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Baby Night Awakenings - why are they so frequent?!

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

One of the most searched Google questions during parenthood! I have also been here, desperately seeking answers as to why the awakenings were so frequent, and not getting any better. After all, the internet says they should be sleeping through by 6 months right?...

For many babies - yes they absolutely can be! But there are lots of reasons why our baby is awakening frequently and I'll cover some of these in this blog.


Awakenings are so very NORMAL! However, I see so often that with many normalising awakenings, often discourages parents to ask for him when they are truly exhausted and feel they have no way out.



baby in cot with pink room
Baby in Cot


Here are some first thoughts though to consider and most reasons I see out with teething, bugs or anything medical.


1. Overtiredness. One thing I find present with the majority of families I work with - and it is so easy for our little ones to get overtired. Overtiredness can impact:

- Short Naps

- Night Awakenings - Fighting Sleep - Early Rises


This could be happening with a wake window which is too long in their day - for example between naps or between last nap and bedtime. The awakenings and displays of overtiredness can often look like under-tiredness, as the cortisol increases until it is time to sleep - and then the cycle of awakenings are bringing on the overtiredness and the cycle continues!

Top Tip - although as parents we watch for sleepy queues, the truth is that once the sleepy queues start there is very little time before overtiredness hits. So the secret is to catch them before they hit this and following age appropriate Wake Windows (the awake time between sleep).

If you're unsure what windows are age appropriate, you can download the e-Book here.


2. Undertiredness

This is less common - but can happen if little one is getting too much day sleep. You may find this nearer the time when they are ready to cut one of their naps, or if their wake windows are changing. For example, bedtime falls too close after naptime.

Top tip - either extend bedtime slowly by 10 minutes each time to find the new perfect wake window until the next nap is ready to go, then you can slowly reduce that by 10 minutes at a time!


3. Sleep Associations

This is often a biggy! From the age of 4 months, babies cognitively develop the ability to sense they are waking in a position/place different from where they fell asleep. This could then begin to impact their sleep cycles and no longer do these knit together, but they wake frequently between sleep cycles aware they no longer have the thing that put then to sleep or are in a completely different place from where they fell asleep!

So where to start - find the thing that they are most reliant on and make microsteps to reduce. The best way to do this is to layer other associations on (which are easier to wean later) such as pats/strokes/vocal reassurance while reducing the other and build from there. Each baby is so different, so depending on their personalities and temperaments and your family dynamics this may look a bit different for each little one. Consistency will be key here regardless though, and work gradually and progressing a little more every day.


4. Development Leaps.

Babies reach development leaps and milestones at different stages, and will fall slightly differently for each child, for example - rolling, sitting up, walking, talking and so on.

Typical leaps hit somewhere around:

4 Months

6 Months

10 Months

12 Months

18 Months

2 Years

3 Years


If they have previously slept really well, and suddenly there are split nights and lengthy awakenings, chances are they have hit a development leap! You may find they wake super happy, having a nice 2am party.. or be a bit grumpy because they can't understand why they aren't asleep! Their brains are wired to be awake during big developmental changes, and often not much resettles them. But as parents, we try everything in our power and bring in loads of different settle approaches in the hope that they eventually sleep.

Top tip - keep consistency! Any new habits we embed now ma stick well beyond the leap ends, so try keep to whatever worked before this hit. Or, if you want to make changes to their settle approach now may also be a good time to do it. Lots of reassurance where you can, and consistency and it will pass within a few weeks before you then see their new found skills show!



There are always reasons why our little ones may wake, and sleep is rarely linear and changes often. But if you know in yourself that they are well fed, well and happy in themselves and awakenings are still so frequent and you're feeling the struggle - please know there is likely something you can do to help knit those sleep cycles together somewhere. And you don't need to do it alone. You can book in a free Discovery Call and I'd be more than happy to chat about your current challenges.


And by all means, if you're happy with how things are for now and loving the extra snuggles or time with your little one in the nights then that's amazing and keep doing what you're doing! And if things start to get hard then do know it is ok to make changes to that everyone is better rested.


Jade x


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