby’s sleep habits. Here are some helpful solutions for some of the more common problems:
If your baby is waking up too early in the morning
Many parents find that their baby wakes up far too early for their liking. Unfortunately, certain babies may simply be early risers by nature, and sometimes there isn’t a whole lot you can do other than move back your own schedule. However, here are a few things you can try to get your baby to sleep later:
- Don’t get up the instant your baby fusses and cries. Wait 5 or 10 minutes, and she may go back to sleep when she can’t rouse you.
- Put shades or curtains in the window in order to block out the morning sun, which wakes many infants.
- Keep her up an extra hour at night for several days to see if she sleeps later in the morning.
- As your baby gets older (around 6 to 8 months, when the risk of SIDS drops substantially) you might consider keeping a few of her favorite toys in her crib. This might keep her occupied for an extra half-hour or so before she wakes you. After she falls asleep, place a few items at the foot of her crib to discover the next morning.
Dealing with a nocturnal baby
Even after a baby has started sleeping through the night, it’s common for them to flip their schedule and get their days and nights mixed up again, so that they sleep during the day and stay awake at night. It may seem like this change happens rather suddenly, but it typically develops over several days. A baby sleeps more one day than they usually do, which causes him to sleep less that night, which means the next day he sleeps even more, and even less the next night, and so on. After several days of this, their schedule can completely flip.
A parent can play into this switch if they let their baby sleep because he seems tired, or if they offer comfort during the night, which allows the baby to adopt this new sleep cycle quite naturally. In fact, this flip often occurs after a baby has been sick. Parents know their little one is feeling a bit under the weather, and so they let him sleep it off.
The way out of this cycle is simple enough: just start cutting back on your baby’s daytime sleep (particularly the afternoon naps) little by little each day. In short order, your baby’s sleep cycle should flip back to a normal schedule.
When a baby doesn’t want to go to sleep at night
As infants get older, they become more active and may have a harder time winding down at night. To deal with this, you can:
- Make sure you are keeping to a consistent bedtime ritual. Eventually this should help your baby associate these activities with going to sleep.
- Start a wind down period 1 or 2 hours ahead of time. Dim the lights, put on soft music, and curb your play.
- Shorten your baby’s afternoon nap so that he’s a little more tired in the evening.