It is normal that babies sleep throughout the day and wake up during the night to cry out for their parents. Some babies are easy to get back to sleep while others need more soothing and assistance. Parents can become frustrated when struggling to fix their babies’ sleeping problems, and they are often at a loss to why their baby is waking up. Therefore, in the following article, we will explain 12 common reasons why babies wake up and have difficulties in falling back to sleep at night.
1. Hunger Or Thirst
Hunger is the most common reason behind the frequent awakenings among babies at night. Although they are fed on demand, they can still feel hungry before going to bed and during the night. If your babies are still breastfed, they will need feeding every few hours. If your baby is not on solid food, there is a high chance that they also wake up because of hunger.
Also, babies are likely to demand more food than usual when going through their growth spurts. Common growth spurts are 7-10 days, three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, and nine months. At the end of each growth spurts, babies usually get back on their sleep quicker or even sleep a little longer. Therefore, feed your baby on demand during this period. If you are breastfeeding, do not worry about your milk supply, because it will eventually meet the demand of your baby. However, it is advised that you drink more water because you may feel dehydrated after a long period of feedings. Growth spurts can be exhausted; however; they do not last long.
Thirst, like hunger, can also be one of the leading causes. Do your best to keep your babies hydrated throughout the day and do not hesitate to offer them some water if they are more than six months. For babies younger than six months, you should consult your doctor beforehand.
2. Teething Pain
For some babies, teething can be merely an itch, while for others it can be painful. Either way, it is annoying and can keep a baby wake up at night. Teething can also affect their appetite and cause restlessness and stomachache. A baby generally takes six months to cut his or her first tooth, but it can happen earlier, or later.
Parents will have to find some methods to ease the pain. Breastfeeding is one way to soothe a toothache and help the babies sleep through the night. If you need medical options, consult your doctor.
3. Feeling Overtired
Getting an overtired baby back to sleep is proven to be a challenge. They sleep less, wake up several times and get crankier than ever. It happens when you miss your babies ‘sleep window’ – the moment they are tired enough to fall asleep quickly – and put them to bed too late.
In this case, you should try an earlier bedtime in the evening. You should also consider shortening your bedtime routine to help your babies feel relaxed and drowsy. Plus, you may need to add in a catnap during the day, mainly if your child is in the midst of a nap transition.
4. Overstimulating Environment
Babies frequently wake up at night because the overstimulating environment makes it difficult for them to stay asleep. They are swamped by more toys, noise, people, and sensation. Therefore, physical exercise and excitement should be avoided before bedtime.
If that happens, try to create a quieter environment for your baby. You can use a relaxing warm bath, read a story, lie down with your child, and sing some quiet songs to help him calm down before going to bed. Please turn off the TV or your phone to spend time on your child until he calms down. It will help your child sleep soundly, have fewer overnight awakenings and wake up in a better mood the next morning.
5. Understimulating Environment
While some babies find it difficult to enjoy a sound sleep because of the overstimulating surrounding, others have a hard time falling into healthy sleep cycles due to the understimulating environment. Babies who do not get enough stimulation are easy to get bored, grumpy, and often resort to loud cries to get the attention they want.
Try to brighten your baby’s mood by inventing some exciting activities for him, whether it is listening to music or letting them play around the house. Doing proper physical and mental exercise is an excellent way to keep your child’s sleeping schedule under control.
Health problems including, tummy ache or fever can cause sleep problems in babies. Babies with cold will suffer from stuffy noses causing mouth breathing, which results in dry mouth; this in turns causes your baby discomfort and wake up more frequently. Fever, coughing, and vomiting can also awaken babies at night. During this time, try your best to soothe your babies. Consult your doctor for more options if you think these problems are consistent.
7. Light In Bedroom
Like adults, babies find it difficult to sleep in a bright room. Bright light prevents the production of melatonin - the hormone that promotes better sleep patterns. During daytime naps, it is acceptable if you keep the lights in the baby’s room; however; do not leave a light at night. You should turn off the light or keep them dimmed to teach your babies the differences between daytime and night. It helps with your baby’s sleep schedules and their biological clock.
If you need to change their dirty diapers at night, try your best to do it with the dimmed light and as little noise as possible. Some babies are more sensitive than others, so even a little interaction can prevent them from falling asleep.
8. Baby Room Temperature
It is essential to set correct room temperature when putting your babies to sleep as they cannot sleep soundly in a room that is too hot or too cold. A room with the right temperature creates a comfortable sleeping environment, as well as decreases the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
According to experts, the ideal temperature in the baby room is around 68-72°F (20–22.2°C), and the ideal humidity is about 50%. If your baby looks sweaty, shed a layer of blankets or clothes. If your baby is feeling cold, add a layer to make him more comfortable.
Many babies need to suck on something to fall back to sleep, whether it is breastfeeding, bottle feeding or using a pacifier. Infants utilizing a pacifier are likely to wake up if this falls out of their mouths. The easiest solution is to get rid of this habit; however, it does take time.
First, make sure to offer a pacifier to your baby until he is from 3 to 4 weeks old and you have settled into an effective nursing routine. While sleeping, if the pacifier falls out and the baby does not cry or wake up, you do not need to pop it back. Your child will gradually unlearn this habit and can sleep soundly without a pacifier.
10. The Close Feeling To Their Parents
Babies always want to feel close to their parents, especially their mothers. Around eight months old, babies go through separation anxiety. They may wake up several times at night, crying because they cannot find you around.
According to Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory of the University of Notre Dame, by sleeping next to their mothers, infants receive protection, warmth, emotional reassurance. Physiologically, this means they can sleep better. Plus, this sleeping arrangement allows parents to react fast to their babies if they cry, chokes or needs milk and rocking.
When they are six months old, you can decrease your presence at bedtime if you want to encourage your babies to fall back to sleep on their own. However, if your babies wake up and start crying, stay near to them at first. Then, you can slowly withdraw your presence or return to check on your baby periodically.
11. Development Of New Skills
Learning a new skill such as crawling, kicking, rolling, sitting or standing can change a baby’s sleeping pattern. Generally, those experiences happen at the 6th month when the babies start to learn how to sit, and 9th month when they try to pull themselves up to stand. Those newly gained skills can stimulate their brain and urge them to wake up at night to practice it. Sometimes, they will become awake, roll over and then end up crying for help when they get stuck in a new position.
To deal with this, give your child some practice time to master those newly acquired skills during the day. If your babies have just learned how to sit up, you should teach them how to lie down again. After your babies master these new skills, they will sleep peacefully through the night.
12. Inconsistent Bedtime
Consistency is an essential factor for baby sleep success. A too late or too early bedtime can make the babies irritated and fussy. Therefore, it is of great importance to maintain a regular sleep schedule to stabilize your baby’s internal clock and control their day and night hormone cycles.
Moreover, a consistent sleeping routine will provides your babies with the right signals that it is time to go to bed. They are likely to show some signs of feeling drowsy such as eye rubbing, yawning and slowing down. It means that they know it is time to sleep and they will settle down quickly.
Above are 12 common reasons why babies tend to have trouble sleeping at night. I hope that after reading this article, parents will understand more about their baby sleeping habits and draw some tips to overcome them. Plus, it is advised that you take note of your child’s preferences and make suitable adjustments in their sleeping routines. All content provided is for informational and educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.
This guest post is by Emily Pham, a blogger with many years of experience in searching for the best natural and effective remedies for health and beauty issues.