Night Waking Babies

image001 It is common for you to have night waking babies and most infants will wake up at some point. It is only a few babies that sleep ten to twelve hours straight once they reach three to four months old. Many mothers worry about their babies not sleeping through the night. Some breastfed children have a harder time sleeping for an extended period of time, while some will start going the entire night uninterrupted after a few months. These nighttime awakenings can be explained by behavior, development, and science.

Night Waking Babies, Why?

Causes

Descriptions

Sleep cycle

The sleep cycle involves shifts in brain waves as you go from REM sleep to non-REM sleep. During the transition between these stages, most people will wake up, but adults fall back asleep quickly enough to forget. Babies, however, will usually stay awake and cry because of hunger or another need. Around 4 months, your child will wake up right after deeper sleep which is normal.

Brain waves

By the time babies are around 6 months old, their brain waves during sleep are similar to those of adults. Because of this, at this age babies can usually start to sleep for longer times (six hours or more) at six months. They will still call out, however, if they wake up during transitions.

Being a baby

Some parents are hesitant to let their babies cry themselves back to sleep. The good news is that experts say this won’t cause any damage. In fact, many pediatricians say you should start to let your baby self-soothe by crying it out after they start developing skills such as rolling over or sucking on their fingers.

Parental roles

As much as most parents don’t want to hear it, staying in the room with the baby or moving her after she falls asleep can actually increase her chances of having sleep challenges. Instead, try not to interrupt her sleep in anyway. On the other hand, when both parents are involved with the baby’s daily care, they will wake up at night less.

Development

As your baby develops more skills, it is not uncommon for these to affect her sleep. After four months for example, she will wake up with sleep transitions and may cry out. By six months, they will start exploring things and sitting up, which can trigger them waking up. By nine months or so when the baby is standing with the crib’s support, it is common to find them awake and alert waiting for you in their crib.

Teething

Teething usually happens at about six months old, but it can keep waking kids up until they are toddlers. Only give your child acetaminophen to help with this issue.

Behavior changes

Most babies will experience behavioral changes as they get older. They may wake up and start babbling to themselves at six months of age or change their sleep patterns and wake up with separation anxiety at nine months.

Infection

Babies usually are at a higher risk of infection at about six months because they start exploring objects by putting them in their mouths. If your baby is sick, she might wake up because of coughing or congestion. Diarrhea, vomiting, and fever may also wake up your baby when she’s sick, but just try your best to keep her normal sleep routine.

Bottles and pacifiers

Most children start off life by falling asleep while sucking on something (breastfeeding, a bottle, or pacifier). It is common for babies between six and twelve months who use pacifiers to wake up when it falls out. The best solution in this case is to wean them off the pacifier.

Night Waking Babies, What Can I Do?

If your baby suddenly starts waking up in the middle of the night, take a look at the environment. See if the weather or amount of light in the room has changed. In some cases changes in waking up will be due to being sick or going on a vacation. It is also common for babies who just learned new skills to try them out whenever they can, including at night. In this case, your baby might pull herself up and stand but not know how to get down. Even if your infant’s sleep patterns change suddenly, don’t change the routine or methods of getting her back to sleep. The consistency will help her get back to her normal sleep schedule once you resolve the issue.

Want to know more about what to do with night waking babies? Check out the video below:

How to Minimize My Baby’s Wake-Up Calls at Night

Always try to maintain consistency and you can start using these tips when your baby is six weeks old.

  • Social daytime feedings. To help your baby distinguish day from night, make feedings during the day lively and social but nighttime ones calm and quiet.
  • Fall asleep on her own. Between six and eight weeks, start letting your baby fall asleep by herself. If she’s sleepy, lay her down on her back to get her used to the idea of settling herself down for bed.
  • Make a routine. By making a bedtime routine for your baby, you can give her cues that it is time to sleep. Make sure it doesn’t last over 45 minutes and try something simply like giving her a bath, changing her diaper, and reading a story or singing a song.
  • Use a security object. Give your child a security object, but keep it around you first so that it gets your scent. Having your scent there will keep her calm if she wakes up at night.
  • Let her settle herself. Once your child is four to five months, give her a chance to settle down by herself. Go in and talk to her for a minute, then leave and check back later. However, try not to let your baby cry for long amounts of time at night.
  • Cuddle. If you co-sleep, cuddle your baby in bed when it is bedtime and pretend to sleep with her so that she knows she is safe.
  • Share comforting roles. Once your baby doesn’t need to be fed at night anymore, let your partner comfort her as well.
  • Pay attention to her needs. Take time to make sure that your baby is comfortable and pay attention to what she may need. Consider if she’s cold, uncomfortable, or needs a diaper change.

Important Notes: Night Waking Will Not Last Forever

Keep in mind that it is completely normal for babies to wake up at night and it won’t last forever. Do your best to maximize everyone’s sleep, but still meet your baby’s needs. Feel free to change your routine if your sleep situation isn’t working. This is completely normal to do as your child gets older and reaches different developmental milestones.