Baby > The essentials > Sleeping > Sleep problems and concerns > Why has my baby started waking in the night?

Why has my baby started waking in the night?

We explain how to settle your baby back into a sleep routine if they've suddenly started waking in the night.
If you've settled your baby into a sleep routine and have got used to almost uninterrupted sleep it can be incredibly frustrating if your baby starts to wake up in the middle of the night again. This is, however, incredibly common and most infants will go through at least one 'night waking' phase after they've learned to sleep through.

Babies, just like adults experience sleep cycles each night whereby different phases of sleep are punctuated by short periods of being awake. When you taught your baby to sleep through the night they learnt how to move from one sleep cycle to the next without waking themselves fully. In all likelihood there will have been some sort of trigger that will have broken this habit and caused your baby's spell of night waking. So, the key to help your baby sleep through the night once again is it to identify the trigger and remind them how to settle back to sleep without your help.

Why is my baby night waking?

There are a huge number of reasons why your baby might have started waking up during the night but here are the most common:
  • Illness - Its very common for babies to start waking up at night if they're feeling poorly or are just recovering from an illness, especially if they have gotten used to being taken into bed with you or have you soothe them back to sleep during the night.

  • Teething - The discomfort of teething may be causing your baby to wake at night. Check your baby's top and bottom gums to look for signs they're cutting their first tooth.

  • Development - Infants often start waking as they learn new developmental skills, it's almost as if they want to practice their new ability as much as they can.

  • Comfort - Something about your baby's sleeping environment may be causing them to wake fully in the night. Check whether their room is a comfortable temperature, whether they have on the right amount of clothes and bedding, whether there is a change in the amount of light shining into their room or whether there is a specific night time noise that is causing them to wake.

  • Growth spurt - Your baby's waking may simply be down to a growth spurt when, typically, baby's feel more hungry than usual. If you have already stopped night time feeds you could try giving them a little more milk in their bedtime feed, increase the amount of solids they're consuming slightly or even consider weaning if they're past six months and not on solids yet.

  • Change - Night waking could be your baby's way of processing a change in their environment whether you've moved their cot, been on holiday or something else entirely.
How to help your baby sleep through

If there is something obvious that's waking your baby in the night then you should try and modify this as best you can to help them return to uninterrupted sleep (i.e. if their room is to cold use an extra blanket or it it's light from outside that's disturbing them fit blackout blinds to their window). However, if you can't find anything that has obviously triggered their relapse to night wakings then the best approach to take is to revert back to the methods that you used to teach them to sleep through the first time around.

It can be a good idea to:
  • Keep a consistent bedtime routing - It can be tempting to put your baby to bed later in the hope this will help them to sleep through the night but this can actually have the opposite effect as sleep deprivation is likely to make your baby wake up even more. If anything it can be a good idea to settle your baby to sleep a little earlier and see how they respond as being overtired may be what's causing them to wake. Also, a soothing bath, book and bedtime routine (or whatever works for you and your baby) will help your baby relax and wind down for a good nights sleep.

  • Maintain a daytime nap schedule - Young infants work well to routines and a consistent daytime nap schedule will help prevent your baby from becoming overtired and will ensure that when it comes to bedtime your baby is ready for sleep.

  • Reinforce the idea that night is for sleeping - You will need to help your baby relearn that night time is not the right time to play, chat and be awake. You can do this by keeping bright lights, noise and contact to a minimum. Unless your baby is feeling poorly avoid picking them up or taking them out of their cot as this will only reinforce the idea that you'll come and give them attention whenever they call even if it's the middle of the night. Similarly you should also try avoid unnecessary feeds and changes if you've stopped night time feeding. Music, mobiles or other toys should also be avoided or your baby is likely to depend on them as cues for sleep and need them every time they wake.
Although night waking can be a very stressful phase to deal with again reassure yourself that as your baby learned to sleep through the night before, they'll be able to do it again and while it may take a couple of weeks to get them back in the habit, they will relearn this skill and you will be able to enjoy a peaceful night's sleep once again.

Whether you have experience, advice or concerns about your baby night waking or anything else, why not visit the AskBaby forums and chat to other parents who understand what you're going through.

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My girlfriend of 1 year has a 21 month old girl that I love very much. We all live together and always have fun and play but her daughter always wakes up crying. This always happens in the middle of the night and in the morning. Is this normal? Please help! I'm worried about her.
by stepdad82465 31st Dec 2010, 9:29am
hi there my daughter is 13 months never slept through the night. she doesnt have feeds through the night hasn done for a long time but can wake twice up to twelve times a night i settle her back and she goes back off no problem. routine is same every night down to sleep awake goes off herself then please som3.eone out there help its drivng me up the wall x
by ellatyler 19th Nov 2010, 5:42pm
I don't know what to do. My baby is almost 8 months old. He started sleeping through the night at 5 months. For the past two months he has been waking up every few hours. He has recently got his first two teeth, but they finished coming in two weeks ago. He doesn't seem like he is getting sick. He has always slept in his own room. He has a consistent bedtime. When he cries we wait a minute and then quietly go in, pat his back, put back on his blanket (he has usually kicked it off), and then make a quick exit. It always seem to do the trick but now he is waking up every hour or so. My husband and I are not getting any sleep, and it is waring on us. We cannot figure out what is waking him up in the first place and why it is getting more and more frequent.
by russonn 4th Oct 2010, 4:28pm
I'm experiencing exactly what a number of people below are, which is good I suppose. My 11 month old has been waking up in the night for about a month now, having previously slept through. We've tried everything too - water, cuddling, stroking, being firm (resulting in hysterical baby!), more/less clothes, more/less daytime sleep (she has about 45 mins in the morning and max 2 hours at lunchtime although it's more like 1.5 hours). Can't see any advice below though about how to deal with this! Please please please help. I'm exhausted. I'm struggling with post natal depression and this isn't helping! :o(
by MissyLeeds 27th Sep 2010, 9:31am
We moved our 19 month baby into a single bed from his cot about 6 weeks ago. Over the last week he has not gone down well and cries continually. He makes his way to the end of the bed and slides off. We have to stay / lay with him until he drops off. He will then wake again about 11pm and 4am again getting out of bed crying. Any advice would be grateful
by anfield6 2nd Sep 2010, 10:52am
If your baby is just waking for the dummy, you could try a sleepytot baby comforter. We have one and it has totally revolutionalised our sleep! We used to be up every hour and now he just uses the Sleepytot to get his dummy and he totally sleeps through the night! I think you can get them from kiddicare or asda or
by RobRose 11th Aug 2010, 5:14pm
My little boy is 11 months and has also started waking in the night for his dummy or for comfort - he has been sleeping through from 8 weeks bar some moments of teething and we are at a loss! We too brought him in with us as he had recently caught the Nora Virus- awful and was inconsolable. He naps well in the day, is weaned and progressing nicely with solids, but has also found his voice and is impromptly screaming for no reason! Could this be a phase or pain of change?! Any help greatly appreciated. X
by toriJ 11th Jun 2010, 5:40pm
Help my Daughter is 11months old and has started waking at 12.30am after an illness and I took her into my bed (I know worst thing) but now she won't settle unless I do this she screams and screams and then her little body starts sobbing it was over 2hours last night I was trying to settle before bringing her into bed with me before I fell over I was that tired how do you get them out of this or is it just a phase? It was so much easier when she was a baby 3/4hrly feeds and I never thought I would say that.......
by Leicesterlou 14th May 2010, 5:32pm
I have a 6 month old son which up until recently has been sleeping through the night maybe waking once for his dummy. He sleeps on his tummy (he rolls untill he is comfy) and starts off the night in a lovely sleep. He has a bedtime routine and goes to sleep alone and is good at nap times in the day. He wakes up aroung midnight and continues to stir for the remainder of the night often having me up every hour if not more!!!!! I'm exhausted and fine myself going to bed when he does at 8pm hich is not good for my relationship! If anybody has any advice it would be greatly appreciated...I'm willing to try anything!! THANKS
by Munene 14th May 2010, 5:28pm
My baby slept from 2 months 6pm til 3am then til 7am - my baby is now 3 months and he sleeps from 6, then wakes for a full bottle at 10, then 2 and then is up at 5.30 - and he has full bottles during the day. Ive tried filling him up at tea time but he still wakes so much in the night. He goes to bed awake so that isnt the problem, I just want him to sleep through not wanting a bottle! X
by JoCorkill 14th May 2010, 5:26pm
my son is 9 mths.He started to sleep through when he was 9 wks when we went on a camping holiday oobveously we thought this was great and then as he has got older you would think he would be settled now but he not some nites i get up 1 others its 34567 times sum nites its all nite . he goes to nursery they say he has 2 half hour sleeps alday if that.i bath him give him hot choc swaddle him give him his dodi and comfort nothong is working any ideas.
by bonni 14th May 2010, 4:39pm
!!! HELP !! As i have been reading these other posts I see that I am not the only one going through sleep deprivation. My son is 9 months old and wakes up at least 4 to 5 times every night. He will go down at about 900pm and be up at 11 then 2, 4, 5....its like clockwork now and I sit up all night in my bed just waiting to hear that cry over the monitor. Right when i hear it i try to keep calm and not be frustrated as i go into his room because i Know that will not help....I have tried everything from music to changing his last meal time to water in the night and nothing works. It is started to take a toll on me to where I am depressed and just feel like breaking down and crying. To make matters worse, my husband is in Iraq so I have to do all of these sleepless nights on my own.... PLEASE HELP......
by Rhiannon1228 21st Jan 2010, 9:22am
Hi my daughter is 16months old and have always gone to bed and sleep with no problems at all. Since last weekend when we put her down for bed she has started to cry very hard and said the other nite "Mammy don't leave me", it is so unlike her as I have to now stay in the bedroom with her till she goes to sleep. Finding this a bit distressing as have no idea why it is happening. Tried the whole controlled crying thing and did not work as she made herself sick the other nite with crying so much. Please can someone give me abit of advice or even explain why this is happening.

Mother in desperate need of advice and help.
by ScaryW 26th Nov 2009, 10:09am
my daughter is 11 months, from about3 months she started sleeping 8-8 but all of a sunden she has started to wake up and im having trouble getting her to go bk to sleep any advice would be great
by gemmz 24th Nov 2009, 11:29am
Hi our son is 24 months old and has been sleeping all night from 8 till 8 untill for the last 8 months,but for the last 2 weeks he has been waking up at about 3 every night and shouting for his Dad and just refuses to go back to sleep for hours we are both so tired by now and another baby due in January,any advice would be appreciated

by mwynwen 23rd Nov 2009, 11:01am
rebecca -you posted a comment in september. I have na 18 month old son and he too has started waking up for no apparent reason. Again,it is not all the time and there is no pattern of time when he wakens - just between 12.30 and 4. I don't know the reason - perhaps teething, perhaps a phase but i am keeping a log of his routine every day to see if i can spot a common factor on the nights he wakens. did yo have any success in getting to the bottom of it?
by twiggyt 19th Oct 2009, 10:44am
Hiya - wondered if anyone had any advice? My son is almost 4 months old and will only be settled to sleep holding onto me. His daddy has tried, and my son just gets hysterical. He wakes in the night wanting to get in bed with me, and will only sleep in his cot if I hold his hand, which is not ideal! Even during the day he only sleeps in my arms, as soon as I put him down he wakes up! I also have a 2 year old, so am a bit scared of letting him cry for too long.
by munchkinsmummy 19th Oct 2009, 10:43am
Can anyone help. My 4 and half month year old girl had been sleeping through from 7.30pm till at least 4.30pm, sometimes even 5.30am. Now she has started waking anytime from midnight. She does not take a dummy (even though we have tried 6 different types), we have tried comfort blanket, mobile music, leaving to cry (she will keep crying beyond an hour), extra hungry milk. We keep the same routine every night i.e bath, milk, dark room, no eye contact or talking and she happily goes off when we put her down. When she wakes she can not seem to resettle. When I do give in i.e after an hours crying she only takes a small amount of milk which suggests ahe is not waking due to hunger. Any advice as im desperate as I have a 21month year old as well who is up by 6am along with my 4 and a half month year old who also decides to wake again. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks Popsi
by Popsi 12th Oct 2009, 10:13am
My son is 16 months old and he wakes up during the middle of night.He doesnt do it all the time.Im not sure if he's hungry or is it because i put socks on him at night because it gets a little chilly at night because of the weather and he kicks the covers off his body.Im not sure what the problem could be.Please help and let me know what i need to do so he can sleep through the night again
by rebbecca 23rd Sep 2009, 5:24pm
My daughter is 6 months old and she has just started to wake up at night about 3-4 times crying. Everytime this happens I have to go in, cover her with her blanket and give her her dummy and she falls asleep again. Am I doing the right thing by going to her everytime or should I let her cry and settle to sleep by herself (bearing in mind that she always kicks her blankets off). I'm not sure why this is happenning, it may be teething or something to do with her starting solids recently. Please help....
by martico 15th Sep 2009, 12:06pm
i have a 14month old son who is a mummy's little boy as he was the first and only child i used to cuddle him alot and when he was able to sleep in hes cot i used to cuddle him to sleep if he had problems going to sleep on hes own. big mistake! as now he has been wanting cuddles all the time and gets in my bed in the night time for cuddles. me and hes dad tried using the harsh approach by putting him in hes cot at bed time and letting him cry and seeing to him every now and again it worked for about two weeks but then one night he made himself sick and now we let him fall asleep in hes pram and stick him in hes cot. he wakes up in the night wants to get in bed with us so i let him but put him back in hes cot when hes asleep. its so hard though because i have tried leaving him to cry himself back to sleep but it dont work. im so glad theres other parents who go through the same thing im just hoping that he grows out of it when he is in a bed alsohe is still in our room as he wont sleep in hes own room.
by kellyh87 22nd Jul 2009, 9:47am
My Son is nearly 1 years old and is a happy baby until about 8pm at night. From about 6 months old he has been waking up in the night on and off each hour. He is so clingy and will only sleep on me but as soon as i put him in his cot he wakes up. He hates his cot and screams everythime he is in it. I have tried the controlled crying technique for months and maybe once a week this works but mostly it doesnt. After hours of getting up in the night i finally give in and bring him in with me and he sleeps fine. I have a 6 year old too and my son waking up in the night is affecting my other sleeps. Can someone give some advice
by GEMMAPALL 6th Jul 2009, 9:07am
My son is 18 months old, he always slept through but over last month he has started waking anytime between 12.30-3am crying really loud and when I go to check him he stands up and won't go back to sleep in his cot so I've resorted to putting him in our bed. He sleeps ok then but we don't! I'm so tired and don't know what to do. Any advice please.
by Princess1976 24th Jun 2009, 9:59am
i would say giving your little girl more pureed foods in the day may help with the sleeping if she is waking hungry at night, this is what the hv advised me so i hope it works ror u xx
by jodielou 9th Jun 2009, 11:16am

I am going through the same thing! My son will be one next month and has no teeth yet.. i think hes teething. any suggestions????? i have been giving him Camomile for his teething but his night wakings are seriously affecting me!

anyone with suggestions PLEASE HELP ME!!!!

by AlishaA 1st May 2009, 9:13am
Hi, my little girl is coming up for 6 months and has been having lunch and tea of pureed fruits and vegetables for the last 6 weeks. She was sleeping through the night with the odd wake up which I could cope with by putting in her dummy or occasionally giving her a bit of milk or water but for the last week she has been draining 7 ozs of milk at 11.30pm and then again at 4am and won't go back to sleep without it. I can't get any more milk into drining the day as she just doesn't want it so does anyone have any suggestions?? Do you think giving her more potato or meat based food might help fill her up more??
by Mo1978 29th Apr 2009, 10:04am
Hi, my baby girl is turning 1 in may. She has slept throug since she was 4mths old. She started showing signs of teething when she was about 7mths old. Her first teeth only appeard at 11mths. She has been sick on and off. Since her teeth arrived she has been waking 5-6 times a night. Sometimes more. I got a homopathic mixture that has help bring the amount of times waking down to 3 -4 times. How can I get her back to sleeping through without waking 3-4 times a night?
by Lulanda 20th Apr 2009, 9:37am
hi i have just started to use the controlled crying technique and don't know how long i will be able to do it for. has anyone had success with this - if so how long did it take.
my little girl is 9 month old and has slept well up untill recently.
by gracie83 19th Mar 2009, 9:37am
my little boy is 9mths he was sleeping through the night but suddenly started waking 3-4 times a night, he will doze off but not into a deep sleep. now he wants to sleep 8am which i find hard because i have to take my other child to school at 830am. any ideas PLEASE i'm getting so tired and would love a whole nights sleep again.
by vikkic 2nd Feb 2009, 10:49am
It is 2:00 am, and I have just found this website. I must say that I feel a bit better knowing I am not the only parent having issues with the sudden night waking. My 8 month old was sleeping through the night before, but now, I have the same wake-up horror stories as the others posting. Sleep deprivation has permeated every aspect of my life and work, and it is to the point I don't know what to do. So tonight for the first time, daddy lay him in his crib and let him cry. It was so hard, but I knew we had to do it. I will struggle through the controlled crying method as best we can and hopefully regain some sense of normalcy again. The raccoon eye look doesnt fit me well at all!
by ahoy 27th Jan 2009, 9:16am
My son is nearly 9 months and is yet to sleep through the night regularly. He goes down easily at 7.30 but then wakes up at 12.30, 3.15, 4.15, 5.30. sometimes he just wants his dummy or a drink of water.....but sometimes he is wide awake and wanting to play which means trips back and forth tucking him back in until he gets the message. He eventually gets the message and goes back to sleep and then wakes up at 7.15am. If he would just sleep right through and get up at 6 or 6.30 that would be fine as i am going back to work soon and that is what time he will be getting up at. We just don't know why he keeps wakening up, some nights he is fine and he sleeps right through until 6.30.....? Weird....any advice?
by gillsaff 19th Jan 2009, 9:56am
my daughter is nearly 1 years old and she still wakes up at night, some days she wakes up every hour, for the past week she doesn't like sleeping in the cot either, when we put her in bed with us she doesn't wake up that much but when she is in the cot then she wakes up every hour but at the moment she doesn't even like sleeping in the cot, she has learned to sleep on her own she normally falls a sleep on my breast, i have heard of the controlled cying but with my daughter if she cry alot then she throws up so i don't know what to do, has anyone got any advice please help.
by Billie 23rd Sep 2008, 8:54am
My second baby is large for his age. He's 16 weeks and weighs over 16lbs. About 14 days ago, after having slept through for a few weeks, he started waking in the night again. This has escalated into waking 2-4 times a night. I'm really struggling to cope as I also have a 19 month old toddler (luckily he sleeps really well). I'm not sure if it is beacuse baby needs to start on solids or because I've got into the habit of feeding him at the 2-3am waking. I have tried giving him water, etc - nothing seems to work. He seems to be really hungry and settles straight back to sleep after a bottle feed of 7-8ozs. He doesn't feed really well at 7am if he has been fed in the night, but will usually take about 5-7ozs by 9am. I would like people's comments on whether they think I should start giving him solids or try sleep-train/controlled crying when he wakes at 2/3am.
by artheart71 23rd Sep 2008, 8:54am
My daughter has just turned 9 months old and in general is a fantastic sleeper. However, for the last fortnight she has started waking up at 5.30am and despite having a feed, she only dozes and doesn't really settle back to sleep. This is in contrast to going to sleep at 7pm and sleeping through to 6.30-7am. I know I shouldn't complain, but does anyone have any advice?
by sassyd 17th Sep 2008, 8:51am
My child is 15 months and is waking up at 4 am every morning and not settling back to sleep, if anyone has advice i will be happy to take it on board.
by NATALIECLARK 2nd Sep 2008, 8:49am
My baby has gone to sleep on his own since he was 8 weeks old and slept through from 5 months. At 8 months he started waking and had to be fed to get him back to sleep. We recently went on holiday for 2 weeks in a caravan where he was awake at least 3 times every night. Now we're home he will not even settle on his own just screams as soon as I put him in cot. Have to pick him up and nurse him to sleep and still waking up at least twice. Any advice? Has gone from being the best sleeper out of 3 children to the worst!
by gilc 15th Aug 2008, 9:03am