Once your baby is sleeping through the night, a middle of the night wake up call from your baby can be challenging for even the most patient parent. A baby who is usually a solid sleeper will have times when she wakens and won’t go back to sleep. The key to dealing with this situation is to know how to minimize the disruption to your sleep while making sure your baby is ok.
If your baby has been consistently sleeping through the night when she begins a pattern of night waking, it is important to try to determine the cause. Typical causes of night waking are: illness, teething pain, new skill development, and an inconsistent schedule. Consider each of these causes.
The first step is to investigate. Does your baby have a dirty diaper? Is her foot or arm stuck in the crib rails? Is she sick or teething? If your baby is ill or is suffering from teething pain and awakens crying, then by all means comfort her (and when appropriate, medicate her).
However, if your child is healthy and there is no apparent cause for her crying, then experts recommend a restrained response. First, give your baby a little time to go back to sleep on her own. If it becomes clear she won’t sleep or if she is screaming, then go into her room and comfort her briefly, but don’t pick her up. Leave the room. If she continues to cry, return after five minutes. Again, comfort her briefly but don’t pick her up. If she continues to cry, keep reassuring her every ten minutes until she gets to sleep.
While a natural response is to want to rock her to sleep or take her into your bed, this can easily backfire by creating a night waking pattern. The best way to avoid creating a night waking habit is to check on your baby and provide brief reassurance without making your visit so enjoyable that she will want a repeat performance every night.
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