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Smart Solutions for Baby’s Nighttime Waking

Try these soothing strategies if your infant wakes during the night.

Infants between the ages of four to 11 months require sleep—a lot of sleep. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that babies this age get 12 to 15 hours of sleep every day. But despite sleeping vast amounts, it’s completely normal for babies to wake during the night. In some cases, it’s for a nighttime feeding. In other instances, they may be teething or developing motor skills that cause them to roll over and wake up.

If your baby is waking in the middle of the night due to hunger, lulling him or her back to sleep might be as easy as a feeding followed by gentle rocking. Fortunately, by six months, many babies are able to make it through the night without a feeding.

Another key to ending mid-night waking is to establish a consistent bedtime routine. Create a sequence of soothing events leading up to sleep, including a warm bath, cuddle time, and gentle singing. By repeating this routine nightly, you can help your baby learn when it’s bedtime—and how this differs from much shorter daytime naps.

One reason babies wake up in the middle of the night is because of separation anxiety, which often starts around six months. You can help ease this anxiety with soft, reassuring words and a gentle hug and kiss, but don’t linger by their crib for more than a minute or two, as this sends the message that crying in the middle of the night will get Mom or Dad to magically appear for a play session.

Other soothing remedies include playing soft music or white noise or even placing a favorite stuffed animal on a shelf nearby to let babies know they are not alone when they wake at night. However, do not put these toys or devices inside the crib as they are potential safety hazards during sleep.

Finally, consider a swaddle as a measure to either help your baby stay asleep, or help calm them back to sleep after a mid-night waking. This technique involves wrapping a baby securely in a light blanket to mimic the comforting effects of being in the womb. The sense of security and familiarity may provide the calmness your baby needs to fall back asleep.