Ann Douglas, author of Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler, offers some advice on dealing with this common -- and frustrating -- newborn sleep issue.
Ann Douglas

Sleep is the stuff of which dreams are made -- especially if you're a sleep-deprived mom. Here are some tips on troubleshooting some common mom, baby, and toddler sleep problems.

Mom
"My newborn is sleeping, but I'm not. It takes me forever to get back to sleep after each middle-of-the-night feeding -- and then it's time to start all over again!"

What to try:

  • Try to lull yourself back to sleep by breathing in and out slowly and deeply; imagining a peaceful and relaxing scene; and repeating the same relaxing word ("relax" or "calm") over and over again until you fall asleep.

  • Get out of bed. If you aren't asleep within 15 minutes (don't look at the clock!), move to another room and read until you feel sleepy. Then go back to bed.

  • If you continue to have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. Caring for a new baby is tough enough without being chronically sleep deprived.

    Baby
    "My newborn hates to sleep on her back. I know this is the safest sleeping position for her, but neither of us is getting any sleep!"

    What to try:

  • Swaddle your baby. A study in the September 2002 issue of Pediatrics concluded that newborns protest less about sleeping on their backs if they're swaddled.

  • Watch for symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) -- colic, feeding problems, choking, and gagging. Babies with GERD find it very uncomfortable to be placed to sleep on their backs. Your baby's doctor will be able to suggest ways of easing your baby's discomfort if your baby has GERD.

    "My ten-month-old was sleeping through the night. Now he's up almost every night."

    What to try:

  • Sometimes when babies are trying to learn a new skill, they'll work on that skill day and night: you'll find your baby "stuck" standing up in his crib because he doesn't know how to get down.

  • If there has been a big change in baby's life, he may react by waking in the night. Encouraging an attachment to a small stuffed animal and providing tons of TLC during the day may help to reduce the number of night-time calls for mom.



    Toddler
    "My toddler wakes up really early. I'm talking 4:30 a.m."

    What to try:

  • Move your toddler's back by an hour. Sleep deprived toddlers wake up earlier than toddlers who are getting adequate sleep (which is 14 hours of total daytime and nighttime sleep for most toddlers). Note: You'll need to shift your toddler's bedtime back in stages -- by 15 minutes at a time over a period of a week or two.

  • Learn your toddler's signs of sleepiness (e.g., talking less, starting to yawn, becoming distracted) and try to get your toddler to bed before she becomes overtired (whining, crying, acting all wound up, becoming frustrated with her toys).

  • Encourage your toddler to stick with her daytime naps as long as she needs them. This will help with the quality of her nighttime sleep and, because she will be better rested, this will help with the early-waking problem, too.

    Sleep Facts and Stats

  • Breastfed newborns may need to be fed a little more often than formula-fed babies, but their moms end up getting roughly the same amount of sleep in each 24 hour period.

  • New parents can each expect to miss out on about 400 hours of sleep by the end of baby's first year.

  • A study by the U.S.-based National Sleep Foundation found that majority of toddlers are down to one nap a day by age 18 months (87%), and that only 19% of two year olds are members of the "no nap" club.PregnancyAndBaby.com
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