Common Reasons for Poor Sleep

Sleep can be all consuming when you are a parent of young children. When your baby or child starts sleeping poorly, you want it fixed immediately! The list of possible causes for this poor sleep can get quite long, however there are are some classic causes that I always list first when trying to troubleshoot the reason for poor sleep.

  • Growth Spurt or Hungry: Growth spurts happen usually every 3-4 weeks. That means your sleep routine will be frequently disrupted. Feed baby when baby is hungry. You might also find your baby was just a little hungrier one day. I often found this when I started my period. My cycle would cause dips in supply some days, and baby would be hungrier because of it.
  • Waketime Length is Off: If your waketime length is too short or too long, naps won’t go well. As your child gets older, waketime length will also get longer. This continues on through the toddler and into the preschooler years. When your baby is young, there is a good chance you think she needs longer waketime lengths than she does.
  • Sick or Teething: An ear infection, cold, or new teeth are all very common reasons your child will stop sleeping well.
  • Pain: Gas pain and reflux pain can really interfere with good sleep. 
  • Stimulation Levels: Your baby might be overstimulated and this might be making it hard for her to sleep. On the other hand, your toddler might need more physical movement and stimulation to be tired enough to sleep.
  • New Skills: Learning to roll, sit, stand, crawl, wave, sing, and more can all lead to poor sleep. Practice these skills during awake time to help the bed seem like a less necessary and appealing location. 
  • Environmental Factors. Is baby too hot or cold? Is it too bright in the room? Does baby need the room quieter so she can sleep? What about the environment needs to be changed to make sleep work.
  • Wonder Week: There isn’t a lot you can do about a wonder week. The good news is that it ends and you can make it through! 
  • Sleep Props: It might be time to ditch certain sleep props if your child can’t sleep. This is especially true of pacifiers around four months old.

This graphic gives you a good, quick checklist whenever naps start not going well. Check these things first when you are troubleshooting why your child is not sleeping well anymore. Chances are you will find your solution in this list. 

 Troubleshooting Naps

2 thoughts on “Common Reasons for Poor Sleep”

  1. I am really struggling right now. My baby is 7 weeks old and only wants to nap when I’m holding her. I think this is because we get so many visitors that just want to hold her while she sleeps and I also feel a lot of judgment when I try to do the CIO method when they are over. Now I feel like our baby has a bad habit and I try to do the CIO method but she just screams and it sounds horrible. I try to wait it out for 15 minutes, soothe her, and then do another 15 minutes like the book says but I just give up because I feel like I’m doing it wrong. She only wakes up once in the night but I’m concerned that this bad napping problem will lead to more issues as she gets older.

    Should I just let her scream until she goes to sleep? Or is there a certain amount of time I should do this before soothing her myself?

    Do you have any other suggestions?


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