This is a guest post from our friend Emma Sutherland, a successful mum, author and clinical naturopath.

Every parent will be faced with night waking issues with their babies and there is often a few causes going on at any one time. Long periods of sleep disturbance at night can be exhausting for everyone!

Newborns (up to about 6 weeks) sleep in cycles and frequently wake up throughout the night. However, some older babies who seemed to have normal sleeping patterns, may just, all of a sudden, start waking up again in the middle of the night. In this article, I will discuss the 5 most common reasons why your baby is waking at night.

  1. Sleep association is more commonly known as ‘sleep props’. These are things or routines that babies have associated with their sleep such as a bottle, dummy or breastfeeding. Sometimes babies also look for that pat on their back, a cuddle or snuggle with mum. Others look for movements that they have been used to, which lull them to sleep such as rocking and walking. Some babies need more comfort than others and moving the sleep prop over to a “lovey” or attachment tool such as a blankie or soft toy is ideal.
  2. Developmental milestones can significantly affect babies sleep. The phenomenal rate at which they learn new things, such as learning to roll, crawl, walk and talk, can affect their sleep pattern. Many parents have observed that it’s during the period when babies learn a major skill that they begin to wake up at night again. In a few weeks’ time, you can expect your baby’s sleep to go back to normal.
  3. Teething can be one of the most difficult periods not only for babies, but for parents. Parents are often in a guessing game as to when the tooth will come out, at the same time wondering what their baby is feeling. Just like their reaction to developmental stages, sleep disturbances due to teething will return to normal in about a week or so.  Comfort your bubba, give homeopathics such as Chamomilla or a natural teething powder such as Weleda.
  4. Hunger is one theory that’s closely linked with night-waking. Babies have smaller stomachs hence they need smaller, more frequent feeds. As babies grow, they can go longer without feeding. However, there are some children who, even when a year old still wake at night for a feed. I remember Sophia waking for a bottle until she was 14 months and then as her daytime food intake increased, she stopped night waking.
  5. Changes in the environment – this includes a change to your routine, starting daycare, a relative visiting or a new animal in the house. Talk about the changes, tell the story again and again and reassure your child that everything is ok. Their little world can be rocked with seemingly “small” changes.


There are many other reasons why a baby is waking at night – illness, change of environment, room temperature can also affect how baby sleeps. Study your baby more and observe what new things are happening with them. Most of these, though, may just be a temporary sleep disruption.


About Emma

Emma Sutherland is a successful mum, author and clinical naturopath and her mission in life is to inspire women to get their Mojo back. Her book “50 Foods That Will Change Your Life” is the ultimate guide to healthy eating for women. 

Emma is a regular media commentator and she has been extensively featured in radio and print media. Emma’s online presence is huge and in her popular blog she reveals the latest research information as well as tips and tricks to a life filled with Mojo.

A fully qualified Naturopath, Emma completed four years of training in Herbal Medicine, Nutrition and Homoeopathy as well as a Bachelor of Health Science. She has over 15 years of experience in treating women and children at all stages of life. She has completed postgraduate training in women’s health and is a certified Infant Sleep Consultant. Emma is a registered Naturopath with membership to the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.

Emma has recently launched, Studio You, a holistic health clinic specialising in Women’s Health and Paediatrics.