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Baby Sleep Problems Related to Milestones

By Christa Miller ; Updated June 13, 2017

Just because a baby is normally a good sleeper doesn’t mean that she won’t occasionally have sleep problems. She, like anyone else, may experience sudden sleep interruptions due to a change in her body. Although illnesses or environmental disruptions, such as cold temperatures or loud noises, may also cause sleep problems, developmental milestones are common culprits, as well.

Anxious Partings

A baby can begin to show signs of separation anxiety as early as six to seven months but most babies experience separation anxiety between 12 and 18 months. Around this time, a baby has started to feel strongly attached to his caregivers, he recognizes that he is a separate person, and he knows that his caregivers continue to exist when they have left a room. A baby begins to act needy and upset if he sleeps in a separate room from his parents when he goes through a phase of separation anxiety. Parents may help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety by spending extra quality cuddle time with baby before turning out the lights.

Sprouting Teeth

A baby as young as three months of age may experience teething pain that interrupts her ability to sleep. The most pain typically occurs during the acute phase of teething, when a tooth actively cuts through the gum. Parents can help alleviate the discomfort with acetaminophen after consulting with baby’s health care practitioner, advises KidsHealth.

Baby’s Got Skills

New motor skills such as sitting, crawling and standing can cause so much excitement in a baby’s life that he doesn’t want to slow down for sleep. If he isn’t resistant to going to bed, he may still wake up more frequently than normal. Give him plenty of opportunities to burn off his new energy and exercise his new skills during the day. Keep him safe at night by lowering the crib mattress when baby seems capable of escaping his crib.

New Foods

Some babies sleep longer when they transition to solid foods because they are likely to stay fuller longer. However, not all babies transition as easily. A baby may have a poor reaction to a cereal, have extra intestinal gas pain or even have an allergy to a new food that has been added to her diet. To recognize any adverse reactions, create a solids plan with a health care provider and introduce new foods days apart from each other, according Jenniger Waldburger and Jill Spivack in “The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5.”

Budding Autonomy

A baby begins to explore his limitations as he enters his toddler years. As a result, weary parents become used to hearing, “No!” on a regular basis. Power struggles can translate into refusal to sleep. However, you can make sleep time a more pleasant experience by allowing a little autonomy in bedtime routine choices; he can choose which bubble bath and toys to play with at bath time and select the evening’s book for story time.

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