12 Things That May Affect Baby's Sleep

by Roopika Sareen

There's something magical about a baby's sleep. From the baby's activities the following day to your mood & stamina to sail through the wails, cries and diaper changes and just about everything - it can regulate all of these! When your little bundle of joy does manage to doze off, there are several things that affect your baby's sleep (and ruin your night!).

1. Hunger

It goes without saying that hunger drives anyone cranky. The same holds true for babies. Keeping the baby fuller during the second half of the day helps here. Feeding the baby shortly before your own bedtime might just help you catch up on a little longer uninterrupted sleep.

2. Interrupted Bedtime Routine

Human brains take the cue from the practice of following a routine very fast and it’s all the more powerful in babies. The secret to establishing a bedtime routine for your baby is the repetitive nature of your exact actions every night before bed.This may sound so simple that it goes without saying, but the key to a good routine is keeping the routine. Babies who experience consistent routines may fall asleep faster. A suggestive night routine is:

  • Dinner
  • Bath
  • Story time
  • Night feed
  • Burp (along with a short walk around the room)
  • Place the baby in the crib

3. Temperature

Babies generally have body temperature higher than adults. Also, infants are not able to regulate their body temperature very fast. While it's a normal instinct to wrap the baby, the rule of thumb is that the baby should be in one more layer than you would be in a room of the same temperature.

4. Change in Place

Babies are sensitive to their surroundings. A change in room, sleeping habit (crib or co-sleeping) or going on vacation can impact the baby's sleep. Try to carry a bed-in-bag or portable crib for your little one when you are traveling. Also when you are out, catch up on your sleep along with the baby and plan your stay keeping in mind one extra night so that the baby gets time to settle.

5. Change in Person

A new nanny or either of the parents not around affects the baby's sleep. Babies get accustomed to a specific parent or person who puts the baby to sleep every night. As said earlier, any change in baby's night time routine can impact the sleep pattern.

6. Separation Anxiety

This is most prominent if there is a sudden change in your own routine. A mother getting back to work may add to anxiety levels and impact the sleep. 

7. A Medical Condition

An unwell baby is clingy and would want to be in mom's lap all through the night. Some of the most common troubles are cold, cough & congestion. It's heart wrenching to see the little one fighting to breathe on such days. Ensure baby's nose has been cleaned before putting him in bed. Teething may cause discomfort that wakes a baby as well. 

8. Developmental Milestones

When kids learn a new skill, such as crawling, they want to try it out at every chance they get, maybe even in the middle of the night! Your baby may pull herself to standing or sitting but not be able to get herself back down without help. This is usually just a passing phase and fades away naturally.

9. Late Naps In The Afternoon

The urge to sleep builds up the longer we've been awake. So it shouldn't surprise you if a baby, having awakened from a long nap only a couple of hours earlier, has trouble falling asleep at bedtime. If this seems to be the trouble, try extending the last waking period of your baby's day.

10. Baby Is Overtired

Contrary to the common belief that keeping the baby up till late just to ensure that the baby would sleep longer is untrue. An overtired baby would find it more difficult to sleep or would wake up after short intervals. If over-tiredness is the problem, pick an earlier bedtime, and help your baby wind down by introducing some soothing low-key bedtime rituals.

11. Over Stimulation

At times parents make bedtime routine too interesting making the baby excited or over stimulated. Avoid artificial lights, loud music or too much conversation. If the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, keep your voice low and soothe the baby back to sleep.

12. An Anxious & Worried Mom!

Yes, you heard it right! Researchers have now found that mothers who are depressed or worried may cause sleep problems in their babies or make them worse, rather than the other way around. Picking up the baby, feeding, co-sleeping, cuddling and even intervening too fast if the baby wakes up at midnight are just some of the ways you can affect the baby's sleep.

This list is not exhaustive but it does cover some of the many reasons babies wake up at night. Hopefully this will help pinpoint the cause the next time it happens!

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Roopika Sareen

About The Author

Roopika is a caring daughter, a cool wife, a super cool mom, a professional banker and most of all - a simple girl next door! She is a working mother of twins, interested in exploring and bridging the gap between our notion of the ‘Ideal Worker’ and the ‘Ideal Mother’ and advocating for positive changes in our community, culture & parenting style. She shares her experiences and learnings through her blog 'Go Mommy'.