7/2/09

Night Wakings - Causes and Solutions


It is normal for a baby (that no longer needs to wake for feeds) to wake up for a short period of time several times a night. These arousals should only last for a few seconds and at most a few minutes. The problem occurs when these awakenings become more recurrent, last for more than just a few minutes at a time, or when baby is unable to get back to sleep by himself without outside help.

Here are some of the main causes of night wakings along with some solutions:
  • Baby needs to eat. Young babies need to eat often day and night. If he is older he may be in a growth spurt, didn't eat much during the day due to teething or he simply isn't taking in enough during the day to meet his body's growing needs (see below). Also be sure to double check your milk supply if you are nursing to make sure it isn't decreasing.
  • Baby feels hungry because he has a habit of eating at night but is capable of having his nutritional requirements met during the day.
  • Baby is not able to replicate the conditions that he went to sleep with (see sleep props/associations) and is therefore unable to fall back to sleep by himself during sleep transitions and other times he wakes. Think pacifier, eating to sleep, rocking to sleep and being held to sleep. See Sleep Training in the blog index for ideas on how to get your baby to sleep better (this can be used for babies of any age depending on what method you are using and what your personal preferences are).
  • Baby does not fall asleep by himself at bedtime. This is similar to above but it is really important so I'm mentioning it here. Most babies that can easily and fairly quickly put themselves to sleep at bedtime for at least a couple weeks time will begin to sleep through the night on the own (if they're a reasonable age, of course). Even babies that have previously been waking to eat are much more likely to start sleeping through the night on their own without further sleep training if they can just get themselves to sleep at bedtime first. See. I told you this was big!
  • Your child is learning a new skill. Children practice new skills (even when they can't quite do the skills yet) before they fall asleep and even in their sleep. Obviously if you're trying to crawl or walk when you should be sleeping it can cause some disruptions :)
  • Your child is uncomfortable.
    • Is his clothing itchy?
    • Does he have eczema? Talk to your doctor about getting something to help if lotion doesn't fix the problem.
    • Is his mattress uncomfortable? I suggest buying the best mattress you can afford and preferably a hypoallergenic one. If you are using a pack 'n play as a crib you can buy padded sheets and even put additional blankets for padding under the sheets (make sure it is SAFE).
    • Is baby too hot or too cold? See Getting the Right Temperature.
    • Is he in pain? **Does your young baby have gas? If you think this is the case, burp your baby, help him calm down and then set him down to try and sleep again. **Is an older baby teething? **Is baby sick? **Does he have acid reflux? **Does he have a diaper rash? ** I've noticed that some things that don't bother my son too much when he's awake (like teething) will be a bit more bothersome when he is trying to sleep since he doesn't have other things to take his mind off of the pain. You can all probably relate with this when you're trying to go to sleep and you notice your sore neck or back for the first time.
    • Does he have a wet diaper? Some children are more sensitive than others and do better with diapers that are extra absorptive like huggies supreme. These unfortunately usually cost more. I would first try the next size up to see if this works.
    • Has his diaper leaked? This could be from too much liquid before bed or in the middle of the night, ill fitting diapers (try a different size or brand), and a baby who sleeps in positions that make the diaper leak even when it isn't very full (I've had a child who has done this- frustrating!--try tight fitting clothing to see if it will help). You may want to try using night time diapers, double diapers, a diaper soaker or diaper insert if you have a heavy wetter.
    • Does he have a dirty diaper? If he has a dirty diaper you obviously need to change it. Keeping with a eat/activity/sleep routine usually helps reduce dirty diapers during sleep times. Check out the post about sleep and poop for more on this.
    • Is his tummy upset from something in mom's diet if she is breastfeeding or new solid foods that have been introduced? If your baby is formula fed he may be constipated (uncommon with breastfeeding).
  • Your child may have separation anxiety.
  • Your child has a disrupted sleep routine. A disrupted routine could include something that happened the current day or the even the night or day before. While some children don't mind a few disruptions, other children are very effected by them.
  • Your child has an inconsistent or nonexistent sleep routine. A child that has an inconsistent or nonexistent routine does not have consistent internal rhythms to help him know when he should be sleeping and for how long. See Why have a schedule/routine?
  • There is no consistent pre-sleep routine. Research has shown this to help children fall asleep as well as stay asleep.
  • You are starting to let naps slip. When young children do get sufficient day time sleep, they often start to have increased night wakings.
  • Your child has too much daytime sleep. This may be true even if your child seems to need this day time sleep. Sometimes you have to slowly wean your chlid from some long naps and increase waketime a bit and night sleep will improve. It is a bit opposite from the adive I often give (put your tired baby bed to bed, people!), but it does happen. It seems to be happening more lately as more and more parents are educated about the overtired child and try to put their baby to sleep after an appropriate waketime. As their baby gets older some of these parents, in their attemp to keep their child well rested, end up not introducing adequate waketime into their child's day and night time sleep suffers.
  • Your child may be going to bed too late. Often moving bedtime early by 30 minutes or so will suddenly stop or decrease night time waking.
  • Your child's last nap starts or ends too late pushing bedtime too late. Yes, even if the waketime prior is good, children may wake up crying shortly after going to bed if their bedtime is too late. It messes with their sleep rhythm.
  • A child that was previously waking and playing quietly in the middle of the night may now want mom and dad's company. This kind of "happy and playful" awakening is possibly due to a child being put down to sleep at night longer than he has the capability of sleeping (see The "Too Long in Bed Problem" and Nightly Sleep Phase) or due to mom and dad reinforcing the waking habit by going in to their child, even if they do not play with him (see habitual wakings).
  • Are you reinforcing the waking by frantically rushing into your child when he wakes up and making a big deal out of the situation rather than calmly walking into him and quickly helping him go back to sleep? (see attitude is everything)

Whatever you do, do not play with or entertain your child when he wakes at night . This will reinforce the waking habit.



RELATED POSTS:
When will my child start sleeping through the night?
How long do I let my child go without a feed at night?

55 comments :

  1. Hi Rachel.
    Firstly, thank you so much for all the effort that you have put into this blog - it has been so very helpful to me.
    Hopefully, I can ask you for some advice?
    I have 6 month old twins. About 4 weeks ago I tried using PUPD and sush pat to improve their sleeping. It has been very successful and my girls are now able to sleep for most of the night. However, every couple of nights one of them (not always the same twin) will be awake for 2 or 3 hours - wide awake. They both roll themselves onto their tummies when they sleep. When they wake they lift their bodies up on their arms and are looking around and straining to see what is going on (which is nothing as it is dark and we are all in bed). I initially leave them as they are not crying but then they keep wobbling and banging their heads on the side of the cot - and as this repeats I can't belive it doesn't hurt. If I pick them up they don't want to be held as they want to wriggle. If I put them down they start straining and grizzling again. Not really sure want I can do to make them sleepy again?? Can you offer any suggestions - I have had a taste of what it is like when your baby sleeps through the night - I am so close yet so far!
    Many thanks.
    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  2. catherinechurchill,
    I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until now! You may already be finished with this issue.

    My guess is that they are getting excited about developmental skills and trying to practice them. My 11 month old is doing that right now too. He has taken at least an hour to fall asleep each night the last week regardless of how tired he is (he's just starting to crawl). The novelty will wear off over time. Sometimes going in and laying them down, saying "time to go to do" (or whatever) works, but not always, it depends on the baby. As for the head hitting, don't worry too much. Most babies do it some time or another. You could try out some crib bumpers to help with this.

    If it keeps on for a really long time, look at your daily routine to make sure there isn't too little or too much day sleep.

    Good luck! Glad you have found this site helpful!
    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Rachel,

    Not sure how much info you need to help me solve this one but I'm trying to figure out why my 16 week old wakes up at completely different times during the night. He usually wakes once for a feeding but it's never at the same time.

    I find it frustrating that I never know what time I will be woken up during the night and I'm also frustrated that at his age, he cannot go for longer stretches more consistently.

    During the day he has 2-3 naps totalling 4-5 hrs. At night, we do the same bedtime routine starting at 8 and he falls asleep on his own around 9 (usually with some crying beforehand). I've posted about his sleep schedule before and you had suggested an earlier bedtime which we will try.

    Two side questions: 1) he sleeps in a mini crib where his arms can touch the sides; do you think this would have an impact on his sleep? 2) whether it's naps or nighttime sleep, he usually wakes up crying; is that normal?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    Cheers,
    Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
  4. Carolyn,
    Around this age many babies will start to wake up happy. It takes some later than others to wake up happy. Sometimes they wake crying because they are overtired (doesn't seem to be the case, though), they wake starving or they are have not yet learned to be happy by themselves in their own bed. Sometimes they just go through phases (for example, see the wonder week post) where they wake crying.

    Yes, work on that earlier bedtime.

    So he is waking just once at night to eat? But at different times? If i'm understanding this right, this is normal for some kids. They never get a consistent waking time. My second son was like this.

    I doubt the mini crib would cause problems at this age. I can't 100% say it isn't an issue, just that it is unlikely. Is this crib less comfortable than a normal crib? Is there a thinner mattress? There are some kids who will be impacted by this.

    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The crib mattress is pretty thick and I think comfortable. I was just wondering if his hands hit the sides causing him to wake during sleep. We'll have to upgrade to a regular crib soon anyway.

      Thanks so much for your help! You're so great at this!

      Cheers,
      Carolyn

      Delete
  5. Carolyn,
    Couldn't hurt to try having him sleep in a bigger bed one day to see if it makes a difference. Maybe someone has something you could borrow? Even the ground (obviously with nothing dangerous nearby) can work sometimes :)

    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Rachel,
    Wow your blog has a been a lifesaver for me. I'm in Colombia with my 6 month old baby and no access to books on sleep! So a huge thank you first of all.

    I actually have two questions. My baby just turned 6 months, she's now in the habit of feeding 2x a night around 1:30 & 4:30. Though she wakes at other times too (sometimes 3-4 times total in a night.) She actually goes down awake but drowsy just fine, but 3 out 5 times when she wakes during a sleep transition (my guess) she needs to be picked up to get back to sleep.

    So the feeding question first: I think it's the 2nd feeding I should work to cut out, right? But I'm not sure how to do this and I can't find any posts on night weening your blog. If she's used to feeding at 1:30, but wakes at, say, 1:15, should I postpone it by 15min? And if she goes back to sleep because I postpone and doesn't wake up until, say 2:30, is that okay? Or should I be trying to get her to feed/feel hungry at a scheduled time every night to make it more consistent?

    My other question is that I really want to try non-cry methods first for her night wakings. I'm thinking about trying the 6 step plan for babies in cribs you describe in one of your posts, only our baby is in a bed right next to us. I usually wait to see if she can put herself back to sleep, but sometimes I wonder if I got in there right away with a song or something I could avoid the crying and she would go back w/o needing to be picked up. My fear is that even if that works (I have yet to try it) I would just be creating another dependency. Also, she doesn't seem to wake habitually, but at random times in the night. What are you thoughts? Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  7. One more thing I forgot to ask...should I work on the weening and night waking at the same time? Since her wakings are random I'm kind of estimating her night feed times. And they change if she wakes at 1 (which is not 1:30!) and it takes me until 1:15 to get her back to sleep...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Molly,
    Try putting her down more asleep at night to see if it helps with the later night wakings. As for interveneing right away before she wakes, this does work well with some babies. they get into a habit of sleeping without the waking and no longer wake up. But it can backfire with some kids. I would try it for several days and see what happens. If it seems to not be working, try another method.

    I would work on dropping that first feeding. You can decrease how much you give during it or move it slowly later and later, maybe 15 minutes ever few days. Only feed if it has been to that certain time or later. Yes, I need to do a post on this, it is partly done and I have yet to finish it. Sorry.

    I would work on the weaning and then move to the night waking, except for maybe getting her to go to sleep less drowsy at bedtime. Do that right away too.

    Glad the blog is helpful!

    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  9. Please help!
    My 8 week old boy keeps on waking up t 3:45am (give or take 5min) every night. he starts of making grunting and pushing noises which escilate to screaming if I dont come. I tried feeding but he fusses and pushes gas during the feed and ony breast feeds for 10min.
    it can take up to an hour to settkehim with eather a soother and p.u/pd. sometimes he does go back to sleep to wake up at 7/7:30 for his feeding, but other times he wakes every hour to be comforted.
    He is on the EASY routine so goes to sleep at 8-8:30 and df 1030pm.
    he eatsevery 2-3 hours 20-30min.
    not sure what to do?

    kathy

    ReplyDelete
  10. kittykat,
    He very well may still need to eat at 3:45 even if he is fussy then. My guess is that he is fussy because of his age. He is in the newborn fussy period. It often peaks around this age and decreases from there. I would keep doing what you are doing and try to find something that soothes him well. Maybe try a swing if you haven't alreayd so you can get some sleep too. Try to make sure you burp well (but don't go overboard, that wono't help) and get his gas out well (I like to bicycle legs) during the day and especially before bed.

    Sorry, maybe not what you wanted to hear :)

    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Rachel,

    I just needed reassurance that I'm not missing something.
    I'm wondering if I should be waking him up and burping him at his dream feed to prevent gas (as this feed is done with a bottle...I can't get him to dream feed via breast).
    Thanks for all the info on the blog...its nice to have someone to share your fears with.

    Keep up the good work:)
    Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  12. kittykat,
    I would try burping at the df. Just burp when most of the feed is over rather than right at the end of it so you have time to soothe baby back to sleep again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am new to this blog and love the support everyone is lending. I have had ups and downs with sleep. My 4 1/2 month old use to sleep seven hours straight, but then started waking every 2 hours or less. I had been able to get him back to waking two times in the evening and have found if he puts himself to sleep he does much better with less frequent night wakenings. Last night my husband layed our child down awake and he cried for 20 minutes. He comforted him and then out little cried another 20 minutes and then fell asleep. This was the first night in a long time he only awake once. Do you see anything wrong with my husbands strategy? Should I be trying something else? I felt horrible letting him CIO but I don't want to go against my husbands opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacey,
      Yes, most kids will do much better at sleeping through the night if they put themselves to sleep initially--especially once they learn to do this well.

      Sounds like your husband is using a combo of healthy sleep habits and ferber. Most people start this at 4-6 months or later. And that is with the possibility of lots of crying. I think it is fine, but of course you two will have to make the decision for sure. There is a cio post that might be useful for you:

      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2009/06/sleep-training.html

      Delete
  14. Hi Rachel, like everyone else - thanks for the blog! It's a treasure trove! So - I have a 9 month old who has never ever slept through the night! The best we have ever managed is bedtime at 7pm, dreamfeed at 10:30, wakes for feed between 2:30 and 3:30, wake for day at 6:30 - this has happened maybe a handful of times. It's only been in the last 2 months that we've managed to get down to 1 feed a night (apart from the dreamfeed) which I did by reducing the length of breastfeed minute by minute, but since then, she seems to be waking lots of times in the night for some other reason! Mostly I can settle her after maybe 20 mins by shush/pat, but she'll wake again an hour later and we do the whole thing again :( The last few days have been a nightmare with her waking maybe 5 or 6 times in the night, then waking for the day between 5 and 6 am! It might be developmental, she's been crawling since 6 months, pulling up to standing since 7 months, cruising the furniture since 8 months, so perhaps she's getting ready to stand alone or (heaven forbid!) walk..! Her daytime naps are pretty good now - after a long time of 45min naps we now have a pretty consistent routine of a 1.5 hr nap in the morning and either a 45min or 1.5hr nap after lunch, then bedtime routing starts at 6:15 to be asleep by 7...so - any suggestions on how to stop the frequent night wakings? Thanks! Sharon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, make sure you are competing her only when she needs comort. Not during playing or a mantra cry. Do not rush in! I suggest having her in bed earlier as she is likely overtired and that leads t those frequent night wakings. If she doesn't have a lovey, I encourage you to introduce one. Try to shus-pat progressively for less time so she gets better at putting herself back to sleep all on her own.

      Delete
    2. Sorry about the spelling and auto correct... I meant comforting and comfort on that first line.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Rachel - we've actually had a few fairly good nights with only 2 wakings - one of which she's managed to self settle and the other I've been feeding her - but have that feed down to 6 mins now. Unfortunately (as always seems the case when I think we're getting somewhere!) she's now come down with a nasty cough and cold, so that has kind of thrown things around again! Will try putting her to bed earlier - I'm always in fear she'll wake earlier as she's an early waker already (between 5:30 and 6:30 most days) although I know sometimes an earlier bedtime can also help this - guess I've been too scared to try so far! She was in bed tonight at 6:30 as her naps were screwed up today, but she's just spent an hour awake crying due to feeling poorly, so will have to see how we get on when she's better! Thanks again, Sharon.

      Delete
    4. Sharon, sickness sure ones make things tricky! Don't be scared of that early bedtime :) There is a point of bedtime earliness that will cause a child to wake erly. Most kids won't wake early in the morning with a slightly early bedtime. As she leans to self soothe better it will help with night wakings.

      Delete
  15. Hi Rachel,
    I am hoping you can help. My 8 week old has been on a general 3hr EWS routine since birth and it seems that he is stuck on eating every 3hrs during the night as well. He has never given me a long stretch at night (the most was 3.5hrs one night!) since birth and I am starting to wonder if I need to intervene. He has a DF at 11:30 then wakes for a feed around 2:30 and 5am then starts the day between 6-6:30am. I am so very sleep deprived :( My other children get mummy's leftover 'energy' and I am discouraged that he is not sleeping thru the night like others his age. Is there anything I am missing or should be doing? Thank you in advance for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nels,
      First check on milk supply. Make sure he is growing well and seems satisfied with food. At 8 weeks, he probably can do at least one lounger stretch of sleep if not more. I would make sure to not rush to him when he wakes. Try to make sure he is getting ok sleep during the day. Work on having him to go sleep by himself for naps and when he falls asleep at night. I would offer a pacifier when he wakes if he doesn't go back asleep. Stay there with him for a minute to have him get a good suck with hit. Often doing this for a few nights (or sometimes more, depends) will drop that feeding. You can pick a feeding and work on moving it back or dropping it. Either feed a little less or for less time every few nights or more it back several minutes every day nights. Hopefully one of those things will help! I hope you get some more rest soon tired mommy!!!

      Rachel

      Delete
  16. How do I know if it's a milk supply issue?? He seems content after feedings, has plenty of wet & soiled nappies and is gaining around 300gms a week. He does, however, only eat from one side at each feeding for about 6 or 7 mins only then back on again for a few more minutes but that's it.

    As for naps, i can happily say that he does fall asleep on his own in his crib. However he has started waking 45mins into 3 of his 4 day naps which we are working on teaching him to go back to sleep (currently trying CIO).

    You have given me some good suggestions to go on.. But what if im stopping a feed that he may actually need?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nels,
      If he seems content after a feeding and has good diapers and weight gain your milk supply sounds fine right now. Just make sure to offer the other sides once he finishes one side incase he is still hungry. You want to make sure to get full feeds.

      If he is healthy, he should be be ble to go more than 3 hours at this age. If you slowly drop a feed he will adjust with it. You are not suddenly taking him from 3 to 8 hours. You are helping him slowly extend a healthy amount for his age. Just see how he responds. If he has a hard time and doesn't progress, consider he may need the food every few hours. But I would bet he is not getting enough food during the day if that happens.

      Delete
  17. Thank you so much for your advice. What you are saying makes sense.. it is quite possible that he is not eating enough during the day hence the night feeds.

    What makes it hard to combat this is that I offer the second breast and he refuses most of the time. I will keep trying though.
    Do you think hunger could be the cause of his short day naps? Should I try feeding when he wakes at this point? To help increase his day intake? Just dont want to create a bad habit!

    Tomorrow is the start of a new week.. I will follow your suggestions for the night feeds and see how we go. I appreciate your time and help. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nels,
      If he refuses the second breast he probably isn't hungry. But it is possibly he just wants to play too. At this age the milk wasn't perfectly regulated for me so It wasn't uncommon for me to breastfeed just one side. As they got older and ate more I had to do both sides. Maybe it has been the same for you and you other kids?

      It is possible hunger could be the cause of his short naps. Especially if he is going through a growth spurt or you have any sort of milk supply issues that requires more frequent feedings. You can try offering a feed and see if he seems to take a full feed. I would feed him then if he seems hungry. You should be able to get most those calories in during the day with the feeds every 3 hoursish if he gets a good amount at each feed. I hope that made sense. Sorry for the late reply as I was out of town.

      Rachel

      Delete
  18. Hey Rachel!

    I am starting to get very concerned about my 11 month old girl. She was doing better with her nighttime sleep, but now things are worse than ever. Naps are GREAT, so I know it isn't lack of routine, lack of napping, lack of schedule, etc. We do the similar things at similar times every day, but we always follow the same steps.

    She is waking in the middle of the night screaming. (Like a terrified scream). I have tried going in. She clings to my husband and I SO tightly. The second we pick her up she stops crying and clings on. When trying to put her back down she continues to cry and cry. This lasts at least an hour. It is usually around 12:15. Some nights it happens again at 4:15! We are absolutely exhausted, and feel like she should be too.
    I did research on "night terrors", but ours seem different because when we pick her up she is fine. Separation anxiety? I have no idea, but this is awful. I guess our next step is cry it out. I don't know what to do. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lindsey,
      You are right, it doesn't sound quite like night terrors because she responds to you when you go in.

      I'm not sure what is going on but I'll throw out a couple ideas. This has happened with my kids before, btw, and it has quickly gone away on its own. I'm trying to remember if I found out why it was happening but my mind is coming up blank right now.

      I'd expect this more with a child that wasn't napping well and was overtired. I do wonder if an earlier bedtime (or even shifting the entire routine earlier) would help at all.

      Maybe a wonder week is involved.

      Separation anxiety could be involved, but I strongly doubt it is the complete cause of this.

      Is she feeling ill right now or does she have any pain? One of my kids has randomly woken in the middle of the night crying a few nights when he was getting his molers although he didn't seem terribly bothered at other times.

      If she is screaming like this I would probably go in at least, but you might want to limit the visit length. You could just pat her for a minute and offering a comforting word or hold her for a moment, do a mini pre-sleep routine and then put her down and leave confidently. I've found if my child is really upset and the behavior is turning more into a fit then me staying super long ends up making things worse. If you feel unsure about leaving, sometimes leaving the bedroom and turning on lights will get your child will get your child out of their upset state. Hang out for a few minutes then do a pre-sleep routine and put them back to sleep (once again, confidently) and leave like usual.

      Delete
  19. Thank you for your advice. I wondered about molars as well. I gave her tylenol when she woke last night at 11:45. She went back to sleep and woke again at 5:45. I left her and she played and whinned until 6:15. Then she went back to sleep until 7:00. However, I think that could mean I let her have a "nap", ugh! Vicious cycle! :) Trying our best to cope with this situation. Have been doing the mini sleep time routine that we always do when I leave. She still cries when I leave, but then goes back to sleep within 5 minutes.

    We had a break through. She slept 12 hours 4 nights over the last 10 days, and I tried to do that exact schedule, but she doesn't nap for the same length every day so it's hard. I'm still not sure why her nap lengths are different everytime since we lay her down at the same time every day. She has gone back to only being able to stay awake for 2 hours in the morning. My guess is that it is because of poor nighttime sleep. Her nap at this time is only an hour and 15 mins. I know that sounds GREAT, but coming from a child who was always a 2 hour napper,it makes me feel like she isn't getting enough rest. I'm going to try altering the entire schedule early, next if things do not improve. Maybe it will help.

    Thanks again for all your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lindsey,
      I wouldn't be surprised if the sleep at night continues to improve. I sure hope it does! If naps vary each day, I often try to adjust bedtime to makeup for the variations.

      Good luck
      Rachel

      Delete
  20. Hi Rachel:

    I was wondering if you could give us some advice. I have an 11 week old son that had a very bad case of colic starting at 3 weeks old. He would scream for hours and was extremely difficult to get to sleep (my husband and I would have to rock, bounce, etc for hours), but once he would finally fall asleep, he would sleep in the Rock n' Play for about 5-6 hours (starting at 3 weeks or so). Which was awesome, but he was still not getting a great amount of sleep, so our DR. suggested we try and use the swing to help us get him to sleep since he seemed to be more stimulated by all of our efforts to sleep, rather than them helping him! It worked wonderfully, we used it (consistently swinging) for about a month, for all of his naps (which were anywhere from 1.5-3 hours long) and night sleep (down at about 7pm, one feed at 2am, one feed at 5am, up at 8am for the day).

    This was all until two weeks ago, right after his two month shots (not sure if there is a correlation or not). I think it was the night sleep that got wonky first, but he started waking up multiple times at night. Sometimes I would feed him, sometimes settle without feeding. Then his naps dropped to 45 min. This is all in the swing moving. I tried making the room darker and making the room cooler/warmer. Still this persisted.

    Last night he started SCREAMING when I went to put him down, and I couldn't get him to settle enough to eat for about 45 minutes. Once I got him down, I was only able to put him in the swing non-moving. He slept like that, waking at 9:30pm for his binky, until 12:45am, had a feed, then woke up at 2:30am (settled without a feed), at 4:30am (fed him), and 7:30am (rocked him until 8am). His naps have been the same 45 minutes today, and I think we are getting to the point where he is seriously overtired. "Old colicky baby" is back, and he is generally extremely fussy when he is awake.

    I feel like something must have happened to make everything go haywire, but I can't figure out what. I also feel like maybe I should use this opportunity to wean off the swing, since his sleeping is a mess right now anyways (I might lose my nerve if things start to get a ton better, you know?) Any ideas on what is going on? Any way to break this cycle of chronic overtiredness?

    Thanks so much!
    Kelly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly,
      Sleep stages /cycles change around this time. Many babies also get more sensitive to their environments at this time. That's my best guess on the changes right now if it isn't pain or illness.

      You have a point, right now might be a good weaning time. Weigh your options and then be consistent with the decision.

      Rachel

      Delete
    2. Oh Kelly, sorry to not give you any links. I can't get the copy and paste to work with my device. Look under sleep-general information in the index for posts on the subjects I mentioned.

      Delete
  21. Hi Rachel,
    I was curious if you could solve my sleep problems. LO is 5.2 months old. We have been sleep training for 2 weeks now using Modified CIO with checks and PU/PD's. I do 10, 15, 20 minute checks and extinction following the last check. Some nights he takes an hour, but it's roughly about 40 minutes for the last few days. For a while he was doing well with Night Feedings, waking up after 6 hours for the first (my cut off) and 4 for the second. However those times have been creeping up earlier and earlier. I have been going to him after 10-15 minutes to feed because it's usually only about 10-15 minutes earlier then the cut off. However last night he got up 1.5 hours before the cut off. Here is a look at his schedule:

    5:45 Wake Up
    7:30-9:30 Nap 1
    11:30-1:15 Nap 2
    3:30-4:20 Nap 3
    7:00 PD for bed, 7:20 asleep
    10:40 Up, did checks till 11:30 and fed
    Asleep midnight
    up 1:20, did checks till 2:45, fed
    3:30 Asleep
    5:30 fed, 6am up for the day.

    Do you think the night wakings are caused by too much sleep during the day? Or is it because of my accidental parenting? I returned to my back to sleep plan last night, but it's hard to let him cry, especially since I know he's not getting enough sleep at night because of the Night Wakings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EStrattman,
      Most of the time the night wakings aren't due to too much daily sleep. Most kids will his sleep will do ok night wise. So don't totally check that off the list, but put it near the bottom. Likely not keeping to the 'back to sleep' plan caused issues. You have to try real hard to keep with it when things get off (after making sure things are ok, of course)
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2012/04/always-check-on-unexpected.html
      At five and a half months, he should really be able make it through the night with one feed ok, (not that you have to drop one of them now if you don't want to) so you don't have to worry about something like that being the issue. During ST and rough times with babies the sleep can get a bit off and they can be a bit sleep deprived but there is only so much you can do about it--an early bedtime being one good solution. Just try to be consistent to help the rough time pass as soon as possible. Best of luck,

      Rachel

      Delete
  22. hi thanks for all the info just I'm having a night time problem with my ten month old, she won't go to sleep in her own cot I have to cuddle her in my bed then transfer her, when she wakes at the same time (3:30) every night she won't go back off unless I take her in with me, the screaming is unbearable to try and let her get herself off to sleep as he used to do no problem in the past. I have changed her cot for a travel cot as she was turning sideways on and it was too small. any suggestions??

    ReplyDelete
  23. hi thanks for all the info just I'm having a night time problem with my ten month old, she won't go to sleep in her own cot I have to cuddle her in my bed then transfer her, when she wakes at the same time (3:30) every night she won't go back off unless I take her in with me, the screaming is unbearable to try and let her get herself off to sleep as he used to do no problem in the past. I have changed her cot for a travel cot as she was turning sideways on and it was too small. any suggestions??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Claire Hartley,
      It sounds like she needs to learn to go to sleep and stay asleep on her own. So I'd look over the sleep training section in the index, including the book reviews. See which method sounds right to you and implement it consistently. Look over the sleep environment posts too.

      Rachel

      Delete
  24. Hi Rachel, my soon to be 11 month old used to sleep right through the night up to about 5 months.. He then started to sleep with us as we had to visit family and there was no cot. So after we got home, things just weren't the same and he slept with us until about 10 months. I've only recently started putting him back in his cot. Even when he was in our bed though, he would wake up 3-4x a night crying (as if maybe scared or in pain) this only lasts 1 or 2 mins max and he's back to sleep. Not sure if maybe he just needs me next to him or what not. So I just pat him a few times to let him know I'm there. I'd just like him to sleep right through instead of waking me for 2 mins 4x a night! Lol. Suggestions please? Cheers. Paige

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Rachel! My son is four months old by next week. I started sleep train him three week ago and now he would cry for 1-10 mins then soothe himself to sleep. At the beginning he woke up 3-4 times at night. Slowly it cut down to once to twice. But in the past 4 night he woke up many times! :( here is his routine...
    We put him down in his crib after his 9pm feeding. I would feed him.. Burp him... Change diaper.. Put him down in his crib to watch his mobile.. In the mean time I put him into his sleepers. Then I would read him his bedtime story (sometimes he gets very cranky).. Them I turn off the light rock and sing to him for 2-5 mins till he looks tired (sometimes he cries so I had to soothe him to stop). Once he is drowsy I put him down and he might cry for a bit and sleeps very well till 12am we would wake him up to feed. He usually falls asleep during feeding. He sleeps well till 3ish/4ish then he begins to wake up. When he starts crying I would offer him his soother. He might sleeps for 15-20mins and if I lucky he would sleeps for 30-50mins in between each wake up. Toward 5/6am he would wake up every 5-10mins. Then we would feed him around 6:20am. He is always half sleeping during this feed. And then wild awake after. We put him to bed again with a soother since we think he doesn't get enough sleep. Usually after 5 mins he falls asleep again. Hr usually gets up once or twice and with smoother he sleeps again. Then I would wake him up at 9:45 to feed again. His day starts there and we feed him every almost 3 hrs. He takes naps in between each feeding for at least 30-45 mins and sometimes 1.5 hours.

    I wonder is there anything wrong with the schedule that makes me waking up so much at night. I hope you have any suggestions for me. I really hope we get some sleep more than 3 hrs at night at a time! Thanks a lot!

    Elisa

    ReplyDelete
  26. What age would you say is pretty typical for babies to not need a middle of the night feeding? I know some BW babies just start to sleep through on their own. Just curious, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hard question diana because it varies so much. I'd say on a routine like this, thye often start around 4-8 months. There are of course the outliers though. Some much later, some very soon. And I'm talking about 12 hours without a dreamfeed.

      Rachel

      Delete
    2. Okay, thanks. That is helpful to know. :)

      Delete
  27. Hi Rachel, I've posted questions here a few times before, and tried so many things, but I'm really reaching the end of my tether now! My little girl is now 14 months old and has slept through the night twice. She goes to bed fine, naps well during the day, but is still waking and wanting to be fed at night. Currently she's waking twice (we had got it down to once, but regressed) and literally screams herself hoarse until she's fed. We've tried watering feds down little by little, but she just either won't settle again after, or she wakes again an hour later wanting to be fed again - so we all end up being awake for 2 / 3 hrs every night. We've reached the point where we're considering the hard approach of cold turkey as so many people have told us that it'll be 4/5 days of pain and then problem solved, but if there is another option you'd suggest, I'd rather go there first! I feel like we've tried everything else under the sun and there's just no progress! Help! Sharon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon,
      You might want to consider weaning from one feed at a time then seeing if she stops waking (it may take several days after she is weaned). IF she keeps waking, then wean your attention during that time. To stop a feed, if giving less (fully concentrated) or diluting doesn't work, I'd either try to move the feed later every few nights or drop it completely. Wait a few days at least before dropping the next feed to give her body time to adjust and get used to eating during the day instead at night. Yes, she may be upset if she doesn't get a feed, but she is also learning that if she screams enough she will get the feed so she keeps waking for it and expecting it. If you persevere and dont' offer the food, she will eventually get used to not having it and be ok with that. Go ahead and give plenty of snuggles as she is getting used to dropping the feed if you'd like. But try to keep things dark and quiet still.

      Delete
  28. Hi Rachel-
    I have twin boys who are about to turn 14 months old. I am having trouble getting my son Jax to stop waking multiple times at night. He has never slept longer then a 4 hour stretch.

    They go down in their cribs at 6:40pm and put themselves to sleep by 7. the first waking is generally 3-4 hours in and the next could be 2-3hours later. He does use a paci and I have put 4 in his crib.

    My son Maddex generally sleeps well.

    Their nap schedule is 9am-11 and then 1-2 or 3pm.

    Are they getting too much sleep during the day? I am so tired. Help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They seem ok with daytime sleep, but I can't say 100% they are fine because every child varies. Remember to consider them two different people--what works with Maddex may not work with Jax. You could always try reducing nap time a little with Jax---but, it sounds more like a sleep prop issue to me. It sounds like he is waking and not going back to sleep on his own because he is waking for your company and help. Extra pacifiers in the crib is a good idea, but if he is used to waking and not even trying to find them but instead calling for you to find one for him they aren't much help. So I would work on reducing the attention he gets at night during his wakings in one way or another. Do what you did in the past or look over the sleep training posts.

      Best of luck. I'd be super duper tired if I were you too!
      Rachel

      Delete
  29. Hi Rachel,

    I really need to ask about my son as he got up (while his eyes are closed) crying hysterically in tears. I think he was still sleeping. He didnt sleep back except after he ate also while his eyes are closed. He just turned 9 months old but i got really worried. Could you help me with that please?

    Thank you,
    Randa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Randa,
      Some kids do cry in their sleep a little bit and this is normal. He sounds more like he woke up not feeling very good (overtired, hungry etc) and cried out for you and was so groggy and sleepy he kept his eyes closed.

      Rachel

      Delete
  30. Hi, Rachel,
    My DD just turned 6 mo. Originally, we wanted bed share w/ her. It's what we felt was right for us, and was by far the most convenient because her nursery is on a different floor of the house and is also difficult to heat. So, for the moment, she sleeps in a co-sleeper next to our bed. The major reason that's important is that we can't (and don't want to) depend on a CIO method at night. I have recently started to intervene less getting her down for nap time: this morning I put her down and when she started to cry, I patted her, shushed her and held her hand, but did not pick up or put her into a preferred sleeping position [she just mastered rolling off her tummy so she rolls out of it anyway).As you'll see below though, I am asking my husband to help at night, and I don't feel I can ask him to leave her to cry (we wouldn't anyway), or standby for potentially a very long time while she puts herself to sleep as I do for naps.
    Other info, she has been EBF, though I just started to introduce solids via the baby-led weaning method. I do not nurse on a schedule during the day, but usually she nurses when she wakes up, and a little right before she goes to sleep. I have always nursed frequently, both because I want to maintain milk supply, and because I'm concerned that when she fusses its from hunger (I had some milk supply problems). This actually leads to my first question as to whether to try to put her on an EWS schedule during the day, or whether to try to "tank her up". She never nurses to sleep during the day or night: she nurses, and then I give her the paci and cuddle her. Sometimes she begins to doze off instantly and I put her down right away to fall asleep, and sometimes I soothe her for a minute before putting her down. Really it is the paci, not the nursing that is the sleep prop, I think.
    Sleep times: FYI these are estimates because I follow her cues, usually putting her down 2:15 - 2:45 minutes after her previous sleep.
    Wakes up: 6-6:30
    First nap ~8:45-10:15 Usually with some shush pat in the middle. I also replace her paci if she has spat it out, but I am going to stop doing that for naps because she often transitions without it when I'm not even there.
    Second nap 1-3 (this nap is often longer than the AM nap, but is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hr)
    Bed: now that she is down to two naps, bed is often as early as 5:30 or 5:45. Sometimes it is as late as 6:30 if naps run later (or yesterday, second nap was over by 2 and she took a short third nap in the car while I ran errands).
    There is sometimes one or two wake ups in the evening, but my husband is almost always able to get her back down after these. If he can't it is usually a sign that perhaps she is going through a growth spurt, is uncomfortable for some reason, etc.
    She used to sleep from about 6:30 - 12, but then wake frequently through the rest of the night. At some point, I began dream feeding her around 10 when I would go to bed and she would sleep until 4, at which time I would bring her to bed.
    NOW, however she frequently wakes around 10 to nurse, and cannot be put to sleep without it. It is sometimes as early as 9:15, though last night it was at 10:50. She then wakes every two to three hrs until I bring her to bed around 4 and then she just badgers me to nurse constantly until we wake up around 6:30.

    ReplyDelete
  31. (cont'd- so sorry!)
    The last two nights, I have given that 10-ish nursing session, and then gone to sleep in the guest room. DH does his best to fend her off when she wakes up, with the hope that we can stretch her to 6 hours between nurses. We feel like it would make more sense to her that he soothes her without milk, than I would only show up when it's time to nurse. Last night, I nursed her at 10:50, then my DH got her back to sleep with just a little patting and the paci at 11:30 and 1:30 But after 3-4 hours she becomes very insistent (the first night, the interval was 10-:1:30 and last night it was 10:50-2:50). All that to say, she CAN get to sleep without nursing (doesn't actually fall asleep from nursing), which makes me wonder if she is, in fact, hungry.
    I am eager to get more sleep. I have had a very difficult post-partum period (my father passed away unexpectedly), and the sleep deprivation has a major impact on my mood. I am not eager to do it at the expense of DD’s well-being, though. I believe completely that she can make it more than 4 hours without nursing, assuming she does not have a big wake up. However, once she is awake, I would guess that she notices her hunger that can make it very uncomfortable to fall back asleep. I also know that some babies may just "need" three sessions a night, and perhaps my daughter is one of them.
    I feel like I need to get her on some kind of nursing schedule at night. I hesitate to reinstate the 10 PM nursing session because I want her to stretch that interval, but she can't make it to midnight, and I can't ask my husband to fend her off at 10:30 when she probably feels legitimately hungry. Also, if he can't get her to sleep, then haven't we basically reinforced that if she resists for longer, she will get milk (she is not reading the clock, after all)? Also, how do we do a schedule when he bed time can be somewhat variable (due to nap times)? Do we nurse her 5 hrs from falling asleep, or at 10:30 on the dot? Does that make sense? Also, as long as she is sleeping near us, I do not mind replacing the paci (I know it is kicking the can down the road, but we’ve got a lot of cans on our hands these days) if it helps her fall back asleep. Is it the WORST thing in the world?!
    I am sorry that this is so long! I hope you’ll be able to help us. My husband has generously offered to keep trying this for five more nights.
    Again, innumerable thanks for all you do for us mamas.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Rachel,
    I had posted earlier as well on your blog, about my baby's sleep patterns. I was successful in making her sleep for a long stretch at night by making changes to her sleeptime.. But now she is 9 months old and has started waking up a few times in the night again. Sometimes, she wakes up and is awake for 2+ hours after which she drifts off to sleep if I rock her to sleep or make her sleep next to me... Last night she was waking up 4-5 times. Just cry and wants mommy to put her to sleep again... this is stressful after a few days of blissful sleep :-) She started crawling, sitting at 7 months...
    Please let me know if you have any thoughts/comments

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Rachel,
    I have an 8 month old daughter who wakes too early. She wakes between 5 and 5:30am every morning and wants to stay up for the morning. She sleeps well during the day (a 2 hour nap from 9-11am and a 2 hour nap from 1-3pm, sometimes a 20min nap at 5pm). She goes to bed at night at 7pm. Up until 6months she was sleeping from 7am-7pm with one quick night feed a 3am. But at 6 months her pediatrician said she should be sleeping through the night without any night feeds. We got rid of the 3am feeding by soothing her back to sleep without picking her up. We rubbed her back, shhhing, and the use of the pacifier (we have 4 of them in the crib so she can find them when she needs them). But every since we got rid of the 3am feeding she no longer sleeps through the night.

    I not sure how to fix this,do we let her CIO at 5am? I haven't been consistent with this method in the past since she will cry for 1.5hours where I can't take anymore and I go in and get her up. Any thoughts on what I can do would be extremely helpful.

    ReplyDelete