There are all kinds of reasons that babies wake at night and they differ from wake to wake sometimes, and from child to child. But helping you recognise what is waking them, can help you settle them back to sleep, or in some cases, prevent the wake
Genuine hunger in babies usually under 9 months old can cause night wakes, and especially in new borns and very young babies. This is completely normal and feeds through the night should be supported at this age.
Older babies and children over a year old may wake at night expecting milk and will take milk, but this is often due to habit and that milk has become a sleep association rather than a genuine hunger. Ensure they're eating well during the day, and if necessary introduce a small non sugary bed time snack then look at implementing alternative settling methods when they wake.
2. SLEEP ASSOCIATIONS
Sleep associations can range from having a dummy to fall asleep, rocking or feeding to sleep etc and if they rouse in the night and these aren't available, it may cause them to wake fully until the sleep association is implemented to help them get back to sleep. If you want to help them fall back to sleep independently, removing this sleep association and in the short term looking at alternative setting methods can help.
3. TOO HOT OR COLD
The right temperature can affect your little ones sleep, if they're too cold or too hot very young babies cannot regulate their temperature well yet and if older babies or children are struggling with blankets or sleeping bags it could cause them to wake. Ensure you child's room is between 16-20*C where possible and dress them appropriately by using the correct tog duvet or sleeping bag and dressing them in appropriate pyjamas, In very hot wether if their bedroom is very hot, it is ok for them to sleep in jsut a nappy if necessary.
4. SLEEP DEVELOPMENTS AND DEVELOPMENTAL MILE STONES
Often called 'Sleep Regressions' most of these phases aren't due to sleep regressing but due to developmental milestones which can temporarily interrupt sleep. At around 4 months there is a change in a baby's sleep, where their sleep cycles mature and lengthen and this can cause sleep disruption while stye adapt. Other 'regressions' are usually attributed to milestones such as learning to roll, crawl, walk etc or the introduction of solids. All of these can cause temporary sleep disruption as the child learns to process these new skills, or their sleep requirements adjust due to the acquisition of these new skills.
Teething can disrupt sleep for a small amount of time, although, I find teething is often over blamed for sleep issues. It usually takes around a week for a tooth to fully erupt, but it is not necessarily very painful for a week.
6. NOT NAPPING EFFICIENTLY
If your baby or child isn't getting enough day time sleep or their day time sleep schedule isn't working for them, this can cause issues at night. Overtiredness can cause poor nighttime sleep such as false starts and early rising.
7. TOO MUCH NAPPING
A balance between day and night sleep can be a fragile thing, and having too much day time sleep or napping too close to bed time can mean your little one has already fulfilled their daily sleep needs very early in the morning or they've not built up enough sleep pressure to fall asleep at bed time.
Reflux in smaller babies can cause discomfort and pain which prevents them sleeping or causes them to wake. Keeping baby upright after feeds, ensuring their well winded and possibly using reflux medication can all help. Reflux doesn't last forever and they will also get past this stage.
Any kind of illness can mean babies and children struggle to sleep. If they're suffering with a cold it can make breathing hard, a temperature can cause discomfort and any kind of stomach bug can cause interruption and pain. It might mean you need to support them more than usual while they're unwell, offer extra naps to help them get through the day but ultimately most illnesses are short lived and things should get back to normal when they're well.
10. LEAKING OR FULL NAPPY
This definitely seems to affect boys who sleep on their front the most but can affect all babies! Using good quality nappies at night can help and doubling up can also be effective. Also ensuring nappies are well fitted and not too tight
What can you do?
All of these things are mostly short lived and will either rectify themselves within a small time frame, or are things that you can improve by adjusting schedules or working on sleep associations
Sleep isn't always linear with children and it's important to remember they all go through ups and downs with their sleep. Try not to worry and look at why they're currently having a tough time of it.
Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.
This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.
If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you