Problems getting baby to sleep and settle: how they start
The most common problem with getting babies to sleep and settle is that many babies have never learned to put themselves to sleep. This is because they’re settled to sleep by their parents at the start of the night or nap, and again whenever they wake up.
It’s normal for babies to wake during the night. In fact, we all move through repeating cycles of quiet and active sleep every night, even if we don’t realise it. And like grown-ups and older children, babies usually wake briefly at the end of each sleep cycle. In babies, cycles of quiet and active sleep last 30-50 minutes.
Some babies wake after a sleep cycle and then go back to sleep. But other babies wake after a sleep cycle and can’t put themselves back to sleep. They cry out. These babies keep crying until someone comes to help them back to sleep – maybe by feeding them, giving them a dummy, or patting and rocking them.
This becomes a habit that the baby depends on to get to sleep.
For some parents, this is fine, and night waking doesn’t harm the baby’s health or development. After six months, though, it can cause problems for a mother’s wellbeing and her relationship with her baby.