12 Reasons your baby wakes through the night (and what to do about it)!

Reasons your baby is waking up

  1. Baby is hungry - Your baby might still wake up in the middle of the night for a feeding. Sometimes if your baby was busy during the day, she may have missed the odd meal of snack and wake up hungry during the night. If breastfeeding, these feedings can help maintain your milk production. (Prolactin levels are higher during the night feedings.)
  2. Baby is overtired - If babies are kept up in the day to help them learn to sleep at night, they can get over-tired. Have you ever been TOTALLY exhausted, lay down for a good nights sleep, and then not been able to fall asleep? Well, that happens for babies who are over-tired. It seems counterintuitive, but it's true! Keeping your baby or toddler up late will usually not lead to a later wake up time in the morning. Instead, it can cause over-tiredness, which can intern lead to even earlier wake up times. If your baby does get over-tired, help them fall asleep to catch up - A swing or a car ride could help.  Set and stick to, an appropriate bedtime for your child but just as important, watch for signs that they are getting tired. Watch for signs like a droopy eyelids or I rubbing if you took your child into bed when they are drowsy but not overtired or completely asleep, it will be easier for them to learn to fall asleep on their own. If your baby should wake, soothe your baby to sleep and try to make sure you get his naps in tomorrow.
  3. Baby has a wet/soiled diaper - Relax the rules and diaper changes. Resist the urge to change your baby's diaper every time she wakes up he doesn't always need it, and you'll just jostle her awake. Instead, put your baby in a high-quality, nighttime diaper at bedtime. When she wakes up sniff it to see if it's soiled and change only if there's poop. To avoid waking her up fully during nighttime changes, try using wipes that I've been warmed up in a wipe warmer. If your baby tends to soil her diaper a short time after you put her to bed, try moving your pre-bedtime feeding up a bit in hopes that she will have a bowel movement before she goes to bed.
  4. Baby is teething - If your baby is up in the night pulling on his or her teeth and gums, suspect teething pain.
  5. Baby has diaper rash - If your baby is prone to diaper rashes change his diapers as often as possible during the day, before bed clean your baby skin with a wet washcloth and then use some diaper rash cream to protect your baby skin until the next diaper change.
  6. Baby is ill or in pain - Medical conditions that can interfere with sleep: Acid reflex, ear infections, asthma, food intolerances, eczema, pinworms and sleep disorders. If your baby only sleeps for a short time or if your baby is only able to sleep lying in your arms it's possible that your child may be experiencing pain related to an illness.
  7. Separation anxiety - Not wanting to be separated from the people they love most is a common cause of sleep disruptions during baby’s first year.
  8. Baby needs some affection. Sometimes babies just need a reassuring cuddle.
  9. Your baby’s environment - If your baby is too hot or too cold or wearing a sleeper with a irritating tag, he will have a difficult time sleeping.
  10. Your baby hasn't learned how to get back to sleep on their own - Babies with less developed self soothing skills are more likely to wake up when they pass through the periods of light sleep.
  11. Baby’s routine has changed - Your baby was sleeping through the night until he got a bad cold, or your night routines are inconsistent.
  12. Baby is in the process of mastering a new skill and wants to practice it day and night- literally. - If your baby just learned how to stand up on their own, obviously they want to do it at 3 AM, and sometimes they just need your help when they can't get back down.


Developing good sleep habits.

Here are some tips on how you can help your baby/toddler develop good sleep habits:

  • Try to keep regular day routines.
  • Try to set up daytime routines and habits; your toddler thrives on routine.
  • Keep a regular nap schedule even on weekends if you can. If your day is very busy and naps are missed, your baby may not sleep well at night.
  • Offer plenty of regular nutritious meals and snacks during the day. (See toddler snack ideas)
  • Keep regular bedtime routines
  • Wind down the action at bedtime.
  • Some bedtime routines ideas can include: giving a baby a bath, reading to your baby, quiet cuddling, and asking other members of the family to share in quiet time.
  • Make a bedtime a special time. Set aside time for talking to your child about their day, this will help in later years as your child will come to know that this is the time of day when your child has your full attention.
  • Give some choices at bedtime, which story? Which pajamas would you like to wear?
  • Avoid watching TV or ipads before bedtime. TV is stimulating, not relaxing.


Keep a sleep diary!

If your baby is not sleeping well, keeping a sleep diary will help. it's easy to feel like your child has beat up every hour when realistically your baby was only up twice. Also, keeping a sleep diary will help if you change something in your routine so you can watch and see if it gets better or gets worse. Write down when your baby sleeps, for how long, when your child wakes up at night and for how long.

(See sleep diary)