If your baby isn't sleeping, then that means you probably aren't either.
Marriage and family therapist Marietta Paxson had little issues with her first child when it came to nighttime sleeping. When her twin sons came two years later, she found herself struggling with getting them to stay asleep, and keeping them on a consistent sleep schedule.
Frustrated by the lack of outside advice or help available to help her with this issue, she decided to become a baby sleep expert. Her company, Little Dreamers, is dedicated to helping parents figure out the best way to get their baby's to get a healthy nights sleep so that they can too.
Marietta gave us the 5 most common reasons your baby might be waking up at night. Check them out!
- Hunger: Yep, you`ve probably heard this one before. Of course, babies wake when they are hungry, right? The real question is how do you know if it is actually hunger that is waking them? You can get specific answers for your baby through your pediatrician about how long your little dreamer can go at night without eating and how many total feedings at night your baby needs. Generally, babies younger than four months may need up to three feedings at night (though many don`t need this many), while babies older than four months may only need one to two feedings. By 9 months, all babies should be able to go all night without any feedings.
- Sleep Aid: Many babies before four months of age are given many different sleep aids to help them sleep. Think binky, swaddling, or rocking to sleep just to name a few. These tools are so helpful in the newborn months, but after 4 months of age, these precious tools can begin to inhibit good sleep for your baby. What ends up happening is the baby relies on these aids not only to fall asleep but, essentially, to stay asleep. Just 45 minutes to a few hours after these 'tools' go missing, your baby will have trouble transitioning from one sleep cycle to another without help, and without those tools, you have a baby waking up.
- Developmental Milestone: Object permanence, rolling over, crawling, and walking are all developmental milestones that can disrupt sleep. How can you know if your baby is experiencing a developmental milestone? If your baby has mastered or is close to mastering any of these new skills, it is a good chance that it's a developmental milestone. With routine and consistency, these sleep regressions tend to pass in two week`s time. If your baby isn`t sleeping back to normal in two weeks, then you may have another issue at hand.
- Inappropriate Schedule: Essentially, a baby who is getting too much or too little daytime sleep, or even too much awake time before bed, is likely to wake more frequently at night. In one year, your baby`s sleep needs will change drastically. In fact, in even just a few months your baby`s sleep needs can change drastically and it can be hard to keep up with. At four months, your baby may need four naps a day. At seven months, your baby might only need two. If you want help identifying if your sleep schedule is what might be waking your child at night, head over to Facebook and participate in Marietta's weekly and free Q&A sessions. You can tell her your schedule, and she will help you understand if your child`s sleep schedule is a problem or age appropriate.
- Illness: We all know that illness can disrupt sleep, be it an adult`s sleep or that of a baby. If your baby is sick, extra night wakings may be part of the bargain. But remember, not all illnesses are created equal. A cold, ear infection or stomach bug will all affect sleep differently. Some illnesses may even actually improve sleep. Sleep is vital to the body being able to recover, and during recovery, your baby may need even more sleep. While many parents would lump teething in with illness, Marietta would caution against that. Currently, there is no research to support that teething disrupts sleep for more than one to two nights, which is how long it takes for the tooth to actually break through the gum and pop out. However, if you have ever been around a group of moms, you know how much teething gets blamed for every possible waking (and many other symptoms for that matter)! The first tooth tends to break through sometime between four to seven months, but guess when the first big sleep regressions happen? That's right, at four to seven months, which makes that quite the coincidence. It makes sense that teething takes the blame for bad sleep, but unfortunately, teething isn`t always the culprit. If your child is waking frequently at night for more than 4 nights, it is safe to say that you may have something other than teething on your hands.