It can be quite a rude shock having your baby start to wake up during the night when they have previously been a good sleeper! You’ve no doubt worked hard on getting them into a good routine and enjoyed those extra few extra Zzs for yourself, only to suddenly be woken up by a tiny little voice in the middle of the night.
While each child’s situation (or reason) will be unique, there are generally 5 things to consider if your baby has started to suddenly wake. These can include:
1. Day Sleeps
As your child navigates through each development stage, when it comes to day sleeps, their needs will change. It is important to be aware of what these look like, as both under or oversleeping can have an effect on night sleep. To understand what you can expect in your little one’s day, with regards to sleeping, pay attention to their awake times and feeding.
2. Milk feeds
Up until 12 months of age, it’s possible that milk feeds (or lack thereof) can have an effect on night sleep. If they are waking during the night for a feed, then you will need to look at the number of feeds they are getting during the day. Once your baby reaches 12 months, they will be more established on solid food, and, therefore, night waking will generally be a result of behaviour and not necessarily hunger.
A lot of parents have the misconception that once they introduce solids, their baby will automatically start to sleep through the night. This may be the case for some but it isn’t necessarily true in all situations. If you introduce solids too fast and give too much close to milk feeds, it can compromise milk feeds, which will in turn affect sleep.
That’s why it is important to offer solids meals at least 1.5 hrs before a milk feed and ensure that they aren’t filling up on solids and then not taking their milk feeds.
If you have a household that wakes up early (i.e. needs to wake at 5am for work), then you can expect that your baby will wake at this time also. However, if you have a household that wakes later, then chances are your baby will too – or you hope they will, anyway.
Ensure that your little one has the best chance to sleep in a cool, calm and darkened environment. A lot of parents can experience waking as a result of the room being too bright, especially during summer and daylight savings. There are many different ways that you can darken a room and some are more cost-effective than others; either a trip to the baby store for window shades or Bunnings for a DIY option will work wonders.
If there are siblings at home, then chances are noise is also a big factor. It is important for your little one to get used to the noise, so don’t shut it out completely. In this case, a soft, sound machine may help to diffuse any noise during their day sleeps.
If your little one is suffering from a cold or has some form of illness, then there is a good chance that this may disturb their sleep. A blocked nose, fever or pain can cause more frequent night waking but this is only short-term and will last as long as the illness.
While your little one is unwell, you can ‘loosen’ the boundaries around their daily rhythm or sleep, as they may need more comfort from you. This is ok for 2-3 days, after which your child will generally be feeling better and you can start to bring back your normal feed and sleep routine.
A note on teething…
It is important to note that whilst teething can result in symptoms that affect your little one’s sleep, it won’t necessarily result in sudden night wakings. If your baby is teething, they will be unsettled both day and night, rather than just in the nighttime.