During September and October, I had the opportunity again to talk to some sleep-deprived parents who needed guidance with their child’s sleep issues. It means a lot to me touch base in person with parents that are experiencing ongoing sleep issues and are reaching out for help.
In September, I worked with many Moms who had babies in the 3 to 6 months age range. It pains me to hear of parents who are existing on such little sleep when I know that I can help them achieve their goals.
Early Evening Fussy Behaviour
This month, I would like to talk about the root causes of early evening fussiness particularly in very very young babies between 3 and 6 months approximately (although newborns are also notorious for this!).
Many parents approach me saying their baby is inconsolable and very upset, often between the hours of 6pm and 10pm. There are many possible reasons for this behaviour but I have outlined a few below, to give you a sample of what to look for:
- Over stimulation: very young babies are extremely sensitive to overstimulation and if this occurs late in the day, it can make it very difficult for the baby to decompress before bedtime. Some of the things that can cause over stimulation are (but not limited to), siblings running around crazy in the presence of the baby, visitors to the home in the afternoon/early evening, Dad arriving home right at the moment when the household is chaotic, bright lights, tv noise, kitchen noise too loud, etc.
- Baby is hungrier in the evening and needs to cluster feed or “tank up” for the night so may need to feed more than usual
- And the big one – Inappropriate naps during the day (e.g., not enough sleep, or too much sleep, or not enough quality sleep)
I work with many babies that just don’t get enough quality sleep during the day and by the time they get to bedtime at night, they are incredibly exhausted and upset.
Try to be mindful of how much daytime sleep your baby needs and strive to get as close to that as possible.
It is the time of day when the home should be kept as calm and quiet as possible.
Try hard to keep the TV volume down very low (if you are using it) and/or don’t be holding the baby when using electronic devices such as laptops or iPads (it is not recommended to have the baby facing the bright lights of the screens).
Soft music playing is great as well as a nice calm soothing bath and baby massage routine. Again, dim lights, perhaps soft music and quiet voices etc.
Let your voice mail pick up your phone calls if possible, so you can enjoy that quiet time yourselves as much as possible.
If you have another child, one parent can take that child, while the other works with baby. Divide and conquer!
If you are a single parent, you already know how special those evenings can be, just you and your little one.
Try to cluster feed baby so she is really topped up for the night! If she is on solids, try to ensure she is having plenty of solids for lunch and dinner (5.20pm and done by 6pm).
Babies between the ages of 3 and 5 months should be done napping by 5.15pm and babies 6 months and beyond, by 5pm. Please try to keep in mind how much daytime sleep your baby needs and it really should be spread out over the course of the day to ensure baby can stay rested all day. If (as an example) your baby ends all naps by 2pm and the naps have been 30-minute catnaps all day long, chances are the evening is not going to go well! This starts the night off badly when baby goes to bed absolutely exhausted already! Teaching your baby how to extend those naps to minimum 1 full hour and beyond, will help the evenings and overnights immensely.
Until next time! Helen