Baby Sleep: Sudden Onset Night Waking
There are many reasons why a baby might stop sleeping well through the night. Sometimes a baby regresses because of sickness, immunizations or teething, or after a vacation. Another common reason for a baby to wake frequently during the night is because he's lost his pacifier.
Regardless of the reason, sometimes babies need to be retrained to sleep for longer stretches. The problem is that parents often wait for the baby to correct his sleeping habits himself, which typically doesn't happen without some encouragement from mom or dad.
First, your baby should be going to bed semi-awake. He needs to know how to comfort himself to sleep. Once he can do this, he'll be better able to soothe himself to sleep during the brief night awakenings that naturally occur. Don't use a pacifier as part of your baby's falling-asleep routine or he'll need it to nod off in the middle of the night as well.
There are many gentle ways of encouraging better sleep habits that don't involve crying it out. My favorite method for older babies (those that understand what you're saying) is what I call "Ooops, I forgot something." Put your baby to bed semi-awake. Stay in the room for a few moments and then say, "Oops, I forgot something," and step out for a few minutes. As soon as the little guy fusses, go back in the room and comfort your baby. But remember, your baby must go back in the crib awake. Keep up the "Oops, I forgot something" routine and stay out of the room for longer stretches until the baby falls asleep.
Good night, and sweet dreams!