Night waking: My baby used to sleep through the night

What are some of the causes and remedies for a change in sleeping patterns of children less than a year old? Our nine month old, formerly an all-night snoozer until six months of age, has now been waking up several times a night (yawn) at verying intervals. What gives?

p.s. he's teething, just starting to walk, and went from the breast to a formula recently.

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Isn't it frustrating when you feel like your night life has finally gotten back to normal with a reasonable amount of uninterrupted sleep, and then your child suddenly seems to down-gear back to waking up in the middle of the night?

Changes in sleeping patterns are extremely common in children when they become older, and quite honestly, your nine month old's story reads as if directly pulled from the textbook. As infants become more aware of their surroundings and more mobile, when they wake up in the middle of the night (as we all do but don't necessarily realize it), their awareness that mom or dad is not there becomes more acute as well. This is normal and expected as their development progresses. Therefore, it is your job to help your nine month old to learn that she can put herself back to sleep without a problem.

Strategies to employ:

  1. Establish a pleasant and predictable bedtime ritual.
  2. If your child throws a tantrum in protest of going to bed, overlook this and leave the room.
  3. When your child wakes up, avoid conversation, briefly tuck her back into bed, and leave the room. The object here is to make waking up and going back to sleep as boring for the child as possible, so she can learn to do it herself.
  4. Remember, consistency is the key, so all care providers should agree on what the strategy should be.

The fact that your child used to be an all-night snoozer is in your favor, and I anticipate with some work over the next couple of weeks, your sleep will return to a more consistently restful one as well.

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