Why do babies wake at night?

All babies wake in the night. So do you and I. In fact, everyone wakes 3-6 times a night.

Our sleep works in a series of cycles. Imagine diving into a pool. You start at the surface and dive deeper and deeper until you hit the bottom. This is the deepest part of your sleep cycle. You then ascend back up until your head is just about to break through the top of the water. Now comes the tricky part. If you are unable to self settle you will keep going up until your head has broken through the top. You will be awake.

Instead the aim is to dive back down without waking up and this is the equivalent of self settling. How deep you go will vary throughout the night but you will always have shallow points where wakeups are likely to happen if you are not able to push yourself back down again.

Once you know how to do this and put yourself to sleep at the onset of sleep and back to sleep at these waking’s you will be able to cycle through sleep all night long without needing any assistance from anyone or anything to get you back to sleep. Totally dreamy right!

The reason you can do this as an adult is because self settling is a learned skill like riding a bike or waking, and its not something we as humans are born with. So our job as parents is to help teach our little ones how to master this skill for themselves so that they to can learn to cycle through sleep all night without needing your assistance to put them back to sleep.

Not being able to string sleep cycles together is a key reason why your child will be waking in the night. But there are other factors to consider as well.

• Hunger

• Teething or illness

• Wet or dirty nappies

• Disturbance or noise

• Discomfort

• Being to hot or cold

If you are having many wake ups at night try to identify why they are waking and look for any patterns that may emerge. Is it because they don’t know how to self settle or is it for one of the other reasons I have mentioned above?

Respond to their needs quickly in a fuss-free way. And remember that not all waking’s will be for a specific need but rather because they are moving between cycles and may just need a little comforting – and nothing more – to help them back off to sleep.

Need some advice on how to teach your little one to self settle?

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If you regularly start the day before 6am then this blog will help

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