Tips to help stop baby waking every hour

Babies sleep patterns can change, here’s some ideas to help stop waking every hour

How to stop your baby waking every hour

Young babies, and older babies can start to wake every hour out of nowhere, here’s some ideas to help

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Just when you thought you were through the newborn stage and heading for years of blissful, uninterrupted sleep, ping! Your lively baby suddenly starts waking every hour again. But worry not – with a few changes you’ll soon get things back to normal.

If your baby suddenly starts waking every hour again, don’t worry – here are top tips for getting things back to normal.

What's causing your baby to wake every hour?

Your baby's sleep pattern could be affected by all sorts of things – a lousy cold, a tooth coming through or a change in routine. So take a deep breath and turn detective. Has a change in weather made their room colder at night? Is the nursery flooding with sunlight at dawn? Is a neighbour’s new dog barking through the night? Or could their broken sleep be caused by a surge in development? Maybe your baby is chuffed to bits they can crawl, and now wants to practise – at 3am. How babies sleep depends largely on their age, but there is still a lot you can do to turn things around and get some precious sleep again.

Top tips to help your baby sleep

When you’ve ruled out any obvious causes, like teething or a chilly bedroom, the best thing you can do is keep things normal and consistent, keeping things normal and using the same method for getting them off to sleep is the best way to go. You may never find out what disrupted their sleep, but these tips will help get things back to normal:

• Help them bond with a security object – choose a baby blanket or stuffed animal and keep it near you for a while, so it takes on your comforting smell. If you’re breastfeeding, you could even try expressing some breastmilk onto a small piece of muslin, then popping it in their cot. Babies have a strong sense of smell, so if they wake suddenly, your familiar smell may help them settle again.

• Re-set their body clock – help your baby learn the difference between night and day by making daytime feeds friendly and lively, and night-time feeds relaxing and quiet. 

• Teach them to drop off – when your baby gets to about six weeks, you can encourage them to drop off without relying on you to feed or rock them to sleep. Try putting them on their back when they’re looking sleepy, and let them slowly drift off. Learning this skill will help them get back to sleep without you.

• Bath, pjs & story – Calming activities that your baby will start to associate with bedtime can help create the right atmosphere at bedtime. Why not try a bath and nappy change, before putting on PJs and finishing with a little song or a story? You may even want to include a little baby massage. Whatever you do, finish in your baby's cosy bedroom and make sure it's fairly short and sweet – 45 minutes max. 

Are they fully awake or crying in sleep? 

If you hear crying, don’t rush in straight away – your little one might be crying in their sleep, or they might be awake, but able to settle themselves. 

Want to try co-sleeping?

Some parents help their babies sleep by snuggling up in bed with them, and they may even bed-share all night. If your baby is six months or younger, it's safest for them to sleep in a cot next to your bed, but if you want to try having your baby in bed with you, check out our advice on safe co-sleeping.

Share the burden

Missing sleep can soon turn you into a drooling, dribbling mess, so try and share the burden with your partner. When your baby is old enough to sleep right through without a feed, your partner can really make up for lost time! You might even find your baby stops waking when they realise it doesn’t actually get them anything to drink!

Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. If you need more advice about getting into a new routine, why not chat to your health visitor?

Tips to help stop baby waking every hour