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What to do if your baby keeps waking in the night

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At the age of 6 months, less than 1 in 5 babies are sleeping through the night. So what stops a baby from sleeping all night? Well, there are more reasons than you might think. Babies might be too cold, too hot, woken up by sudden noise, going through a growth spurt or teething. Here are some trusty tips to help you deal with it all.

Tip #1: Safety first

When you are trying to settle them in the middle of the night, it can be so easy to fall asleep with babies on sofas or armchairs, but this can be dangerous so think carefully about your baby’s safety for every sleep. Make sure you always put them to sleep on their back.

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Tip #2: Cot care

photo of baby sleeping in baby box

photo of baby sleeping in baby box

Placing your baby with their feet at the bottom of the cot or Baby Box will help to prevent them from wriggling out of their covers or getting stuck under them. Always place your baby on their back to sleep.

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Tip #3: Gum rubbing

If your baby wakes up because they're teething in the night, try rubbing their gums with your finger

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Tip #4: Sharing a room

Many parents find that caring for their baby is easier when they share a room in the early months. You’ll find that night-time feeding is easier, your baby will cry less when close to you, and both you and your baby are more likely to get some sleep. Sharing a room with your baby also reduces the risk of SIDS.

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Tip #5: Ice cold teething ring

Teething can be a real problem for young children, especially at night. You can prepare for the pain at night during the day by showing them lots of affection, and by keeping that teething ring nice and cold in the fridge.

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Tip #6: Barrier cream

Teething can make babies’ face red, itchy and sore, and this can wake them up in the middle of the night. Use some barrier cream before bedtime to help to soothe their pain.

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Tip #7: Extra feed

When babies are going through a growth spurt, it can feel like they just want to eat all the time. An extra feed before bed might help them sleep through the night, but you may find that they also need to be fed during the night as well.

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Tip #8: Clocks changing

The clocks changing is something most of us dread. In the summer the light can wake children earlier than usual. A way to avoid this is to try placing blackout material over the window to keep their room dark until it’s time to get up.



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What the professionals say

“Sleep is broken up into periods or cycles of lighter and deeper sleep – it’s something we all experience but toddlers sometimes wake up during the lighter cycles and find it hard to drop back off again. When that happens try leaving them alone for a short time to see if they can settle themselves. If they don’t, go in and settle them down with a cuddle and leave the room.”

Carol Ramsay, Family Nurse Supervisor, NHS Tayside Family Nurse Partnership (FNP)

More information

Ready Steady Baby has lots of information on helping your baby sleep and establishing routines. If you think your baby is not settling at night because of a health issue, contact your GP or health visitor for additional support.

Sleep Support Line

Sleep Scotland's free Sleep Support Line offers advice and support to parents and carers, or to young people themselves, for any child aged 18 months to 18 years with a sleep problem. Call 0800 138 6565 or email to get in touch. BSL users can contact the service using contactSCOTLAND-BSL.

Their Sleep Advisors and Sleep Counsellors will complete an initial sleep history, asking questions on current routines, diet, exercise, and the sleep problem. They will then create a sleep plan based on the responses. For those parents who require it, follow up calls are also available. Visit the Sleep Scotland website for more information and advice.

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Sleeping Sleeping tips Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 26 Jun, 2020