Information on the typical causes of baby and toddler sleep problems with advice on how to overcome them and establish a sleeping routine.
There are many factors that can affect a baby's quality of sleep:
- Diet - Ensure your baby is receiving a balanced diet during the day so he doesn't need to wake up for feeds at night. 'Demand feeding', where parents believe every time their baby cries it's because he's hungry, results in the baby feeding little and often when he's capable of taking a bigger feed and sleeping for a longer stretch in the night.
- Hunger - Certain foods and drinks can affect the sleep of young babies and toddlers. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid alcohol, artificial sweeteners, excess caffeine and highly spiced foods.
- Over-tiredness - Many babies and young children don't settle to sleep easily in the evening and wake up several times a night because they are overtired.
- Over-stimulation - Allow a quiet wind-down period of 15-20 minutes before naps or bedtime as over-stimulation before bed affects how well they settle and sleep.
- Illness - A baby under 3 months of age will usually need help to get through the night when he has a cold or is ill.
- Anxiety - By the age of 6 months, babies begin to realise they're separate from their mothers and may show signs of separation anxiety or stranger anxiety. Responding quickly and positively to his anxiety rather than ignoring it will, in the long run, help him become more confident and independent. However, don't let your baby feel he's being rewarded for his night-time waking by giving him too much attention.
- Discomfort - Ensuring the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold and he's dressed comfortably makes all the difference to his sleeping