Sleep Baby Sleep: Most Common Reasons Babies Wake Up at Night

Most Common Reasons Babies Wake Up at Night

    
Using Sleep Props

The use of props to help a baby fall asleep, is the number one reason a sleeping baby wakes up at night (something I learned from the Sleep Sense Program). Here are some common props or sleep associations: 
  • Bottle or breastfeeding to sleep, 
  • Rocking to sleep 
  • Swinging to sleep
  • Movement in a carseat or stroller.
  • Even the *pacifier if your baby is dependent on it. 

If your baby relies on any of the above to fall asleep, and needs them when she wakes up at night, then it is considered a prop or sleep association. Your baby will continue waking throughout the night and not be able to soothe herself back to sleep, without that particular prop. Your baby should always go to sleep awake, *without any props. Trust me, your baby will find a way to soothe herself. When Brianna was in the  HALO SleepSack , she would rub her face against the sheets. She would turn her head side to side, until she fell asleep. She now sways her hand across the sheets back and forth. The texture of the sheet soothes her, and she falls asleep. That would never cross my mind as soothing, but that's what she does. We even bought her these Velour sheets, which she absolutely loved.

By teaching your baby to fall asleep on her own, and getting rid of sleep props, you will solve most, if not all of your baby's sleep troubles. I am not suggesting, by any means, to be cold or harsh to your baby. As a matter of fact you want to do everything you can, to comfort your baby before bed. Kisses, hugs, and cuddling, is the best part of our bedtime routine! Of course you want to make your baby feel safe, secure, and loved before bed. Just don't let the sleep props be the reason your baby falls asleep.  Here's a separate article that explains Sleep Associations and how to handle them. 

You obviously don't want to impose anything strict on a newborn. Newborn sleep troubles are very common. You should give your baby some time to transition. When you first bring your newborn home, you may need to use some rocking, swinging, or even a white noise machine, just so your baby can associate night with sleep-time. Womb sounds work really well to help a baby transition. Once your baby has settled into this world, then you can start working on helping your baby sleep without any sleep props. 

* A side note on the use of the pacifier. I encourage the use of a pacifier because it has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, if your baby is crying in the middle of the night because it fell out, and you need to go and put it back in, then you might want to evaluate if you really want to use it. This is a personal choice, one you will have to make weighing your pros and cons. I thought Brianna was reliant on the pacifier, then I put her to the test. I took the binky away, and let her fall asleep without it for a few nights, and she didn't cry for it. So I knew she wasn't relying on it. She fell asleep with it, but didn't care when it fell out. So I decided to keep it. I think I would of kept it either way, at least for the first few months because of the whole SIDS thing. Tell a nurse something reduces SIDS, and she's not going to think twice.
 
Circadian  Rhythm

 It's also known as our biological clock. It's a 24 hour pattern of biological activities that occur in our body. The sleep-wake cycle is part of that circadian rhythm. As part of sleep-wake cycle our body releases certain hormones during night time to help us fall asleep. It also releases daytime hormones to help us wake up. Babies are born with an under developed circadian rhythm. That's why when you bring your baby home from the hospital, he or she sleeps during the day, and is awake at night. Also, don't forget throughout your pregnancy, your baby was rocked to sleep during the day by your movements. That's why you felt her movements at night when she was awake. So what can you do to help your little night owl? Just keep your baby on a regular feeding cycle. Keep the blinds open, turn on the t.v or radio, and just go about your day as you normally would to help create an association with daytime. Then at night, obviously you do the exact opposite. Quiet all noise, turn down the lights, and establish your bedtime routine. Be patient it can take some babies up to 8 weeks to know the difference between day and night. To complicate things even more, melatonin (the sleep hormone) is not produced until a baby is about 2-3 months old. So don't get discouraged, it takes a while for a baby to settle into this world.

Startle Reflex

Also known as the Moro reflex, is a normal infantile reflex. When some stimulus causes your baby to startle, the legs flex and the arms stretch out. This stimulus can be a loud noise, an unexpected touch, or a bad dream. This reflex lasts only a few seconds, but can wake a sleeping baby. Some babies can drift right back to sleep, while others will completely wake up. This reflex usually diminishes by 4 months of age. Until then the  Swaddle Sleep Sack is great. Those nifty velcro patches were intended to keep your baby's arms inside, and prevent awakening from the startle reflex. I watched Brianna, completely wake up from the startle reflex over and over. Her arms would fan out and she was awake! That's when I decided to put her in the Swaddle Sack. She slept so much better.


Temperature 
  
At one point Brianna started waking more frequently for a few days in a row, right at the start of winter. I noticed her little hands and feet were cold. Now it's pretty warm in our house. As a matter of fact, I slept in shorts and a tank top. Apparently that wasn't warm enough for Brianna. I had to adjust the temperature for her. When I did, she was back to her normal sleep schedule. The same thing happened in the summer when it got really warm out. At this point she was sleeping through the night, and I found her waking up a few nights… it was too warm for her. It was only April, I never turn on the air condition this earlyI had to put a low fan setting on the A.C. and that kept her comfortable. Babies are picky about the right temperature. We naturally regulated their temperatures for them, while they were in utero. Out here, it's a bit more difficult to get that temperature just right.

Hunger

Ok this may sound self explanatory but it's not. You may Think your baby is hungry, but she may not be. Here are some clues your baby is waking up because she is truly hungry:

1. She's wakes up whining at first, then transitions into a louder and louder cry. If your baby wakes up hysterical, she's probably waking up because she's scared or confused not because she's immediately hungry. Babies will wake up screaming if they fell asleep in your arms, and didn't go to sleep on their own. They wake up alarmed, wondering where they are, and where you disappeared.

2. Your baby is waking up consistent with her daytime feeding schedule. Meaning if she's eating every 4 hours during the day, she will probably do the same at night. Especially if she is young. A young baby may only be able to make it 4hrs at night. If your baby is older, her consistent wakings may be purely out of habit, so continue reading to see if other clues are present

3. She only wakes for one feeding. If your baby is only waking for one feeding, and goes right back to sleep, she is most likely hungry and still needs that feeding. If your baby is waking up multiple times a night, chances are she is just comfort feeding. (Unless she is really young of course)


4. When your baby is eating, you hear loud, audible swallows. What I mean is, she is not just playing around, suckling a little here, a little there. She is truly drinking and actively eating. Some babies wake up from a sleep cycle, and just want to be soothed back to sleep, and the bottle or breast is obviously going to do the trick. Brianna was infamous for this. She would wake up, suckle a little, and fall right asleep on me. I would slip her into bed and half hour to an hour later, she did it again. She wasn't hungry, she was using me as a soother!

5. Your baby stays awake during the entire feeding, and usually drinks a large bottle or feeds from both breasts. A baby wouldn't be able to eat that much, if she was not hungry. It is also possible that your baby is eating a large amount out of habit, or simply because it's offered and she knows it's an easy way to fall back asleep. If your baby is comfort feeding while her stomach is full, she will eat a little bit and fall asleep on the bottle or breast. So it can be very tricky. You have to really be in-tune with your baby's hunger cues. 


6. Here's the biggie, your baby falls asleep after you place her back in the crib awake! Now only a content baby could do that. If you fulfilled her need for calories because she was hungry, and she falls asleep knowing that she is back in her crib, then she was most likely hungry. Otherwise she would put up a fight and stay awake.

When Brianna was finally waking only to eat, I knew she was truly hungry. By now I learned the difference. She would guzzle her milk like it's the last time she would ever have it. She stayed awake the whole time with the sole intention of eating. She didn't play around, waste time, or fall asleep on the breast. When she was done (usually within 10min), I would place her back in the crib awake. She fell asleep right away, of course so did I, and we both woke up with a smile in the morning. She continued to have this one night time feeding, until she was just about 8 months. I even emailed the Sleep Sense Program who's opinion I truly value, just to make sure I was doing things right by still feeding her, and this is the response I got:

Hi Violet,

That is absolutely fine then as long as she is staying awake for it and falling asleep in her bed, on her own afterward. You're on the right path!


Best,


Regan Forsyth
Sleep Sense Client Support

Growth Spurt

We all heard about this right? Your baby grows at a rapid rate and needs to eat more. Common growth spurts are 7-10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. Give or take a little, they are not exact. Brianna must of hit every single one of these. She was on a great sleep schedule, then all of the sudden started waking frequently. I knew it was only a growth spurt, because it only lasted 3-4 days. After a while, I loved growth spurts. Because at the end of each growth spurt, she would get right back on her sleep schedule, and even slept a little bit longer. My recommendation, just feed on demand during a growth spurt. If you are breastfeeding, don't worry about your supply being low. Your supply will actually increase to meet the demand of your baby. I always thought it was cool how that works. Don't forget to drink extra fluids. You are going to be thirsty from all the feedings. And if you are bottle feeding, your partner can help with the extra feedings. Growth spurts can be exhausting but thankfully they don't last long.

New Developmental Skill

Your baby learned how to kick, roll, sit or stand and now they want to do it all night. Sound familiar? You can't stop a baby from exploring her new skills. For younger babies, the Swaddle Sack is great. You can use it up until your baby starts to roll. It keeps their little arms and legs inside. At first I wasn't very fond of using the Swaddle Sack. I felt like I was restraining my baby. After a few uses, I realized it was really helping her. By using a good swaddle, you are keeping your baby snug, and preventing her from even getting the idea of kicking or swinging her arms. At first I was swaddling Brianna in a regular receiving blanket. It didn't take long for her to slip out of there. As soon as an arm or leg broke loose, she fully woke up to further experiment. With the SleepSack , that never even crossed her mind because her extremities never came out of it. She slept so soundly in it. Now you see why I love this thing?

When my baby Brianna learned how to sit and crawl, that's all she wanted to do! I would put her in the crib awake, and up she went. When your baby starts practicing her new skills, simply remind her it's time to sleep and place her back into her usual sleep position. You will most likely have to do that over and over, because chances are she's going to keep getting up. After a few tries she should get the point and tire out. Keep in mind that she could be testing you, to see if you allow her to play. Keep conversation to a minimum, so that you don't over-stimulate her. Only repeat it's sleepy time if she really resists, whines, or fusses. If you did your bedtime routine, and did everything else right, your baby will eventually fall asleep. Because guess what time it is?… sleepy time, meaning she is already drowsy and tired. Your baby will soon tire out and give up and fall asleep. If however, your baby thinks this is a game, walking out of the room may work better. Not all babies respond well to being laid down over and over. 

I also encourage lots of playtime on the mat during the day. This helps your baby practice her new skills, so she's not doing it so much at night. Unfortunately there's not much you can do when your baby is going through this part of development. Just wait it out, until your baby learns and masters the skill. She will soon go back to her regular sleep schedule. Learn more about Sleep Regressions

Teething

For some babies teething can feel like an itch, and for others it can be very painful. But either way, it's annoying and can keep a baby up. 6 months is the average time a baby gets her first tooth, but it can be way earlier or later. Bottom line, you will have to find some way to ease the pain. Talk to to your doctor about some options. You can also check out my article Chamomile for Babies. I have some really neat tips.

Light

Is there any light coming in the room? Perhaps it's a full moon, or your neighbor just bought a new garage light. Lights can really bother a sleeping baby, because they disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. Illumination suppresses Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. If you suspect light to be waking your baby, I recommend room darkening or black out shades. Before we put Brianna in her own room, she slept 2 hours later in our bedroom which had the room darkening shades. I learned that she's one of those babies that wakes as soon as there's any tiny bit of light coming through. Blackout shades are great, they keep the bright sunlight out, and most of them block out 95-99% of light. 

Some babies are just more sensitive than others. Studies show that even a small amount of light can prevent us from going to sleep and staying asleep. You may have to get rid of the cute nightlight you registered for, or cover up the light on the smoke detector. I actually had to cover the green light coming from the baby monitor camera. I just stuck a piece of black tape on the light. I caught Brianna staring at it the first few nights we installed it, it was preventing her from falling asleep. It was such a tiny pin size light, but it still bothered her. Some babies won't even give you any clue that a light is bothering them. Instead they will just have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

You can buy room darkening shades in Home Depot or Lowe's. You might have to custom order the black out shades, which don't permit any light. You can also take a look at these blackout shades. I have done some research and these seem to have the best reviews. They are also less expensive than custom shades.

Illness
It should be no surprise that a baby that is sick, is now waking in the middle of the night. Whether it's a cold, stomach bug, or just a fever, your baby will have a hard time sleeping due to the discomfort. Stuffy noses cause mouth breathing, and mouth breathing causes dry mouth, which in turn makes your baby wake more frequently. Fevers are also very uncomfortable, even for us adults, so think about what it does to our babies who can't communicate their needs. During this time, try your best to soothe your baby, but you may just have to deal with a few rough nights. 


So there you have it, the most common reasons a baby wakes frequently at night. If your baby is still waking, for reasons other than the ones mentioned above, you may want to try taking a free sleep assessment, to see what's going on with your child's sleep. You answer a few questions, and get emailed back a detailed report with suggestions on what to do. 
Check it out here.

I am also available for consultations. I can create a sleep plan for your baby and help you with the entire process, so that your baby can start sleeping through the night. If you need help getting your baby to sleep, please take a look at my Consultation Packages, or see what others are saying about my services on the Testimonials Page



                                 Free BabyLeggings

72 comments:

  1. Thank you for this article, it explains alot. I thought my baby was waking because she was hungry, but after reading this I realize she may be just doing it out of habit. I'm going to try the sleep report now, and see what it says. Thanks again!

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  2. I have a question. My little one wakes up at the same time every night. Out of habit, I feed her. As I lay here listening to her talk, whine, and shuffle around; I'm wondering of I need to soothe/comfort her if she is not crying. I would like her to wake up @ 8am. Usually I feed her @4 sometimes 6 but she always falls back to sleep. I have more questions but she is getting fussy so i feel the need to go to her. Thank you, jessica

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    1. Hi Jessica! If she is not hungry and not crying, just whining, then there is no need to intervene. She needs to find the skills to fall asleep on her own, without your help. The only way she can do that is if you give her a chance to figure it out. There's nothing wrong with some whining and shuffling around, that is her way of trying to figure out how to fall back asleep. Good luck!

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  3. I need help!!! My second son who is now 3 months (a little over) has been a HORRIBLE napper ever since he was about 4-6 weeks old. I don't know what happened. I put him down awake and he'll cry for a little bit but then coos and falls asleep perfect BUT he continually wakes up 3-4 times during EVERY nap. I kid you not! It's very frustrating and sometimes makes me cry. When he wakes up he SCREAMS and cries!!! Not just crying. I've been trying to figure this out for months!!! Is it my diet? gas pains? he hates sleeping on his back? Acid reflux? I've tackled all this issues with no resolve!!! He used to sleep a solid 5-6 or 7 hours at night but started waking a TON at night. I don't feed him because he's not hungry. I know this because I either put the paci in or roll him on his belly and he falls right back to sleep plus I know his hunger cry. I feed him when he's hungry. He's the HAPPIEST baby when he's awake. All smiles and giggles, playing with toys. He's great! Just the worst napper!!! Just now I decided to try and turn his fan to the lowest setting thinking maybe the louder sounds scares him awake? And his startle reflex? I don't know, just a thought. He's not swaddled anymore but he did the same thing while swaddled. He also does it on his back and belly. He does it anywhere I put him down. When he's in the car, a pack and play, his crib, other houses... Also, his paci is not a sleep prop because I don't give it to him to fall asleep. I only put it in on occasion. Could it be a medical issue? Gastrointestinal issue?

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    1. What do you do when to put him back to sleep when he wakes up an cries like that?

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  4. I'm loving your site! My 4-month-old was sleeping great, 11-12 hours total with one feeding after about 7-8 hours. Then she started rolling in her swaddle. The last night in her swaddle, I put her down completely awake, got ready for bed, and she was sound asleep, no crying/fussing etc. So now we're hit with 3 things at once: no swaddle, rolling over and the 4 month regression. She's not going to sleep on her own anymore (fussing turns to all out crying) so I have to rock her. Then for the last week straight, she wakes up 30 minutes after she goes down, rolling over both ways, not happy and crying. Then I rock her to sleep again. She IS sleeping a pretty good stretch after that, anywhere from 4-6 hours. Then feeding, then another stretch from 3-4ish hours. The pediatrician said to let her CIO and there's no way I'm going to do that. I figure I'll just try putting her down less and less asleep very gradually like I did the first time (which took several months). Am I on the right track? Is the rocking going to get her to rely on me too much?

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you found my site helpful! Yes you are definitely on the right track. Welcome to the 4 month regression, it's horrible! I'm going through it myself too with my 4 month old. Do your best to not start any bad habits but if all else fails do whatever it takes to help her get some sleep. Unfortunately sometimes there's not much you can do but just ride this out. Good luck!

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  5. Hi there - hoping you can help... My almost-4-month-old is a terrible napper and sleeper. She seems to hate sleeping flat on her back and always falls asleep on our chests. I know this is a bad habit on our part, but she has really bad reflux so we've been told by our doctor to keep her upright for at least 30min after a feeding. So, we feed her, put her on our chest as we sit-up, and then put her in her crib after about an hour...She'll sleep soundly for 1-3hours, and then she starts fussing. She kicks her feet like crazy, rolls back and forth, and grunts loudly. I thought it was gas that was waking her up so we switched bottles and formula. I have tried to just leave her but she gets so fussy that she gives herself the hick-ups and is quite obviously under distress...So then I go to her and pick her up, bring her into bed with me, and she falls asleep right away. (So I know she's not hungry) Once she's asleep, I have tried to put her back in bed, but she will wake up and get fussy again within 30-45min.
    So, this goes on and on, picking her up, putting her on my chest, then putting her back in her crib, and waking again in half an hour... It's exhausting, so some nights I just can't deal with it and let her sleep on me all night long.... I know this is a bad habit and I want to break it, I'm just not sure how.. Stressed! Any suggestions? (I am guessing that you will say that I am her "prop"...my body heat is what she's using to soothe herself... how do I get away from that?)

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    1. Have you tried using a crib wedge or elevating the mattress to help with her reflux, sounds like she's uncomfortable as well as little dependent on sleeping on you. You can look into some sleep training methods to help her fall asleep on her own. Look through a few of my articles on those topics and let me know if you need more help. Good luck!

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  6. hi my 10 month old just recently started fighting her sleep really bad at night when i put her to bed. She may sleep for about 10 min then she's wide awake screaming and won't go back to sleep. Thisbhas happened twice in a row now and idk what to do. She sleeps perfectly fine when she's inthe bed with me but i really don't want her getting into that habit.

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    1. If she's not relying on props to fall asleep, it could be a regression, growth spurt, her nap schedule might be off, her sleep requirements might be decreasing at this age just to throw out a few ideas...
      Give it a few days to see what happens, and try your best to not bring her in bed with you.

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  7. Help! My 4 week old sleeps at 7 (after about at least a hour of coaxing him) so then from 8-10ish then wakes at about 2-3 -all that's fine I can cope but then he wakes 4,5,6,7 :( each time for around half hour leaving my absolute shattered! He's breast fed and I'm seriously considering giving him a formula feed at 2 in the hope it fills him up for longer? Any ideas to prevent me doing this? Also is it normal to take so long to settle him each time?

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    1. Hi Nicole, give it a little more time, 4 weeks is still pretty young. He may still have his days and nights mixed up, it's too early to expect much from him. Do your best to keep him up during the day and feed him at intervals no longer than 3 hours. If you fill up his tank during the day, he may need less at night:) Also, if he is having a hard time sleeping at night, you can let him sleep in a swing or rock and play to get him use to sleeping during nighttime hours. Once his days and nights are adjusted, you can then put him in his bassinet, co sleeper, or whatever sleeping arrangement you have. Good luck, let me know if you have any other questions!

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    2. :) thank you so much, il try this today!

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  8. Help!!! My 6 month old baby is not sleeping or napping well. She wakes every 30 or 40 minutes during the day and every 1 or 2 hours during the night. She used to be a good sleeper till 3 months. But after 3 month, she doesn't sleep without being breastfed. Every time she sleeps she wants me to nurse her otherwise she doesn't sleep at all. I thought my breast milk was not enough so i started her a formula but she doesn't want to take a formula after a week. I am confused and don't know what to do. It has been a while since i slept well. I am so tired. Please let me know what to do. Thank you. Martha

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    1. Sounds like she has a sleep association with you. Take a look at my article "sleep associations" as well as "how to teach your baby to fall asleep independently". That should help, good luck!

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    2. Thank you for the reply. I try to sleep her independently but she keeps on crying. Today is her first day.She doesn't want to sleep without me even if she is so tired. She cries like anything. Don't know what to do. Is it normal?

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    3. You may want to start some "sleep training" at this point. But yes this is normal. Every baby is going to cry when you change up their routine. There's different ways of handling the crying and protesting, so read through some of my article regarding sleep training. Good luck!

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    4. Hi Violet, thanks a lot for the post. WishI found your blog earlier. I need your opinion. My 10 mnth and 1 week old recently awaken a lot at night. Sometimes she would be awake for every 1.5 hours after the first 4 hours of sleep. She used to just woke up 2 or 3 times from the entire night sleep. When I feed her at night, she sucks until the milk flows and continue for 5 mins then she just sucks and stop until she releases the breast which she already asleep. Does this mean she is not hungry and just want comfort? I am night weaning her cuz I will be back to work in less than 2 months. I tried ignoring her cries for 2 days which made me felt awful so I changed the method. I went in when she cries really hard like in pain to comfort her then put her down awake (she cried but fell asleep after 20 mins). I also gave her water from a bottle when smacking her lips like she was thirsty then put her down awake. Again she cried and went to sleep after 20 mins. I wonder if she still is hungry at this age especially from the wakeup at 4 am cuz her tummy feel flat. Should I still feed her at 4 am? I felt guilt for not feeding her and only have water. is she ready for night weaning? I should know but I'm really confused when I feel pressure from others that knows I'm struggling with her at night for sleeps and those that have baby slept thru the night after letting their babies cried it out.

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    5. Sounds like she might be doing it for comfort. Also, it could be a sleep regression. Please refer to my article about that for more help.

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    6. Hi there,
      I have a 9 month old who is a horrible sleeper. She was a good sleeper when she was a newborn until about 5 months. I've breastfeed her on demand since she was born and have nursed her to sleep... we do also co sleep... she was sleeping fine until she turned 5 months.. now wakes up frequently while she naps and she usually naps for about an hour sometimes two .. I usually have to nurse her to fall back asleep when she wakes up during her nap .. she takes about two naps a day... and does not sleep through the night! She wakes up every 3 hours... and needs to be nursed to be soothed back to sleep. I know shes not hungry when I nurse her back to sleep because shes not swallowing just using me to soothe herself.. she won't take a pacifier...I'm at my whits end I don't know what to do... I've tried the cry it out method but that doesn't work it doesn't mattter how tired she is she will not cry herself to sleep... we have a bed time routine ..... shes a horrible sleeper and I'm a desperate sleep deprived mom please help!

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    7. Hi Chelsea, I know exactly what you are going through. Have to you read my recommendation on the Sleep Sense Program? You can read my review on it on the left side of this page.

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  9. Hi. My 4 month old still wakes up at night but doesn't eat as much as he used to. Instead of a full 8 oz bottle, he now only drinks 1 to 2 oz of milk every 2 to 3 hours throughout the night. He goes to sleep on his own while he's fully awake at bedtime, but won't stay asleep all night. He
    usually goes back to sleep on the bottle during his night feeding. I am so sleep deprived & need him to stay asleep at night. The frustrating part is that he wakes up crying just to only drink an ounce or two, and I'm thinking he's so hungry because of the crying. Is it time for me to start weaning him off of the night feedings? Please, for the love of God & all things holy say yes!

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    1. sounds like he is using the bottle for comfort to help soothe back to sleep. A little "sleep training" would be a good idea at this point. Part of the training would include not feeding him back to sleep and breaking the habit of him falling asleep on the bottle. Chances are he still could be hungry at some point during the night, but definitely not every 2 hours. If he is hungry after a long stretch, it's ok to give a bottle just whatever you do, do not let him fall asleep on it, lay him down drowsy but awake. Another thing I want to mention is that there is a sleep regression at this point, please refer to my article about that. If he is going through any developmental milestones at this point, you may want to put the sleep training off until things subside. Good luck!

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  10. Hello, my baby falls asleep nursing at the bedtime feed. how do I keep him awake so I can put him down awake? Normally if he wakes as I transfer him to his cot, he will cry & not go to sleep himself. However during the night, after a feed, he can go down awake and after 5/10 mins, he's asleep, but he can seem to do it after his bedtime feed or daytime naps. Thank you!

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  11. Hi Violet, My newborn baby (5 weeks) is doing as you suggest, using me to get back to sleep. Is he too young to self-soothe?

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  12. Hi Violet, I've read through your advice for others and a few of your articles clicking on links and such. It's all great info and reinforces the advice given in the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. My daughter is just about 11 weeks old and sleeps great through the night. Every once in awhile she will wake up after only 3-4 hours but otherwise she sleep 5-8 hours then wakes, feeds and goes back to sleep for another 1-3 hours. She'll do that once or twice depending on how long she slept the first chunk of the night. I do have a fan running (low) but it runs in almost every room and is there when she falls asleep and when she wakes up (I have air purifiers). Other than that I don't think she has any other props and again sleeps well at night. My issue is that she used to be better at taking day naps but recently she's been napping several times a day for 20 - 40 mins. I'm thrilled when she sleeps for 45 mins or more because I feel like that's at least a real nap. These other 20 -30 min naps are really just irritating I think for her because she wakes up so sad and frustrated. I've tried to let her cry for 5 mins to see if she'll put herself back to sleep...sometimes she does and can sleep a full nap and other times she's just SO upset and just gets more angry. Am I doing something wrong that she's only sleeping short periods ALL DAY? Sometimes she'll wake up after 30 mins and be super happy, other times she wakes up screaming...and I can't swaddle her anymore because she'll only sleep on her stomach. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

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    1. are you putting her down awake?

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    2. Hi, yes, I put her down awake...she usually fusses for a minute or maybe 2 minutes but then she falls asleep. If she fusses for more than 5 minutes or if she's not fussy but crying (you know that cry that says I'm not mad I'm really upset), then I pick her up immediately. That's only happened once or twice though.

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    3. If you are putting her down awake at all times, even middle of the night wake ups, then you might need to adjust your sleep/nap schedule. Make sure you are following age appropriate sleep lengths and wake times. She is young, so no worries, it's a work in progress. Some babies this age just take many short naps throughout the day and they are fine that, as long as they are meeting their daily sleep requirements. If you need further help with sleep lengths and wake times you can take a look at my sleep consultation packages or join me on my next live chat. Good luck!

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  13. Hello! I have an 8 week old who used to be able to sleep 5-6 hours a stretch a night with just one feeding an night. For the past week or so, she's been getting up every 3 hours because she needs a bottle to settle back into a deep sleep. I know it's not hunger because she doesn't finish the bottle and only takes 2 oz. I'm losing my mind and getting a lot of anxiety as night approaches. Also, I sometimes stay up and can't sleep because I hear her waking up! It really sucks : ( I read that it may be a good idea to fill a bottle with water for one of the unnecessary feedings. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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  14. Also is the Baby Whisperer's "shush pat" method considered putting down drowsy but awake? Thanks!

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  15. Question. My daughter is 6 weeks old and only wants to sleep on me.. how can I transition her to sleeping in her bed? Is she too young to let cry herself to sleep?

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    1. I don't ever recommend that a baby "cries herself to sleep" Wanting to sleep only on you is normal but you can start laying her down awake to see if she will try to figure out how to fall asleep on her own. Please refer to my article "How to Teach Your Baby to Fall Asleep Independently"

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  16. Hello - I have 5-1/2 month old twin boys. One sleeps from 9pm - 6am waking only 1-2 times a night. The other twin also goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up at 2:30, 3:30, 4, 5 but then will sleep soundly until I have to get them up before work. He starts by yelling out and then it turns into a very long, loud cry. We have to address him quickly or he'll wake his brother up. His eyes are usually closed and we try to "shush" him back to sleep but I notice his arms will jerk or fall to his side and wake him up again. Is this something that is normal?

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    1. Hi there! This usually happens with babies that don't fall asleep on their own. In other words if you are putting your baby to sleep by nursing, rocking or any other prop, then your baby will not know how to fall back to sleep on his own when he wakes at night. Please refer to my article "How to Teach Your Baby to Fall Asleep Independently"

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  17. Hi. I have a six week old and the last few days he's been waking every 2 hours. Normally its every 3. Is he having a growth spurt? He only drinks from one breast and then I cant keep him awake. I put him down and like clockwork two hours later he does the same. Also in the mornings about 4 he gets terrible wind, down the bottom end and won't let me put him in his moses basket he just howls till he's red in the face and I have to have him in bed with me lay on his tummy. Is this normal

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  18. Hi, I just found your site - this is awesome! I have a 5 month old (first baby). He is EBF, and sleeps very well through the night. I think we had a 4 month sleep regression (previously, he had been only waking once to eat in the middle of the night), then all of a sudden, he was waking twice. He was also very distracted during the day while feeding, so I think he was genuinely hungry, as I was putting him to bed between 6-6:30 due to his poor naps. Our overnights have since been fixed. He is only waking up once (around 3:30), sleeping an 8-9 hour stretch (early bedtime still) before waking to feed. Or what I think is waking to feed. Two nights ago, he slept 12 hours straight (ate very well that day). He has also become very fussy when we try to give him his bottle (we usually do a bottle once a day, at bedtime, so my husband can feed him). That bottle is a big one, too, and is 8oz.

    My main concern, though, is his daytime napping. He generally sleeps either 26 or 30 minutes, which makes me feel like the issue is perhaps his reflex (he still has a small startle reflex around that time) or his sleep cycle. I have tried playing around with his wake times (shortening, lengthening), trying to do naps by the clock, and very rarely am I able to get him to sleep longer than 30 minutes. I have tried leaving him in the crib for an additional 30 minutes, and sometimes he falls back asleep for another 40, but not always.

    He goes into the crib awake, wears a Halo Sleep Slack during the day, and a Carter's Sleep Sack at night. Of course, as I type this, he has been sleeping for an hour and 15 minutes, which is VERY rare. If his nap lasts longer than 40 minutes, it's usually ONLY the morning nap. Here are some of my thoughts:

    1) Is it possible he is getting too much sleep overnight? Last night, we put him to bed at 7, instead of 6-6:30, to try and make his last feeding later in the night, to encourage a longer sleep stretch, or sleeping through the night. Should we try a later bedtime to see if he will sleep more during the day? Everything I've read and believe about baby sleep says sleep begets sleep, but I know not all babies require the same amount. Is there a 24-hour max that babies will sleep? Maybe his sleep hours need to be redistributed?

    2) His natural wake-time is in the 6-7am hour. Usually 6:30. I usually put him down for his first nap about 2 hours after he wakes. Sometimes he sleeps a long time, other times, it's only 1/2 hour.

    Either way.. these short naps are a problem because he is waking up tired. By the end of the day, he's exhausted! Any ideas?

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    1. It's very typical at this age. A baby's sleep pattern changes to more of adult pattern. Many parents think its the 4 month regression when in fact it's just the sleep patterns changing. Make sure he goes down awake and he should get the hang of things. Good luck!

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  19. Hi am in the UK and have a 15 month girl who from about 8 months has gradually got worse with her sleeping to the point now that she wakes almost every night a number of times and I usually have to put her in bed with me she is a very restless sleeper and also when I try and get her to sleep she will not go down in her cot even when she is half asleep she cries to the point of getting herself in a state as have tried staying in the room with her and leaving her to cry a little and nothing seems to be working one thing I have noticed is that she tends to grab and pinch me and stroke my hair and hold on to me in some way when trying to get her to sleep she is were fidgety have you any advice thanks

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    1. Anything you try should be attempted for a least a week. It takes that long for a baby to adjust to any changes. Older babies as yours can take up to 2 weeks, sometimes longer. So pick a sleep training method of your choice and give it some time. Stay committed and consistent and you should be able to solve tackle this. Good luck, let me know if there's any way I could help

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  20. How do I keep my baby from falling asleep with a bottle?

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  21. Hi, my baby is a few days shy of 4 weeks. She usually naps great during the day. Some days almost all day. Occasionally she will be a bit fussy but at night she is really fussy and will only stay sleeping in our arms! As soon as I put her down she's up in 10min or less. I thought maybe she needs to be in a deeper sleep and would let her stay in my arms longer before putting her in her bassinet but still no difference. This has been going on for about a week now. Last night I thought she would be better bc she stayed up from 6:00pm-9:45pm but we still had the same problem. I'm afraid she is getting used to sleeping in our arms but I don't know what to do bc we do not get any sleep otherwise! I thought it was her startle reflux that is keeping her up but during the day there are naps that she takes unswaddled and she's fine. Please help!

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  22. Hi violet.
    My almost 4 month old daughter usually sleeps 10 to 12 hours. Recently she has been wpaking uo after 8 and "talking", whining but not really crying. I have been getting up to feed her but tonight i waited 15 minutes and she was back to sleep on her own after a lot if thumb sucking. Does this mean her thumb sucking soothes her and not tha she was hungry? I just want to make sure i didnt make her gi back t ok sleep hungry. Thank you.
    My daughter has been w

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  23. Dear Violet!
    at 4 months old, I got my girl to fall asleep by her self, and she would sleep for 4-5 hrs before waking up for a feed. Then she hit the dreaded 4 month sleep regression - waking up every hous and crying as soon as i tried to put her back in her crib. Then she got a bad case of excema and would wake up frequently scratching. Then it was (and still is) teething were she would wake up screaming hysterically and I would nurse to sleep. Or maybe the screaming is due to bad dreams.

    Now she is 6 months old and are falling asleep by her self again (in her crib) after your great advices! She falls asleep most of the time with me and my husband in the room (her crib is in hour bedroom), other times when we are not in the room.

    The problem is that she still wakes up every 45 min-1hr! So now for the past couple of weeks we have started sleeping with her in our bed. We all need the sleep.... She then sleep so much longer and better! But she will cry every single hour before we go to bed with her. Sometimes I can hush her back to sleep in 2 seconds, other times it takes 30 min. She still nurses 1-2 times per night, and since she is not gaining enough weight, I am told to keep nursing at night for a while longer.

    So my question:Have we made our selves into a sleep association?
    Btw, she have never taken the paci, nor a teddy bear or a blanket as a comforter....

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    1. That's exactly what it sounds like. Let me know if you need my help getting things back on track :)

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  24. Hi Violet, Just came across your site and found it extremely helpful. I never thought I would be getting advice for this subject since I always made a conscious effort to not get my child into bad sleep habits and he is always slept very good until he reached 4 months. He is now 5.5 months and is still not sleeping through the night anymore. He will fall asleep on his own and still does, always put him down drowsy but I do gieve him a bottle right before I put him down. Never has a problem falling asleep. But then he cries around 10 pm, never opening his eyes, sometimes goes back to sleep on his own or I have to just go in, put his paci back in,sometimes it's still in his mouth, touch his face, and he is back to sleep. Then again at 12am., usually feed him since he is ravenous with hunger, eats the whole thing and then goes right back to sleep. Wakes up a few more times, whimpering, go in to sooth him, never picking him up. Then up at 4 or 5 am for another feeding, sleeps for 2 hours or so and is up..happy as a clam. Why is he waking up crying all the time? He is soothed so easily, and have really trained him to not get us to getting picked up everytime he cries. I usually jsut hold his hand and he is out. I know he is not in pain. He never opens his eyes, he is just crying. I was thinking dreams or nightmares! Ever hear of this? Any thoughts would be great!

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  25. Hi I have a three year old son that does not sleep at night unless I sleep with him I need help

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  26. Hey my daughter has always been a good sleeper but sometimes she will wake around 4/5 wingingx then her cry gets louder nd louder until I go in I lay her bk down leave rolm wait 5 mins nd she stil xrying, I dont usually iike giving her a bottle cuz I thibk does she need it but wen I do do give her a bottle I usually water it dwn nd once shes had her bottle shes quiet, ? And dont here from her then until8 am I doing the right thing? plz help

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  27. Hi.. My daughter is 4 weeks old. The first 2 weeks were really amazing with her as though she operated on time schedule but after that its been really difficult with her to put her to sleep. She has lot of gas and whenever she sleeps she always has a difficult time. She sleeps only on my chest ( a habit that she has developed last week) and the moment i put her down, she gets up with her own movements and noises that she makes and the cramps she gets due to gas. As long as shes on my chest, even though she gets cramps and gets troubled but she does not get up. Now its becoming difficult for me to hold her the entire day. I sometimes carry her in a wrap but even in that she starts getting fussy after 1 hour or so. I do not know what is to be done? Please help

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  28. my son is almost 9 months old and he is very reliant on his bottle. he will not go to sleep without it and will wake up multiple times a night when he realizes he doesn't have it anymore. if he doesn't get his bottle as soon as he wakes up, he will scream until he gets it. my son co-sleeps with us and we are not able to simply "ignore" his cries

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  29. I'm having a huge problem. My 4 yr old wakes up every night between 3 and 4 am including now as I'm typing asking me to come lay with her. If I lay with her she will fall right back asleep. If I don't lay with her the whining and calling of my name can continue for up to two hours. Please give me some options or suggestions.

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  30. Hi, I have a question. My four month old has a good nap schedule and self settles to naps and bedtime, which is early 5:30/6pm. She wakes several times a night to breast feed which I dont mind but she keeps waking at around 2 or 2:30am and wont go back to sleep. Its a killer - she can be unsettled for hours. Sometimes I think she is just trying to pass wind for hours......

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  31. My son is almost 9 months old. He is very well trained to fall asleep on his own. I have no problems with that. The problem is that he doesn't STAY asleep. He wakes up like clockwork between 2 and 3am. He goes to bed by 830pm, takes 2 regularly scheduled naps during the day for no longer than an hour and a half a piece. I don't know what else to do. He eats well and takes a full bottle of formula before putting him down for the night with a clean diaper. He has only slept through the night maybe 5 or 6 nights. I tried letting him cry it out, but that did not work. Any tips would be helpful

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  32. HOW DOES ONE AVOID A PROP?

    When baby awakes in the night and it NOT hungry, just confused or scared between cycles, how do we encourage her to sleep again? If she isn't hungry then the breast is a prop and to use it for soothing would be counter productive. But so would rocking or shushing the baby instead. So what does one do?

    I am thinking : Check the diaper, pick up baby and wait for hunger signs, then after a quick cuddle put the sleepy but now calmed/reassured and AWAKE baby back down and watch as she finds a way to self-settle. Is this accurate?

    So this is the point at which she should for example discover sucking her fingers, or stroking the soft sheet, or tossing her head.

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    1. My advice would be to look into some sleep training methods. When a baby wakes at night it is very important how you respond because this will be how your baby will expect to be put back to sleep. So if you go in and nurse, rock, etc, then she will expect that every time she wakes after a sleep cycle and can't fall back to sleep on her own. This can be several times a night. The best thing you can do is teach her to fall asleep on her own. See if this article helps http://violet-sleepbabysleep.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-teach-your-baby-to-fall-asleep-independently.html#.Uw3_Ff1CpfM. Good luck, let me know if there is any other way I can help!

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  33. Hi! Thank you for this article! Great information. This past week my 5 month old (who just started cereal) has been waking up after we put her down for the night every 40 minutes. She also only takes 30 minute naps during day. We are working on getting her to fall asleep on own but she isn't having it still. She cries uncontrollably and almost gets to point of hyperventilating! So of course we end up picking her up. Any advice on what to do? She was a great sleeper before this past week...She would rarely wake. Is it the change in diet? Also any advice on getting her to fall asleep on own? Thank you! !!

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    1. See if this article helps http://violet-sleepbabysleep.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-teach-your-baby-to-fall-asleep-independently.html#.UxXrKv1CpfM
      Good luck, let me know if there is any other way I can help!

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  34. Hi. I find this so insightful. Thank you. I'm wondering if you can help me though. My 7 month old boy has started to wake at 3-4am each night crying/screaming. First I thought it was teeth. Then hunger. But now I'm thinking is to check if I'm there I've recently gone back to work. I do pick him up soothe him. He's wide awake by bow but I just cuddle him for a moment and then he goes back to sleep with thumb in mouth happy enough and goes back to sleep. what can I do to get him to stay asleep just let him cry it out?, he's in is own room aswell.

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  35. Hi Violet, this information is fantastic but I am wondering if you can clarify something. You suggest that it is important to distinguish day from night. You also suggest that light can wake a baby up. So, during day time sleeps, should the blinds be up and the room light to associate the sleep with daytime or should the blinds be down and the room dark to help the baby sleep? I can't seem to get a straight answer on this in the many resources I've read and I would be interested in your thoughts.

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    1. If your baby is young and is experiencing day/night confusion (which can occur up until 9 weeks of age), then you would want to keep the blinds open and keep the room bright so that he/she can spend more time awake and hopefully sleep more at night. If you're baby is not experiencing any day/night confusion and you are referring to an older baby then you would want to encourage a dark environment during day time sleep. Hope that helps and makes sense:)

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  36. My 15 week old daughter is still swaddled only at night and usually sleeps 8 hours, uninterrupted. Do I need to wean her from the swaddle before attempting sleep training? I'm terrified that she won't sleep without the swaddle as her naps are only 30-40 min, but I really think she needs more sleep at night (which is why I'd like to start sleep training.) I'm making myself sick worrying about this all the time and my husband is sick of dealing with me like this.

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    1. Hi Tonia,
      Your best bet would be to take her off the swaddle when starting sleep training. Otherwise you will most likely have to re-train when you finally take the swaddle away. Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any help with "sleep training".

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    2. Thank you, that definitely helps! Once last question: She currently gets a bottle at 6pm, takes a 30-45min nap around 7:30, gets another bottle at 9:30 and goes to bed right after that. If I start sleep training, do I slowly move her bedtime back without that last 9:30 feeding or put her down for the night at 7:30 when she normally naps & feed her in the middle of the night? Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

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  37. Hi my little boy is 15 weeks old has always been a brilliant sleeper, but the past few nights once he has had his bottle he goes down to sleep like normal but an hour later wakes up screaming.good and crying unconsolidated to the extreme where he can't catch his breath. I strip him right down as he is sweating from where he has gotten so worked up. N then he calms down n it takes me the best part of 2 hours to settle him back down to sleep. Once he is asleep again that is him done till the next day.
    It is really bothering me why he is waking screaming the way he is. It is starting to scare me a little

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  38. hi, my baby hasn't been a good sleeper since birth. So, we hold him, rock him to sleep. Night time, when hes asleep we keep him in his cot, but he would wake up 3-4 times. he is going to be 5 months on 9th. I have tried to pat him to sleep when he's sleepy, but he either smiles or cries. He would fuss a lot when he is sleepy and would sleep after like 1-2 hrs of rocking him. I would really like him to learn how to sleep on his own. (ps: now he's bottle fed twice: afternoon and night, mostly hes breastfed)

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  39. hai, my 2 month baby used to wake up for every 10 minutes and most of the time she was crying ...............i tried my level best to make her happy but she never ever convinced.but she is playing and feeding normally.so please give solutions for her crying & sleeping.how to calm down my baby when crying bitterly??????????????

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  40. Help please Im confused. My 14 week old daughter needs her paci to fall asleep at naps and night time, does this count as putting them down by themselves? many times i have to come back and put it back in her mouth because she cries. then at night i don't know if she cries for milk or the paci. i used to bf her every time she cried at night but i have been reading babywise book and wanted to help her sleep better. last night i finally got her down at 11 after bf and paci she went to sleep then at 5:30 cried so i gave her paci, went back to sleep but half an hour later cried again so i put it back. then she sleep until 9 when i had to wake her up to try to implement this new schedule. i had to wake her up from her two naps today and the rest of the naps and this evening she slept terrible, waking too early and tonight crying very hard every time i put her in her crib. finally fell asleep on her own with pac after lots of hugs, rocks and patting. my question is, when she cries at night does she want paci or milk? should i take away the pac if she can't go to sleep without it? also did i do a bad thing to wake her up this morning and from her naps?? the reason i wanted to have a schedule such as babywise was beause she was going to bed around 10 or 11 and then waking several times nad eating at night and sleeping basically until 11 am or 1 and it seemed like a hard schedule to maintain. i would really love to get your advice, please help! I'm a very confused mommy :)

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  41. Hi I have a 2 week old little girl and she has her routine laid out pretty much. Everytime I Breast feed she falls asleep, so I put her in her bouncer and she stays asleep and everything is fine during the day that is. When I comes to night time I feed her at about 9 when she wakes up then she sleeps till 12:30/1 wakes up and I feed her and she falls asleep while eating like always. But as soon as I put her in her bouncer (only thing she sleeps in right now) she immediately wakes up and starts fussing. So lately I've been letting her fuss because I know she is fine. And she will fuss for a little bit then stop then start fussing again. But it continues for a long time and she is in the same room as I, so I eventually just get her and she goes right to sleep on me. We keep our a/c on in the room so I started to wonder maybe it gets to cold for her and that's why she wants to be with me at night? Or she is use to falling asleep on me from feeding?

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  42. Hi. My little boy is 91/2 and since doing the sleep sense program at 4 months he sleeps great. 11-12 hours at night and now 2 naps of 11/2. :) However I've been dealing with couple of issues recently. 1st he has been waking up during naps and at night crying and screaming. It usually last 10-15 mins and he falls back asleep, but sometimes during naps he just keeps getting louder and that it is for nap time. The other issue I have is that no matter how tired he is he refuses to sleep in the stroller or car seat. Now is summer and we are outside more often so he has been skipping his afternoon naps. He doesn't get cranky, but I know he needs his sleep. Any advice about how to improve or fix these 2 issues? Thanks

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  43. I love that you are against the cry it out method. Enjoy those babies as they grow up too fast.

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  44. Both my daughters had the makings of being an "easy" baby. That was until my husband INSISTED on cradling them to sleep every single night and nap time. This turned my "phew, now I can relax and get some work done" time to "the baby must be held and snuggled, don't you dare move" time. I love my children, but I didn't appreciate his spoiling them and then yelling at me for the house not being perfectly tidy.

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