Sleep Advice: Multiple Night Wakings

Multiple Night Wakings Baby Lying on Tummy
Welcome to our Sleep Advice Column, in Partnership with Little Sleep Stars. Here, Lauren, Founder of Little Sleep Stars, helps our tired Mamas who have reached out for advice on the challenges that night time brings. If you, or someone else that you know, is struggling to get their little ones to sleep, please drop us a message, or leave your question in the comments below. Sleep deprivation is real, it impacts on both our mental and physical wellbeing. We are here to help get you back on the right track and on your way to a good nights sleep!

Question:

My little girl is now 17 months and we still have multiple night wakings. She was breastfed until 12 months then went straight to cows milk. She wakes at night for a cuddle…..this can be a minimum of 2 to 5 times a night! Needless to say I’m shattered! It doesn’t matter who puts her to bed, daddy or mummy she’ll still wake. Yes, we cuddle her to sleep, she won’t settle otherwise. My son was different and luckily started sleeping well by 1. I have been advised to do sleep training/controlled crying but I know that she will not settle. If she’s left too long she gets really worked up and I’m not happy to try this.

The first thing to note is that 2-5 wake ups through the night is biologically very normal.

Multiple Night Wakings Baby Boy Lying Down

We all wake in the night so whilst this feels like the problem for a lot of families. It’s not actually the waking that causes the issue. When adults and children who are classed as “sleeping through” stir in the night, they mostly roll over and go back to sleep. Often so quickly and easily they aren’t even really aware of waking. This skill of independently initiating sleep, is one learned at bedtime. This is actually the easiest time for a child to fall asleep. Little ones who are put down already asleep, or very close to it, aren’t learning that skill. When they wake in the night, and it is when, rather than if. They simply look for the help they had at bedtime. Firstly because that’s what falling asleep looks like to them, and secondly because they don’t know how to initiate sleep in another way. 
 

All children can learn to initiate sleep.

Multiple Night Wakings Child Sleeping

What’s more, a family doesn’t have to go down the controlled crying route to get there! More gentle methods, where a parent stays with their child, offering lots of support, comfort and reassurance, yield results that are just as effective. These are also often longer-lasting, and aren’t an ordeal for either parent or child. I always advise parents to consider, on a scale of zero to 100% of the work involved in their child falling asleep, how much they do, and how much their little one does. A sleep plan moves a family from where they are currently to where a child can confidently and happily initiate sleep for themselves. A good sleep plan makes the steps to getting there big enough that progress is always being made but small enough so that nothing is overwhelming. 
 

Finally on the difference between this little one and her brother, it’s very common to have siblings with different relationships with sleep.

Multiple Night Wakings Siblings Surrounded by Red Flowers

Even when the parents have done pretty much the same things with both children. This is because a child’s temperament plays a huge role in how well they sleep naturally. Typically the more alert, determined and inquisitive a child is, the trickier they find sleep. That’s not to say those little ones cannot learn to sleep well because they absolutely can! they just need a little more help to reach their sleep potential. 
If you feel like you and your family would benefit from a more in depth perspective. Or perhaps some one-to-one guided help when it comes to your little ones sleep patterns.  Please feel free to reach out to Lauren for a free consultation.
 

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