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Sleep in Infancy

Posted Aug 12th, 2009 at 9:34 am by

Dear Dr. Madansky,

My 9 month old son was sleeping through the night, but now he started waking up again in the middle of the night.  I wonder if he’s hungry or if he is scared..how should I handle this?

Dear Parent,

All infants awaken in the night briefly, usually after a dreaming period, but we aren’t aware of it because they go back to sleep quietly and by themselves.  Babies of your son’s age begin to protest when they awaken because they have begun to develop “object permanence” – that is, they know that when someone or something is out of sight, it still exists.  So now when your son wakes up, instead of going back to sleep, he thinks, “Wait a minute, where am I, where’s mommy?”  This is part of normal development. The best thing to do is not to feed or play with him…. check to make sure he is OK and then do whatever you did at bedtime to help him back to sleep.  “You’re fine, night night.”

Warm regards,

Deborah Madansky, MD