What to Do When Your Baby Wakes Up Every Hour
It’s 2 a.m. You’re just sliding into sleep when you hear a squeak from the bassinet. You say, “Oh, please…please…just another few minutes, sweetie!” But you’re already awake—waiting for the next cry—and slumberland is fast disappearing in your rearview mirror.
Your baby’s sleep cycle (the full circuit from light to deep to light NREM sleep…plus a bit of REM) lasts only 60 minutes. So, about every hour, your baby will enter a light sleep…or even briefly wake up and make a short moan or squawk.
Unless she’s wailing, give your little friend a few moments to soothe herself and dive right back into sleep. If she’s swaddled, and you’re playing a rough and rumbly white noise, she should settle within 30 seconds. We created the SNOO bassinet for this very purpose.
However, if your princess insists you attend to her at 1 a.m. (and 3 a.m.…and 4 a.m.), something may be bothering her. Noises—from a snoring parent to a passing truck––can jolt her awake each time she returns to light sleep (especially if she has a sensitive temperament). But hands down, your baby’s #1 middle-of-the-night, snooze-shattering disturbance is hunger.
Increase daytime feedings if your baby wakes every hour.
During the early months, your favorite subject may be sleep—but your baby’s is definitely food!
In the womb, you literally fed her every single second. So, it’s no surprise that she needs frequent feeds to sustain her fast-paced growth. In fact, mothers in some cultures actually nurse their babies 50-100 times a day! I’m not recommending that to you, but breast-fed newborns do need at least ten to twelve feedings a day. (Bottle-fed babies need 6-8.)
Is it possible to manage that and still get more than 2 hours sleep in a row? Yes! The key: during the first few months feed your little one every 1.5-2 hours during the day (if he’s sleeping, wake him after 2 hours). That should help you get a couple of back-to-back longer clumps of sleep (3, 4, or even 5 hours) at night, and eventually grow by 6 hours…then 7 hours at a stretch, by 3 months.
What to do if you increase feedings and your baby still wakes every hour...
If you bump up feedings during the day, but your baby still wakes every hour, try incorporating these tactics:
- Swaddle your baby before bed
- Use white noise
- Try dream feeding
These reinforcements will help to trigger a calming reflex in your baby, and encourage longer sleep sessions. For more tips and advice on calming your baby and getting them to sleep longer, check out the Happiest Baby on the Block book, or learn more about SNOO—a baby bed that automatically calms fussing.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.