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Sleep, oh mysterious sleep
Getting your baby to sleep through the night can sometimes feel like that horrible arcade game, Whack-a-Mole. You take care of one issue and then another issue pops up. You might get a couple of days of good sleep in and just when you’re ready to pat yourself on the back, a 2 a.m. wake-up will pop up and drag you back to reality. This is because there are so many sneaky, little reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping through the night.
why won’t this baby sleep through the night?
How many reasons could there possibly be why this baby isn’t sleeping through the night?! Oh, believe me. There are a ton.
It’s 2 a.m., you offered a bottle or the breast. You checked the diaper. Check and check. So what is keeping this baby awake?!?
It’s those smaller, sneakier reasons that make the little mole pop up and laugh maniacally from its hole. And at 2 a.m., it’s often hard to problem-solve and figure out what is keeping your baby awake. Look, a sleep-deprived, new-momma brain is just not at its best at 2 a.m.
But there is something making your baby wake up crying through the night and you have to figure it out. And eliminate it.
Yes, it could be the big things like hunger. A hungry baby cries and wakes you up. Duh. But it could also be the little things like socks. Socks? Frigging socks?!?! More on socks later.
This whole post is about the little reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping through the night. These are the little things you didn’t think about, like socks. Not the big things like hunger or a wet diaper that you already considered.
can temperamental babies sleep through the night?
Babies are temperamental. They pretend to be all cool and chill. Oh look at me, I’m so cute falling asleep in the middle of a car dealership or a bowling alley or a Monster Truck Rally. But they’re really fooling you. They’ll give you their go-with-the-flow naps during the day and during YOUR waking hours. But when it comes to solid, nighttime sleep, the sleep when you really need it most, they get super picky and particular. But in short, yes, even these temperamental tiny creatures can still become good sleepers.
the reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping through the night
Because most babies are so picky and finicky, there are dozens upon dozens of things that could be affecting their ability to sleep through the night. Take my little glowworm. She was sleeping really well for two weeks and then all of a sudden she was waking up at 1 am every night. What was going on? It turned out that this is right when the heater was clicking on and the slight change in temperature in the house was waking her up. She already ran hot and the heat made her super uncomfortable so she would wake up.
It is really tough to find all of the sneaky things that could be waking your baby up. But this list will help you get started ruling some of them out so you can get that baby to sleep through the night.
Here are 8 reasons your baby may not be sleeping through the night:
1. Improper diaper size
Experienced moms know that you need to go up a diaper size at night. I learned this the hard way. A larger size means a larger capacity to store urine. Which means that it’s less likely that there will be any leakage overnight. But be careful of going too big because any gap around the thigh will mean you can leak. Usually sizing up one size is plenty. They also make special “overnight” diapers. I only started noticing a difference once we got past size 3, but I could be wrong. For now, I would just buy up a size for nighttime. That way, any extra become your daytime diapers when you go up a size.
2. Room temperature
Does your baby run hot or cold? Is their crib positioned right underneath an air vent so they get a blast of cold or hot air every time the A/C or heat snaps on? We invested in a four-pack of these air vent deflectors and they really helped. We put one in every room where the baby would sleep or nap.
3. Pacifier that won’t stay put
Pacifiers are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they help your baby fall and stay asleep through the night. BUT if you have a baby that’s become dependent on their pacifier, when the pacifier falls out of their mouth and they lack the dexterity to put it back in by themselves, this could make it hard for them to fall back asleep. Cue crying. Our little nugget used to wail while she was in that half-asleep/half-awake state until we popped the pacifier back in her mouth.
We also started trying out different pacifier brands to find one that stayed in her mouth a little better. A contoured pacifier, like these ones were great. This Philips Avent pacifier eventually became her favorite around four months old and remained her favorite.
I feel like the hospitals do very little to prepare you before you take home your new baby for the first time. Except they spend a lot of time telling you how cold your baby probably is. So our nurses spent a lot of time talking about footed pajamas, hats, and socks. Turns out, our human space heater didn’t really need socks. And when she had them on they made her uncomfortable. I don’t blame her. Socks are by far my least favorite accessory. Tied only with gloves. <<shudders>> But the point is, consider socks- either the need to wear them or remove them.
This is a breastmilk-fed baby problem. And yet another thing that they don’t really tell you about before you leave the hospital.
If you’ve ever pumped your milk, you’ve noticed that your breastmilk can look different depending on when you pump and how much you pump. Sometimes the milk is white and watery and sort of translucent. And sometimes it is yellow and thick. Almost like you could chew it.
What you’re looking at is the difference between foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is what comes out first and it’s thinner and less fatty. Hindmilk is what comes out after the foremilk. It’s creamier and almost buttery and has more fat in it.
You ever eat a meal of those seaweed crisps from Trader Joe’s and a cup of watermelon and a handful of lettuce? Technically you could be “full” but you’re not really satisfied. You might say, “Oh, I couldn’t eat another bite!” But you’ll probably be hungry again in about an hour. Same goes for our babies.
This is especially true for us over-producers. If you produce a lot of milk, you’ll probably have a lot of foremilk. Lactation consultants and doctors often advise new moms to have their babies switch breasts during a feeding so that they drink an equal amount from both breasts. This is great for keeping your breasts looking symmetrical, but terrible for allowing your baby to get to that fattier, richer, more filling hindmilk.
If you switch too early, your baby is only getting seaweed crisps and is never getting to the rich, filling meal that sticks to their belly and stays with them. So they’re more likely to wake up sooner and be hungry again. Make sure they empty a breast and get down to the hindmilk. It will keep them feeling fuller longer so they can snooze longer through the night.
6. your loud-ass snoring significant other
Are you room-sharing with your baby? Good. Are you room-sharing with your baby and either you or your partner snore? Bad. Very bad. First things first, get one of those sleep studies to make sure you don’t have sleep apnea. It’s serious. Next, find a way to stop snoring. We got my husband one of these mouthpiece jaw adjusters and it has seriously changed our lives and probably saved our marriage (well, the mouthpiece and this saved our marriage). We also tried one of those anti-snore pillows that repositions the head. It worked some of the time. The nose strips we tried worked absolutely none. Mouthpiece for the win!
My husband hates it when I mention that our daughter is lactose intolerant. It’s like he doesn’t believe it’s a real thing. So let’s not call it “lactose intolerant” for his sake. Let’s just say that every time she eats or drinks something that is a rich and creamy dairy product, or high in lactose, she gets diarrhea and painful gas. This painful gas would keep her up at night until I did bicycle wheels with her legs to help her get her gas out. And then we finally stopped giving her lactose. Game. Changer.
We got a lot of clothing as gifts when our daughter was born. You might think that a baby isn’t too opinionated about their clothes. And you would be wrong. Some children, especially those that are very sensorial or are on the spectrum, will have problems with different clothing textures. We loved these Burt’s Bees pajamas because they were super soft, washed well, and gave us a lot of wears out of each set. We bought the onesies and the pants.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about sleeping through the night
You’ll get there. So much of this is getting to know your weird little baby. Babies are weird! Over time, you’ll figure yours out. Your child will not be 13 and waking throughout the night crying for their mommy. They just won’t. This too shall pass and you will one day go back to sleeping in.
I mean, you probably won’t ever go back to sleeping until 11 am ever again. Don’t be completely absurd.