How to Stop Your Baby Waking at Night
Is your baby waking at night? If your baby is napping well in the day (roughly the right amount for her age), has a consistent bedtime routine that is followed every night and then goes in her cot awake and puts herself to sleep, she should be able to self soothe and sleep well throughout the night.
However, some babies still wake in the night, despite all of the above. If this is the case for your baby, follow the process below to improve things.
1 – Double check that your baby doesn’t have some sleep associations which you are reinforcing at bedtime. The easiest way to do this is by looking at what your baby wants you to do when she wakes. If she wants you to feed her, then try changing the bedtime routine so that you feed your baby before her bath or before her story. The aim is to completely remove the association that your baby has with milk and sleep. Is there a sound your baby can hear when she goes to sleep that she can’t hear in the middle of the night when she wakes? Sometimes it is the washing machine on downstairs, or a cot mobile that baby falls asleep to.
2 – Double check that your baby is getting the right amount of sleep in the day. Too little and she will be exhausted which will cause her body to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, which may result in frequent night waking. A relaxed, well rested baby will be more able to sleep through the night. Conversely, too much daytime sleep and she won’t need a full night’s sleep.
3 – Is your baby waking for a dummy? If your baby falls asleep with a soother or dummy in her mouth, then she will most likely call you to help her find it when she wakes at night. For a baby over 6 months (some babies will be older than this before they can find a dummy themselves), make it easy for her to find, either by placing lots of soothers in the cot or by using a Sleepytot baby comforter. At first, when she wakes, you may need to go in and guide your baby’s hand to where the dummies are in the cot, or on the Sleepytot baby comforter. Some babies may need a few nights to learn this. After a few nights, give her some time to find the dummy before you go in and at each waking, leave it a little longer before you go and guide her hand to the soother. Within a few nights she should be finding it herself and going back to sleep without fully waking.
4 – Is your baby waking for a night time feed? If so, have a read of How to Wean your Baby off Night Feeds and give it a few weeks before doing any further sleep training. Hopefully you won’t need to!
5 – Once you’ve checked the above, if there is no connection between your baby’s bedtime routine, daytime sleep and why she is waking at night, then you will need to do some sleep training. The Return and Check method is the quickest way to do this.