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If your baby wakes up every hour at night and cries out for you when you are fast asleep, then you need to observe his sleep patterns even more carefully now. Chances are he may be involving you in his sleep time woes and it’s time that you pay attention and try to understand why your little one might be waking up frequently. Although frequent waking in babies is a common phenomenon in up to six-month-old babies, it could be linked to other reasons too.
Is it Normal for Babies to Wake Up Frequently and Have Short Sleeping Cycles?
Frequent short-sleeping cycles are normal for six-month-old babies and younger infants. Babies don’t have a sound sleep. Their sleep duration usually comes in 50-minute chunks after which they wake up and drift off to sleep again. Your baby will slowly learn how to sleep for longer stretches and master how to lull or soothe himself to sleep. Think of it as priming himself up for longer nap-times or sleep cycles.
In some cases, however, when he wakes up, he may not go back to sleep, and it could be linked to various reasons, be it medical or nutrition. We’ve discussed them below.
Why Some Babies Are Unable to Sleep Longer?
Here are some of the reasons why newborns wake up every hour:
1. Nutrition and Diet
If your baby’s not getting proper nutrition or not eating enough, chances are he must be waking up because of hunger. Hunger is a prominent cause for frequent waking up in babies. A baby should eat properly at dinner time in order to get proper sleep at night. You can also try increasing the amount of food slowly or add breast milk and observe what happens in their sleep cycles.
Your baby’s not at an age where he can speak or convey his discomfort to you. His discomfort may stem from bruises or bumps which he receives in the middle of the day, often going unnoticed until late at night since he’s busy playing and enjoying himself. These little things may bother him and prevent him from sleeping well. You should look for signs to see if he’s uncomfortable and needs some soothing.
3. Stomach Pain
4. Silent Reflux
Reflux symptoms prevent babies from sleeping well at night. Watch out for silent reflux and ask your doctor for medication recommendations.
5. Noisy Environment
Sleepy in a noisy room and being exposed to unpleasant sounds during the day makes babies unhappy and unable to settle down at night. Every baby needs a bit of downtime to drift off into slumber.
Teething is a natural physiological process that disrupts sleeping patterns in babies. Teething begins around six months of age and can be a cause of infrequent sleeping schedule in babies right up to their toddler stage.
If your baby’s too used to sleeping in irregular patterns, it may have become a habit. You’ll have to work on rewiring it, and that takes a bit of patience and time. Habits get hardwired over time, and you’ll have to keep in mind that you’ll have to change up the routine completely.
For example, you can try reducing the duration of your baby’s daytime naps to get him ready for their night-time sleep. It’s effective, but he may not be happy with it in the beginning.
A baby’s immune system is in its developing stages which makes him more prone to catching illnesses, infections, and let’s not forget the common cold.
Your little one will be able to grab and move objects, he will be exposing himself to germs more and more as the hours go by. Putting objects in the mouth increases the chances of upper respiratory tract infections and may cause congestion and coughing if he already has a cold.
Diarrhoea, irregular bowel movements, and fever could also be a cause of why your baby may be waking up frequently. Check with the doctor regarding infections and ask what medications or supplements you could give them. Avoid exposing your baby to people who have contagious infections and practice proper hygiene at home as precautionary measures.
Useful Tips to Help Your Baby Get Good Sleep
Here are some useful tips to get your baby a good night’s sleep.
1. Feed Him Well
Make sure breastfeed or formula-feed him every two hours so that his nutritional requirements could be met. If your little one has started on solids, you can feed him fruit or vegetable puree and lean meats, and dairy. Feed small portions frequently if your baby has a low appetite to improve it. Read nutrition labels on the formula pack and check whether any ingredients cause allergies. Try using sleep aids like pacifiers and ask the doctor regarding medications or nutritional supplements in case you are worried about any nutritional deficiencies.
2. Set a Schedule
Set a sleeping schedule and allow your baby to wind down one hour prior to going to bed. Make him comfortable by singing his favourite nightly tunes and focus on giving him high-quality naps throughout the day.
3. Add White Noise
White noise can help your little one drift to deep sleep. A fan blowing in the corner of the room works to remedy their bedtime woes.
4. Help Him Sleep and Wake Up
Help your baby sleep allowing him to learn how to soothe himself to sleep. Softly speak to him when he is waking up and don’t suddenly pick him up or hold him. Your baby will gradually learn how to go back to sleep on his own this way, even in your absence.
5. Monitor His Naps
Maybe your little one had too many naps or too much time to sleep throughout the day which is why he hesitates to go back to bed at night. Gradually shift his nap times around and ensure that they aren’t set too late during the day.
6. Change the Environment
Changing the sleeping environment for your baby can make him fall asleep quickly and ensure that he gets peaceful sleep. Try to establish sleeping cues like turning on the fan as background noise and closing the curtains. Softly speak to your baby before lulling him to sleep and follow through these cues as consistently as possible since your baby will identify them and get ready to sleep.
Minimize environmental noise, turn down the lights and play bedtime songs if needed. Your baby will love the ambience.
7. Use a Crib Wedge
If your baby’s having a hard time sleeping on a flat surface like a traditional crib or mattress, you may try giving a crib wedge a shot. Elevating one end of the mattress works too and placing a crib wedge under will adjust the sleeping angle, and may allow your baby to sleep comfortably.
8. Avoid Eye Contact
Eye contact or animated movements at night time can stimulate your baby’s brain and get him overexcited. This may prevent him from sleeping and averting your gaze for a while and gradually leave the room after singing bedtime tunes may help.
9. Do Not Hold Him
If your baby happens to wake up in the middle of his sleep, don’t hold him up. This will wake him up. Instead, let the fan noise keep playing in the background and give him the time and space he needs to fall back asleep.
10. Change Your Baby’s Diapers
Changing diapers from time to time will make your baby feel cosy and comfortable. Thoughts and anguish aside, make sure to change their diapers before a midnight feeding session and re-swaddle him. Changing the diaper after night feedings may make it difficult for your baby to fall back asleep if he gets excited. So change it the moment he wakes up.
You can’t change your baby’s irregular routines in a single day. It won’t work that way. You’ll need to give him lots of love, time, and patience to make him feel safe and comfortable.
Don’t let your baby take naps for long and make sure you give your baby some time to soothe himself to sleep. Control your urge to rush to him whenever he wakes up or he won’t sleep. Make a new routine, it should take your baby around 2 weeks to get accustomed to the new bedtime routine.
However, if your baby wakes up frequently in the middle of the night, even after you have tried the above remedies, we suggest that you consult your baby’s paediatrician and follow his advice.