Night time wake ups is the top question I get from parents. And Often I ask about bedtime routine and they explain to me and say he goes to sleep pretty well with in no time, but then either not able to get consolidate sleep and often gets up multiple times for bottle/feed.
So second question I always ask how he is sleeping?
- Rocking in arms?
- Rocking in bassinet or swing?
- Nurse/bottle to sleep?
Bedtime is the first place to look. It’s the place where a child learns and gains all the skills to fall sleep independently. If a baby is not falling asleep independently at bedtime, that is one big reason why night time wake ups are occurring. It’s very simple, isn’t it? Even if it only takes you few minutes to rock him to sleep and put him down, he is going to expect you to rock him at least once, maybe more, through the night. Getting a baby sleeping independently at bedtime absolutely has to be the first thing you do. Let’s say you’ve done that. You tell me “Yeah, he has got it. He is going down really well. Independently. No props or sleep associations. However, he is still having one two or three night wakings.”
In that case, first of all, that’s awesome! You’ve really crossed the biggest hurdle. Now we just have to apply this to the rest of the night. What can happen sometimes with babies, if they’re still getting a night feed, they’ll become habitual for this. If he is past 6-6.5 months old and weigh good, he doesn’t really require a feed for calorie needs, he’s just doing it out of habit. I use the story of if my husband was there with my favourite meal at 3am. I would, most likely sit up and eat it every night. If he did it again the next night, I’d do the same thing. If he did it for a week-long, I’d be waking up on habit to get my meal, right?
I don’t need to eat at 3:00 am. If it was being offered, I most likely would. The bad news is that the only way to break this habit is to stop offering the feed. Always check with your doctor if you are not sure about dropping a feed. If he is falling with in the curve at the percentile he belongs to then there needs to be no issues. (Resource: good weight gain )
If a child has great sleep skills at bedtime, those skills just needs to be established for the rest of night waking. And for this, the feeds would need to stop. Please check with a doctor if there is any reason that is preventing you from stopping a night time feed. On average, it should take between one and three nights to get a baby sleeping all the way through without the feed. It can be the same with any kind of moderate sleep association in the middle of the night. Think of you can falls asleep only on your own pillow and if that has been replaced somehow you might get up looking for that one. So any sleep association for a child works same way. He’s fallen into a bit of a habit around this and the only way to change it is to break the habit. Again, remembering that he’s got those great sleep skills already.
Hopefully you are able to get baby sleeping through the night, now that you’ve got bedtime conquered.
Should you find you need some further help preventing night time wakings, or help with any other issues relating to sleep for your child, please don’t hesitate to contact me.