The number one question I get is, “why isn’t/can’t my child sleeping at night?” There are so many theories that parents come up with to why their child isn’t sleeping at the night. I hear everything from teething, too cold, too hot, they don’t like their cribs, the mattress is uncomfortable, they don’t like the smell, they only like when I hold them, they are breastfed, they are formula fed, you need to put rice cereal in their bottles, I was bad at sleeping when I was a baby, it’s hereditary, etc.
I am not saying that some of these can’t contribute to bad sleeping habits but they are not the sole reason to why your child 4-6+ months isn’t sleeping through the night. Also… what is “sleeping through the night?”. To some it means a full 12 hours without feeding or waking. To other it’s sleeping 5 hours straight for their baby’s first stretch of sleep or even to some it’s after baby wakes at night they immediately fall asleep after feeding (even if baby is feeding 3+ times a night).
WHAT ARE MY 5 MAIN REASONS WHY YOUR BABY IS WAKING AT NIGHT?
- BEING PUT TO BED DROWSY OR ALREADY ASLEEP! It is important that our babies, from 4+ months on are waking up where they are falling asleep. They are falling asleep in Mom’s nice cozy arms and then in then 2 hours later waking up in a completely different space. This can only result in one thing… CRYING! It is important we are putting our baby down to sleep awake.
- BEING FED TO SLEEP BY BREAST OR BOTTLE OR CLOSE TO BEDTIME! The majority of my clients tell me that part of their bedtime routine is to either feed baby to sleep or feed them directly before putting them to bed. Regardless if they are falling directly to sleep on the breast or bottle, milk and sucking are such a strong sleep association and lingers throughout the night. And if they are falling asleep directly on the breast or bottle that sucking and milk is a sleepy combination that works every time. However, this results in waking every 1,2,3 hours at night and having to rinse and repeat the feeding.
- ROCKING TO SLEEP! Same as above with the bottle. Rocking gets our little ones so darn sleepy and drowsy that they become “motion junkies”. Yes, motion is an incredible soothing tool when babies are newborns, however, 4+ months on it becomes one strong negative sleep association we are having to repeat several times a night.
- INAPPROPRIATE ROUTINE FOR BABIES AGE! I hear all the time that if you keep your baby up throughout the day or you put them to bed late they will sleep longer. Remember people, “SLEEP BEGETS SLEEP”! The more well rested our babies are throughout the day the better they will sleep at night. Babies are notoriously early risers so when you put them to bed later, they are still going to wake at the same time. If they are not sleeping well throughout the day it is going to be a lot harder for their bodies to settle enough for sleep and to stay asleep.
- NOT HAVING AN AGE APPROPRIATE FEEDING SCHEDULE DURING THE DAY! When I first speak with clients I ask them what their daily feeding schedule is and most of the time they don’t have one. I hear, they eat when they want to, they snack throughout the day, they are always falling asleep on the breast/bottle, they don’t seem very hungry, etc. They forget to tell me all of the times their baby is eating throughout the night. Remember there are so many calories their body needs in 24 hours and if they are consuming 75% of it throughout the night they will understandably not be hungry during their waking hours. And of course we all want our little ones to be eating their needed calories during the daytime because we need our restorative and uninterrupted sleep at night so our bodies can rejuvenate and repair for the next day.
There might be one, two or even all 5 reasons (or more I haven’t even listed) contributing to why you child is waking frequently throughout the night, but these are the 5 main reasons for waking. Good News! These all can be resolved and onto better nights’ sleep!
I am waiting to hear from you!!