Is this normal? My baby waking up every hour after sleeping for 4-5 hours at night

My baby sleeps for 4-5 hour stretch and then wake up every hour after. Help!

As modern parents, we are child-centered, expert-guided, and have the world's knowledge within our fingertips: Google.

We pretty much memorised the baby 'Dos and Don'ts', but when it comes to baby sleep, it's hard to know what the ideal solution is. Precisely because every baby is different, what worked so well on others may not work as well on our baby. 

Some babies are just good sleepers. And some are not. Let's accept that part of it is really down to luck. 

Question: My baby (12 weeks old) is waking up every hour after sleeping for 4-5 hours at night. She goes to bed at 9 pm and will sleep for 4-5 hours, before waking up at 2 am. She takes a full feed and goes back to sleep. But she wakes up an hour later. I'll put her back to sleep again, but she'll wake up again after sleeping for an hour. Is this normal?

Read on to see what other moms' experiences are like in this situation. 

Tried everything

"We know that him waking up is not because of hunger. We’ve tried everything and cannot figure out how to keep him asleep through to 5 am! We’ve found that picking him up and holding him is the only thing that will keep him calm at that time. He naps well in the day and is being swaddled to sleep"

Give a pacifier 

"I tried giving my son a pacifier at some of his night time wake-ups because he was waking about 2 hours after his last feed and not full-on hungry crying, just sort of fussy, and not finishing his bottle. He went right back to sleep when I gave him the pacifier. Yes, it was a pain to keep sticking the pacifier in his mouth when he dropped it after a couple of minutes, but eventually, he went back to a night of deep sleep. Now he seems to go a bit longer between feedings on most nights."

Manage sleep associations 

"If you nurse, rock, etc to put baby to sleep, they'll wake in between sleep cycles and they will need the same action from you to fall back asleep. We started laying our boy down awake after a routine so he would learn that bedtime is coming."

Sleep cycle

According to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, author of "Why do babies wake up at night?", as babies move from one stage of sleep to another during the night, they transition. In that transition, many babies will awaken. Sometimes they call out or cry. Sometimes they wake hungry. It’s normal for babies (and adults) to wake 4-5 times a night during these times of transition. The trick for parents is to do less and less as each month of infancy unfolds during these awakenings so that sleeping through the night becomes a reality. 

Moved baby to another room

"We did sleep training when we moved him out. I think maybe he didn't hear us. He didn't wake up as much too when we moved him out."

Improve napping routine

By making sure awake and nap times are age-appropriate, you can avoid baby having a build-up of overtiredness from not napping very well in the day. 

My little one used to catnap from birth until she was 5 months old. She would wake up every 45 minutes, and it would be near impossible to put her back to sleep. At 4 months old, she would have 3 x 45-minute naps in the day. By 5 pm, she would be so fussy and her overtiredness would impact the quality of her night sleep.

I thought I was monitoring her awake time well, but it turned out that I've been monitoring her awake time like when she was still a newborn! My little one wasn't having enough awake time between naps to allow her to be tired enough to sleep for longer than one sleep cycle. That's why she refused to sleep for longer, no matter what we tried. What a revelation when I found out about this! Her fussiness during witching hour has also dramatically decreased after we adjusted her nap routine. 


So to answer the very question of this blog post, the answer is yes! It is normal to have a baby waking up every hour of the night. Definitely not ideal, but many parents are like you experiencing a similar thing. My advice is: don't take the baby sleeping rules too seriously. I've learned that negative sleep associations aren't the end of the world. We parents just do the best that we can. 

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Emma said:

That’s why picking the right HWL method is crucial. If you follow the right pattern you’re able to teach a baby to fall back asleep without any help and that’s what matters. We’re not sleeping through the night as well, right?! I can recommend HWL method from – it’s no CIO method so no harm, no guilt, just positives!


Juli said:

I’ve been using HWL method as well and it worked perfectly. But know we’re having kind of 18-months regression I think. I’ve purchased Susan’s book for sleep training toddlers al well and we’re going to try it out. But for now – Brian is waking after 5 hours fully energized. I so don’t understand that!


Maria said:

I would guess that the routine is not perfect. Or baby doesn’t have enough activity during the day… I’ve had a problem with early waking and it was also Susan Urban that helped me. And it was the routine being a problem.


Sue said:

Guys I think the whole reason for this article is to stop making mums feel bad for not having perfect sleeping babies…..

Sleep is natural and different for everyone.
We shouldn’t have to watch for perfect wake windows, have black out curtains, 21 degree room, weighted sleep sacks, fart 5 times and tap the window 3 before we feel like we have " done the right thing".

I’ve had 4 children all different. I did the same thing with each. Some slept well and others didn’t.

We need to stop making mums feel like what they are doing isn’t enough or “perfect”.

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