Why Does My Baby Wake So Many Times at Night?

A guest post by Jessica Bryant of Sleep Happy Consulting

Because your baby is:

  1. Hungry

  2. Needs your help to calm back to sleep

  3. Conditioned to wake up

  4. Lacks adequate day sleep

  5. At an age where frequent night wakings are appropriate

Infants sleeping constantly through the night is a myth.

Babies who “sleep through the night” have brief wakeful periods throughout the night because of their short sleep cycles.  Infants over 3 months of age begin to learn to go down drowsy but awake. An infant’s sleep cycle is typically around 45-50 minutes.  Babies who go down awake calm to sleep and begin first part of their cycle which I call active sleep.  This portion of sleep is noisy sleep where you may see a lot of movement. Then babies transition into the quiet sleep portion with regular breathing and no movement.  Around the 45-minute mark there is a brief wakeful period before restarting the sleep cycle all over again.  

If an infant goes to bed overtired or overstimulated they tend struggle more with smooth transitions and are often more wakeful at night.  If an older infant is nursed to sleep or is put to sleep in their parent’s arms before laying in the crib, when their cycle comes around to a transition older babies recognize that they are in a new environment which is enough of a stimulus to wake their bodies all the way up instead of smoothly transitioning into a new sleep cycle.

What do I do if I want my baby to sleep age appropriate stretches at night?

  • Consider your baby’s age?

  • Consider your baby’s feeding?

  • Are there any weight or developmental concerns?  

  • Is it developmentally appropriate for him to sleep longer stretches at night?

If yes, consider your baby’s day feeding?  Is he breastfed or bottle fed? Is he an efficient eater or is he eating most of his calories during the night?  Have you started solids?

 

Does your baby need you to help soothe him back to sleep?  Consider age, gross motor skills, and your pediatrician’s recommendations before creating a plan to help your child sleep longer stretches safely.

Can you read your babies cues?  Reading your babies cues is hard.  Knowing what they are communicating can be a game changer in knowing how to respond.  Keep this list near by and make notes on what cues your baby uses to communicate his individual needs.


Jessica Bryant is an expert on infant and toddler sleep.  She founded her company, Sleep Happy Consulting, with the mission to empower sleep deprived parents of restless children by providing knowledge and support to create the sleep routines of their dreams.  Jessica has worked with over 100 sets of parents of little ones ranging from 3 months to 6 years since she founded her company in August of 2015.  Jessica is a mother of three well-rested children, including twins and married to Alan, a well-rested father.  For more information, contact Sleep Happy Consulting at 214-856-0341 or visit www.sleephappyconsulting.com.  You can also find Jessica at @sleephappy on Instagram or Sleep Happy Consulting on Facebook.