It is not uncommon for infants to stay awake or become fussy from midnight to 3.00am or 4.00am in the morning. In my baby's first month, we have a very difficult time at night as our baby just did not want to sleep even after milk feeding and diaper changing. This difficult path of the parenthood journey only ends in our baby's second month.
Causes of fussiness at night
Below are some factors that contribute to the baby's sleep problem at night:
1. Sleeping too much during the daytime
2. Uncomfortable room temperature
3. Wet diapers
4. Unfamiliar caregiver
6. Lack of security
7. Too many uncomfortable stimulations, such as resulting from loud noises or a brightly lit sleeping environment
Solutions to fussiness at night
Prevent your child from sleeping too much during daytime
If your baby sleeps too much during the daytime, he or she will be unable to fall asleep at night. The most probable reason that he sleeps too much in the day is the low activity during the daytime. If you do not have family members at home to interact with your child, your baby will probably spend long periods in the daytime sleeping away. As such, it is natural for him or her to not be able to go to sleep at night.
Hence, it is important for you and your family members to interact with your child during the daytime. If both you and your spouse are working, perhaps hiring a nanny or bringing him or her to the grandparents' house will be a good choice to keep the baby engaged. This method has definitely worked for us.
Ensure that your house is not too dim
A dim environment may cause the baby to be sleepy. Hence, try to turn on the lights in the house so the baby would not fall asleep.
Allow your baby to be active
During the daytime, you can make your baby exercise by moving his hands or legs gently, talking to him or playing with him. Not only the baby learns the sound or facial expression from you, he will also not fall asleep easily. You can invent simple exercises and games such as encouraging him or her to crawl towards a toy as an aim or play with interactive toys. If the baby had enough fun and exercise during the daytime, he will then sleep peacefully at night. For our case, our baby starts to sleep peacefully when my family members take turns to interact with him during the daytime.
Check the room temperature
Monitor his neck temperature to ensure that the bedroom temperature is right for him. Many experts recommend that the temperature in the room where a baby sleeps be kept between 20-22 degree Celsius. This is to keep the baby safe and comfortable so he or she is able to fall asleep.
Alternatively, another way to test the temperature is to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothes adult. By preventing overheating, you are also decreasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in your baby.
Check and change the diaper regularly
You should change the diaper immediately once it is wet. Wet diapers can cause discomfort in babies and prevent them from sleeping.
Monitor the feeding time to tell if it is hunger
Record down the amount of milk consumed and the timing of consumption so that you can tell whether it is the hunger that causes the baby to become fussy. If so, feed him or her immediately.
Get a familiar caregiver to soothe the baby to sleep
Babies are sensitive to the body scent of the caregiver. For some babies, seeing or smelling caregivers they are not too familiar with may also cause to be unable to fall asleep at night. For example, if the father tries to put the baby to sleep when he is normally not the one who does that regularly, unlike the mother, the baby might fuss at the father and is not able to fall asleep. In this case, it may help to use a cloth which has the smell of the mother in order to soothe the baby and make him or her feel secure enough to sleep.
Re-create the womb
If your baby cannot stop crying at times without any apparent reason, do not stress over it as this is normal in his or her first months of life. It may be that he or she is not feeling secure enough. Try soothing the baby as much as you can by swaddling and rocking him or her and humming a calm music. You can also allow skin-to-skin contact with the baby so that he or she can smell you. This will significantly soothe and calm them down.
Calm yourself down before anything
With the fatigue and stress, it is easy to become upset, frustrated and feel helpless at the non-stop cries of your baby. As such, you and your spouse can make a plan to take turns calming the baby down. Take turns to take some time apart from the baby, such as taking a walk outside or simply resting.
While one parent is resting, the other can deal with the baby for as long as he or she can. The other one, now recharged, will now be able to take care of the baby more calmly than before. This plan will be much more effective than tiring both the parents at the same time. A calm parent makes for a calm baby.
Take the baby to a quiet and dark room
By limiting the stimulation when he or she is upset, the baby will find it easier to calm down. Using a white noise app such as having a raindrop soundtrack on may help too.
Given the correct method, your baby will be able to sleep peacefully at night and will not wake you up often. It is also important to recognise that fussiness at night is only a temporary phase