Why is baby waking at night? Is it hunger? Discomfort? Something else?
Use our checklist to figure it out!
Top 15 Reasons Why Baby Is Waking At Night
- Hunger: Newborns need to eat around the clock, but even older babies need one (or possibly two) feedings at night. We generally recommend an attempt to night wean around 9 months. Although we consider it normal for a baby to need one night feeding up to 12 months of age in some cases.
- Wet/Leaky/Dirty Diaper: There’s really no way to prevent wet or dirty diapers from waking your baby. But you can do something about leaky diapers that disturb your baby or toddler’s sleep.
- Sleep Associations: Rocking or feeding your baby to sleep isn’t necessarily a problem – that is until your baby needs you to re-create her sleep associations in order to fall asleep when she wakes between sleep cycles. For details about what sleep associations are, and how they form, browse through this article.
- Too hot/too cold: Your baby will obviously be uncomfortable if she’s too cold. But avoid the impulse to overdress your little one, too. Babies and toddlers (and adults!) tend to sleep restlessly when too warm. It’s best to keep your baby’s room at an optimum temperature for sleep. Want to know what babies and toddlers wear to bed? Read through this article.
- Sleep regression: Your child will go through about 4 or 5 sleep regressions in the first 2 years of life. Want to know when the regressions happen and how they affect sleep? Check out this sleep regression post.
- Teething: Growing a mouthful of teeth is hard (and sometimes painful!) work for a baby. Read this article for tips about how to handle teething and its effects on sleep.
- Illness: Despite your best preventative measures, your baby or toddler will sometimes get sick. During an illness, be prepared for your baby or toddler to wake often, and provide all the comfort you can.
- Napping too much: Long daytime naps are a good thing – until they interfere with night sleep. That’s when you know your baby is napping too much. Remember, your baby or toddler’s overall daily sleep amounts tend to stay the same. But, your little one will shift sleep from nighttime to daytime. So consistent long naps will mean less sleep at night. Check out this article for details on how many naps your baby or toddler needs, and how long they should be.
- Overtiredness at bedtime: While it may seem sensible to keep your baby up later at bedtime, in the hopes that she’ll sleep all night, the reverse is actually true. Babies who go to bed late tend to be overtired at bedtime and sleep worse than babies who go to bed early. Try shifting bedtime a bit earlier, to help with night waking that stems from overtiredness.
- Discomfort: Big things, like vaccinations, can cause discomfort. So can small things, like an itchy shirt tag. If your baby seems to be in pain, or highly agitated, see if you can pinpoint a source of discomfort.
- Digestive issues (like gas or reflux): Gas and reflux can be very painful for a baby, and will obviously disrupt sleep. Food allergies may be to blame. If that’s the case, try a change in diet. For more help with digestive problems, see your baby’s healthcare provider.
- Food allergies or sensitivities: Food allergies and sensitivities cause a whole host of problems for your baby or toddler – including sleep issues. For details, read this article. For more information about starting your baby on solid foods, check out How to Start Solid Foods with Your Baby.
- Nightmares or Night terrors (12+ months): This won’t apply to younger babies, but if your little one is 12 months or older, nightmares (or night terrors) may begin to disrupt nighttime sleep.
- Room is too bright: Our brains associate light with being awake. That’s why it can be a good idea to let your newborn nap in a bright room, in order to sort out day/night confusion. But once your newborn has days and nights sorted out, it’s best to keep your baby or toddler’s room dark during sleep.
- Room is too noisy: Despite conventional wisdom, you can’t teach a baby to sleep through noise. Some babies and toddlers are just light sleepers. Every little sound wakes them up! For these little ones, white noise machines and apps are crucial for good sleep.
44 thoughts on “Top 15 Reasons Why Baby is Waking At Night”
My 3 year old won’t sleep through the night. I have struggled with both my kids (oldest is 5). I have read the books, i have read the articles, i have done research and all the things i am supposed to. The routines, and consistency, the white noise, the black out curtains, the toddler alarm clock, the night light, the lovey. And we have unfortunately tried the negative approaches too. She is pretty much done with naps, maybe once a week she naps. But she is out of control if she doesn’t take one. I could say maybe the milestone of it is why she won’t sleep at night. Except she doesn’t ever sleep at night. Ever. It’s always something. Potty, nightmare, “i want you”, “tuck me in”. And sometimes she just has a temper tantrum at 2 in the morning. We don’t do sugar, or tv. I try to get them outside everyday. I really really try all the things. Our family is so tired. We are all so cranky. It’s so hard to enjoy being a parent when you are so exhausted and miserable. There is always so much sleep help for babies, but rarely can i find info on toddlers/preschoolers with issues. My older child was the same way and he still wakes up at night several times a week. I don’t know what to do anymore. My husband and i cannot agree on spending money for help. I just want to enjoy my family, without the crankiness. Any advice is much appreciated.
Hi @Stephanie – Thanks for writing, and so sorry to hear that your struggling so much with your 3 year old’s sleep, and your 5 year old too! We know how tough this is, and how hard it is to enjoy the little moments when sleep is so disrupted, and in most of our waking thoughts! It makes harder still when both parents do not agree on what to do about it or agree to getting help. Since you have put SO much work into sleep, I would recommend working one on one with one of our expert sleep consultants to get past this! If you can share these resources with your husband, perhaps it will help:
I’m not quite sure what all of his objections to sleep coaching might be, but these resources discuss how sleep coaching is effective and often makes sense for a family’s needs:
Hang in there Stephanie, and please contact us and/or have your husband contact us for more info!
Our 13 month old has recently gone from a short night waking for a bottle feed & diaper change to being awake for 2+ hours. He fusses and flops around and yells at us. His crib is in our room and space doesn’t allow another arrangement. Our room is dark and there is a white noise machine. Even when we can get him back to sleep, he is up at 5am which is way too early! He has recently consolidated to one midday nap that lasts about 2 hours. I cannot get him down for a morning nap anymore. Please help! The up all night and then again at 5 is brutal.
Hi @Joy – Thanks for writing, and sorry to hear about your new sleep issues! Yes, this IS brutal! Check out this article for tips on this new long night wakings: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/baby-toddler-insomnia-night-waking-6-reasons/
For more help, please consider our VIP Members Area, or our one on one consultation services! Hang in there Joy!
My 14 month old daughter still wakes up every 3-4hrs at night. I usually sing to her and then put her down in her crib fully awake with her 2 stuffed toys – she then cuddles them and sleeps. I dont understand why she still wakes up crying 2 or 3 times a night. When she wakes at night I pick her up and say it’s bedtime and put her down with her toys and she falls asleep again – does anyone have any advice?
@H Roberts, thanks for writing to us. I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling! Here is a link to a free guide with tips to help you baby sleep through the night, perhaps it will give you some more ideas to what is going on: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
If you need more help, we are here! We have a team of amazing sleep consultants that can definitely walk you through this and will give you detailed advise based on the information you share with us about your daughter. Here is a link to read more about our personalized consulting: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
Please let us know if you need anything else. Hang in there!
I am a working lady with 15 month old son . I will be out of home atleast 11 hrs.I used to rock my son on my leg and make him sleep. He has very disturbed sleep pattern at night and nowadays he cries a lot as he wakes up from sleep.
What can help me to put him to sleep.
Hi @Parvathy, thank you for writing to us. I’m sorry to hear things have been such a struggle with your son’s sleep pattern. Here is a link to a free guide with tips to help your son sleep through the night that may provide a good place for you to start: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
If you find you need more help, I’d highly suggest looking into our Personalized Sleep Plans where you would be working with a sleep consultant to help meet your sleep goals and get him back on track in a way you are confident about implementing and is specific to your child’s temperament. Here is a link to read more about our personalized options: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
Please feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any questions to [email protected]. Hang in there!
Hello I have a 18 months old baby boy who doesnt sleep at night he cries sometimes and sometimes he doesnt he just want us to wake up and play with him now that’s stressing m bcz since he was born he was doing this all the time please help
Hi @Kholiswa –
Thank you for writing us! I’m sorry to hear your son is having trouble sleeping and has had trouble with not sleeping enough and waking at 3-5 am! You’re not alone and we would love to help! What you describe is similar to sleep challenges we work with families on every day, but without having one of our expert sleep consultants take a thorough look at his complete sleep history and schedules, it would be hard to say why is is not sleeping better.
Since this has been going on since he was born, I do believe you could benefit from one of our Personalized Sleep Consultation packages, where we will work with you on a detailed plan to help reach all of your sleep goals.
You can read about all of our sleep consultation packages here:
Hang in there Kholiswa, and please let us know if you have any questions at any time!
Hello my 18 months baby boy since he was born I never seen him sleep enough and he always wakes up around 3 to 5 o’clock in the morning I need to know what makes him to be like that
My 13 months old boy is having problem with sleep since he has born. I have not seen him sleep well through night or day time. He wakes up 5 to 6 times at night. To get back to sleep it is a big struggle for him. He takes half an hour nap in the morning and afternoon. I have not seen him having sound sleep in a night within this 13 months. He also sleeps less time in a day than he supposed to sleep. We are a bit worried about that l.
Thank you for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble with your toddler waking at night! You must be exhausted 🙁 As you see in the article, there are a lot of reasons for toddlers to wake at night, but it sounds like some of the issue might be your schedule, and the lack of daytime sleep. We have a sample toddler schedule here you can try: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/
At 13 months, most babies are still taking two naps, so scroll to that one.
And if you need more help, please email us at [email protected], so we can get you some more resources!
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