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If your baby wakes up every hour at night and catches a glimpse of you every fleeting moment, then it’s probably a case of frequent waking. Chances are he may be involving you in his sleep time woes, and it’s time to pay some attention. Although frequent waking in babies is a common phenomenon in up to six month-old babies, it could be linked to other reasons too. Here’s what you have to know about the subject.
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 sleep very lightly, very lightly, in fact, their sleep duration usually comes in 50-minute chunks after which they wake up and drift away 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 this as priming themselves up for longer nap-times or sleep cycles.
In some cases, however, when they wake up, they may not go back to sleep, and it could be linked to various reasons, be it medical or nutrition. We discuss them below.
Reasons why Some Babies are Unable to Sleep Longer?
Here are some of the reasons why newborn wakes up every hour:
1. Nutrition and Diet
Did your baby get to meet his RDA for nutrients and did you feed him well? If your baby’s not getting proper nutrition or not eating enough, that could be the reason as hunger is a cause for frequent waking in babies. You may try increasing the amount of food slowly or add breastmilk and observe what happens in their sleep cycles.
2. Make Him Comfortable
Your baby’s not at an age where he can speak. Look for signs to see if he’s uncomfortable and needs some soothing. 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.
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
Noisy homes and too much 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 sometimes may continue waking up babies right up to toddler hood.
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 routines completely to rewire them.
For example, you can try reducing the duration of their daytime naps to get them ready for their night-time sleep. It’s effective, but they may not be happy with it in the beginning.
A baby’s immune system is in its developing stages which makes them more prone to catching illnesses, infections, and let’s not forget the common cold.
Since your baby is able to grab and move objects, he will be exposing himself to germs more and more as the hours go by. Putting objects in their mouths 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 are common waking factors in babies as well. 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 you give him his breastmilk and formulae and meet the requirement nutritional intakes for the day. This applies to fruits, veggies, lean meats, and dairy. Feed small portions frequently if your baby is facing low appetite to improve it. Read nutrition labels for the formulae 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 them high-quality naps throughout the day.
3. Add White Noise
There is good noise and bad noise. White noise is the former and very useful in drifting babies away 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 out by 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 move his nap times around and ensure that they aren’t set too late during the day.
6. Change The Environment
Changing the sleep environment for your baby works wonders for their 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 them 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. Babies 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 that adjusts their sleeping angle, thus allowing them to sleep comfortably.
8. Avoid Eye Contact
No, we’re not telling to run away and leave your little one completely alone from the very minute. Eye contact or animated movements stimulate their brains and gets them overexcited. This may prevent them 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 wakes them up. Instead, let the fan noise keep playing in the background and give them the time and space they need to fall back asleep.
10. Change Their Diapers
Changing diapers strategically makes your baby feel cosy and worry-free. 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 make it difficult for them to fall back asleep since they get excited. Change it the moment he wakes up and also, it’s considered good hygiene.
You can’t change your baby’s irregular routines in a single day. They just don’t work that way. You’ll need to give them lots of love, time, and patience to make them feel safe and not uneasy or separation anxiety.
Don’t let their naps be too long and make sure they take the time to fall back asleep whenever they wake up. It’s the cue you have to watch out for. Ask yourself – do they wake up normally or is something else waking them up? Once you’ve determined what it is, do what you can to fix it followed by giving time and space. They say it takes 2 weeks to grasp the nuances of a new habit and the same stands for bedtime routines.
If you still feel something’s wrong despite trying out the above solutions, then it’s best to have your baby checked by a paediatrician.