As you know, I am the father of a beautiful baby boy. Being a parent is wonderful, incredible, fun, exciting, fulfilling and rewarding experience.
Except for those times when it isn’t.
Believe me, the tough times are relatively few and far between, but when things go south they go very, very south.
Recently my son decided that sleep was for the weak, and that he wasn’t going to go for something so typical and average. So instead he decided to stay awake, and keep his dear old dad up for company.
He was up for hours.
I wondered to myself, why won’t my baby go to sleep? He’s tired… it’s dark… what’s the problem? Of course, my son couldn’t answer me except to say: “uhhhhhhhhh!”
Why would an exhausted human being (even a little one) do everything in his power to stay awake? He was kicking his legs, stretching his head back, twisting his body around in a hundred different ways. Why? What does he think he’s going to miss?
So once I decided to give up trying to put him back down to sleep (guess 5 AM is as good a time as any to start the day), I went online to figure out why exactly my exhausted kid wouldn’t go back to bed (because if the internet can’t solve a problem, no one can).
I Googled the phrase “I’m exhausted my kid won’t sleep why is this happening to me SRSLY WTF!?!?!?” As expected, this turned out to be a very common Google search term with many results. I clicked on one of the first links which led to a website called Mummyology, with an article called “10 Reasons Why Babies Don’t Sleep”. Perfect! If I can figure out the root cause of the problem, then finding the solution to that problem should be easy-peasy, right?
So here is the list from Mummyology, including my thoughts on whether this particular reason can explain why my special little guy can’t manage to fall asleep, as well as if I can use this information to help my kid fall asleep in the future.
1. He’s hungry – Nope. I offered him formula and he responded by spitting out the bottle and slapping my hands away. Doesn’t sound like the actions of a hungry baby.
2. He’s thirsty – Nope. See above.
3. He’s over-tired (over-stimulated) – Well, he was definitely over-tired. That happens when you’re already exhausted and you refuse to sleep. And over-stimulated? Well, if the small green light on the baby monitor counts as stimulation, I guess that could be a problem as well. It’s amazing when I think about it. Every time I try to get him to sleep, he always manages to find a small source of light to focus on. It could be the light from his baby monitor, the light that creeps into his room from downstairs, or even the light from the neighbour’s house across the street coming through his window. Either way, light somehow manages to help him stay awake. I may have to institute a neighbourhood-wide no light policy in the near future.
4. He needs movement – It never occurred to me, but I guess this explains why babies are more likely to fall asleep when they are being walked around or rocked. However, it is impossible to either walk my kid around or rock him if I am to sleep. So unfortunately, keeping baby mobile in the middle of the night is not an option.
5. He needs to suck – If this refers to my life force, mission accomplished. Just kidding, I know what this means (but seriously, my kid can completely drain the energy from me). Luckily, my son is willing to use a soother, but sometimes it doesn’t have the desired effect of helping him sleep. Instead, using a pacifier can lead to my son waking up if it falls out of his mouth. Either way, sucking wasn’t helping my kid (or me) the other night.
6. He’s learning a new skill – Is keeping me awake a skill?
7. He needs a change in routine – I get that. When your life consists of eating, playing, pooping and (occasionally) sleeping, things can get stale after a while. Well, I can assure you that nothing changes a routine like staying awake all night.
8. He wants to be close to me – Well that’s just adorable. At least it would be if his desire to be close to me didn’t extend into the wee hours of the morning. It can be pretty frustrating. When I hold him, he sleeps like… well… a baby. He can sleep like a rock in my arms, but the moment I put him down he wakes up. If he’s asleep, how does he know I’m not holding him anymore? He’s got some form of superbaby alertness superpower.
9. He’s teething – I think we have a winner here. My little boy already has two teeth popping out of his lower gum and has a couple others starting to show at the top. His cheeks are all red and he’s super drooly. If only there was a magical pill to make teething pain go away. Baby medicine can only do so much.
10. He’s in pain – Yup, having little pieces of bone poking through your gums will cause some pain. Raising a baby would be so much easier if they could tell you what’s bothering them. In this case, I know my kid is teething, so I know that’s where his pain is coming from. If he wasn’t teething however, I would have no idea what the problem is. I guess you just have to do your best in making your baby comfortable. Unfortunately, sometimes that means being awake at all hours of the night. Remember that episode of the Simpson’s where Homer’s brother (did you remember he had a brother?) invents that machine that can translate baby talk into English? Someone needs to get on making that a reality. Now.
Well, I don’t know how helpful this list is, but at least I know there are only 10 reasons why a baby may not be able to sleep (yup).
Having a baby that can’t sleep can be frustrating to say the least, but I guess it’s the price you pay to be a parent. And being a parent is the best job in the world…
…Except for maybe an ice cream taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s. I hear those guys get full health benefits.
What was I talking about again?
NO SLEEP BAMPF!!!