As a mother of a 9 month old, I have become happily accustomed to sleepless nights. My son consistently falls asleep around 7:00 pm and awakes around 6:30 am, but he requires nighttime parenting to fall asleep and to stay asleep. After he falls asleep, he wakes up every hour and half to two hours throughout the night. What is causing him to wake up so often? Since he does not have an underlying medical issue, here are the possible physical and developmental reasons for his frequent awakenings:
1. Teething. My son has been teething since he was 3 months old, and he is still teething. Signs of teething include excessive drool and fussiness. There are over the counter pain relievers such as Orajel and Highlands Teething Tablets; but I have chosen not to give them to my son. Orajel contains benzocaine which is a numbing agent that could cause serious complications; and I discontinued using Highlands Teething Tablets after they were recalled by the FDA on September 30th, 2016.
2. Separation Anxiety. At 3 months old, my son began exhibiting signs of separation anxiety. Our pediatrician confirmed that separation anxiety can begin as early as 3 months and will peak around 8 months--which was right on target!
3. Developmental Milestones. At 3 months, my son began trying to sit up. Soon after, he began to practice rolling over, sitting up, crawling, kneeling, etc. Babies practice new skills even in their sleep, causing them to wake up frequently.
Since my son was born, I have come across many sleep training websites. After reading through them, they all agree that there are two main reasons why babies do not fall asleep on their own and why do not stay asleep throughout the night. The first reason is because of a baby's inability to self sooth; and the second reason is because of a baby's dependency on negative sleep associations. Here are my issues with sleep training:
1. They may contradict a mother's intuitive responses.
2. They are not individualized to each baby's needs.
3. Teething, separation anxiety and developmental milestones are not considered.
4. For many babies, nighttime parenting is essential. Many babies need to be parented to sleep and parented back to sleep.
If there are no underlying medical issues; teething, separation anxiety, and developmental milestones may be some of the reasons contributing to a baby's frequent nighttime awakenings.