Bri's - posted on 07/11/2012 ( no moms have responded yet )
My daughter was born August 2011. I use to be a sleep deprived, exhausted mom, at her wits end. When I was fed up with waking up 6-8 times a night, I decided to do some major research. Now that my baby is sleeping through the night, I love sharing what I have learned with other moms.I started writing a blog to help other tired mommies. And if I can't be the one to help you, I offer many valuable resources, to help put you on the right track.
I see a lot of posts on here about your babies waking frequently at night, so here is an article from my blog.
Most common reasons babies wake up at night, and what to do.
The use of props to help a baby fall asleep has to be the number one reason a sleeping baby wakes up at night. Here are some common props: the bottle or breastfeeding to sleep, rocking, any white noise machines and even the *pacifier if your baby is dependent on it. Remember in my "Sleeping through the night" post. Anything your baby relies on to fall asleep, they will need when they wake up at night. They will not be able to soothe themselves to sleep without that particular prop. They should always go to sleep awake, with *no props. Trust me, they will find a way to soothe themselves. When Brianna was in the "Swaddle Sack" she would rub her face against the sheets. She would turn her head side to side until she fell asleep. She now sways her hand across the sheets back and forth. The texture of the sheet soothes her and she falls asleep. That would never cross my mind as soothing but that's what she does. And I am not suggesting, by any means to be cold or harsh to your baby. As a matter of fact you want to do everything you can, to comfort her before bed. Kisses, hugs, and cuddling, that's the best part of our bedtime routine! You want to do that to make your baby feel safe, secure, and loved. Just don't make that the reason they fall asleep.
***A few notes I need to make. You don't want to impose anything strict on a newborn. You need to give them some time to transition.When you first bring your newborn home, you may need some props such as a white noise machine. This will help them associate night with sleeping time because of their immature circadian rhythm( more on that below). This will also help them transition into the outside world, remember they are very confused when they finally make their grand entrance.
***Another note is on the use of the pacifier. I encourage the use of a pacifier because it has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, if your baby is crying in the middle of the night because it fell out and you need to go and put it back in, then you might want evaluate if you really want to use it. This is a personal choice, one you will have to make weighing your pros and cons. I thought Brianna was reliant on the pacifier, then I put her to the test. I took the binky away, and let her fall asleep without it for a few nights and she didn't cry for it. So I knew she wasn't relying on it. She falls asleep with it, but doesn't care when it falls out.So I decided to keep it. I think I would of kept it either way, at least for the first few months because of the whole SIDS thing. Tell a nurse something reduces SIDS, and she's not going to think twice.
It's also known as our biological clock. It's a 24 hour pattern of biological activities that occur in our body. The sleep-wake cycle is part of that circadian rhythm. In the sleep-wake our body releases certain hormones during nighttime to help us fall asleep. It also releases daytime hormones to make us wake up. A baby is born with an underdeveloped circadian rhythm. That's why when you bring them home from the hospital they sleep during the day and want to wake at night. And don't forget throughout your pregnancy, they were rocked to sleep during the day by your movements. You most likely felt your baby's movements at night, when they were awake! That's ok we can fix that. Just keep your baby on a regular feeding cycle. Keep the blinds open, turn on the t.v or radio, and just go about your day as you normal would to help create an association with daytime. Then at night, obviously the exact opposite. Quiet all noise, turn down the lights and establish your bedtime routine. Before you know your baby will know the difference between night and day. It took Brianna about 2 weeks but it can take up to 8 weeks. And to complicate things even more, melatonin (the sleep hormone) is not produced until a baby is about 3 months old. So don't get discouraged, it takes a while for a baby to settle into this world.
Also known as the Moro reflex, is a normal infantile reflex. When some stimulus causes the baby to startle, the legs flex and the arms stretch out. This stimulus can be a loud noise, an unexpected touch, or a bad dream. This reflex lasts only a few seconds but can wake a sleeping baby. Some babies can drift right back to sleep others will completely wake up. This reflex usually diminishes by 4months of age. Until then the Swaddle Sack is great. Those nifty velcro patches were intended to keep the babies arms inside and prevent wakening from the startle reflex. Don't believe me? Check it out! I watched Brianna, completely wake up from the startle reflex over and over. Her arms would fan out and she was awake! That's when I decided to put her in the Swaddle Sack. She slept so much better.
At one point Brianna started waking more frequently for a few days in a row, right at the start of winter. I noticed her little hands and feet were cold. Now it's pretty warm in our house. As a matter of fact I slept in shorts and a tank top. Apparently that wasn't warm enough for Brianna so I had to adjust the temp for her and she was back to her sleep schedule. The same thing happened now that it got really warm out. At this point she is sleeping through the night and I found her waking up a few nights...it was too hot for her. It's only April, I never turn on the air condition this early! But I had too. I put a low fan setting on and it kept her comfortable. Babies are picky about the right temperature. We naturally regulated their temperatures for them, while they were in our belly. Now it's a little bit more difficult to get the temp just right.
Ok this may sound self explanatory but it's not. You may Think your baby is hungry but she may not be. Here are some clues your baby is waking up because she is truly hungry:
1.She's wakes up whining at first, then transitions into a louder and louder cry. If your baby wakes up hysterical, she's probably waking up because she's scared or confused not because she's immediately hungry. Babies will wake up screaming if they didn't go to sleep on their own. They wake up wondering where they are and where you disappeared.
2. She is waking up consistent with her daytime feeding schedule. Meaning if she's eating 4 hours during the day, she will probably do the same at night. Now this can be purely out of habit so continue reading to see if other clues are present
3. When your baby is eating, you hear loud, audible swallows. What I mean is, she is not just playing around, suckling a little here, a little there. She is truly drinking and actively eating. Some babies wake up and just want to me soothed and the bottle or breast is obviously going to do the trick. Brianna was infamous for this for a while. She would wake up, suckle a little, and fall right asleep on me. I would slip her into bed an half hr to an hour she did it again. She wasn't hungry. She was using me as a soother!
4. They stay awake during the entire feeding and usually drink a large bottle or feed from both breasts. A baby wouldn't be able to eat that much if they were not hungry. If their stomach was full, she would probably eat a little bit and fall asleep on the bottle or breast. If that's the case she is using you or the bottle for comfort.
5.Here's the biggie, your baby falls asleep after you place them back in the crib awake! Now only a content, baby could do that. If you fulfilled her need for food because she was hungry, and she falls asleep knowing that she is back in her crib, she was definitely hungry. otherwise she would put up a fight and stay awake.
When Brianna was finally waking only to eat, I knew it the was truly hungry. I now learned the difference. She would guzzle her milk like it's the last time she would ever have it. She stayed awake the whole time with the sole intention of eating. She didn't play around, waste time, or fall asleep on the breast. When she was done (usually within 10min) I would place her back in the crib awake. She fell asleep right away, of course so did I, and we both woke up with a smile in the morning. And she did this until she was just about 8months. I hated when people told me by baby should of been sleeping through the night a long time ago. Really? so I'm suppose to ignore her cry for hunger??? Trust me, I know my baby I thought, and I just continued to read her cues. When she was ready and mature enough to feel satiated throughout the night, she didn't wake anymore and that's that. Every baby is different.
We all heard about this right? Baby grows at a rapid rate and needs to eat more. Common growth spurts are 7-10days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months give or take a little, they are not exact. Brianna must of hit ever single one of these. She was on a great sleep schedule, then all of the sudden started frequent waking. I knew it was only a growth spurt because it only lasted 3-4days. After a while, I loved growth spurts. Because at the end of each growth spurt she would get right back on her sleep schedule but slept a little bit longer. Just feed on demand during a growth spurt. If you are breastfeeding, don't worry about your supply being low. Your supply will actually increase to meet the demand of your baby. I always thought it was cool how that works. And drink extra fluids, your going to be thirsty from all the feedings. And if your bottle feeding, your partner can help with the extra feedings. Growth spurts can be exhausting but thankfully they don't last long.
New Developmental Skill
Your baby learned how to kick or swing their arms now they want to do it all night. Sound familiar? You can't stop a baby from exploring their new skills. For younger babies, the Swaddle Sack is great. You can use it up to 6 months. It keeps their arms and legs inside. At first I was weary about using it. Why should I restrain my baby I thought. But your not actually restraining them, your keeping them snug and preventing them from even getting the idea to kick or swing their arms. At first I was swaddling Brianna in a regular receiving blanket. It didn't take long for her to slip out of there. As soon as an arm came or leg came loose, she fully woke up to further experiment. With "Swaddle Sack", that never even crossed her mind because, her extremities never came out of it. She slept so soundly in it. You see why I love this thing?
For older babies, you can first remind them it's time to sleep by using a phrase that lets them know it's not playtime. I always say "it's sleepy-time Brianna". This may help re-direct them and remind them it's time to sleep. When Brianna learned how to sit and crawl, that's all she wanted to do. I would put her in her crib awake and up she went. What you need to do is simple. First remind them it's sleepy time. Then place them into the position they fall asleep in. Your obviously going to have to keep putting them into that position , because chances are they will do it several times. If they are not crying or whining just keep putting them into that position. Keep conversation to a minimum so that you do not stimulate them. Only repeat it's sleepy time if they really resist, whine, or fuss. This helps re-direct their behavior.They could be testing you, to see if you allow them to play. Just keep placing them back. They will eventually fall asleep, because guess what time it is ?...sleepy time, meaning they are already drowsy and tired. They will soon tire out and give up and fall asleep.
For some babies teething can feel like an itch and for others can be very painful. But either way it's annoying and can keep a baby up. 6 months is the average time a baby gets their first tooth but it can be way earlier or later. Bottom line, you will have to find a soother that works to ease the discomfort. There are many options. I will have a whole post about teething soon.
Is there any light coming in the room? Perhaps it's a full moon or your neighbor just bought a new garage light. Lights can really bother a sleeping baby, because they disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. Illumination suppresses Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. If that's the case just buy room darkening or black out shades. We bought them for Brianna. She's one of those babies that wakes as soon as there's a bit of light. The shades are great. In fact she sleeps an extra hour or two in the morning because they keep the bright sunlight out. Some babies are more sensitive than others. Studies show that even a small amount of light can prevent you from going into sleep and staying asleep. You may have to get rid of the cute nightlight you registered for. Or cover up the light on the smoke detector. I actually had to cover the green light coming from the baby monitor camera. I just stuck a piece of black tape on the light. I caught Brianna staring at it the first few nights we installed it, it was preventing her from falling asleep. It was such a tiny pin size light, but it was illuminating her whole crib.
You can buy room darkening shades in Home Depot or Lowe's.You might have to custom order the black out shades , which don't permit any light. I am actually thinking about doing that because sunrise keeps getting earlier and earlier as we go into the summer, which in turn makes Brianna wake up earlier. She slept 2 hours later in our bedroom which has the room darkening shades but because there's one window it's a lot darker. They also have room darkening panels in Babies R Us. They work pretty good. They filter out 95% of light.