Here are the 10 most common sleep challenges new parents face.

Whenever someone asks me about baby sleep I always respond with:

Baby sleep does not work like adult sleep.

Not. At. All.

You surely know the term "sleeping like a baby?". I cannot wrap my head around it. Because obviously, the person who came up with it does not have a clue about baby sleep.

And so do many new parents.

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Usually, expecting parents don't hear much about sleep regressions or how babies prefer sleeping in their parent's arms. And then, when their little one finally arrives, they are baffled by their baby's sleep behavior which, by the way, also can change drastically and very suddenly.

Related Article: Postpartum Insomnia: When Sleep For New Mothers Doesn't Come

Most Common Sleep Challenges

Sometimes as a parent, you will wonder if only your baby has specific behaviors. You wonder if only your baby doesn't like the stroller or car seat. You think about how only your child seems to sleep for 20 minutes. You sometimes will just get the feeling that all other existing babies on this planet don't have the baby sleep problems you have.

But this could not be further away from the truth. Have you noticed how blogs and forums are filled with the exact same question you just typed into google?

That's because you are not alone, and your baby is not so different from other babies.

That is why you need to understand that even though you can hit one or more rough patches when it comes to baby sleep, it is not uncommon, and actually many of your baby's behaviors are very common.

It is just important to understand baby sleep, to learn what is normal and what is not, and most of all, not to obsess about it.

Related Article: Baby Sleep - What To REALLY Expect 0-12 Months

So without further ado, let's dive into my list of the most common sleep challenges. Also, make sure to check out the more detailed article for every subject.

1. Regular Night Wakings

This definitely deserves to be on top of the list: night wakings. Experiencing frequent night wakings for the first time after your baby is born will leave you exhausted. Your body and mind are not used to fragmented sleep. This can be very hard for parents to process.

Night wakings are a normal part of a baby's life. Several reasons can cause a night waking: hunger, protective wakings, and the need for closeness. Also, discomfort like illness, teething, or being warm or cold can lead to wakings.

Setting up the right sleep environment can already improve your baby's sleep. Additional measures such as introducing healthy sleep habits, a sleep schedule, or replacing active with passive sleep associations can help set the path to more independent sleep and fewer night wakings.

2. Early Morning Wakes

Babies and young children naturally have an early waking hour. Normal wake times are between 6-8 AM, with 8 AM already being quite late.

When a baby wakes before 6 AM, we refer to it as an early morning wake. There can be several causes for early wakings, such as overtiredness, too much daytime sleep, or bedtime being too early.

3. Split Nights

We talk about split nights when babies wake up in the middle of the night and are ready to play. They do not seem tired at all and are actually quite happy babies. Unlike mom and dad, because they are just dead tired.

During split nights, babies can stay awake for 1-3 hours at night until they fall back asleep and sleep until the morning.

The two main causes of split nights are too much daytime sleep and an early bedtime. In a sense, they have compensated nighttime sleep with daytime sleep. As a result, your baby is not tired enough at night, and they have not built up enough sleep pressure to sleep.

4. False Starts

We had a period of time when my baby girl would always wake shortly after bedtime. It was driving me insane. Because you think you are done for the day or at least you have a few hours of peace, and then suddenly they wake again after 45 minutes.

We talk about false starts when babies wake after their first sleep cycle. This can be 20-45 minutes after going to sleep. Usually these

Related Article: False Starts - When Baby Wakes 45 Minutes After Bedtime EVERY NIGHT

5. Cat Naps

Cat naps have such a bad reputation. And I get it. It can be very frustrating if your baby only sleeps for 20 minutes at a time. It is even more frustrating when your baby wakes up grumpy from every nap because they are simply still tired.

But cat naps are a thing! Especially for newborns and young infants. Cat napping usually resolves itself after 8-9 months. But there are also different methods you can try to lengthen those short naps.

Related Article: Help! My Baby Is Only Napping for 30 Minutes!

6. Sleep Regressions

A sleep regression is a period of time in which your baby suddenly changes its sleep behavior. They might wake more often at night, refuse to go to sleep, or may be hard to settle. Sometimes they become fussier than usual and may even experience changes in appetite.

There are 4 big sleep regressions happening at 4, 8, 12, and 18 months. They usually last 2-4 weeks.

Sleep regressions are either a result of permanent changes in sleep pattern (4-month sleep regression) or developmental milestones such as separation anxiety or learning new motor skills.

Related Article: The 4 Big Sleep Regressions

7. Hourly Wakes

If you are experiencing hourly wakes, then you are dealing with a sleep problem that needs more attention. Hourly wakes usually mean that your baby is waking after every sleep cycle. This is not normal sleep behavior. This is an indicator that something is not right, and you need to take a closer look at the possible causes.

They experience some kind of discomfort that prevents them from sleeping. This is not an issue of a bad sleep association. They might have an underlying cause, such as a lip or tongue tie or silent reflux. You definitely want to get this checked out by an expert.

8. Fighting Sleep

Sometimes it seems as if babies fight sleep. They start to cry as soon as you start your bedtime routine or take them to the bedroom.

Young babies (up to 6 months) don't really fight sleep. Most of the time, they are overtired or overstimulated. Typical causes for older babies are sleep regressions, separation anxiety, or simply temperament.

Related Article: Why Is My Baby Fighting Sleep?

9. Baby Wakes When Put Down

I don't think there is any parent who did not experience this phenomenon at some point. You finally got your baby to sleep, but the minute you put them down in the crib, they are wide awake again.

Your baby is not interested in sleeping in the crib. It wants to sleep in your arms. Your baby is not interested in sleeping alone. They want to sleep with you, on you, next to you. The important thing is you are there.

Related Article: Why Does My Baby Wake When I Put Them Down?

10. Under- And Overtiredness

Under- and overtiredness can sometimes be tricky with babies. If a baby is undertired, they might fight sleep, need more time to fall asleep, wake early, or wake more frequently during the night. Undertired babies are generally in a good mood.

Overtired babies don't react much differently from undertired babies. They also fight sleep, need more time to fall asleep, wake early, or wake more frequently during the night. BUT they are usually not in a good mood but fussier or even crying.

Finding the right time in between is not always easy, but you can achieve this by learning your baby's tired cues.

Related Article: Tackling Under- and Overtiredness in Babies

Looking at this list of sleep issues will possibly make you cringe. Sleep deprivation can surely take a toll on your well-being and your mental health. But there is not one parent who does not have to deal with half of these infant sleep problems listed here at one time or another.

That's why it's important to get educated about infant sleep so you not only learn how you can improve your little one's sleep but also to cope better. The truth is that nighttime parenting will be a part of your parenthood journey for quite a while. And learning what's normal and knowing that you are not alone can make this path much easier.

Believe me when I tell you that you will get back your good night's sleep.

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