Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

Why does my 8 month old wake in the night?

Carmen has always slept well at night, but during the past month she has started to wake at about 3am and then at 6am. She is never distressed; she contentedly makes little baby noises, so I wonder why she wakes when she never used to. At 3am, after 20mins I end up going into her, give her a cuddle and she quickly settles herself back to sleep. I know I shouldn’t complain as she doesn’t cry but she still keeps me awake. When she wakes at 6am she doesn’t go back to sleep. The result is, that she is really tired by 8.8-30am. She always falls into a deep sleep at this nap although I wake her after 45 minutes. She tends to sleep well at lunch time and only needs 10 minutes between 4-5pm, but not every day. I am not sure that she is getting enough sleep and concerned she may be awake for longer periods at night when I don’t hear her. Carmen is not crawling yet; is she simply not tired at night?

This is not uncommon amongst babies of this age. As Carmen is happy to chat to herself at night and doesn’t cry, it would be best to let her settle herself back to sleep. Although your sleep is disturbed by her noise, try to doze through it rather than getting up. If something was really troubling Carmen she would let you know.
There are a few things you can check to see if they are the reason why she is waking herself.
Make sure she is warm enough. If she moves in the night, as babies often do it is best to put her into a 2.5 tog sleeping bag. She will be warm enough in this without any extra coverings unless it is particularly cold at night.
Check your house for any noise such as hot water boilers or central heating systems starting up, which may coincide with her lighter sleep, and so wake her.
At 6am make sure that her room is still dark. A chink of bright light can often cause waking at this time.
Does she have a dirty nappy in the morning? Some babies are not bothered by this but wake themselves when filling their nappy.
If Carmen is going down at 7pm and chatting to herself for 15- 20 minutes before sleeping, she is not falling into a very deep sleep which can cause early morning waking. If she is very tired at 7pm, and you think this may be the cause, then give her an extra 10 minutes for her afternoon sleep, still making sure she is awake by 5pm.
If none of this seems to be the cause, then simply not being tired is the most likely reason. Once Carmen is more mobile she will use more energy.
During the day give her plenty of time on the floor. Play games of “Row, row, row the boat ” together and encourage her to roll from back to front and back again. Place her on her tummy if she is happy that way so she can practise pushing herself up. Let her “stand” whilst you support her.
Try to get outside every day, as fresh air can aid better sleep.
Does Carmen attend any classes? Both swimming and infant gymnastics would give her some exercise even though she is not yet mobile herself. Both these activities are usually adored by babies and will give you both an outing by day.
As Carmen is not distressed at night and contented by day, accept this is just a phase she is going through which will pass, most likely when she is more active in the day.