Why does your baby wake up at night?

Why does your baby wake up at night?

As a new mother, it is no fault of yours if days and nights seem to blur together. These initial few months seem to pass from counting hours till the next feed or being woken up from sleep by the baby’s cries. Your baby is unfamiliar with this new surrounding, is why his baby wakes up at night. Undoubtedly this phase is full of joy and contentment, but the fact remains that most new moms do not get to sleep enough and hence they are always drained and exhausted. The main reason is that the new babies keep waking in the night several times.

It is difficult not to feel a tad bit jealous when some other mother or even a grandmother talks about how her babies slept through the night very easily. At such a time you may wonder whether your baby’s frequent night time waking is normal. So read on to clear all your doubts.

How much night-waking is normal?

Brown and Harries’ study (2015) which considered 700 infants aged 6 to 12 months showed that 56% of the infants woke between 1-3 times a night and 21% infants did not wake up even once during the night.
As your baby progresses in age, the night time waking will keep reducing. Let’s get to know what the normal age-wise night sleep schedule is for babies:
  • Up to 2 months of age: Your baby may get up after every 2 hours for feedings, which means the baby will wake at least 5-6 times in the night.
  • 3 months to 5 months: The baby may need at least three-night feedings, and you will have to get up every four hours to feed the baby.
  • 5 months to 8 months: The baby may need only one to two-night feedings and hence he may wake every 6 to 7 hours.
  • 8 months to 12 months: You would have started giving solids to the baby by now which will keep the baby well fed throughout the night, so he may not wake at all. But it is fine if the baby wakes up once a night for the feeding at this age.

Is hunger the reason your baby wakes up at night?

There are chances that your baby is waking in the night because he gets hungry, your baby will get up due to hunger if:
  • your baby is not eating well in the day. It is possible that your baby is a poor eater and hence he doesn’t eat well during the daytime. In this case, you have to be a little more careful and try and give the baby frequent feeds in the day and feed him well before going to the bed.
  • the crying becomes louder and louder if you do not feed. This happens when the baby is really hungry and wakes up to get some feed.
  • the baby goes back to sleep as soon as you feed the baby.
  • the baby is trying to suck any object lying near his mouth . This is an indication of a hungry baby. You may also hear a loud sound of swallowing.
  • the baby wakes up after 3-4 hours of last feed. If the baby wakes in less than an hour many times, then it is less likely that it is hunger-related.
Also Read: 5 Benefits of co-sleeping for Brain Development

Is habit a reason why your baby wakes up at night?

Is your baby waking just like that? Quite possible! As per the same study by Brown and Harries, it was found that many infants aged 6 to 12 months wake in the night irrespective of whether they are hungry or not. The study quotes, “Infants continue to wake for reasons unrelated to hunger, and there is a risk that encouraging an infant to consume more during the day, against his or her natural appetite, may increase risk of the infant becoming overweight as he or she becomes less skilled at regulating intake according to need.”Hence, you need to take care not to overfeed the baby, as it may backfire.

A baby who is waking up out of habit, will wake up very frequently and almost at the same time every night. If you feel that your baby has a habit of waking up then you need to learn effective ways to help your baby sleep better. Also Read: 7 Benefits of Sleep for your child's Growth & development

Other Reasons for night waking

Other than hunger and habit, other reasons that may wake your baby at the night are:
  • Teething: Teething can be painful and the babies may wake up cranky. In teething, the baby remains uncomfortable also during the day and take small naps.
  • Wet diaper: A wet diaper or a poopy will wake the baby. You must keep changing the diaper frequently in the night to avoid him getting up.
  • Gastric problem: If the baby hasn’t taken burp after the feed, he may wake up due to gastric discomfort. In this case, you can put the baby on his side or lift the baby in the shoulder position to allow him to pass the gas.
  • Unwell baby: If the baby has fever or cold or any other ailment, he will not be able to sleep comfortably in the night.
There is no fixed formula to give a better sleep to your baby, the only thing that can help you hit the target is your own experience. Sometimes a change in routine works, sometimes a proper bath routine and a soothing massage before sleep time can work. Keep exploring different ways and see what works for you! Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you

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