Why Is My Baby Waking Up At Night?
Does your baby wake during the night? Be reassured all babies wake at some point, some more than others. The difficulty arises when your baby is unable to get back to sleep. There is a lot you can do to help your baby develop good sleeping habits. The development of good sleeping patterns set the foundation for all future sleeping habits.
We asked eumom Sleep Expert, Fiona O'Farrell, Paediatric Occupational Therapist Specialising in Baby Sleep and Development, for some tips on getting baby back to sleep:
When your baby wakes, the key is to try and find out why. Babies up to the age of about four months do not have the developmental ability to self soothe themselves back to sleep. So when they wake, they will often require the help of rocking and soothing to get back over to sleep.
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The key for you as a parent during this period is to help prevent your baby from becoming over-tired during the day. Over-tiredness will result in it being harder for your baby to get over to sleep, and due to the over tiredness, they will wake frequently and have more difficulty settling again.
During this period, I advise parents to be mindful of your baby’s awake times. For instance, if your baby is under four months, they can manage about an hour of awake time before their little brain becomes overloaded and they are in need of a nap.
Naps during the day are vital for helping your baby to develop good sleeping patterns which prevent night waking. During this period, you may also be breastfeeding. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect your baby to sleep all night as night feeds will be important to prevent hunger.
As your baby approaches four months, they will begin to develop the ability to self soothe. This is an important skill for your baby to develop, which is a prerequisite to attention skills which develop later on as a toddler.
Self-soothing means your baby can calm herself. Encouraging your baby to adopt a comfort object, such as cuddly toy, which they can use to self soothe when they wake is helpful. You can also give your baby the chance to find their own ways of calming, such as sucking on their hands or holding hands together.
Your baby’s sleep cycle is approx 45 minutes long. However, this will increase as your baby develops the ability to link sleep cycles together. From 4 months onward a consistent bedtime routine is vital in helping set the stage for sleep and helping your baby sleep through the night.
If your baby is waking about 15-20 minutes after going to sleep, it is very probably the hypnagogic startle that is waking him. During your baby’s sleep cycle your baby spends some time in light sleep and some in deep sleep. As your baby is falling into deeper sleep, they will experience a tiny jerk in their muscles and this little jerk frequently wakes babies. This is known as the hypnagogic startle.
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Six To Twelve Months
From 6-12 months, your baby will become more active and therefore their brain is more prone to over-tiredness. It is important to prevent your baby’s brain from becoming overloaded as this triggers the release of hormones which prevent sleep.
From 7-8 months, separation anxiety may prevent your baby getting back to sleep if they wake during the night. This is a normal developmental process, but for some babies can cause more distress when you leave them. To help your baby overcome the effects of separation anxiety, offer lots of cuddles and quality time during the day.
Once your baby begins to roll and crawl, it is important that your baby gets lots of opportunities for movement during the day. A day filled with movement will help your baby sleep better at night. Getting outdoors will also help your baby sleep better at night.
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Need a little extra help?
Help your little one get to sleep with our Baby Bedtime Lullaby Playlist on Spotify: