In a perfect world sleeping babies would indeed lie, and moms and dads would enjoy a full 8 hours of rest each night. But alas, reality is a cruel master. If you are grappling with the confusing and often frustrating dilemma of why your once blissfully sleeping baby wakes up every hour, there are a few common reasons.
After 4 months of age most newborns have a prolonged period of sleep and then wake up every few hours because of sleep cycle changes. Sleep cycles move babies from REM (rapid eye movement) sleep to other stages of non-REM sleep. A 5-month-old baby waking up frequently may not be distressed but rather moving in and out of deep and light sleep. If your baby is not waking up at night crying or clearly distressed, allow them time to settle themselves back to sleep.
At 6 to 12 months, separation anxiety can cause babies to wake. If you deem it necessary to enter their room to soothe them, be boring. Keep the lights low and your tone soft and soothing. Try not to give the impression that there is anything the least bit exciting about waking in the middle of the night.
A 4-month-old learning to roll over may be distressed when she cannot turn back over. A 6-month-old mastering the art of sitting up may be trying to practice his new-found skill at 4:00am. And once a 9-month-old can pull himself up, he may insist on your help getting back down in the middle of the night.
Sleep regression is the term used for this disheartening turn of events. It may seem like one step forward and two steps back in your parenting and your baby’s sleep habits, but it is a normal response to the developmental milestones your child is achieving. It is important to note that sleep regressions also happen for no apparent reason. Babies can be inconsistent little humans after all. Getting back to the basics of sleep training will usually get you back on track in a few short weeks.
Change in Routine
Busy times such as holidays and vacations can alter your regular routine. This may upset the fine balance of sleep/wake times for your child. Simply return to a bedtime routine that is as consistent as possible and remember to avoid missing naps or putting your child to bed too late. Overtiredness can make it difficult for babies to settle.
General Health & Comfort
Do consider how much simple comfort levels affect your baby’s waking. The discomfort of new teeth erupting from their tender gums or the pain of an ear infection can cause any peaceful sleeper to wake up screaming. Applying a light bit of pressure with your clean finger to swollen gums may be enough to get a teething baby back to sleep. Also check for signs and symptoms of illness if the usual sleep methods are not doing the trick.
Lastly, the magic of our Merino wool sleep bag is a parent’s most helpful sleep-inducing tool. A Woolino 4 Season Sleep Bag can be the key to extended hours of sleep by keeping your baby warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer.
May all your naps be long and your sleep regressions be short!