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Why your baby wakes up at night and how to help him settle

Did you know? Waking up during the night doesn’t always mean your baby is hungry.

4 mins
to read Jan 5, 2021

Once your baby is a few months old, he will sleep for longer stretches at night and won’t need as many feedings as he did during the early weeks. If he is still waking up frequently and crying, something else could be bothering him.

Your trouble-shooting checklist

Babies may wake during the nights for a variety of reasons. Don’t assume your baby’s nighttime crying is a sign of hunger, especially if he’s recently had a feeding. Ask yourself these questions instead:

  • Does his diaper need changing?
  • Is he too hot or cold?
  • Does he need a burp?

If it seems your baby is in need of comforting, try a soothing back rub, pat, or gentle lullaby. Try to avoid ‘comfort feeding’ your baby back to sleep if there are no real signs of hunger. It may seem like the easiest solution at the time but if you get into the habit of feeding him every time he wakes, the number of night wakings will actually increase.

Helping your baby to help himself

If your baby wakes up crying and is showing signs of hunger, offer him a feeding. If he is waking in the night soon after a feeding and you’ve ruled out the other possible issues (above), he can gradually learn to soothe himself back to sleep. Waking at night can stop your little one from getting enough sleep, which in turn can affect his health. Establishing good sleep habits now can help prevent poor sleeping habits as your baby gets older.

Sources

 

Fisher A, McDonald L, van Jaarsveld CH et al. Sleep and energy intake in early childhood. Int J Obes 2014; 38(7):926-9.

McDonald L, Wardle J, Llewellyn CH et al. Sleep and nighttime energy consumption in early childhood: a population-based cohort study. Pediatr Obes 2015; 10(6):454-60.

Taveras EM, Gillman MW, Pena MM et al. Chronic sleep curtailment and adiposity. Pediatrics 2014; 133(6):1013-22.