Jul 25, 2017, 10:29:27 AM CDT Dec 29, 2020, 12:58:09 PM CST

Why babies have a hard time falling asleep

How to help your little one get the sleep they need

sleeping baby boy sleeping baby boy

Nothing is more frustrating for you or your baby than when they have trouble going to sleep. When your little one is tired as can be, but still can’t manage to nod off, they may cry for hours on end.

To help your baby fall asleep, you need to figure out what is keeping them up. Dawn D. Johnson, M.D., Medical Director of Children's Health℠ Pediatric Group, recommends that parents check for these problems:

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Babies may not be able to fall asleep if they are too warm or too cold. You should check that your baby is not over- or underdressed.   A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in no more than one extra layer of clothing than what you are wearing. If the weather is very warm, a single layer of clothing is appropriate.


A growling stomach can keep babies awake past bedtime. A bedtime feeding can help babies drift off to sleep more easily.

Dirty diaper

Wet diapers are uncomfortable on your baby’s bottom. Make sure their diaper is clean and dry before putting them to bed.

Lack of routine

Babies and children thrive on routines. By going through the same actions every night, you can help your baby’s brain learn when it is time to sleep. For instance, you may give your baby a bath, put them in pajamas and feed them before putting them down to sleep. You may also read or sing to your baby before bed.

Can’t fall asleep alone

“Babies need to learn how to fall asleep by themselves”, says Dr. Rajadhyaksha. Babies who are used to being held when they fall asleep might have trouble falling asleep in their crib. To help your baby learn how to fall asleep, put them in their crib while they are drowsy, but still awake. They’ll start to fall asleep on their own more quickly as they get used to this routine.

Needing a moment

Sometimes babies wake up and fuss in the night for no particular reason. It is fine to wait a few minutes before responding to see if they can fall asleep by themselves.

Poor sleep environment

Babies, like adults, need a good environment for sleep. A good sleep environment is quiet, dark and cool. You should use no more than a dim nightlight in your child’s room. Your baby should sleep in a silent room or a room with quiet, white noise like a fan.

If you have checked for all the above problems, but your baby is still awake and fussy, you should talk to your child’s pediatrician. Your baby might be experiencing problems like acid reflux that is keeping them awake.

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behavior, development, environment, infant,  lifestyle, physician advice, routine, sleep

Childrens Health