Sleeping battles

The joy of having a new baby also comes with one of the biggest challenges any parent will face – getting used to irregular sleeping habits.

Born to sleep

According to Sister Olive Mweene from Eden Glen in Gauteng’s East Rand, infants have a completely different sleeping pattern compared to adults and older children. An Occupational Health and Nursing Science graduate, Sister Olive started her nursing career at paediatric wards. ‘Every baby is an individual with a unique sleeping pattern. This can cause many mothers to worry as it may seem like their baby is either sleeping too much or for too short periods,’ Sister Olive says. ‘Newborns are generally great sleepers who will want to rest for periods of between 30 minutes and two to three hours. Their patterns will change as they grow.’

Why won’t my baby sleep?

  • Reflex All newborns have the Moro reflex, which makes them feel like they’re falling. They react by lifting and stretching their arms. This also happens in their sleep and often wakes them up. This reflex lasts until they’re three to four months old. Wrap or swaddle your baby in a blanket – this helps keep their arms from jerking suddenly.
  • Illness Your baby may be ill. Check their temperature by placing a thermometer in their armpit. It should be 37°C. Anything above is considered a fever.
  • Over-stimulation Hyperactivity can be stressful for a newborn. For example, they may be unsettled after a party where they’ve been cuddled by lots of grown-ups or even following a walk through a busy mall.
  • Discomfort Your baby will not sleep well if they’re uncomfortable. They could be hungry, need a nappy change or be too hot or cold.
  •  Over-tiredness Watch your baby for signs of sleepiness, like yawning, rubbing their eyes or when they seem irritated.


Read more: Moving baby from cot to bed

Image: Gallo Images/Getty Images.