Top 10 Reasons Why Your Baby Wakes Up at Night
1. Hunger: – If your baby is small or under 9 months old they might wake from genuine hunger. We consider 1-2 feeds normal from 4 months to 9 months especially in breastfed babies. Formula fed babies can usually have their diets and day time feeds structured in such a way that hunger should not wake them up past 7 months. New-borns and especially breastfed new-born babies might wake 3 times a night to feed and this can be very normal in the early weeks. Aim to feed and quickly re-settle so you all get some sleep in between those important feeds.
2. Sleep Associations: These are the things or technique’s you use to get your baby off to sleep, they take root from 12-16 weeks, and if your baby’s sleep association requires you then your baby might wake at the end of each partial or full sleep cycle (2-4 hourly) expecting you to do the same thing you did 2 hours ago to get them back to sleep. We can help you change your baby’s sleep associations to eliminate this reason.
3. Too hot or cold – with summer on the way check you are not over heating your little one – their sleeping bag might need to be changed to a more suitable tog bag for summer, or a summer swaddle to prevent over heating. Check out this post on appropriate summer sleep wear.
4. Sleep regressions: these occur a lot in the first 12 months of your baby’s life – they are developmental and are not related to hunger or teething. They are a time when your baby’ sleep needs have changed or their sleep cycles have changed, or they have developed a new skill during the day, or are about to go through a big developmental milestone. Those babies with healthy sleep habits from birth will experience less regressions than those who are constantly over tired or rely heavily on sleep props to get to sleep.
5. Teething: depending on your baby’s age when they cut their teeth and how healthy their sleep habits are teething can wake your baby up. If your baby is a box of birds during the day and then wakes at night screaming this is probably not teething pain. Teething pain more often than not is an on off grizzle and your baby might be awake for quite some time with this on/off cry. Try some pain relief and a cuddle.
6. Over tiredness: If your baby does not nap well they will be going to bed over tired for the night, and over tired babies are wired on stress hormones and struggle to get into a deep sleep or stay asleep. Work on your baby’s naps and their night sleep will resolve itself in some cases!
7. Under tired: You just can’t win can you! If your baby over sleeps then you will likely have long periods of wakefulness at night and your baby will be thinking 3am is party time! Slowly reduce their naps back to an age appropriate amount of time, and the night sleep should fall back into place.
8. Reflux: If your baby suffers from reflux until the medication kicks in your nights will be heavily broken as your baby in in pain. No amount of sleep training can correct pain and discomfort. Help your baby get to sleep, so they are not over tired as over tired babies cannot tolerate as much pain or discomfort as a well rested baby. Once your baby is medicated ask your Dr about possible side effects as some reflux meds can cause restlessness and gut and wind pains – it is good to know this and prepare yourself!
9. Illness: if your baby has a cold and hasn’t fed well they might wake more often, if they have a gastro bug, sleep will be hard to come by. Get through this and you will then need to gently encourage night sleep once more. I always suggest you go to their room when they are sick – put a mattress on the floor, it is easier to slowly leave then kick them out of your bed if they have been reactively co-sleeping while ill.
10. Wet nappy: some babies are very sensitive to a wet nappy or a leaking nappy. Use a good brand nappy and a cover if needed to prevent leaks, Tight onsies are a common culprit for urine leaking out of a nappy, so check PJ’s are not too tight!
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