5 Month Old Waking Every Hour?
What You NEED to Know
Is your 5 month old waking every hour at night? Or perhaps you’re dealing with some other major sleep trouble at this age, like refusing naps or seeming overstimulated.
If your baby is three to five months old and you answered “yes –– and I really need some help,” I’m not surprised. In fact, most parents that reach out to me do so when their baby is around this age.
So what exactly is it about a 5 month old baby that causes them to wake up every hour? Well…A LOT! And some of the reasons may actually surprise you. Here’s what’s really going on with your baby and her sleep issues.
Five Months: Adult-Like Sleep Stages
Somewhere between the age of three and five months, a baby starts to develop adult-like sleep stages. This means he or she should be able to self-soothe and easily fall back asleep again at night without the need for sleep props.
Your baby, and you, will cycle through periods of light waking during the night. A baby who has established healthy sleep habits will fall back asleep. A baby who hasn’t will call out for help. That means you!
The result for you both is frequent night wakings or the inability to get to sleep at all without all the tricks we tend to pick up from friends and family: rocking, feeding when not hungry, and so on.
The problem is that a habit is just that: something repeated many times that the brain and body both get used to. So if this issue isn’t resolved fast, your baby’s wakings will likely continue well beyond five months.
By the way, your five month old’s wakings may not always be hourly. Your baby may sometimes skip a few sleep cycles and wake every two hours instead of every hour.
But make no mistake: unless you address them, your baby’s unresolved sleep troubles are highly likely to continue.
Naptime Issues Can Start at The Five-Month Mark
Another reason for the five-month mark for seeking help is that by now, most infants are sleeping less than they did as newborns. This means a five-month-old baby may now also start giving you trouble at naptime. She hasn’t learned to connect one sleep cycle to the next without fully rousing and calling for you.
If your baby is reliant on your help to fall asleep, she may not know how to transition to the next sleep cycle without your help. Here’s an example:
Your baby may only take 30–45-minute naps, which happens to be one sleep cycle. At the end of the cycle your baby calls out for your help. Unfortunately, as soon as she sees you, she’s more wakeful than she should be at the end of the sleep cycle. So she doesn’t fall back to sleep.
This can lead to a cycle of very short, poor-quality naps. Because she’s already overtired, your baby’s sleep quality is likely to be worse at night, too. And now you’re both caught in a vicious cycle.
It’s Not a Phase
I’d absolutely love to be able to tell you that this is all a phase. (Don’t I wish! I’ll bet you do, too.)
I’m sorry. It isn’t. It’s a habit, and by three to five months, hourly (or frequent) wakings are ingrained. Actually, the cycle of sleep-cry-stimulation-poor sleep will usually begin around three months, then gets slowly worse.
What’s confusing is that your baby may have been sleeping great nearly anywhere you took him prior to this. Nothing seemed to bother him; he could sleep through a marching parade or driving in heavy traffic. But now he’s out of his newborn frequent sleeping stage, and he’s also becoming more conscious of the world around him.
Suddenly, nothing that helped your baby get to sleep before is working anymore. He has become not just soothed by, but dependent upon baby sleep associations to fall asleep at all.
…And By 5 Months, You’re Fed Up! What Now?
After helping hundreds of parents with their infant’s sleep issues, I can tell you that the answer is clear. The best thing you can do for your baby’s sleep is to teach them how to fall asleep on their own. This way, when they wake in between sleep cycles, they are able to get themselves back to sleep.
And the best part? Once your baby learns this skill, it sticks with them no matter what developmental milestone they’re going through. (And there are a bunch coming up! The first one to two years are full of milestones.)
In fact, babies that have independent sleep skills breeze right through things like regression, teething, illness, travel, and any other big changes.
Sleep, Baby, Sleep to the Rescue!
Not sure where to get started? Contact me for one-on-one help. I’ll guide you through the entire gentle, reliable process so you can all get more shuteye.
Helping your baby learn to fall asleep on their own and master independent sleep is one of my specialties. I’ve focused on it for years because I went through it. Now I want to help you and your own little bundle of wakefulness, too.
Don’t waste another night’s sleep. Check out my Sleep Packages. Remember: my methods are gentle but very effective, with an almost 100% success rate.
In the meantime, have a look at what others are saying about how I helped their babies learn to sleep through the night. Sweet dreams!