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Babies' sleep patterns can be affected by many things, including illness, vacations, changes in routine and advances in development. Many infants who were great sleepers as small babies start waking up again during the night between 6 and 10 months of age. Researchers aren't exactly sure why this happens, but many believe there may be some physiological or developmental cause.
If your baby suddenly starts waking up during the night, step back and evaluate the situation. Has something in your baby's environment been altered? Has the weather changed so that your baby may be too cold during the night? Have the neighbors started leaving on an outdoor light that's shining into your baby's bedroom? Try to fix the problem. Dress him more warmly or put up a room-darkening shade. If street noise is the problem, try using a white noise machine or a fan in his room to drown it out.
Next, consider whether the sudden nighttime wakings are following a period of illness, a vacation or another change in your baby's routine. Or do they coincide with a developmental milestone? If your baby has learned a new motor skill, he may want to try it out every chance he gets — even in the middle of the night. Some babies get caught up in pulling themselves up but then can't get themselves back down without help. Recent research has shown that sleep may also be disrupted in the few weeks before a major developmental leap, such as walking.
The best way to deal with sudden nighttime wakings is to stick with what worked before. Don't suddenly change your baby's bedtime routine or the way you get your baby to sleep. Also, don't develop a bedtime habit that you won't want to stick to. Rocking your baby to sleep for a night or two may work in the short run, but you'll probably have to do it the next night and probably for the next month or more. Remain consistent in what you do for several weeks. This will help your baby return to sleeping through the night once the temporary issue is resolved.