Night Wakings

My little sweetie has just woken up three times tonight, and it’s barely past midnight. Strange, because he was sleeping for longer stretches these past few nights. What am I doing wrong?

I’m sure I’m not alone with this problem. There are so many reasons to explain why a baby is having a bad night.




  1. He’s HUNGRY. Depending on the baby’s age, this can range from ravenously hungry to just peckish/thirsty.
  2. He’s teething. This can go on forever.
  3. He’s nursing a cold and can’t breathe or has a fever.
  4. He is reacting to the vaccines he had a week earlier.
  5. He’s overtired, because a) you put him to sleep too late in the evening, or b) his nap schedule was out of whack for whatever reason.
  6. He’s overstimulated, because your husband played chase with him all over the house just before bedtime.
  7. His cuddle quota was not met in the daytime. For whatever reason, you did not have time to pay attention to him, give him kisses and hugs, or just hold him. (Dr. Sears would say the solution is to use a carrier.)
  8. He’s uncomfortable because the room is too hot, or too cold, or who knows, maybe because his pajamas have an irritating tag.
  9. He’s going through a developmental milestone and his brain is going on overdrive because he learned how to hold and use a fork at dinner.
  10. He’s having nightmares. Poor little guy!

I’m sure I’m missing a ton of other possible reasons for night wakings, but are these reasons or just excuses?

There are nights when I’m unsure about the path I’m taking. Am I doing the right thing? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…

And then I think about my other mommy friends and their Sleep Stories, and doubt really starts to crumble my defenses. One offered their baby a drink of water. Lo and behold, the baby was disgusted and never woke up again in the middle of the night. Another couple decided to let their baby “cry it out”. He now sleeps 10 hours a night, uninterrupted, and is a very happy child.

Then I take a hold of myself. I would never compare my son with other babies. So I shouldn’t compare my decisions as a mother with others either. Their situations are unique and would not work for my baby. The baby who refused a drink of water and simply rolled over has a very easy-going personality. My son has a strong will. He would laugh in the face of sippy cup. My friends who resorted to let their baby “cry-it-out” were facing so many challenges (cracked nipples, low milk supply, parents returning to work and unable to handle the sleep deprivation). I can’t judge their decision, and I know they don’t judge me either.

So the reasons above are not excuses. They are valid. One has to respect the fact that our babies face a lot of challenges. They are capable of great things, but we shouldn’t pressure our babies because we’re feeling insecure as parents. It all works out in the end, right?

Hey, my little guy is still sleeping… I think it might be a good night after all.


Filed under Basic Tips, My Personal Experience, Putting Baby to Sleep

4 responses to “Night Wakings

  1. I have been (and still am much of the time) in this boat and I really feel for you. It’s so hard not knowing what’s going on and what to do about it.

    “So I shouldn’t compare my decisions as a mother with others either.” This is the advice I’ve been giving myself as well. When we hear a hundred different things from a hundred different people, all we can really do is trust our instincts, right? After all, no one knows your baby better than you do.

    I wish you the best!

  2. CJ

    The wakeful baby seems like a never-ending challenge, even though my ‘baby’ is now a toddler. I long gave up trying to rationalize why she was up. I think that dull acceptance is the only way that I can get through the next day. However, I must say that I love the title of your blog. As my child woke up every two hours this weekend (and hollered) I hoped desperately for the angels of baby sleep to flutter above her. Thanks for giving me this image. If understanding why she’s awake doesn’t help, then at least imagining a sleep angel somewhere in the world makes me feel a great deal better.

    • Aw thank you so much! That means a lot to me.
      Yes, I’m always trying to figure out what’s wrong, but mostly I too just grimly accept the fact that babies/toddlers wake up at night. And when they do, they want their moms. I try to see that as a compliment.

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