The moment you become a parent you know you are signing up for a little less sleep but eventually you find yourself googling why is my baby waking two hourly overnight and wondering is this normal? Is this a leap, teething, a habit or simply just my baby? If you are a few months into your parenthood journey often around month 5 is when they may start waking every two hours due to not knowing how to transition from one sleep cycle to the next without the assistance of a parent.
It can work for a while, one, two, three months where you continue to accept that this is your little one but then the baby begins to wake at 5.00am, 4.00am and slowly your sleep is becoming something you knew in another lifetime. Just like adults babies transition between light and deep phases of sleep. It results in partial wakes and is normal. These usually occur around 11.00pm and 3.00am during the night.
But why is my baby waking every two hours overnight?
The reason your baby is waking up crying and calling out for you so frequent is because they have become reliant on a sleep prop and need assistance to get back to sleep. We often assume hunger at the first sign of a cry in the earlier months and this is where the habit begins of them needing assistance to be fed back to sleep, cuddled, a dummy falling out or moving into your bed against the warmth of your arms and sound of your heart beat.
What would you do if you fell asleep on the lounge and woke up in your bedroom without a clue how you got there?
From a babies perspective this is where the crying out comes into place because they feel scared and confused. They don’t remember leaving your arms and now they are alone in a bassinet and cot and need reassurance. You can try the following to help them back to sleep first:
- Try some simple patting before picking up and feeding
- Team the patting with some gentle shushing
- Repeat this a few times to give them the chance to fall back to sleep comfortably in the environment they are now in (e.g. their cot instead of your arms)
If you find that it is going beyond the simple techniques above it may be time to start introducing overall a better routine for them. You can see the results from a baby waking in the night every two hours dramatically be eliminated when they are introduced to a consistent wind down routine. This wind down routine will be so consistent that they may even resist the moment the routine starts because they are familiar with the bed time ahead! This is a positive sign as your baby knows now sleep time means sleep time!
These are cues you create that when done consistently with your baby they will begin to naturally wind down to prepare for optimal sleep.
If you feel like you have ticked all the above boxes and still are finding overnight wakings are consistent then this could be due to:
⭐️ Your little one cannot self settle. They need to master this before we can expect them to resettle and consolidate their sleep cycles.
⭐️ The awake windows are too short or too long.
⭐️ They need to learn the technique to resettling. Resettling is a behavioural pattern we have to help them learn.
If you feel you are ready to start learning the techniques and routines to minimise the chance of encountering two hour nap times then our 4-12 month sleep guide is a great next step for you. Check out our sleep programs here available for instant download.