Friday, January 25, 2013

Readers' Questions: Drowsy Babies

Over the last few weeks, we’ve received several comments in response to our post “Why do some babies hatebeing drowsy?” from parents who have noticed that their babies seem to resist falling asleep or wake easily right after drifting off. Today, we’d like to address 2 of these comments.
Reader #1: My problem with my 2 month old is she not only fights off sleep, she will wake herself up by forcing her head up and going from side to side or making her body jump, even if she has completely fallen asleep.

This baby seems very active! When she is moving that much while sleeping she is most likely in active sleep. At 2 months old, she is still goes into active sleep first, which means that immediately after drifting off she starts dreaming. When babies are dreaming, they may move around a lot. It is normal for them to twitch and move their bodies and they may even make sounds or sucking noises. Although this may seem strange, dreaming is an important part of brain growth and development.
Because their brains are so active while dreaming, they can also wake easily while in active sleep. All babies (and adults) cycle through active sleep, quiet sleep, and waking throughout the night. Therefore, she may wake again when another round of active sleep comes around. If the baby is uncomfortable for any reason  she might wake up during this light sleep.

So, what can you do?  First, if she falls asleep in your arms, wait until you see signs of deep sleep before putting her down. When in deep sleep, she will be less sensitive to the position change and may stay asleep longer. Second, keep her as comfortable as possible! Make sure she is dressed appropriately (temperature and comfort level), has a clean diaper, and that anything else that might make her uncomfortable is taken care of. Remember, 2-month olds only sleep for about 2-4 hours at a time, so it is normal for them to wake during the night.
With such an active baby it’s also important to keep her sleep environment safe. With so much movement she could move herself right off of a bed or couch. Follow the AAP safe sleep recommendations here.

Reader #2: Please give me some help. My 14 week old son fight his sleep. What can we do, I am too tired. Somebody help. Thanks.

Waking up with young babies is hard. Adults are used to sleeping for long stretches and it can be frustrating that babies don’t sleep that way.  Having a baby who gets irritable when drowsy can make waking even more difficult because it may be harder to get the baby back to sleep during the night.

Like we explained in the original post, some babies have a hard time winding down after they’ve spent time interacting with the people around them. At 14 weeks, the reader’s baby is learning so much and it may take longer for his brain to transition from playing and learning to resting. The tips we listed in the original post can help. When this baby is getting tired, the parents can help him transition to sleep easier by minimizing stimulation (turning off the TV, keeping the noise to a minimum, etc), making sure he is comfortable (clean diaper, dressed comfortably, etc), and following a bedtime routine. Doing 3 or 4 things the same order every time the baby is going to sleep can help his brain calm down enough to sleep.

We also suggest that this reader ask for help from friends or family. Caring for a young baby is not easy and her comment shows how tired she is. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help! Asking someone to come over just few an hour or two so you can rest can make a big difference.
Here are a few more posts readers with similar questions might find useful:

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