A question that I get asked all the time, “My baby always falls asleep fantastically at bedtime, but we are still having night wake-ups.” Well there could be a few reasons why this may be happening. First of all, “What is going on at bedtime?” I would need to know, “Is your baby falling asleep independently at bedtime?”
Bedtime is the first place to look. It is the first place where a child can learn great sleep skills and then we can start expecting them to consolidate that to the rest of the night. If your baby is not falling asleep independently at bedtime then that would definitely be contributing to still have night wake-ups. Even if it only takes you two minutes to rock her to sleep and put her down, she is going to expect to be rocked when she wakes during the night as that was how she got to sleep in the first place, so she cannot do it on her own. Getting a baby to sleep independently at bedtime would absolutely be the first thing you should do. Let’s say that you have done that.
In that case, well done, that is awesome. You have really overcome one of the biggest hurdle’s, now we just have to get Bub to apply this to the rest of the night. What can sometimes happen with babies, is that they are usually still having a night feed. This has become a habit rather than needing to have the calories at night, night-time is for sleep, for the digestion to rest and for the body to heal. After the age of 6 months old babies can go through the night without a feed.
I do not need to eat at 2:00 am and I certainly should not be eating at 2:00 am, but I suppose I would if it was there and it was being offered and it was something super yummy. The tough news around that is that the only way to break this habit is to stop offering the feed. Always check with your doctor. There needs to be good weight and no health issues. If we are talking about an 8 month old, or a 10 month old, even a 6 month old, and they are still having a feed during the night but are healthy, then it maybe just a habit and you will have to drop it. The good news is, because they have such great sleep skills at bedtime, they will start consolidating those skills to the night.
It really should only take, between one to three nights to get bubs sleeping all the way through without the feed. There will certainly be a few rough nights? Sure, because all she has known is having that feed during the night and now she is not, so, yes, there will be some protest, the good news though is that those skills are there so she will start applying them to the rest of the night. It can be the same with any kind of sleep prop dependency in the middle of then night. Maybe she is falling asleep independently at bedtime, but now in the middle of the night she requires a visit from you or a cuddle from you, and that is the same thing. She has fallen into a bit of a habit around this and the only way to change it is to break the habit. Again, remembering that she has those great sleep skills that she has used at the beginning of the night.
Thanks so much. Sleep well.