The 5 Most Common Reasons Babies Wake Up - Baby Chick

The 5 Most Common Reasons Babies Wake Up

ParentingUpdated September 2, 2021

by Violet Giannone

Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Registered Nurse & Potty Training Expert


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There are many reasons your baby may be waking: a milestone, a growth spurt, teething are all causes, but usually very temporary ones. However, there is usually a culprit when your baby is up all night for weeks or even months on end. So let’s talk about the most common reasons why babies wake up.

1. Baby doesn’t know how to “self-soothe.”

A baby that falls asleep by rocking, feeding, bouncing, or other “prop” may expect the same when they wake in between sleep cycles. Since babies have short sleep cycles, this results in frequent night wakings. The use of sleep props preventing your baby from “self-soothing” is the #1 culprit of night wakings and sleep troubles. Some babies are born self-soothers, and others aren’t. It’s totally okay to give your baby a couple of minutes to fall back asleep on their own when they wake up in the middle of the night. If we jump up each time they wake up and immediately pick them up or rock them, it can actually have a negative effect and cause them to wake up fully instead of falling back asleep.

2. Baby is hungry

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t fall asleep if I am experiencing those hunger pains deep in my belly while I try to go to sleep. Chances are your baby might be feeling the same. Newborns need more frequent feeds than older infants and may even need a top-up during the night. But once a baby is eating solids, with 3 well-balanced meals throughout the day, along with additional snacks, plenty of milk and hydration, this will significantly improve your baby’s ability to sleep well throughout the night. Most experts agree that babies can typically sleep through the night between 3 and 6 months. If your baby is waking for that one feeding a little beyond that age, that should be fine too. Often encouraging a “tank up” before your baby goes to sleep or around dinner works for babies of all ages.

3. Baby is overtired

Not being able to sleep because you are overtired is often the case with adults too. Have you ever felt like you just can’t make it through until the night because you’re so tired, only to find that you suddenly have a surge of energy right before you go to sleep, making it impossible for you to settle? Well, babies suffer from the same thing. This is caused by a chemical response of adrenaline and cortisol to the system, making it hard to settle and relax.

4. Baby is in pain or suffering discomfort

Teething, an upset stomach, earaches, or infections can all be reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping. They may even be waking up because they’re too hot or possibly too cold. Or you may have just changed their diaper only to find them unable to go to sleep because they made a last-minute poop and are uncomfortable sitting in it!

5. Baby is too excited to sleep

Overstimulation before bed is often a cause of why baby won’t go to sleep. Getting them tired out with fun play does help to an extent; however, getting an already tired baby overexcited can lead to them to being overtired. Exposure to television or electronic devices can also cause overstimulation. Encouraging a “winding down” period before bed is very helpful. You can do this by giving your baby a relaxing bath, playing calming music, diffusing a sleep-promoting essential oil in baby’s room, or by enjoying a few warm cuddles with your little one.

The most common reasons babies wake up.


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