When Should I Suspect a Medical Problem with my Baby’s Sleep?


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Babies sleep and wake up when they’re ready to. And most babies get fussy to one degree or another when they wake up. While this can be challenging for parents, it’s nothing unusual, and really shouldn’t cause you much concern in most cases. Do what you can to take care of your baby’s needs and soothe her back to sleep, and don’t worry about it.

But, at what point should you become concerned that your baby’s trouble sleeping may be caused by a medical problem? First of all, you should become concerned if the amount of total sleep your baby is getting falls outside of the guidelines for what is considered normal for her age. This starts at 14-18 hours when she is a newborn and gradually decreases to about 10-12 hours of sleep when she is two years old.

If baby isn’t getting enough sleep, there may be any of number of reasons why not. Some of them are medical and others aren’t. In any case, set an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss your baby’s sleep and to rule out any possible medical causes.

Some of the more common medical causes for baby sleep problems include food allergies, ear infections, pinworms, and reflux. These are all treated relatively easily. While trouble sleeping does not necessarily indicate that your baby has one of these conditions, you will want to rule them out as possibilities. If one of these is the cause of your baby’s sleeping problems, your pediatrician will be able to help with medication or other treatments.

Even if your baby is getting enough hours of sleep, you should consider consulting your pediatrician if your baby had been sleeping well and suddenly starts to sleep very restlessly, if she is inconsolable (colicky), if she appears to be in pain when she wakes up, or if she is constantly waking up without any apparent cause.

Bear in mind that finding a solution to your baby’s sleeping problems is often a matter of trial and error. There really isn’t a cure all for baby sleep problems, and it might take you and your pediatrician a while before you figure out how to bet help your baby to sleep through the night. Do what you can, and be patient with the process.



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