Causes of sleeping problems

  • Hunger


  • Wet or soiled nappy– some babies are extremely sensitive to wet or soiled nappies, and will not sleep unless this is rectified.


  • Too hot or too cold- A baby can't regulate its own temperature as well as we can and as such relies on its care giver to adequately control their temperature. I was once advised that a young baby needs one more layer than you are currently wearing in the first 3 - 6 months of life. This seemed to help me in dressing my babies.


  • Pain caused by gas.


  • Reflux- which is especially evident when the baby is placed horizontal. A Reflux baby will often take very short cat naps during the day and wake frequently at night. Refer to the "Reflux and Sleep" section for more information.


  • Colic


  • Too much stimulation during the day leading to an over-stimulated baby.


  • Overtired baby- an overtired baby struggles to sleep.


  • Trying to keep your baby up all day so they will sleep all night. This is almost guaranteed to fail. A baby that sleeps well during the day generally sleeps well at night, as sleep creates sleep.


  • Teething-bear in mind that babies will teeth both day and night, so if the baby is happy during the day and yet restless at night, it is unlikely to be caused by teething.


  • A newborn can confuse day and night.


  • Your baby may feel lonelyand need comfort or reassurance of your presence.


  • Separation anxiety can start to play a role from 6 months of age.


The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.