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Why do Babies Wake Up at Night?

August 29, 2019 3 min read

Why do Babies Wake Up at Night?

Bringing a new baby home, you learn how precious sleep actually is during the first year of baby’s life. The leaps and bounds that your child will make during just the first 12 months make it is hard to pinpoint exactly why your baby is waking at night. Begin with a list of the most common reasons and just remember, even though sleep deprivation seems like it will last forever, it is only temporary. 

1. Sleep Cycles

The primary reason babies awaken at night is due to shifts in brain waves while transitioning from REM sleep to non-REM sleep. During these awakenings, it is important to let baby learn to self-soothe (since that is the ultimate goal) to help them learn how to sleep through the night. 

2.  Comforting at Night

Studies have found that some infant sleep disorders actually stem from how many time their parents comfort them throughout the night. The more parents interfere with babies learning to self-soothe, the more likely baby is to develop sleep challenges. 

3.  Milestones

When babies learn something new, they are excited about it! In addition to changes in sleep cycles, baby may wake up to party using their newest learned skill. They could cry if they get stuck using their new move, like rolling over, or even just be awake and standing in their crib. 

4.  Teething

Of course, teething is to blame for waking babies for centuries! It hurts! It usually begins at around 6 months but is different for all babies. Check with your pediatrician to determine the right kind of treatment to help baby feel more comfortable.

5.  Pacifier and Bottle Conditioning

This can be a big cause of babies waking at night. Babies who are attached to their pacifiers, often wake up if it falls out during the night. And just like babies with pacifiers, babies that love their bottles do the same. Since most babies fall asleep while sucking something for most of their lives, it is a hard habit to kick. But the easiest fix to help baby sleep through the night is to get rid of the bottle or the pacifier all together!

6.  Germ Invasion

Once baby is old enough to get ahold of everything, the first place any object goes is right in their mouth! Babies explore with their mouths and there is no stopping them. So, when the germs from those explorations hit your baby hard it can be another source of late-night wake-up calls. 

7.  For Newborns

Newborns wake up because their stomachs are too small to hold much food. They’re hungry and they stick to it like clockwork. However, the unsolicited cause of newborns waking up is the Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex. Often times, newborns are sleeping sound, only to be awakened by a sudden startle causing them to throw their arms and legs out involuntarily. Swaddling can be a great solution for the reflex if your baby likes to be swaddled. The Moro reflex typically lasts to between 3-6 months of age. 

Although these are common reasons that babies wake up, every baby is different. They may just not want to sleep at the moment, which unfortunately results in more sleep deprivation. Support them in the best ways you can during sleep struggles to help them learn and grow to sleep all night and hopefully let you get a good night’s sleep too!