Why Is My Baby So Restless at Night?

Why Is My Baby So Restless at Night?

Learn the causes of restlessness in babies and why your baby is restless before falling asleep

It is universally agreed that one of the hardest parts about being a new parent is figuring out how to ensure a good night’s sleep for your newborn, baby, and/or toddler. There are plenty of causes of restlessness in babies and reasons why your baby or newborn sleeps restless. There are also some solutions. Creating a nighttime – and naptime – routine is essential for your baby’s sleep hygiene. That means a calm, quiet environment and little to no stimulation other than perhaps some soft music. That said, some parents swear by white noise machines that create ambient sounds meant to soothe and comfort. There’s also snuggling, rocking, shhing, similar to what life was like in the womb. These are the things that are familiar to your baby and will likely help keep her calm. If however, you still have questions about how to soothe your restless sleeper, keep reading!

What is restless sleep for babies?

Restless sleep for babies means exactly how it sounds – that your baby is restless at night. This could mean that they toss and turn, seem to wake up several times a night, or change position. A lot of this is typical as babies find the world endlessly fascinating which creates a lot of stimulation for their little brains to absorb. If baby wakes up happy, then your baby restless sleep shouldn’t be a concern. If however, he wakes up tired and cranky every single day, that’s something to discuss with your healthcare provider as there may be an issue.

Why is my baby restless at night?

If your baby is restless before falling asleep there could be a few reasons. She may be overstimulated or even over tired. It’s important to keep up a consistent bedtime routine that starts the same time every night. This helps a successful pattern of night time sleep. Also, follow your baby’s sleep cues. If she’s rubbing her eyes or even pulling her ear, that could be a signal that she’s over tired. It’s best to put baby down when she’s just a little tired to better ensure a good nights sleep.

How do you calm a restless baby?

Getting your baby a good night’s sleep is every parent’s dream. There are a lot of products on the market that will help. White noise machines, rocking chairs or swings, black out shades. Of course, there’s also the Dreamland Baby line of products that help promote infant and toddler sleep! The weighted swaddle is perfect for babies up to 6 months, or try the weighted sleep sack if she’s older. The gentle weight naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation through deep-pressure stimulation to give your baby feelings of security and comfort – like a hug! Weighted sleep sacks are proven to calm your baby and help baby sleep better for longer stretches of time.

How can I help my restless baby sleep?

There are several methods to try when your baby is a restless sleeper.

  • Swaddling – the tight “burrito” feeling resembles life inside the womb which most babies find soothing
  • Fresh air – a walk outdoors or gentle swing time
  • Pass gas – sometimes tummy trouble interferes with a good nights sleep. Try to move her legs as if she’s cycling or gently pat her tummy
  • Consistent bedtime routine – a consistent routine does can do wonders for your little one’s quality of sleep
  • Keep in mind that helping your restless sleeper can be challenging at every stage. So if possible, try to take some time every day, even a few minutes, to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and spend some “me” time. It’s likely that the better you feel, the more patience you’ll have in caring for your little one… and that can make the time spent with baby less stressful.

Are babies normally restless at night?

Since every baby is different, it’s hard to know what is “normal” when it comes to your child. You know them better than anyone so it’s good to keep in mind that newborns up to 4 months spend the majority of their sleep time in REM sleep. REM sleep is significant as it helps their little brains process new information and for a baby, everything is new information! REM is the stage of sleep in which we dream which can sometimes cause us to move around at night, or even make noise. REM sleep may make your baby appear to be restless at night but dreaming is a healthy part of their development.

Can teething cause restless sleep?

Grown-ups and babies alike can really suffer when it comes to teeth pain! When it comes to your baby, in addition to some sleeplessness, other signs of teething may also include fussiness and drooling. Offer up a frozen wash cloth for baby to chew on, or even massage her gums. Restless sleep associated with teething will typically subside once those cute little baby teeth make an appearance.

What is the difference between restless sleep and sleep regressions?

Sleep regression often occurs during a growth spurt causing baby to wake up frequently during the night as she develops and grows. Sleep regressions can also be cause for nap and nighttime fussiness. While growth spurts can be so exciting, they can also be met with some frustration as sleep routines can get out of whack. Try not to worry as growth spurts generally last just a few days… until the next one!

What do you do when your baby won't sleep at night?

The most important, and something most challenging, thing you can do when your baby won’t sleep, is stay calm! It’s so hard when you feel sleep deprived and absolutely exhausted, but it’s important to breathe through it. Keep the lights low if you have to turn them on at all, soft music or white noise may help calm her, and a gentle shh-pat or snuggle-sway may just do the trick! Also, routine is everything! Start it at the same time every night… whether it’s bath, books, bottle, bed or whatever your routine, consistency goes a long way. Of course, if sleep continues to be a persistent issue, by all means consult with your childcare provider.

Is it normal for babies to be restless?

Babies can be restless, and it’s perfectly normal for them to be in most cases. A sign of a restless baby can be tossing and turning throughout the night. As a concerned parent, you probably wonder why your baby is so restless. Let us help you understand.

Babies experience two types of sleep: REM sleep and non-REM sleep. 

During REM Sleep, light sleep occurs. In this phase of sleep, babies can have vivid dreams, increased movement, and rapid eye flickering. Preterm infants spend about 70% - 80% of their sleep time in REM sleep, and term infants spend about 50% of their time in REM sleep. 

Non-REM sleep (NREM) has three phases. The phases go in order as your baby drifts into the deep sleep you’ve both dreamed of. Phase one is drowsiness and dozing, phase two is a lighter form of sleep as they begin to drift into deep sleep, and phase three is deep sleep, in which most babies don’t move. Adults can experience the same phases in the same cycle pattern. However, infants usually only have sleep cycles that last about 50 minutes until about six months of age. As a result of shorter sleep cycles and REM phases occurring more often, your baby may be restless.

What does a fidgety baby mean?

A fidgety or jerky baby can be a sign of craving more sensory input. Term babies that are 3-5 months should be somewhat fidgety, as this is a sign of neurological development. If your baby is not fidgety, this can be cause for concern. It’s better to err on the side of caution with babies; therefore, communicate with your doctor things you see and don’t see. 

At what age are babies most restless?

Between three to six months, most babies start to sleep better. While restlessness may still be present, you should find more consistency in your daily routine. The routine of a newborn baby changes often as they are changing rapidly. It can be helpful to understand how much sleep your baby needs so you can recognize when they need sleep. In some cases, you may let them fall asleep too soon or sleep too long, which can eventually cause them to be restless. 

What is Restless Baby Syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can affect babies, as there’s no minimum age at which this condition can occur. RLS is described as a strong urge to move the legs. It’s a neurologic disorder that can impact the quality of life in babies, children, and adults.

What are the signs of a restless baby?

As a parent, you’re probably very familiar with what it feels like to be overstimulated. Similar to adults, babies can easily be overstimulated, too. Overstimulation can lead to an overtired baby. A restless baby can be one that lacks sleep or one that tosses and turns throughout the night. Both can be linked back to overstimulation. In an effort to help your baby calm down and get the sleep they need (and you need to) you may want to try rocking them in a peaceful environment, shushing them, turning on a sound machine, or anything that you know helps your baby wind down. While you may need to rock them to sleep before laying them down, when it’s time to make the transition, you can dress them in a weighted swaddle or sleep sack to help them sleep longer. A weighted swaddle or sleep sack can mimic the feeling of a human hug while making your baby feel safe and secure. It can naturally reduce anxiety. 

Signs that your baby may be restless include:

  • Fighting sleep
  • Fussiness
  • Tossing and turning
  • Sleeping short stretches
  • Falling asleep at unusual times throughout the day

Why do weighted sleep sacks and weighted swaddles help restless babies sleep?

Weighted sleep sacks and swaddles offer babies a comforting weight that gently presses on their bodies. It mimics the feeling of being held, which can help reduce anxiety for your baby. Weighted sleep sacks and swaddles designed with quality in mind can do much more than that, though. They can also help regulate body temperature and give your baby even more comfort as soft materials surround them. If you have a restless baby, a sense of desperation may be looming around you, and you may be restless, too. The founder of Dreamland was once in the very same desperation as her fourth born was restless. In an act of desperation to get her son to sleep, she placed a throw blanket over his body. Its larger size made it heavier than a delicate baby blanket, and suddenly, he began to calm. It was then that her mission to create safe weighted sleep aid products for babies began. Dreamland is proven to help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Order online or visit a local retailer for faster access and let your dreams of going to sleep come true. 

Our final tips to help your restless baby sleep:

  1. Avoid overstimulation before naptime or bedtime: Just as adults, babies need cues that bedtime is coming. Gently easing them into sleep can help them fall asleep faster. While you may not be able to tell a baby it’s almost bedtime, you can give them cues such as rocking them in the rocking chair or singing them a lullaby.
  2. Create a peaceful sleeping environment: Babies are overstimulated easily. If you want to help them sleep better to avoid restlessness, set the ambiance. Get the temperature and lighting just right, clean up the mess, dress them in comfortable pajamas (fan favorite: Bamboo Pajamas), and limit the people in the room to just you and your baby.
  3. Play a sound machine: Sound machines can help calm babies. The womb is surprisingly very noisy (think back to ultrasounds). As babies try to find peace, reminders of the place they spent nine months in can be comforting. Play a sound machine at the appropriate volume to help calm your baby.
  4. Use a weighted sleep sack: The gentle weight of a sleep sack can help your baby feel safe and secure while naturally reducing anxiety. Babies are delicate and little and feel that way, too. When you lay them down for sleep, they may instantly feel lost. The weight of a weighted sleep sack can force them to settle in a gentle and baby-safe way. Shop Dreamland for weighted sleep sacks that are designed in collaboration with pediatricians, NICO nurses, and certified sleep consultants. 

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