My baby won’t sleep. What am I doing wrong?

Firstly, most parents are doing the right thing, but for some reason their baby isn’t able to respond. So let’s think more about why your baby can’t respond to your attempts to settle them, rather than what you're doing wrong.

Babies become overwhelmed quite quickly. If there is a lot going on in their environment or other people have been around for a while, your baby may just need a cuddle and timeout to help them reboot.

If your baby has been interacting with the world and is now unable to calm down, they may be overstimulated and unable to settle. This often goes hand in hand with being overtired. Look out for tired signs.

Cuddles, skin contact, gentle rocking patterns and your own soothing voice are likely to help a baby who won't sleep. Sometimes a little feed, not for food but for the comfort of sucking can help. Sucking is soothing, so that is why dummies are called ‘soothers’ and 'pacifiers’. It is not the dummy, rather the sucking action that helps the baby soothe herself.

Get more baby sleep tips, including step-by-step guides for settling your baby and getting them off to sleep in Helen's book.


Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720.