Is waking all night, every night just part of parenthood and something your baby or child needs to do?
Newborn and younger babies need to wake during the night to feed.
So yes, when you have a little one who still needs to be fed overnight, you are going to wake through the night as you will need to attend to their needs.
However, once your baby begins getting all their calories in during the day which means they aren’t getting hungry overnight and as long as all the core sleep foundations are in place, waking overnight should stop happening.
Because at the end of the day, we human beings are all cleverly designed to get our long stretch of sleep overnight, so we wake up happy and refreshed the next day.
Sleeping independently through the night is not a developmental milestone that will take your baby or child a certain amount of time to achieve.
Sleep is biological, not developmental.
Healthy babies and children can and will start sleeping independently through the night from early on if all their basic needs are met and they are in the ideal sleep environment in which to do so.
Many babies will start sleeping independently through the night around the 6-7-month mark once they are well established on solids and getting all they calories they need during the day.
In saying that, there are many babies who will start sleeping through the night much earlier than that. And they do it all on their own, without Mum or Dad “forcing” anything.
If you do have a baby or child who is waking frequently through the night, here are 4 common reasons why it’s happening and what you need to do so everyone starts getting a full night’s sleep ASAP –
Overtired – Not getting enough sleep day and night means your baby or child’s body will become physically fatigued. So much so that that their body’s stress-response system is activated and stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline flood their bloodstream. Overtired and exhausted babies and children find it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. They often wake frequently during the night and during naps, the often rise early in the morning too. Never underestimate how much sleep your little one needs. Sleep really does promote sleep.
Cold – Many parents are afraid to warm their little ones overnight because they worry about overheating. And of course, we do not want to overheat our babies and children. But at the same time, a cold or cool baby or child will not sleep well, and they will wake frequently.
With the right education, this one can be easily fixed! Do your own research and take some time to play around with layering and creating the ideal room temperature for baby or child during sleep that’s going to see them warm, cozy and safe so they sleep soundly, all night, every night.
Hungry – When we are hungry, we don’t sleep well. Not much explanation needed there. It’s so important that your baby or child consumes as many calories during the day as possible, to sustain them during sleep at night.
If your baby or child is genuinely hungry overnight, look at how well they are feeding and eating during the day. If they are not overly fussed about feeding or having their solids during the day but they are waking and feeding like a machine overnight, aim to flip this around. Start reducing the calories overnight and they will get hungrier and consume more during the day.
Sleep Aid Dependency - Many babies and children need one, if not a number of sleep aids to fall off to sleep, and then fall back to sleep when they rouse or wake. When your baby or child falls to sleep using sleep aids, let’s say the dummy, they are falling to sleep under a certain set of conditions, sucking on the dummy. We all rouse or wake many times during sleep so if the dummy has fallen out, your baby or child’s “falling to sleep” conditions will have changed. This can equal constant interruption to their sleep, and yours too.
You want your baby or child falling to sleep all by themselves, drawing on their natural self-settling abilities. Then when they rouse or wake fully during sleep, they realise the conditions are exactly the same and again, they use their self- settling abilities to fall back to sleep.
Healthy babies of all ages can self-settle. Provided you set them up in the ideal conditions and you give them time and space on their own to do their thing. So, how do you stop using sleep aids? Quite simply, you stop.