What to Do if Your Baby Wakes Up Every Hour at Night?

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Oh, the joys of motherhood. Mommy’s little angel can quickly start to feel like a nightmare.

When it’s three in the morning and you’ve already been up with the baby five times, it feels like you’ve just closed your eyes and baby is up again.

Being a new mother is already an endless cycle of feeding, burping, diaper changing, and everything in between.

If you’re anything like me I haven’t showered in two days and the pile of dishes in the sink is starting to look like a mountain.

Now if that isn’t enough to drive you bonkers just add in that baby wakes up every hour at night and you’ve got a recipe for insanity!

So the big question is how do we overcome frequent waking?

Start the Investigation

Before jumping into the “how”, first we have to figure out the “why”. There are so many different factors that affect our children’s sleep.

The best way to start is to keep track of everything. I would recommend writing it all down because it can be pretty extensive.

Make a note of everything: feeding quality and frequency, recent health, napping schedule, play time, change in environment or daily routine, and anything else you can think of.

Feedings Can Be a Reason Why Your Baby Wakes Up Every Hour!

One factor that most commonly impacts sleep is baby’s feeding schedule. As baby grows night time feedings will eventually end.

Weaning from night feedings can be tricky, though. Even if they don’t need to eat through the night, in the beginning baby may still feel hungry.

Remind yourself that babies have incredibly small stomachs. They’ll suckle for only a short period of time. In only a few hours, the baby will be hungry again.

Weaning from night feedings should be very gradual to help avoid this.

Also, making sure baby is eating enough through the day can help combat night time hunger.

One thing that helped my daughters during the day was to eliminate any potential distractions.

Turning off the TV and even running a fan for some background noise to drown out any other potentially interesting noises helped keep them focused on the task at hand: eating.

Burping

Of course after feeding we move on to burping.

I can’t tell you how many times I laid my first daughter down, and 30 minutes later she would wake up screaming.

After picking her up, she would burp and be content. Then I was back to the beginning with getting her to sleep again.

Avoid this vicious cycle by allowing plenty of time for baby to burp.

I even discovered that if baby fell asleep during a feeding I could lay her down briefly, and upon picking her back up she would burp.

Sometimes changing baby’s orientation from up to down and up again helps the air escape.

In the video below you can find the NYU Langone Medical Center experts review two simple ways to help your baby burp and feel better.

 

Reflux and GERD

Spitting up after a meal is common in babies, but excessive vomiting and discomfort during or after feedings could be a sign of GERD.

The gastroesophageal disease can cause baby to wake frequently. If you are concerned that your child may have GERD you should talk to their pediatrician to learn about treatment options.

Neither of my children were diagnosed with GERD, but my daughter did spit up a lot after every feeding.

I knew this had a negative impact on her sleep. Laying her down immediately after eating would cause her to spit up even more and ultimately result in her waking up.

The most effective solution that I found was to elevate one end of her mattress.

I used a crib wedge that went under her sheet and placed a couple of phone books underneath one end of her mattress to achieve the angle she needed to sleep comfortably.

You can try this solution by using this crib wedge at Amazon.com or you can find another one for as little as $20.

Naps are Necessary

I think at some point we’ve all thought that keeping baby awake longer during the day might force them to sleep longer through the night.

Contrary to popular belief a well established napping routine can actually help. As the pediatrician once told me, “Sleep begets sleep”.

If baby becomes too tired it can be difficult for them to fall and stay asleep. Depending on your baby’s age they should be taking two or four naps a day, each approximately 90 minutes in duration.

Don’t be afraid to let baby nap it out.

I also, highly recommend to any first time parent this book (The Natural Baby Sleep Solution) by Polly Moore Ph.D.

This book will help you know exactly when to put your baby down to maximize the chances of a decent nap and a good night’s sleep.

Lack of Routine

Honestly, I am the most disorganized person on the planet.

Believe me when I tell you establishing a routine with my children has been a tough habit to form.

The good news is if I can do it, you can do it. If baby wakes up every hour, you probably need to work on a daily routine.

Parents should also because routine subconsciously tells the baby when it’s time to play, eat or sleep.

A baby waking up every hour each night has a poor routine. Start out about 30 minutes before the baby’s bedtime. Dim the lights, draw a relaxing bath and read a book to the child.

My baby enjoys the quiet time along with the bonding process. By the time the baby should be placed in the crib, he or she knows that it’s time to rest.

I can remember the beginning of my journey as a mother. I thought keeping them up until 10 p.m. would have them sleeping all night long.

Nowadays we are in bed by 8 p.m. and my nine month old sleeps until 6 or 7 in the morning.

Too Many Surrounding Distractions

I have a busy household, but I make sure that it’s very quiet during the evenings. Both adults and babies are susceptible to distractions during the night.

If the baby hears a lot of excitement in the next room, he or she will be up and wondering about the noise.

Distractions can even interest the child before bedtime. Try to make the home as calm as possible. Keep loud noises to a minimum.

When the baby has no reason to wake up and listen to sounds, he or she might remain in dreamland.

Environmental Changes

Consider baby’s environment if they are having difficulty staying asleep.

One important aspect of the routines I mentioned above is baby’s sleep environment.

Changing the room that baby sleeps in, or altering their usual sleep room can affect your little one.

Even different noise patterns can disrupt your child’s sleep schedule. As I said earlier, I made a habit of using a fan as background noise.

Now a fan is critical to a good night’s sleep for me and them.

There are going to be times when you’re in a totally new environment, while vacation or visiting family.

For temporary situations like this, it’s important to remember that it’s ok to get out of the routine and just do whatever works to get baby to sleep.

The normal day to day, however, should be fairly consistent. When you have no choice but to make changes, try to introduce them gradually.

Loose Swaddle

Babies like to be cuddled. It reminds them of the womb. If your baby is merely laying on his or her back during the night, they might wake up feeling unsure of the surroundings.

Be sure to wrap the baby in a blanket. Swaddle the child until he or she is snug within the cloth.

The gentle pressure is calming for most babies, and sleep comes naturally right away.

Swaddling is often overlooked by new parents because any linens in the crib are often cause for concern.

A tight sheet across the crib mattress and a swaddled baby is a perfect combination for a long night’s sleep.

Check the video to learn how to swaddle your baby:

Teething

A baby wakes up every hour and cries when teething is an issue.

You may believe that the child is too young to have this problem, but it sneaks up on you in no time.

The baby has no teeth, but growth is happening under the gum line. The irritation causes the baby to wake up and voice his or her discomfort.

Excessive spittle and chewing on practically everything are commonplace. Some parents give the baby a specialized pacifier that has a cooling option.

Remember that teething comes and goes so be observant about the baby’s sleeping habits at all times.

Health

When baby wakes up every hour, consider their recent health.

Have they had a cough or runny nose?

If your little one isn’t sleeping well it could be due to an illness. It is true that baby may sleep more when they’re sick, but the quality of that sleep is compromised.

Just as you and I experience restless sleep when we’re sick, baby’s stuffy nose can certainly keep her from staying asleep.

Being aware of your little one’s symptoms and discomfort are imperative to quality sleep.

It’s always a good idea to check baby’s temperature through the night to make sure it’s within a safe range.

Dependent on Parent

Some babies are simply dependent on one parent. Mom or dad might be the ones who’re spending the most time with baby.

Although I want to be there for every second of my baby’s life, I must give the child some space.

I created a small nursery just beside my bedroom. When bedtime arrives, I place the baby in the crib.

After soothing the baby, I carefully leave the room. It may take some time for the baby to fall asleep on his or her own, but the effort will curtail the issue of waking every hour.

Growth Spurt

Babies grow at an astounding rate.

It’s not uncommon for them to go through several growth spurts in the first year. The term “growing pains” might apply in this situation.

The bones may ache as the baby goes through a particularly rapid growth rate. These aches and pains may keep the child up at night.

There’s no cure for growth spurts except to simply work through the sleepless nights.

Make the baby as comfortable as possible. Some parents opt for infant-approved painkillers suggested by their pediatricians. Everyone will have a different solution in this case.

Don’t Worry, You’ve Got This

When you take a step back and look at everything that could possibly be going wrong it can seem really intimidating.

I know how hopeless it can feel when you’re sleep deprived and your baby is up all night.

The reality though, is that you know your baby better than anyone else. We all go through some really rough patches with our little ones, but it does get better eventually.

Just pay attention to the details and you’ll both be on your way to some much needed rest.

Additional information:

Video credits: Bonnie HoelleinNYU Langone Health.



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