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Settling your child through the night

Did you know? Waking up during the night doesn’t always mean your child is hungry.

2 mins
to read Jan 28, 2021

Once your little precious is a few months old, he will sleep for longer stretches at night and won’t need as many feedings as he did during the early weeks. If he is still waking up frequently and crying, something else could be bothering him.

 

Your trouble-shooting checklist

Little children may wake during the nights for a variety of reasons. Don’t assume your child’s nighttime crying is a sign of hunger, especially if he’s recently had a feeding. Ask yourself these questions instead:

  • Does his diaper need changing?
  • Is he too hot or cold?
  • Does he need a burp?

 

If it seems your child is in need of comforting, try a soothing back rub, pat, or gentle lullaby. Try to avoid ‘comfort feeding’ your child back to sleep if there are no real signs of hunger. It may seem like the easiest solution at the time but if you get into the habit of feeding him every time he wakes, the number of night wakings will actually increase.

 

Helping your child to help himself

If your child wakes up crying and is showing signs of hunger, offer him a feeding. If he is waking in the night soon after a feeding and you’ve ruled out the other possible issues (above), he can gradually learn to soothe himself back to sleep. Waking at night can stop your little one from getting enough sleep, which in turn can affect his health. Establishing good sleep habits now can help prevent poor sleeping habits as your little one gets older.

Sources

Fisher A, McDonald L, van Jaarsveld CH et al. Sleep and energy intake in early childhood. Int J Obes 2014; 38(7):926-9.

McDonald L, Wardle J, Llewellyn CH et al. Sleep and nighttime energy consumption in early childhood: a population-based cohort study. Pediatr Obes 2015; 10(6):454-60.

Taveras EM, Gillman MW, Pena MM et al. Chronic sleep curtailment and adiposity. Pediatrics 2014; 133(6):1013-22.

Last revised: November, 2016

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