Why do babies wake at night?
The short answer is … for lots of reasons!
In the early weeks and months babies waken regularly for feeds, because their tummies are quite small and need regular refilling.
Newborn babies also don’t have a circadian rhythm (the internal biological clock that tells the body what to do at certain times of the day), so they waken and feed regularly through the day AND the night.
In addition, babies spend a lot of time in light or active sleep (rather than deep sleep) – usually around 50% of the time that they are asleep. During active sleep babies will stir frequently, often making noises as they do, and some are easily wakened by lots of little things (including their digestive system, which is growing and developing like their whole body).
Even as they grow, babies continue to waken for night feeds through their first year of life (and sometimes beyond). They may also go through times of waking more frequently when they are learning a new skill (e.g. crawling), going through a developmental leap of some sort, or due to discomfort (e.g. teething).
Plus somewhere between 6-9 months babies develop separation anxiety, and they may wake up simply to check we are still there (!)
The most important thing we can do when our baby wakens at night is to keep responding to them and try to help them. They are still super-reliant on us for so many things, including comfort and reassurance.
Don't forget that ALL babies DO eventually sleep through the night (I promise!) - and in the meantime there are lots of gentle and effective strategies we can use to cope with night waking.
If you’re struggling with your baby waking at night, I’d love to help! Together we can explore your situation, including your baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns, their developmental stage, their personality, your family situation and what support you have, your feelings about it all (!), the different night-time parenting strategies that are available, and anything else that is relevant. This can be done face-to-face, by phone or online. Get in touch if this interests you – together let’s find your happy feed! Shona x