Typical nighttime hiccups for every age group

typical nighttime hiccups for your child

Just as you get it all right and think you are on the track to having a baby who sleeps through the night, you get one disturbed night of sleep and it sets you back big time! The question is: are there typical times that you should expect nighttime hiccups?

Sleep and your newborn baby

In the early days, most babies wake two to four hourly for feeds at night, especially breastfed babies. The night wakings gradually reduce and within a few weeks (usually at around 6 weeks of age) your newborn should start to stretch for one long stretch of five or more hours once at night. Usually the first stretch to develop will be from bedtime to around midnight, as your baby drops the late evening feed first. Don’t be tempted to wake your baby up earlier, to feed, in the hope that it will do away with the 2 am feed – they are usually too tired to feed efficiently and this can cause longer-term sleep problems! 

If you are having sleep problems at this age it is usually one of the following issues:

  • Your newborn may have their day and night muddled up.
  • Newborns can be too sleepy to feed well, fall asleep at the breast and therefore need to feed more frequently
  • At 2-6 weeks, many newborns become more wakeful and hard to settle to sleep, especially during the afternoon and early evening.

4-6 months old 

From birth your baby will slowly and steadily begin to sleep for longer and longer stretches at night and you will have the satisfaction of the occasional longer period of sleep. But just as your baby pieces it together and is almost ‘sleeping through’, he will start to wake more frequently again. This happens as your little one begins to require extra nutrition at night, the milk feeds that used to sustain him are no longer doing so and you have three choices:

  • Your baby needs nutritional support at night, so feed him when he cries if three or more hours have passed. Don’t be tempted to ‘dummy’ him because it will impact on sleep later if habits develop. In this way your little one will go back to sleep and wake again in 4 hours for another feed. This is a good idea if
  • Your baby is less than 17 weeks
  • You or your baby have confirmed allergies (in which case you should delay introducing a formula or solids)
  • Offer a top up bottle at bedtime or if he wakes shortly after going down
  • Introduce solids
  • Give your baby a top up feed of formula or expressed breast milk in the evening. Treat this as a cluster feed just before bedtime
  • Start looking at introducing solids – look at simple single grain and yellow veggies.8 months old

At around 8 months old, your baby will start waking due to separation reasons or plain old habits. At this age your baby is working hard to establish object permanence – the awareness that you exist when he can’t see you. To decrease the effect of this milestone on sleep:

  • Encourage a sleep soother such as the Baby Sense Taglet or dummy that can be used independently.
  • Play separation games during the day – ‘peek a boo’ or hide and seek.
  • Listen to your baby at night before going to him and see if he resettles on his own. If he cries, go to him, give him love and help him settle on his own with a doodoo blanky. Do not be tempted to feed him at night before 2am as this can lead to habits developing. 

Sleep and your baby 6m – 12m

From 6 months, if your baby is on a full solids diet and has learnt to self-sooth, he can be expected to sleep through (10-12 hours without waking for a feed).

After 6 months of age obstacles may presents themselves:

  • If your baby is still waking is may be because he has developed a habit and expects to be resettled in the night in the same way as he falls asleep at bedtime.
  • Alternately night wakings can be due to nutritional needs – your baby now needs specific essential fatty acids for brain development. These nutritional essentials are found in the fats in proteins. So now is the time to introduce protein in the form of dairy, meat, beans and chicken to your baby’s diet.
  • At this age, teething can also disrupt sleep for a few nights. If your baby is definitely teething at night – and make this decision during day light hours when you can actually see the tooth. If there is evidence of teething, use teething powders or painkillers as necessary. Remember though that we tend to blame teething far too quickly and the reality is that it is rarely teething that is the problem and if so only for two to four nights as the tooth erupts.
  • Separation anxiety also affects sleep especially around 8-10 months – as your baby develops object permanence, he may become insecure when you are not around. To decrease the effect of this milestone on sleep:
    • Encourage a sleep soother such as the Baby Sense Taglet or dummy that can be used independently.
    • Play separation games during the day – ‘peek a boo’ or hide and seek.
    • Listen to your baby at night before going to him and see if he resettles on his own. If he cries, go to him, give him love and help him settle on his own with a doodoo blanky. Do not be tempted to feed him at night before 2am as this can lead to habits developing. 

Toddler years 

Toddlers are notorious poor sleepers. Your toddler will wander at night and come through to your room. In fact more toddlers co-sleep than newborns, according to recent research! Toddlers call for their parents at night due to night fears and boundary issues. To address this, leave a night light on and encourage your toddler to use a comfort object instead of coming to you. If your toddler repeatedly wanders into your bed at night you have three choices:

  • Repeatedly walk him back to his bed – while this will be exhausting initially, your toddler will eventually learn that night wanders brings no joy.
  • Let him climb into your bed and share a bed with him
  • Find the sense-able middle ground – have a mattress under your bed that he can pull out and sleep on at night – this means your bed remains your own but your toddler has access to you at night.

By Meg Faure