Baby Won’t Sleep Without Screaming
Parents to new babies often struggle during the first few months of their baby’s life to get them to fall asleep. Whether they simply wake up at all hours of the day or baby won’t sleep without screaming, bedtime is often never without its share of struggles.
Once sleep training begins, it can seem impossible for parents to leave their child alone. While sleep training is an important way for babies to adapt to a sleep schedule, the process of leaving the room when baby won’t sleep without screaming can make the situation uncomfortable for both parents and the child.
There’s a lot going on in a baby’s world. While parents may desperately want to get their baby to sleep, it rarely happens that easily. Focusing on the various reasons that babies stay awake can help parents pinpoint exactly how to get their baby to fall asleep.
Consider the following reasons babies struggle to fall asleep:
- New to sleep training
- Baby is used to nighttime feedings
- Naps too frequently
If your baby won’t sleep without screaming, you’re not alone. Read on for a few important tips to keep your baby from screaming at bedtime:
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1. Avoid Feeding or Rocking Your Child to Sleep
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of feeding and rocking the baby as parents typically do this with newborns. However, this type of sleep-wake cycle is relatively chaotic and will lead to babies developing bad habits when it’s time to grow out of falling asleep while feeding or being rocked.
A baby’s sleeping timeline indicates that at the four-month mark, parents should avoid letting their babies fall asleep when rocking or feeding them. When parents try to break their child of this bad habit abruptly, chances are that the baby won’t sleep without screaming.
Instead of continuing this habit, parents should work to establish a gradual bedtime routine for the baby to associate new activities with sleeping. By replacing rocking or nighttime feeding with calming activities like bath time, story time, and a dimly lit room, your baby will start to get sleepy at the right time. Even if they cry or scream at first, eventually, they will go to sleep peacefully.
2. Don’t Give in to the Screaming
Parents that are familiar with sleep training understand how painful it can be to listen to their child wailing when left alone to fall asleep. Though it may be tempting to pick your baby up when they are screaming, doing so will reinforce the idea that if they scream and make a fuss at night, you’ll immediately come running to pick them up.
While parents can and should make sure their child is alright if baby won’t sleep without screaming, if they aren’t hungry, sick, wet, or thirsty, it’s a good idea to wait for a bit before going in. Experts recommend parents wait for five minutes before checking in with their baby again. After that, parents can set the timer for 10 minutes to see if the baby is asleep. This timing should continue until baby can fall asleep more readily.
3. Let Go of Nighttime Feedings
Babies become accustomed to getting nighttime feedings, even if they aren’t hungry. When a baby won’t sleep without screaming, it might be because they want to have a nighttime feeding as a result of their routine. Oftentimes, babies get into a cycle of waking up and thinking they need to feed before heading back to sleep. However, once they’ve reached six-months-old, experts suggest that it’s time to do away with the midnight meals.
Though discontinuing midnight feedings may elicit a few wails from your baby at first, this is beneficial in the long run. By letting go of this feeding, you’ll help your baby get into the habit of eating only in the daytime. Moreover, cutting back on this extra meal time allows your baby to limit their calorie intake, which will guarantee that they’re hungry enough to feed properly during the day. With your baby eating enough calories at the allotted time, you’ll find that the nightly screaming stops.
4. Stop Napping On-the-Go
Napping on-the-go is one of the easiest ways for parents to take their babies out and about. However, when little ones start sleeping as soon as they get in the stroller, this creates a problem for them at night. To avoid the nighttime nightmares when the baby won’t sleep without screaming and crying, parents should do what they can to nip random stroller naps in the bud.
Ideally, parents should keep a consistent nap schedule for their babies that allows them to get enough rest without robbing them of the opportunity to get the necessary sleep at night. When babies have a clear understanding of what tune they should rest and wake, they’ll be able to stick to a sleeping routine.
5. Don’t Let Baby Stay up Late
Many parents let their babies stay awake late into the night in the hopes that they’ll get tired and sleep longer. However, many researchers warn that late bedtimes can backfire for parents. When babies are kept up late, they tend to get overtired. This may cause their bodies to wake more often and can lead to trouble falling asleep.
If a baby won’t sleep without screaming or crying, it’s quite likely that they are overtired or having difficulty falling asleep because they’re used to late bedtimes. By working to regulate their child’s sleeping schedule to a normal bedtime of 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., parents can nip the screaming habit in the bud.
6. Baby Sleep Patterns
No two babies sleep the same, but there are distinct infant sleep patterns parents can watch out for. Most newborns sleep between 16 – 20 hours a day, typically getting their sleep through a pattern of napping during the day and sleeping at night.
Oftentimes newborns wake every few hours until they start sleeping in four to five-hour blocks of time. Around the three-month period, babies start to sleep eight or nine hours a night while still napping during the day.
While babies tend to follow this sleep schedule, they rarely fall into a logical pattern of sleep during their first few months of sleeping. If parents find that their baby wakes frequently to scream and cry, it could be a sign that they’re hungry. As a late indicator of hunger, screaming and crying is a baby’s way of reaching out to their parents for food.
If your baby won’t sleep without screaming and is waking up after two-three hours since their last feeding, it’s likely time for them to be fed again. Similarly, if a baby won’t sleep without screaming, parents can try to calm their child’s nerves with a white noise machine until they fall asleep.
Parents can get a good night’s rest by guaranteeing their children fall asleep faster. While it may take some time to get baby used to this new routine and techniques, keep trying. If your baby won’t sleep without screaming today, put these strategies into practice. Soon your child will trade the crying and screaming for the peaceful sounds of sleep.