Baby Sleep Education: What Should I Do for My Baby Who is Sensitive to Sleep?

Today, for when sleep education doesn't go as planned, we've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions by parents and our answers. What parts of sleep education did the ordinary parents around us struggle with?

family with baby

Question #1: I know that eating-playing-sleep patterns are important. However, there are many times when it doesn't work well while I’m adjusting the feeding period. Will my child develop a habit of falling asleep while eating? What do you do if your child’s sleep pattern is disturbed?

[Answer #1] The emphasis on eat-play-sleep is to eliminate the habit of eating while sleeping. If you live with a play, eat, and sleep pattern, most of the time your baby will fall asleep while breastfeeding. No matter how hard parents try, it is easy to develop a habit of eating and sleeping.

Some days your child will be very tired and sleepy, but there will be days when they can't sleep because they are hungry. Should you breastfeed my baby at this time? It's okay to have a few exceptions like this. However, be careful, as these situations can become a habit if repeated in succession.

Question #2: I've been trying to stop my child from drinking formula for a while now. Even if they don't want to eat food, should I increase their daytime feeding while soothing them? If I try and feed them while comforting them, they push me out of the way and don't eat their food.

mother holding her baby

[Answer #2] As long as the condition of your child is good, I think it will be okay for you to rest a little and not worry too much about their disinterest in food. During the weaning process, there will be a temporary decrease in the amount of feeding, but after some time then their hunger will come back as it was. However, it is necessary to review the objective situation in order to distinguish whether this refusal is a temporary phenomenon or whether a problem has occurred. You should check for weight gain, constipation, urination frequency, etc., to determine whether your current method of feeding is working.

As the child grows, a temporary growth stagnation may occur. At this time, the caloric requirement is reduced, and the child may appear to have lost their appetite. During this time, reduce the amount of breastfeeding during the night. This will increase your child’s appetite for daytime feeding a bit more.

Question #3: What should I do with a sensitive baby? I have a 5-month-old boy who has been poor at sleeping since he was a newborn. He also had a very sensitive back. He doesn't eat well either. I tried sleep training in the 4th month, and somehow during the naps he can sleep on his own. But he still wakes up every 2-3 hours at night. He hasn't stopped feeding at night yet, so I have to breastfeed during the night once in a while. He takes naps three times a day and breastfeeds five times a day.

[Answer #3] If your baby is sensitive to sleep, you can set your sleep education goal a little loosely. However, the more sensitive the baby, the more important it is to make the baby's routine stable. Once you are consistent with your daily routine, your baby will be able to predict the next schedule for himself. It may reduce your baby’s anxiety.

If he is a 5-month-old baby, gradually increase the amount of baby food given at a time and adjust the interval between feedings during the day to about 4-5 hours. It is necessary to practice both at the same time, in order to reduce the desire for breastfeeding during the night by increasing the amount eaten during the day.

If the child does not eat well, it is difficult for the mother to keep sleeping through the night because their baby will always want them to feed them a little more milk. If your baby does not stop drinking at night, they will feel bloated and full, and they will not eat more during the day. Babies who are sensitive to sleeping and eating may be more emotional and difficult to manage.

baby holding a toy

For the time being, with the feeling that your baby waking up at night is unavoidable, try to react calmly and positively. Gradually, adopt a strategy that makes your child more responsive to sleepiness. Just for 3 days, don't respond right away to the crying of your child at night, to see if that helps them sleep more independently.

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Author: Eun-Kyung Beom, Pediatrician
- Baby Sleep Education Expert
- Director of Baby Sleep Research Institute
- Formerly Director of Gwangju Central Children's Hospital


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