Babies generally need a lot of sleep, but they don’t get the required sleep easily. It is normal for newborns to sleep only for a few hours, and wake up every 3 to 4 hours for feed. The problem occurs with older babies, when they struggle with bedtimes and night wakings. Especially, when these night wakings last more than few minutes at a time and when the baby needs somebody’s help to get back to sleep.
Here are 8 primary reasons why babies wake up or struggle to get back to sleep.
It is one of the most common reasons for a baby waking up at nights. New borns need to eat often day and night. It is normal for even older babies (upto 12 months of age)to need one or two feedings at night. Even though a baby might not need a night feeding under normal circumstances, factors like illnesses, growth spurt and teething could cause night wakings because of hunger.
2. Leaky diaper
A leaky or wet diaper might turn a peaceful night to a nightmare. Even though there is no way to prevent a leaky diaper, many of us miss out on checking for a leaky diaper when the baby wakes up at night. If you find the leaky diaper problem recurrent, consider moving up a size.
3. Sleep association
Sleep association is what your baby “needs” to fall asleep. For example, this might be movement such as rocking, bouncing, walking or things like breastfeeding, pacifier, bottle etc. Sleep association is not a problem. But, if your baby wants you to recreate the environment he fell asleep whenever he wakes up, will make you exhausted. Lets say, initially if you rock the baby to sleep he will expect you to rock every time he wakes up. And, if he knows that you will be available to rock him whenever he wakes up, night wakings will become a habit!
4. Learning a new skill
When your baby is learning a new skill like crawling, cruising, walking, talking etc. this can interrupt their sleep. They wake up trying to practice their newly learnt skill. Even adults experience this when we have a lot going in our mind. There isn’t much you can do about this and this shall pass in due course.
When babies are over-tired, they become irritated and find it difficult to fall asleep. If your baby misses a nap or is overstimulated, they will end up being over-tired during bed time. In such a case, try shifting bedtime a little earlier. Babies who are overtired at bedtime sleep worse than babies who go to bed early.
Make sure you baby’s room is not too hot or too cold. If your baby’s hands and feet are cold, switch off the fan or add an extra layer of clothing since they cannot keep the blankets on. If they sweat, switch on the fan and dress them in light cotton clothes. Babies are very picky about the temperature and it is a bit difficult to get the temperature right.
Itchy clothing, mosquito, room too bright, room too noisy, gas or reflux could cause discomfort to the babies. If your baby seems to be uncomfortable try to zero down on the source of discomfort
Teething discomfort can be awful for babies. Even though they seem fine during the day time, teething wakes children at night and disrupts sleep to a great extent. Talk to your doctor about options to ease the pain.
Night wakings can be so frustrating and tiring. But, your baby also undergoes the same amount of exhaustion like you do. Your baby doesn’t wake up at night to irritate you; there is always a reason. Try finding the reason for the sleep struggles and help your little one pass through the phase with love and care. Remember, the sleep deprivation you undergo is just a passing cloud and will not last forever.
“Mothers are basically a part of a scientific experiment, to prove that sleep is not crucial part of human life” -Unknown. Happy parenting!