Maria’s last trimester of pregnancy was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. She felt big and heavy and was waking so often at night. She was wondering if these frequent night wakings were her body’s way of preparing her for sleepless nights once her baby arrived.
The truth is that to stay asleep through our sleep cycles, whether we are adults or babies, we need to be comfortable. The heaviness of the last few weeks of pregnancy is not comfortable and results in night wakings.
When your baby comes into her light sleep state, she is more likely to wake if she is uncomfortable in any way.
In order to expect a good night’s sleep, you need to ensure that your baby is comfortable by ruling out these common causes of discomfort:
- Soiled Nappy: When your baby’s nappy is soiled she is significantly more likely to wake. By four months old many babies have stopped ‘pooing’ at night and have a regular time during the day when they pass a stool. If your baby has woken with a dirty nappy, change the nappy. With the advent of good quality nappies, most babies are not disturbed by wet nappies as nowadays, nappies can hold significantly more urine so if your baby wakes at night it is not likely to be due to a wet nappy.
- Dry skin: Your baby’s skin plays a vital part in feeling comfortable as it is the largest sense organ in her body. If your baby’s skin is very dry or she suffers from eczema, be sure to use a good quality moisturizer.
- Illness and teething: If your baby is teething she is likely to wake due to the discomfort of her teeth pushing through the gums. However, it is important to note that teething is generally very short lived – only a night or two when the tooth is breaking through the gums. Illness such as ear infections, a fever or a snotty nose may make your baby wake more often at night. Your doctor can recommend some medication to help her feel more comfortable.
- Room temperature: Many night wakings, especially those in the early hours of the morning are due to your baby feeling chilly. If your baby kicks off her blankets she is likely to become chilled at around 3 or 4am. To prevent this, use a baby sleeping bag which limits the risk of her becoming cold. If you live in a very warm climate, use a room thermometer to guide you as to when to cool the room. To cool your baby’s room, use a fan or air conditioner. Both of these options provide white noise too, which helps your baby to sleep deeper too.
Help your baby to be comfortable at night by ruling out a dirty nappy, illness and teething, dry skin and waking due to feeling cold.