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Office of Child and Family Well-Being

Safe Sleep - Infant Sleep Troubleshooting Guide

african-american baby sleeping

Streetlights or early morning sun coming through the window may wake a baby from sleep. Use dark colored shades over windows near your baby’s sleeping area.

A stuffy nose can cause a baby to wake up. Make sure your baby’s nose is clear before bedtime. Help your baby avoid congestion by dusting regularly and removing things that collect dust from the sleeping area. Keep your baby away from smoke, baby powder, hair spray, and paint fumes, which can all cause nasal congestion.

Teething pain can prevent your baby from sleeping. Check for drool stains on your baby’s sheet, drool rashes on your baby’s cheeks or chin, or swollen gums. Your doctor may recommend small doses of acetaminophen.

A wet diaper sometimes causes babies to wake up. Be sure to put your baby to bed with a dry diaper. If you use cloth diapers, consider layering two or three of them for naps and bedtime to reduce the feeling of wetness.

Allergic reactions to fabric, or the detergent or fabric softener used on the baby’s bedding or clothing, may be making your baby uncomfortable. If you see signs of skin irritation or other symptoms, change the bedding and switch laundry products.

For more information on healthy child development and safe infant sleep, visit

Developing babies can have restless nights as they are learning how to sit up, roll over, or walk. They can sometimes practice in their sleep! Your baby can get stuck sitting up because he doesn’t know how to lay himself back down yet. This can be fixed by teaching him how. During the day, sit your baby up, help your baby lay back down, and then encourage your baby to practice alone.

If you have tried all suggestions and your baby is still not sleeping well, talk to your baby’s doctor. There may be a medical reason for your baby’s restless nights. Tell your baby’s doctor if your baby:

  • Is waking up with Colicky abdominal pains
  • Was a good sleeper but suddenly became a restless sleeper
  • Has not slept well since he or she was born
  • Shows any signs of illness
  • Cries often for no apparent reason and cannot be comforted
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has changes in behavior because of poor sleep