What’s disturbing the baby’s sleep?
The possible sources of disturbance for a baby’s poor sleep are very diverse. Environmental influences such as temperature, noise or brightness can be a source of disturbance. Fortunately, these influences can be changed.
A change in the weather can also have a negative effect on sleep for some children. However, it is also possible that certain experiences or circumstances disturb the baby’s sleep. It has often been observed after moving house or travelling that babies sleep less well.
A fight between parents can also affect the baby’s sleeping behaviour. However, after a short time the baby is usually used to the circumstances and sleep becomes better again. A common reason for sleep problems in babies is the developmental spurt.
A developmental spurt describes a sudden progress in the child’s development, such as when the baby learns to crawl or walk. A few days before the developmental push, the baby is often weepy and unbalanced and has trouble sleeping. After the developmental phase, however, the baby’s sleep pattern usually returns to normal.
Teething is handled differently by each child. Sometimes severe pain can occur, causing the baby to cry a lot and sleep badly. However, it is not always easy to determine whether the teeth are really to blame for the baby’s sleeping problems.
It is possible to check whether the gums are reddened and whether the baby cries on the parents’ arm. A warm cheek is also an indication of teething. To ease the pain you can give the baby teething gel. This gel has an analgesic effect. Even a cold, wet washcloth can help if the baby chews on it.
Normal sleep behaviour of a baby
At the beginning of sleep there is always a so-called sleep phase. This initiates the sleep cycle, which consists of two different phases. However, if the sleep phase is missed, it is usually necessary to wait until the next sleep cycle.
A newborn baby’s sleep cycle lasts about 50 minutes. If one sleep cycle is missed, the baby is unlikely to fall asleep again within the same sleep cycle. Once the baby has fallen asleep, there is often a first lively sleep phase.
This sleep is called REM sleep and is accompanied by limb and eye movement. The eyes may also be open for a few seconds. This is followed by the relaxed non-REM phase.
Here the baby is rather calm and shows a relaxed facial expression. Subsequently, the two sleep phases continue to alternate. Between the four-hour sleep phases, there are then waking phases in which the baby wants to drink or cuddle.
Especially newborns lack a day-night rhythm in the first weeks. When the baby reaches the age of about 3 months, it sleeps for about 5 hours at a time, alternating deeper and lighter sleep phases. One divides into a paradoxical sleep, calm sleep and deep sleep.
At the end of deep sleep, the baby may wake up more often. This is a completely normal process, but it usually resolves itself: the baby usually falls asleep again by itself. There are also different sleep phases in toddlers, but the child usually sleeps through the night without the parents having to calm him down during waking phases.