Deciphering Night Wakings
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
The truth is that you’re never going to prevent nighttime wake ups. What we can control is how we respond to them.
How to Interpret Baby's Night Wakings
A baby's tired versus hunger cry can be very similar, especially during a night waking. But often the first line of response from a parent is always to feed the baby. As a result, feed-to-sleep association easily develops. Try to be discriminating in responding to your baby’s cry as early as possible so you can determine how to appropriately respond.
This is not to say you cannot feed on demand. But, take into consideration if you are feeding your baby due to true hunger, or because it can be the quickest and easiest solution to getting baby back to sleep. Hourly night feeds is when a baby has a snack and snooze pattern that often leads to a mother being both exhausted and frustrated. This pattern severely fragments night sleep and interferes with your baby from developing a normal sleep rhythm.
What To Do During Night Wakings
What I always say to my clients is to listen, think, then respond.
If you hear quiet whining or on/off weak cries, it's possible your baby is simply going between sleep cycles and may possibly slide right into the next cycle if left uninterrupted. But often (new) parents rush to baby's crib side at the faintest of cries, thinking they need to rescue their babies. By doing so, your baby becomes accustomed to your forever presence and may begin to expect you to be there at the end of every sleep cycle to put them back to sleep.
Rest assured, if your baby is truly hungry, their hunger cry will undeniably demand your attention. And when you hear that type of cry, it may very well be time for a feed. Before doing so, I would still encourage you to first listen, think, then respond.