The Real Reasons Why Your Baby Wakes Up Every 2 to 3 Hours at Night — Sleep and the City

Babies 5-18 Months

The regression has finally passed, but unfortunately baby has now picked up some potentially undesirable habits and requires these habits to physically exist during the falling asleep process (i.e. feeding/sucking to sleep, the need to be rocked, bounced or held, sleeping in a parent’s bed, etc.) We refer to these are “sleep associations”, and often times they will trickle into toddlerhood if not addressed early on. If a baby wakes up at night and something is drastically different from when they fell asleep in the first place, their body will immediately tense up, and yep- they will cry out for Mom or Dad. Imagine as a adult, falling asleep next to your significant other and waking up in the morning in Japan- it would be quite a shock! At Sleep and the City, we work to gradually wean infants from their sleep associations and replace them with more positive ones instead, all while keeping desired night feeds and all the cuddles.

The real reasons that baby is waking every 2-3 hours at this age: Regression overlap, sleep crutches/associations, changing environments.

Another reason your five to twelve month old baby may be waking up every 2-3 hours at night is due to him or her being overtired from the previous day. This can occur due to a missed nap, lack of age-appropriate nap totals, or a wake window that much too long (download our Schedules & Wake Windows Guide here for ages 0-3). Not sure which could be bothering your baby? The easiest way to know if baby is overtired: A waking that occurs within the first three hours, and/or baby falling asleep during the bedtime routine (or rocking/feeding prior to putdown), or falling asleep within 1-2 minutes of putdown at bedtime. Try a bedtime 30-60 minutes earlier if you suspect the napping minimums of the day have not been reached. Learn more about baby naps here on our Naps blog post.

Lastly, baby could be waking at night every 2-3 hours due to hunger, or looking to make up for calories missed during the daytime. On average, you’ll want baby to receive 24-36 ounces per day of breast milk or formula, and if only half of these recommended ounces are consumed during daytime hours, baby will wake up at night looking for the remaining half. Try encouraging full feeds during the day, after each nap (as opposed to before), and include a dream feed or two during the weaning process. For all the reasons above, the Infant Sleep Survival guide is a wonderful solution for the modern parent looking for gentle and PROVEN methods of sleep shaping (click button below to download).

The other real reasons that baby is waking every 2-3 hours at this age: Sleep associations, hunger from insufficient daytime feedings, , missed/short napping, oversized wake windows, digestion issues from beginning solids, scheduling issues, and poor napping.

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