A baby spends between 14-19 hours sleeping each day. But this is nothing new, by now you know that sleep is important. We purchase the best cot and mattress we can afford, cover it top to toe in matching linen and decorate the nursery to rival even the most popular pins on Pinterest.
We have read all that we can on sleep and baby settling only to find that our precious little bambino is still awake and crying even after going through the recommended list (feed, nappy change, burp, too hot, too cold) up to 10 times before baby finally settles. It’s exhausting and it leaves you feeling helpless. The good news is that there are other factors potentially keeping your baby awake at night. So what is it keeping your baby awake?
Here are our 5 unexpected reasons your baby isn’t sleeping:
1. Sleep starts in pregnancy
Babies begin to show signs of wake and sleep cycles at around 32 weeks. (I’m sure you can recall those sleepless nights when baby decided to have a disco dance at 4am only to settle down at 6am when it’s time to start the day). It’s not just your baby’s temperament that predicts this wake and sleep cycle, it is also your hormones, nutrition, physical movement and sleep that play a role in determining your baby’s sleep habits. In this recent study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical School relating to stress hormones during pregnancy that clearly highlights this connection. The study found that a mother’s mental stress during pregnancy (caused by depression and anxiety) results in a greater risk of infants and toddlers that will not sleep well during the first few years of life.
2. It’s a family thing
What’s your family sleep philosophy? How well do you and other family members sleep? During the first 7 years of life, the brain is in a state of hypnosis and records other people’s behavior (especially the mother and father) and that’s where all behavior comes from. Dr. Bruce Lipton states in How Pregnancy Influences Your Child’s Genes; “The fundamental behaviors in the subconscious mind of everyone including each of us came from observing other people”. So if we have a poor relationship with sleep and do not demonstrate healthy sleep habits to our children then how can we expect them to be great sleepers?
3. Food intolerance matters
Reactions to food can be anything from mild to severe, delayed to immediate and psychological to physical making it hard to pinpoint the culprit. It can come through a mother’s milk, through formula and foods. It is important to seek professional advice if you suspect your baby or child is reacting to something. Some signs to look for may include (but are not limited to) red cheeks, skin rash’s including persistent nappy rash, constant congestion, constipation or diarrhea. What we can all agree on is that food intolerances can cause discomfort and it is this discomfort that affects our baby’s ability to sleep.
4. Toxins and EMF exposure
Most, if not all children are sensitive to toxins and electromagnetic fields that they are exposed to each day and night. Most of us made the change from harsh cleaning chemicals to natural alternatives during pregnancy when we first became aware of protecting our precious little buns. We were told to avoid painting and renovating and to always check with our doctor before taking vitamins and prescriptions.
There is a lot less information about the exposure to toxins and EMF’s on our babies once they are born. Cot mattresses are laced with numerous chemicals, a common one being fire retardant which also has a harsh smell. The beautiful sheet sets are also doused in chemicals and colour dyes that leech out over time. Our babies are breathing this in each time they are put to bed so it is no wonder that this harsh toxic smell is keeping them up. Constant exposure to this toxic gas has also been linked to SIDS. The idea of the mattresses being to blame was first posed by a British scientist named Barry Richardson.
5. Clothing tags and seams
Some babies and children are hypersensitive to touch and feel, even the smallest and softest of clothing tags can be extremely distressing. Your child doesn’t necessarily have to be hypertensive to find a piece of clothing irritating or uncomfortable. Child fashion is reaching new heights each season and comfort can sometimes be given a backseat by the unsuspecting designer. Just because something looks great doesn’t mean it feels great. There are many things you can look out for when buying baby clothes. Opt for soft breathable fabrics, minimal seams, covered elastic bands and removable tags.
So what can you do at home to ensure your baby has the best possible opportunity to sleep? Try to minimize stress in the home, assess your own sleep habits and others in the family, contact a natural health provider for an in-depth look into child food sensitivities, eliminate toxins in the home by using natural cleaning products, buy a natural organic mattress or linen, turn off home wifi at night and lastly consider the comfort of clothing when making the purchase.
“We believe every parent and child deserves a good night sleep” – Baby Sleep Guide
The above information is just a snippet of what we take into consideration when helping babies and children sleep. We hope that you have found this helpful and we wish you and your family a good night’s sleep!