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Baby Waking All Night Long?

"Why does my baby wake up at night?" Is a common google search in the wee hours of the morning.

Frequent night wakings and the societal expectations and experiences around them range dramatically.

Here are the most common reasons why a baby may be waking up at night and some ideas for how to improve your baby's sleep.

First thing, how old is your baby?

Under 8 weeks?

It's normal to have frequent night wakings for feeds.

Ideally, the feeds would be a few hours apart and by 6-9 weeks of age, we're hoping to see 4-6 hours stretches of sleep at night.

Babies over 3 months, can usually sleep 8-9 hours before needing a feed.

Around 6 months of age, and if your baby is healthy and there are no concerns from your pediatrician- you can consider weaning out night feeds altogether.

Babies wake up due to hunger

As mentioned above, it's normal for young babies to wake up due to hunger, though by a certain age, your baby should be taking in most of their calories during the day.

The term is 'reverse cycling' and it's a fancy way of saying that your baby is taking the majority of their calories during the night, leading to poor daytime feeding.

Many parents worry that their baby will go hungry if we reduce night feeds, but the beautiful thing that happens is that babies then start to take in more calories during the day!

Your baby may be waking up for comfort

Could they be cold? Have a full diaper? Is their clothing bothering them?

It can also be due to not having the skill of being able to go back to sleep.

If your baby is used to falling asleep in your arms or feeding, or by being rocked or patted, they may be wanting those circumstances to be recreated every time they wake up.

Start by creating a soothing bedtime for your baby and avoid making them sleepy through feeds, rocking or holding.

Choose a method that you're comfortable with and give it a few nights!

You'd be surprised to see that your baby can do it!

Your baby may be waking up due to a habit

If every time your baby wakes up they get fed, or brought to your bed, they may continue to do so.

After all, who wouldn't want a snack or a snuggle in the night?

Though the issue is that the night wake-ups may continue for quite some time, and both your baby's sleep and your sleep may become affected.

When you feel ready, and you've chosen a method that you're comfortable with, work on your baby going back to sleep in their bed.

{Common sleep issues}

'False starts' or waking up 45-60 minutes after bedtime

'False start' is a fancy way of saying that your baby went to bed, but seemed to have treated it like a nap instead AND it's difficult to get them back to sleep.

The most common reasons for this occurrence are:

1) Your baby is overtired

Poor daytime napping, or keeping your baby up too long during the day can lead to overtiredness.

And it's unfortunate, but overtired babies tend to not sleep well.

2) Your baby is under tired

Now, sometimes parents are putting their infant down under tired, which can lead to lots of crying and many attempts to settle with little to no success.

3) Your baby, in addition to being over or under-tired, relies on something/someone for sleep.

If your baby relies on you to fall asleep (feeding, rocking, patting, etc.) and they're overtired, it's a recipe for a false start.

What do to:

Adjust bedtime - most infants need a bedtime between 6:30-7:30 pm

By getting your baby down to bed within their biological bedtime window, and by not pushing them too far at the end of the day, you'll have a better bedtime and less chance of a false start.

Work on independent sleep - Start by choosing a method, and then stick to it!

It's normal for babies to take 5-20 minutes to fall asleep, and if you've been working on independent sleep for a week with little to no success, please reach out.

I've helped many parents just like you improve their baby's sleep by carefully reviewing their baby's patterns, routines and implementing strategies.

Waking every 2-3 hours

If your baby is between 16-20 weeks of age and their sleep has become erratic or significantly worsened?

They may be going through the 4-month regression, which in my opinion is poorly named (I think it should be the 4-month progression).

Your baby's sleep is changing from newborn sleep to becoming more similar to adult sleep.

If your baby relies on you for sleep, they may struggle more during this time as their wake-ups may be more frequent because of the changes.

Other considerations: comfort

Is your baby too hot or too cold?

Do they have reflux symptoms?

Did they fill their diaper?

Is their clothing comfortable and the right size?

Trying to decipher why your baby is waking up all night long can be challenging as there are many reasons.

The most common reason is that a baby has strong sleep associations (feeding, rocking, patting, etc.) and relies on them to get back to sleep.

If you're struggling with getting your baby to sleep well, don't despair!

I help parents, just like you, every day.

We work together on your baby's challenges and you get a plan and support along the way.

Can't wait to help you and your baby sleep well!

Here for you,

Melody Patton

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