What to do When Your Baby Starts Waking Up at Night

Joshua Sparrow on "Touch Points" and soothing your baby back to sleep after they've woken up
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What to do When Your Baby Starts Waking Up at Night

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There are times in development called touch points, when one part of the child's behavior falls apart. When a new step is about to occur. And sleep is one of them most vulnerable areas of functioning for a child to these touch points. So often parents will notice that suddenly a child who is doing pretty well in sleeping through the night begins to be waking up more often. So it reassuring to know that this is going to happen and then it won't last forever, but it's important not to reinforce those time of being awake during the night in these periods. So when your child wakes up during the night, do as little as you can cause the more you do the more your child will come to expect this and the longer the waking periods will be. So if your child is living separately, go into the room, you can wait for five minutes, you don't have to let the child cry it out that just not tolerable for most parents. See and go into the room, you can talk to them quietly, put your hand on the child and gently pat the child. If you take the child out of the crib and rock, and sooth and hold and walk around, that's really a whole lot. You are doing all of the settling and the calming for the child and you maybe reinforcing those moments of being awake. So try to leave some of the settling down to sleep for your child that's what the learning is about for him or her.


Joshua Sparrow on "Touch Points" and soothing your baby back to sleep after they've woken up

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Expert Bio

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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author brazeltontouchpoints.org

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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