So you are here, reading this blog through foggy eye lids held up with match sticks to stay open. You were up every hour last night…and you need to find a solution to this problem. It is just not sustainable any longer for any of your family. And you are right. It is not sustainable for all of the family and your baby needs to sleep long stretches of time through the night for their own health, development and growth. Don’t fear, these waking’s in the night can be a thing of the past and your sleep can be restored.
Firstly we need to do a little trouble shooting here to assess whether these waking’s are normal. Perhaps your baby is still very young, a newborn. It is very common for newborns to wake frequently for feeding especially if they are only taking small feeds. But, what is not normal is if you have say a 6 month or older child and they are waking frequently, every hour or 2 during the night.
Certainly I have found many parents I work closely with say their baby slept well and for long stretches through the night but once 4 months arrived…boom….awake…every 2 hours…And this is because your baby’s brain has matured through the 4 month sleep "progression". This is a great sign your baby is developing and reaching milestones.
Now many babies sleep quite well from bedtime to around midnight, and this is because they are entering the deepest most restorative sleep during these hours and they are not very easily disturbed. They enter the deep sleep phase twice within about 3 hours of going to sleep.
Then you have a baby waking every 2 hours so we need to look at their daily routine, their food intake, there naps, awake windows and how they are getting to sleep. Of course sleep regressions can also be a factor. All these factors have a massive impact on night’s sleep.
Now we need to establish the cause and reason for your baby's multiple waking's of which there may be a few.
Overtired or Undertired
If your baby is not getting sufficient sleep during the day or equally too much sleep they will this will cause a baby to wake many times. Check awake windows, nap lengths, time of day naps occur.
How is your baby falling asleep upon these waking's? Are they able to self settle themselves or do you need to help them? Are you feeding back to sleep every time? Are you rocking them or perhaps they have a dummy and you need to replace it for them? It may be time to start teaching your baby how to self settle independently of you.
Where your baby sleeps and what their sleep environment is has a big impact. Ensure the room temp is between 18.c – 20.c. and they are dressed appropriately. Around 4am the room temp often drops and this can be a cause of wake ups. If your baby is still swaddled ensure it fits well and they are comfortable in it. Perhaps they are now in a sleep bag and have lost their arm in it somehow.
Ensure the room is pitch dark, no natural or artificial “blue” light is entering the room. External noises from neighbours (which can be hard to control..!) Use white or pink noise constantly all night.
Is your baby feeding back to sleep upon these waking's? They may actually be taking in more calories over night than the day and this is what is called reverse cycling. They will need to start to take more calories during the day in this case.
If baby is only suckling and looking for a comfort feed at these waking's you can be sure they are not hungry. If you know they can go longer during the feeds than 2 hours you will need to encourage them back to sleep without feeding and then feed at the 4 hour mark if that is suitable for their age and stage of development. If you notice that they are not interested in their breakfast feed you can be sure they have had too much through the night.
If your child suffers from reflux, perhaps is teething or has caught a bug from nursery then it is likely you will be awake a lot in the night offering comfort and love and helping your little bundle of love back to sleep. Being awake a lot in the night will be a cause of overtiredness and sleep debt and in turn be a culprit for multiple waking's.
This is parenthood and it will happen and be tiring. Know it is just a short time and it will pass…onto the next stage…!
So with that said, you can now try a little trouble shooting with your multiple night waking's and if you would like some more help and advice navigating your way through to better sleep in your home do get in touch and we can work together to restore sleep in your home!
If you are struggling with multiple night wakings and have tried everything and now not sure what to do and you want to make a change then start making a change today by reaching out to me HERE! We can have a chat and you can tell me a little more about what is going on and I can explain how Ii can help your child and family's sleep.
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant