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Night Wakings

Night waking's can be tough on parents as we are just not used to having interrupted sleep. When I gave birth to my daughter I felt like nights were never going to end. I would dread the nights all day and would have to prep myself for them mentally.

Is there an end to night wakings? Well to be honest it depends....are you going to change what you are doing currently? If not, then the night wakings will most probably continue and they can last up until the age of 7 years old or longer depending. Night wakings are biologically normal and even us as adults wake multiple times during the night but are skilled at putting ourselves back to sleep. Babies and children need to be taught this essential life skill of self settling in order to sleep through the night.

So why does it happen?

0-3 months

Babies at this age are not able to self settle and they need all the reassurance they can get. This is partially due to the fact that they do not have a fully developed circadian rhythm (body clock) and don't produce melatonin (sleepy hormone) until about 4 months. Do whatever it takes to put them to sleep. You can introduce sleep shaping which will create good sleep foundation in preparation for self settling (contact me for more information).

3-6 months

Sleep starts to mature at this age and things start to get a bit sticky. It's at this age that they can start to wake fully between sleep cycles which is every 30-45 minutes during the day and every 2-3 hours at night. The reasons behind night wakings at this age is the reliance of sleep associations that they have previously been used to in order to fall asleep, Some examples of these are rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, the use of a dummy, co-sleeping etc. Around 18 weeks, babies are capable of sleeping up to 12 hours at night. Around 4-6 months they can also go without night feeds.

6-8 months

Beyond 6 months babies tend to form habits and so if you are feeding to sleep consider a gradual reduction if you think they don't need it anymore and you want to wean off (contact me for support). What can happen is that babies who feed throughout the night can consumes most of their calories during the night and then feed less in the day. They may also sleep more during the day then at night if this is the case.

8 months and beyond

At this age babies are most likely not hungry and waking from habit and self settling issues.. They should be on solids by now also which will top up the calories. If feeding solids, aim to give this first followed by milk. Aim for three good milks feeds a day.

Here are some other reasons that could be causing wake ups during the night.

  • Too much or too little daytime sleep

  • Too hot or cold

  • Woken from environmental or household noises.

  • Sickness and teething

  • Inability to self-settle (beyond 4 months old)

  • They want to be swaddled (for babies younger than 4 months)

  • The sleep environment is too stimulating e.g. there is a nightlight or mobile

  • Reflux or other conditions affecting sleep

  • Developmental leaps can cause separation anxiety

  • During certain periods in their development babies do wake in order to "practice" their new skills (crawling, rolling etc). This is most common at 8 months and 12 months.

For more support with night wakings book a FREE discovery call with me now.

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