This might be the single most common question new parents ask me. Why is my child waking up so frequently during the night? Is it a developmental milestone? A regression? Are they getting too much sleep during the day, or not enough? Maybe they’re just hungry. Maybe they’re too hot, or too cold.
Well, it is a loaded question, and the confusing part is that it could be one of those things or it could be a combination of these things. Baby’s sleep is tremendously complicated, which you have probably figured out by now. Their bodies and brains are rapidly going through significant changes, and by the time they’ve got one issue under control, a new one pops up to take its place. Of course, there are factors you can control. For example, if your little one is too hot, you can turn up the AC, put a fan in the room or lighten up their clothes. If they’re teething, a little Children’s Tylenol can often solve the problem, at least temporarily. But those are the simple fixes.
The reason most people have such a challenging time with their babies’ sleep is because of problems that aren’t so simple, and don’t have obvious solutions. The journey into sleep and staying asleep is very dependent on one’s hormone production of Cortisol and Melatonin. And, while I won’t bore you with all the details today about that…it is very likely that it may be what is affecting your little one’s sleep along with some other things.
How do I fix it? While there’s no quick fix for adjusting baby’s hormone production schedule, you can help your little one along by doing the following things.
- Getting your little one outdoors during the day as much as possible. Natural light during the day is the big cheerleader for melatonin production at night.
- Ensure that baby’s room is as dark as you can get it at night.
- Start turning down the lights in the house at least an hour before you put your baby to bed. Simulating the sunset will help to cue their melatonin production so that it’s in full swing when they go into their crib.
- Avoid any TV, iPhone, tablet, or screen time of any kind for that same hour before bedtime. (Preferably even longer) as these devices emit a geyser of blue light, which will stimulate cortisol production right at the time when you’re trying to avoid it.
- Get your little one on a predictable, consistent sleep schedule.
- Make sure that you are following proper awake times for your baby’s age during the day and keeping an eye on their cues.
- Teach your baby the skills that they need to fall asleep independently. These skills are so important for when they wake up in the middle of the night.
Because the truth is that you’re never going to prevent nighttime wake ups. We all wake up in the night, regardless of our age. As adults, we just can calmly assess the situation when we wake up in the dark, realize where we are, see that it’s still nighttime, and go right back to sleep. Most of the time we don’t even remember it the next morning. So, although we cannot prevent baby from waking up at night, we can safely and effectively help her learn to recognize that she’s safe, in familiar territory, still tired, and capable of getting back to sleep on her own.
You can find more information about how to do this by downloading my “5 Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping Through the Night” guide on my Home Page or by booking a Free Child Sleep Evaluation Call with me right here: https://calendly.com/sayyestotherest/15min