3 Common Infant Sleep Problems… and What To Do About Them

Common infant sleep problemsIt’s normal for babies to wake up several times during the night, especially before they reach six months of age. But if your baby seems to have trouble sleeping in general, there could be a more serious issue at play.

We’ll explain some of the common sleep problems in babies that are unrelated to mood or infant sleep apnea. If you’re dealing with sleep apnea, we offer many resources on the topic in our Apnea section.

Acid Reflux

If you’ve ever experienced that burning sensation in your chest after eating something spicy, you know how uncomfortable acid reflux can be. Reflux, also known as spitting up or GERD, is common and can give babies trouble sleeping.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), reflux occurs when your baby’s stomach is full or when he changes position abruptly, causing a mixture of food and stomach acid to press up against the top of his stomach.

Sometimes, since a baby’s muscles aren’t fully developed, the ring of muscle at the top of the stomach relaxes, allowing food to pass back up into his esophagus.

To ease reflux, the AAP suggests adding a tiny amount of baby cereal to your baby’s formula to thicken it (ask your doctor’s permission before beginning this course of treatment). You may also try feeding smaller amounts more frequently as well as keeping your baby completely upright for an hour after feeding to allow his food to settle.

Common sleep conditions in babies

Teething

Oh, those painful baby teeth! Between four and seven months of age, your baby’s first teeth will begin to come in. This major milestone can cause discomfort and make it difficult for baby to fall and stay asleep.

To help your baby get to sleep, the AAP recommends parents rub on babies’ gums gently with their fingers, giving the area a light massage. Offer chilled pacifiers, cold bananas and frozen bagels for your baby to chew on–the cold helps ease some of the pain.

Parents should not use over-the-counter gels containing benzocaine until children are at least two years old. These gels can cause serious conditions like seizures.

Colic

Most babies experience periods of fussiness, especially in the evening after a long day. When their fussiness turns to screaming and crying inconsolably, however, it may be a case of colic. Colic is a case of incessant crying and screaming typically caused by an enlarged or irritated stomach. If your baby is rocking her legs up and passing gas, it’s a pretty good sign colic is the cause.

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According to the AAP, sometimes a breastfed baby’s colic is caused by sensitivity to something in the mother’s diet. Moms can try eliminating irritating foods, like dairy and caffeine. If you’re feeding your baby formula, talk with your pediatrician about using one that’s specially formulated for colic.

You can also try laying your baby tummy-down on your lap and rubbing her back. This may help relieve some of the pressure caused by built-up gas. However, never place your baby to sleep on her stomach, as this increases her risk for SIDS.

Want to decode your baby’s strange behavior? Connect with other parents, ask questions and share advice by joining our free Facebook community, MonParents.

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