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Settling your baby through the night

Did you know? Waking up during the night doesn’t always mean your baby is hungry.

2 mins to read Dec 30, 2021

Once your baby is a few months old, they will sleep for longer stretches at night and won’t need as many feedings as they did during the early weeks. If they are still waking up frequently and crying, something else could be bothering them.

Your trouble-shooting checklist

Babies may wake during the nights for a variety of reasons. Don’t assume your baby’s night-time crying is a sign of hunger, especially if they’ve recently had a feeding. Ask yourself these questions instead:

  • Does their diaper need changing?
  • Are they too hot or cold?
  • Do they need to be burped?

If it seems your baby is in need of comforting, try a soothing back rub, pat, or gentle lullaby. Try to avoid ‘comfort feeding’ your baby back to sleep if there are no real signs of hunger. It may seem like the easiest solution at the time but if you get into the habit of feeding him every time they wake, the number of night wakings may actually increase.

Helping your baby to help themself

If your baby wakes up crying and is showing signs of hunger, offer them a feeding. If they are waking in the night soon after a feeding and you’ve ruled out the other possible issues (above), they can gradually learn to soothe themselves back to sleep. Waking at night can stop your little one from getting enough sleep, which in turn can affect their health. Establishing good sleep habits now can help prevent poor sleeping habits as your baby gets older.

Sources

  • Fisher A, McDonald L, van Jaarsveld CH et al. Sleep and energy intake in early childhood. Int J Obes 2014; 38(7):926-9.   

  • McDonald L, Wardle J, Llewellyn CH et al. Sleep and nighttime energy consumption in early childhood: a population-based cohort study. Pediatr Obes 2015; 10(6):454-60. 

  • Taveras EM, Gillman MW, Pena MM et al. Chronic sleep curtailment and adiposity. Pediatrics 2014; 133(6):1013-22. 

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