Hourly Wakings Checklist - part 2

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Let's continue the checklist for helping you find out why your baby is waking up so frequently (every hour, every 45 minutes, every 2 hours, ...). Remember to go through every single possible cause because even the possibilities that you don't really expect or notice upfront may be exactly what is playing.

6. Teething

Whether you observe teething clearly with dribbling, sore gums, flushed cheeks or it's hidden with your baby cranky for seemingly no good reason: teething can and does cause frequent (as in every hour) wakings, almost always with crying due to the general discomfort and pain.

Awake but tired baby

Although teething pain doesn't stop during the day it's mostly at night - without distractions and parent soothing nearby - that babies suffer. Verify for (hidden) teething signs and remedy as much as possible.

7. Unable to self soothe

There's no way around it, self-soothing is the unmissable key to sleeping through the night. If your baby is unable to settle independently and so hasn't learned to sleep through a cycle, they'll lightly wake up completely in-between sleep cycles (typically this can be every hour).

Weaning from helping with settling is doable, also if you currently feed (breast / bottle), hold, rock, sit next to, co-sleep or in any other way assist. And please know that there's no need to let your baby cry, let alone cry it out!

We get long-term results with effective, truly gentle and progressive techniques. These give your baby's body and brain the time to truly learn the skill and do it happily for the rest of their lives.

That's why my award-winning self-soothing techniques are key to overcome frequent waking.

Even if you're unsure that this is the main cause for your baby to wake up every hour, practicing self-soothing to sleep is always important to do because it supports every aspect of your baby's sleep.

8. Busy nights

Some environments are too restless to allow for uninterrupted sleep. As an adult you may have gotten used to the sounds, but lots of street or neighbor noises, loud TV sets or just a lot going on in or around the house, can seriously disrupt a baby or toddler's sleep patterns.

Take away all sources of noise and activity that you can, even if it inconveniences you. It may only be necessary for a couple of weeks, once sleeping is better, you will be able to relax about it again.

For noises you have no control over, a white noise machine in the bedroom can help: the soft background blocks out unwanted, irregular, hard, disturbing sounds and gently soothes at the same time.

9. Over-active body and mind

Over-tiredness, under-tiredness, new skills & developments, stress picked up during the day and anxieties are a couple of the processes a baby can go through, and they keep her body and brain very active, also when she's supposed to sleep.

Over-tiredness is a special one, because an over-tired child will often not seem tired at all, on the contrary after having caught their second breath, they seem more active and energetic than ever. And under-tiredness can be hidden too, as an under-tired baby is usually very content all through the day. It can be a delicate balance so always be on the lookout for signs of over- and under-tiredness. Being over/under-tired is only remedied by properly balanced sleep so well-suited naps will be important.

For other causes of an over-active body and mind, a good hour wind-down before bed, with pleasant, cosy and relaxing together-time in low light can make all the difference.

10. Physical discomfort at night

Most mild illnesses or discomforts (cold, minor virus infection, teething, bruise after falling, ...) are felt more at night than during the day. During the day there are more distractions and there is usually immediate and constant comfort thanks to parent or carer presence.

But at night, alone in the dark even weak teething pain or unease during a cold, can feel much worse, and simply keep baby from sleeping through. Lots of waking up, with crying, often surprise parents to a baby who seems perfectly fine all day. Browse through the solving causes of poor sleep section to relieve maximally.

Another type of physical discomfort is when a nerve and or bone got stuck (often during difficult or lengthy births): that can simply make it painful to be lying down, in whichever position. Verify the osteopathy checklist to see if that could be applying for you.

11. Stimulating food or allergies & intolerances

Stimulating food and foods to which the body is allergic or intolerant, disrupt a young baby or toddler's sleep. This includes short naps and frequent wakings at night, usually with crying out of discomfort.

When breastfeeding eliminate stimulating foods from your diet, and once started on solids avoid for baby to have sugary foods or drinks, chocolate, non-herbal tea and coffee from the early afternoon onwards.

Discuss with your doctor or ask me if you suspect allergies or intolerances.

12. Stuck sleep pattern

Young babies easily get stuck in sleep patterns other than their good natural ones. These are grown-into patterns that we do not want, such as waking up hourly. The most typical stuck sleep pattern is that due to hunger. Whether feeding out of need or comfort, a real hunger feeling does cause a baby to wake up.

Ill-fitting naps and nighttime bedtimes can also push a baby or toddler into unlucky sleep patterns. And even without a specific origin, getting into a pattern sometimes simply happens.

Reversing stuck sleep patterns, like breaking with a bad habit, usually is not easy. The techniques require patience and caution: how sleep is arranged in the body is a delicate balance, to which we'll do more harm than good if not treading carefully.

For the specific techniques for keeping asleep, altering stuck patterns for frequently waking up and sleeping longer in the morning, you'll find my award winning Overcome Frequent Waking program most helpful.

Its easy action plan is specifically designed to reduce frequent nightly waking and gives you the precise tools you need to achieve exactly that.

❗️ If none of the above 12 causes seems to play for your baby right now, refer to the mentioned Overcome Frequent Waking program for an even more complete assessement, or else contact me directly, I'll be happy to help you think through what could be causing the wakings.

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.