My child keeps waking up - what can I do? (9 to 24 months) 

Health visitor Penny Lazell talks about some of the things you can do if your child keeps waking up during the night.

Find out more about babies and sleep

Transcript of My child keeps waking up - what can I do? (9 to 24 months)

My child keeps waking up – what can I do?   Penny: By about six months of age, it's reasonable to expect that most babies will be sleeping for long periods through the night. But, actually, 50% of children up to the age of five may well have night wakings.   There are many reasons your baby may be waking in the night. They might be hungry, they might be teething, they may be unwell, they may be afraid of the dark, they may be having nightmares or they may be too hot or too cold.   If you think your baby is hungry, you could give them a later feed or a little snack before bedtime. Something like a glass of milk or a banana actually helps them go to sleep.   If you think your baby or child is afraid of the dark, you could introduce a night-light either in the hall or in their bedroom. Or give them something that smells of you, a little cuddly toy or a teddy.   If you can't find any obvious cause for your baby waking up, it could be that they might be lonely, so moving them in with a sibling might work or rescheduling their bedtimes, which is waking them 15 minutes before they would normally wake in the night and then resettling them back to sleep. And this changes their body clock.   To teach your baby to fall asleep by themselves, the most important thing is a good bedtime routine and allowing them to self-settle. So get them into their cot, tuck them in and then leave the room for five minutes. Return after five minutes and then settle them down again.   Gradually start extending this time until you get to about 10 minutes. Then start returning every 10 minutes until they fall asleep. They will fall asleep, even though this might take a long time, but usually you will have result within about two weeks.    


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Jsaul said on 24 September 2014

I was looking for tips to have my child sleep but I am sorry to say that this is not helping at all. I am surprised that the NHS is suggesting practices that are unhealthy. Indeed, research has shown that leaving a child to cry can hinder brain development. I really hope that you will withdraw this and other pages advocating for this practice and replace by something more responsible. After all, you are the health institution, sustained by our taxes, and you need to be accountable to us all.

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Biliboi said on 22 September 2014

All the evidence shows that babies left to cry it out have increased levels of cortisol in their systems. They do not learn to self sooth by having their basic physiological needs ignored I.e. touch, comfort, love. They stop crying because they learn that no one comes when they are distressed. Learned helpnessness.

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Rebecca Mottram said on 22 September 2014

I agree with Juliet . We are told to leave belies to cry, but this is not universal across cultures. The majority of cultures do not do this, and as Juliet suggests, there is an abundance of evidence against controlled crying. If your baby was to cry in the daytime, you leave it for 10 minutes before going to it? Of course not. What is the difference at night? Just because baby doesn't ned a nappy change, isn't hungry , cold or too hot, doesn't mean he or she doesn't need you. I prefer to sleep with someone there, to ate e feel safe and secure. There is no reason not to have your baby in your room with you as a way to offer this reassurance. And why not cuddle your baby to sleep? They won't be babies for long but in the first 18 months, this is when they learn the its about how much they can trust you. Why not give them the best start by showing them you are there for them, as they learn the important process of resting and sleeping. Please don't leave your baby to cry, babies cry for a reason and they ALWAYS need you to help them through it.

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merren said on 22 September 2014

I absolutely agree with Julietho. I consider controlled crying as neglect. Firstly - there are different methods. Secondly-the child that small genuinely need their parents and is not trying to manipulate them as some people would suggest.
Slapping the children was also a norm in the past. I hope nhs will look into a cc subject urgently and change this advice.

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Julietho said on 22 September 2014

Why does the nhs still advocate controlled crying when there is so much research to show how damaging it can be? Babies rely on their parents to meet their needs as they are unable to themselves. Would it be acceptable to leave an elderly person who is unable to look after themselves to cry? Why is it accepted that this is ok for a baby.
I urge parents watching this video to research and make an informed choice.

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