Believe it or not, getting your baby to sleep through the night is possible! Many babies are able to start sleeping through the night between 4-6 months of age. As tired parents, we all want to get back our precious sleep back as quickly as possible when our babies wake. If you’re constantly woken up in the middle of the night and you struggle to get your baby back to sleep, I’m here to help. Today, I’m discussing different reasons that may lead to your baby waking overnight, and sleep tips on how to get through it!
Why is My Baby Waking Overnight?
There are several reasons why your baby may be waking overnight. In this post, we’re reviewing a variety of common wake-up patterns and why they may be happening to help your family get better sleep.
Wake-Ups Every 1-2 Hours Overnight
This is super common- and exhausting. Many babies have a parent-led sleep association such as feeding, rocking, or holding them to sleep. These types of sleep associations can cause frequent overnight wake-ups when your baby is unable to fall asleep on their own. If your baby has a parent-led sleep association, there are many ways to change their sleep habits and allow them to self-soothe. If you need guidance on removing their pacifier, cluster feeding at night, or rocking to sleep, we’re here to help!
Wake-Ups At the Same Time EVERY Night
Has your baby gotten into a rhythm of waking at the same time every night and needing to eat? (And consequently, so have you.) They are likely waking up due to a routine that they’ve established. If your baby is still feeding overnight, identify if they are waking out of habit or out of hunger. If they’re older than 5 months of age and maximizing their calories throughout the day, chances are the reason behind your baby waking overnight is out of habit. If this is the case, we use a holistic approach to support you through the sleep training process and weaning overnight feeds– sleep and feeding go hand in hand!
Wake-Ups Shortly After Bedtime
Otherwise known as a false start, this occurs when your baby is waking just before or at their first sleep cycle of the night. Usually, this happens when your baby is overtired. If your baby is taking inadequate naps during the day and is stuck in an overtired cycle, they may struggle to connect sleep cycles 30-60 minutes after being laid down. If you feel that your baby is in a sleep deficit, move bedtime earlier, focus on getting sufficient sleep during daytime naps, and reach out to us for more support.
What causes the wakeups?
Many different factors could be contributing to your baby waking overnight and robbing your family of sleep. Keep reading to learn more about what could be causing your baby’s frequent wakeups!
Hunger may be the reason behind your baby waking overnight, especially if they’re under 6 months old. Babies typically need at least one nighttime feed before they reach the 6-month mark. If your baby is under 6 months and is waking, there’s a good chance that it’s due to hunger!
Your baby waking overnight may be out of habit. If they’re waking up at the same time no matter what, this is an indicator that they may have developed a sleep routine where they’ve become used to waking up at the same time.
Your baby may be waking overnight because they’re seeking comfort. Teething, dirty diapers, sickness, and inability to settle may prompt them to wake up and need soothing. Baby teething often impacts sleep because of the pain it causes them. Having a sick baby also means they will need extra comfort until they recover.
It’s also important to keep in mind your baby’s room and if they’re dressed for the temperature of their sleeping environment. Ensuring they have the right pajamas and/or swaddle will allow them to sleep soundly. If your baby struggles to self-soothe, consider getting a white noise machine for their room. For many babies, this is a total game-changer!
If your baby isn’t getting adequate sleep during daytime naps or their sleep schedule isn’t age-appropriate, they may be overtired. Although it may feel like that would help them sleep better at night, an overtired baby has a more difficult time following a sleep schedule. Make sure that you’re putting them to bed at an age-appropriate time and that they’re taking enough high-quality naps during the day!
Sleep regressions are a common factor in babies waking up throughout the night. This is super common, and nothing to be concerned about. I have blog posts about the 6-month, 12-month, 18-month, and 3-year sleep regressions for more information and advice. Hang in there- sleep regressions typically only last for a few weeks!
Babies can often fall into the routine of parent-led sleep association, needing soothing to fall asleep. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they’re unable to soothe themselves and require a sleep association (like rocking, feeding, pacifiers, parental presence) to fall back asleep. There are ways for you to help your baby transition into self-soothing and better quality sleep!
How To Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
There are many ways to help reverse the habit of your baby waking overnight. Having a well-rested baby that isn’t waking you up all night makes for a healthier, happier family. We offer one-on-one sleep support if you are trying to sleep train your baby and need extra help!
Work on Independent Sleep Skills Starting at Bedtime
Around 4 months of age, babies can learn independent sleep skills. This is an ideal time to start sleep training, but if your baby is older, it’s never too late! Teaching independent sleep skills through sleep training will allow your baby to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night.
Use a Consistent Approach to Overnight Wake-Ups
Whichever approach you use to overnight wake-ups, make sure it’s consistent! Inconsistency in how you handle their night wakings will ultimately lead to more instances of your baby waking overnight. Finding a sleep training method and sticking to it is especially helpful in this situation- it’s much easier to stay consistent when following a specific protocol!
Ensure Your Baby is On an Age-Appropriate Nap Schedule
Make sure that your baby is napping at the right times for their age. This can get difficult when you have more than one kid. You may be tempted to sync up their nap schedules- but I promise it’s worth it to keep your baby on an age-appropriate nap schedule to prevent them from becoming overtired!
Feed Your Baby Frequently Throughout the Day
Frequent feedings during the day can prevent your baby waking overnight out of hunger. Make sure that they’re getting the amount of calories that they need to support their rapid growth and development. This will also make it easier for you to tell if your baby is waking out of hunger or habit.
Aim for a Consistent Bedtime
A consistent bedtime makes all the difference. Implementing a consistent bedtime routine that encourages positive sleep habits will help your baby so much in the long run! Create a bedtime routine that happens at the same time every night with positive sleep associations that encourage your baby to sleep. There are a ton of baby sleep products that can make a huge impact when developing your perfect bedtime routine!