Being a parent isn't always easy... Especially when your baby just won't fall asleep at night, which turns the night into hourslong torture sessions. Another problem that every parent goes through: your baby wakes up every hour and won’t calm down.
So, what can be done to help your baby feel relaxed and fall asleep? And how much sleep do babies need anyway? Are there perhaps a few tips and tricks on how babies can fall asleep more easily? We’ll answer these and other questions for you in this article.
Your baby’s sleep phases
“Why does my baby wake up all the time,” you ask yourself? To better understand this, let's first take a look at the different sleep phases your baby goes through. This is because your baby’s sleep rhythm is very different from that of an adult.
The first weeks after birth
Newborn babies don’t yet have a day-night rhythm; rather, they develop sleep and wake periods that are spread over 24 hours and deviate slightly from one day to the next. Only from the second to the tenth week does their sleep slowly become more regular. At this point, your baby can increasingly adjust to the change between day and night.
Newborns should get about fourteen to twenty hours of sleep per day, but even these numbers can vary from baby to baby. We should note at this point that sleep is very important for babies, because it plays a huge role in their physical development. Babies first go through a rather restless REM sleep phase (dream phase) before entering a deep sleep phase. After that, the restless phase starts over again, and many babies wake up briefly during this time.
This cycle lasts only about fifty minutes and repeats itself three to four times in a row. After that, your baby will stay awake for a while until the next sleep cycle begins. In comparison, the adult sleep cycle lasts 70 to 110 minutes on average.
At what week do babies start sleeping through the night?
Your baby's sleep patterns will become more regular at about four to six weeks, and some babies even develop a consistent sleep and feeding schedule. During this time, many babies can already fall asleep and wake up at a set time each day.
By six months, most babies have a continuous sleep time of up to six hours. By the time that they’re about a year old, most babies can sleep for six to eight hours at a time without waking during the night. Babies vary greatly in their development, however, so it’s not a cause for concern if your baby isn't yet able to sleep several hours in one sitting.
Why does my baby wake up all the time?
Is it normal for your baby to wake up every hour? This is not only perfectly normal, but also very important for your baby’s physical and mental development. Babies spend more time in the restless and light sleep phase than adults do. The reason for this is that the REM phase allows babies to wake up faster and to take note of and communicate their basic needs.
Babies wake up when they're hungry, when they're cold, or when their diapers are full. As a general rule, babies need to nurse at least once per night until they’re about six months old, so you can expect them to wake you up each time they’re hungry.
Why does my six-month-old baby wake up every hour?
As mentioned earlier, each baby is different. There is no guarantee that your baby will have a regular sleep schedule at six months and won’t keep waking up at night. A baby's sleep schedule depends largely on his or her level of brain development, and each child’s brain develops differently.
While you can’t teach your baby to sleep through the night, there are a few helpful tips to help your baby get used to a day-night rhythm more quickly. Many parents of four-to-six month-old babies report they wake up even more frequently than before, a claim which studies confirm.
The reason for this is that babies become more aware of their environment as they get older. Their experiences are stored and processed at night, which sometimes leads to light and restless sleep. In addition, babies also learn new skills at this age, such as rolling over, scuttling, crawling, and grasping, which is incredibly exciting for them. Last but not least, they also start to grow their first teeth. These become more and more noticeable and can cause your baby discomfort.
My baby wakes up every hour - Can it be separation anxiety?
Babies learn to fall asleep on their own relatively quickly. However, this doesn't mean that they can sleep through the whole night alone. Your baby wakes up every hour and starts crying. Is separation anxiety the reason for this?
Most babies develop separation anxiety in their seventh or eighth month. Even if they had no problem sleeping alone before, this can quickly change. It seems that separation anxiety is also an important developmental step for babies. Babies cannot perceive themselves as autonomous and independent individuals in the first few months of their lives; rather, they see themselves as part of us. Gradually, their mental and physical abilities develop and they understand that they exist independently of their parents.
During this time, they sometimes feel separation anxiety. Your baby now understands that you can leave and they worry that you won’t come back. Thus, many infants may cry in their sleep as soon as their parents leave their presence.
What to do if your baby has separation anxiety
During this time, we recommend giving your baby a cuddle cloth so they don't feel so alone when you aren’t with them. Ideally, this should have the scent of their parents, so that it reminds them of you and calms them down.
Parents often hear that they should just let their babies cry it out, as they will eventually calm down on their own. However, this could have an opposite effect, as you are only confirming your baby's fear that his or her mother is gone and might not come back. If your baby is crying or screaming loudly, you should definitely comfort them and check to see if they’re ok.
There is no miracle cure for separation anxiety, as it is perfectly healthy and part of your child's natural development.
Tips and tricks to help your baby sleep better
Even if your baby has been fed, has clean diapers and everything seems to be in order, it’s possible for your baby to keep waking up. So, what are some tricks that really help your baby sleep better at night?
If you want your baby relaxed so that they can fall asleep more easily, you should help them develop a routine. A baby should always be fed and put to bed at around the same time. You can reinforce this routine with certain evening rituals. Some of the best evening rituals that you can practice with your baby include bathing and tummy rubs. These help the child to relax and find it easier to sleep.
In addition, it can be helpful if you make a clear difference between the night and the day. The place where your baby spends the most time and plays during the day should be different from the place your baby sleeps. This helps your baby develop a day-night routine more quickly, so they don't wake up constantly during the night.
The optimal sleeping place
You should choose a room that is as dark and cool as possible for your baby’s sleeping area. In the first year, it is recommended that the baby's crib be placed in the parents' room. After that, you should try to set up a separate room for your baby.
As for the bedding, it’s best not to use a pillow in your baby’s first months. A thin blanket or a baby sleeping bag is better, as they can’t slip over your baby's head.
Baby products at Zizzz
Zizzz can help make your and your baby’s nights easier. For example, our bunny snuggle toy can help your baby overcome separation anxiety faster. Our cuddle cloths are one hundred percent made of natural materials, namely organic cotton and Swisswool, and don’t cause any skin irritations.
Furthermore, we have summer sleeping bags and 4-season sleeping bags to keep your child at the optimal temperature at any time of the year. Our products are made in the EU from breathable materials, so that the heat and sweat your baby’s body releases are transferred away from their body.