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Waking at Night: Babies 0-12 Months

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Sleep > Babies > Waking at Night: Babies 0-12 Months


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3-month-old's frequent wakings

Dec 2004

hi parents! this is my first posting, so pls excuse me if it is too wordy. i am at my wits end. my son, aaron is 3 months old. in the past, i have put him down to sleep around 7pm as anytime beyond, he gets crankier and cries. he will usually sleep until 12 or 1, then 4, 5am, which is ok with me. in the past week or so, he is impossible to put down, requiring 1-2 hours of sweaty and nerve wracking effort. i will nurse him on one breast, he will fall asleep, i wait 15 minutes or longer, and gently transfer him to the car seat, which he still sleeps in. sometimes i will try to get him to nurse on the other breast, but he gets upset and cries. he will either wake up after 10 minutes, or wake up immediately. when he does finally fall asleep, he will wake up again 2 hrs later, then at 12, then 3, then 5, then 6. aaron will sometimes take a nap around 5pm or 5:30. without this nap, he gets super cranky and fussy , but he doesn't sleep long, just 30 min or so. he often wakes up crying and upset, but is easily sootheable. as my husband can't seem to calm him back to sleep, and aaron won't take a bottle, i am the primary caretaker, ok, the sole caretaker, and i am at my wits end. also, aaron does not nap that well in the daytime, so he often looks tired in the morning and afternoon. please help! thanks in advance! nervous and exhausted mother


hi, i have a 3month also and had similar sleep issues (catnaps during the day and frequent night waking). This past week we have started a bedtime routine and swaddling him again. To our surprise, we've had wonderful sleep during the day, 1.5-2hrs, and night, longest stretch is 6hrs. At first we thought he didn't like swaddling-he'd always free his hands-but it turns out we weren't doing it tight enough. Maybe that will help? libby
I noticed with my daughter that at about that age (3 months) she stopped being able to fall asleep on her own, she would need me to put her to sleep and indeed, she could only nap while lying on my body. Yes, it was inconvenient, but getting enough sleep during the day was the key to having her sleep at night (she still woke up every 3 hours at night, but she did sleep those 3 hours).

What I would advise is that you try everything to get your baby to sleep enough during the day, rock him, take him for walks, drive with him, try the vibrating chair, etc. etc. I bet that he's overtired at night and that's preventing him to go into deep sleep. anon


From birth to 3 months, my daughter woke up every hour and a half and nursed for half an hour each time. She went from 10th percentile in weight to 75% percentile, so I think she had a ''growth spurt'' and needed a lot of nourishment. Sometimes, she would burp or pass gas in her sleep, which woke her up. Eliminating gas-inducing foods from my diet and burping her seemed to alleviate the problem. It was especially important for me to hold her upright for half an hour after she fell asleep at my breast during bedtime. If she woke up in the middle of the night, simply nursing and burping her would do the trick. She hardly napped during that period. I'd heard that newborns slept all the time-she certainly didn't fit the description. From 3 to 6 months, she slept great, but started waking up a lot once we started feeding her solids, perhaps because of digestion problems. There are so many reasons your baby could be waking up. My niece started teething at 4 months, which didn't help her sleeping pattern at all. The doctor wouldn't believe my sister-in-law, but sure enough, teeth appeared. Keep talking to other moms and doctors. Everyone will have a different suggestion for you. Mom who's been there
Wow-I could have written that posting myself! We have been going through the EXACT same situation (also with a 3-month old). Hopefully some of the other Berkeley parents will have some good advice since I'm still struggling myself but so far, there are a couple of things that have helped me. One of the things that I've noticed is that my son isn't getting as long of sleep stretches in his car seat anymore (but he can sleep for hours on the breast feeding pillow !@#) So we got a Snuggle Nest (looks like a 3/4 shoe box with a mattress coming out) that you can put in your bed or crib and we lay him on his side with a shirt that smells like me nearby. When we have him in the car seat we use a shirt that smells like me behind his head and have like a fleece or something to make the bottom part a little more cozy. Sound desparate? Absolutely but it has helped some.
My 3 1/2 month just got over a phase of waking every 45 min during naps and I was so stressed out. I think there are two factors that contibute to this problem, growth spurt and natural irregularity in sleep patterns of infants under 4months. Try nursing/feeding when your baby wakes up crying and have hope that your baby will learn to sleep better at four months. Also another side note, at this age babies should be going to bed between 6-8. They are then better rested and can sleep better during the day. good luck

3 month old waking every 3 hours

Sept 2004

Our 3 month old boy wakes now every 3 hours (he used to wake 2- 3 times at night which now seems really good!) He wakes generally in an agitated state (kicking legs, thrashing head back and forth) and is only calmed/comforted by a bottle or breast. We moved him fairly recently from a bassinet next to our bed to his crib because he was making so much noise. We also stopped swaddling him as he was kicking the blankets free and seemed to be happier without them. Does anyone have any ideas on how to help him sleep better and awaken easier? jess


I swaddled my baby for about 4 months. It was the only way to get him to sleep for longer than a couple of hours. Then I weaned him off very gradually, wrapping everything but 1 arm once he started using his fingers to pacify himself, then leaving both arms out. A lot of times he'd wriggled out of the covers by morning also, but he still slept pretty much through the night. anon
Sounds like your son has started teething. Same happend with our daughter--peaceful sleeper for 6-8 hours each night and then around 10 wks, she went back to 3-4 hours at a stretch and finally to ev. 2 hours. and LOTS of Thrashing around bc of teething pain. It has continued and she has just now sprouted her first teeth at six months old. We did tylenol sometimes, and also used both the Boiron and the Hylands homeopathic teething rememdies (avail. at whole foods). It is like sleeping with a monkey when they are like that, I know, but is pretty typical at that age when the teething starts. Other signs that it may be teething--lots of drool, biting, pulling on ears. Maybe some remedies will give him and you some relief. Good luck!

4-month-old not sleeping through the night

Nov 2003

I have a 4 month old who has slept through the night inconsistently since he was 2 months old. He always has a lot of trouble going to sleep at night and for naps... we have to swaddle and rock him until he is in a deep sleep. Since he often slept through the night, I have not fed him between the hours of seven and seven even if he woke up because it always seemed that the problem was that he could not get himself back to sleep rather than being hungry. My pediatrican suggested we start letting him cry to sleep so he could learn to self- sooth. We are using Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits and I am wondering about night waking. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, should I let him cry it out as well? I know Weissbluth says that you should not go to them until the morning unless you know they are hungry but since our son has been able to go twelve hours without a feeding for quite a while (he is a big baby.. 17 lbs.), I think he just needs to learn to go back to sleep. I am finding it really difficult to let him cry in the middle of the night... especially if I am denying him food... I really want to see this through because I think it will help him and us in the future, but it is so difficult not to rush to him in the middle of the night.


Please, follow your instinct if you're so unsure. If it's difficult to hear your baby cry for you, then by all means, you should go to him. He's only 4 months? I always heard that you shouldn't try any of these methods before 6 months, at least. At 4 months, he could very well be hungry for your milk, as babies still have growth spurts. Even if you determine that he's not hungry, he could still need the breastfeeding for comfort, soothing, and just to be close to his mama. It's completely universal, and natural. Clearly, I'm not a big believer in these so-called methods, but if you must, I suggest you wait until at least 6 months (which I thought even the authors suggest), and/or until it feels right to you. It is heartwrenching to read that you can't stand hearing your baby cry for your milk from the next room. Please, follow your heart on this one. Good luck to you. He will sleep more one day, don't worry. The first year is very tough. I'm a tired mommy, too, so I can relate... anon mom
I'm a believer in sleep training and I have a child with terrific sleep habits. I think Weissbluth is very good. But I think 4 mos is way too young to go 12 hour stretches w/o food. Feed him !!!! -- at least once a night for now, if he seems to want it (sometimes he might not, when he's hitting a growth plateau) You run no risk of instilling bad habits at this age. 9 mos or so is plenty of time to crack down. Fran
regardless of previous sleep patterns, weissbluth says it's o.k. to feed twice a night up until 9 months. having said that, i think you should do what you think your child needs -- if you think his cries are hunger cries, feed him. my baby is 10 months and still wakes to nurse once a night after 10 hours. then she goes back to sleep. anon
He's too young for sleep training, in my opinion. I would get a second opinion from another pediatrician. We let our son cry for five minute stretches (as advised by Penelope Leach in Your Baby and Child from Birth to Age 5) but I think that wasn't until he was closer to a year and better able to understand that it was night time and night time is for sleeping. Interested in others responses!
I am sure you will got a lot of responses from people who are inflamed just by the same ''Weissbluth''. All I can tell you is that I followed just about every word in his book and my kid has been sleeping through the night since he was 3.5 months old. Why was I so determined to follow his advice? All of the kids that I had enjoyed babysitting and spending time with were raised on him. And my day care provider told me that she always recognized the Weissbluth babies when they started with her. I know people who have dabbled with the method and been disappointed and people who have followed him religiously and been thrilled. It does seem like an all or nothing thing to work. But like with any parenting decision, it all depends on what feels right to you. Good luck! Weissbluth Devotee

4-month-old's frequent night wakings

Nov 2004

I have a four month old baby who is waking 3-4 times a night. We have a consistent bedtime routine and bedtime (7:00), and we're conscientious about trying to give him naps during the day, but he's still waking every three hours. He is able to put himself to sleep at night - we put him down fully awake and he goes out like a light. When he wakes up, he sometimes seems hungry, sometimes not. I'm trying to feed him more frequently during the daytime so that he's not hungry at night, but he's still waking up.

I've got to go back to work in a few weeks and my husband and I are both zombies. We've tried letting him cry for 20 minutes or so, but I can't stand the stress of letting him cry it out much longer. He's not sick. Are these frequent night wakings developmentally normal? I've even tried cosleeping with him but he wants to nurse all night long, and is a very fidgety sleeper, which makes things worse. Anyone have any ideas? Zombie Mom


Yes, your baby is developmentally normal!! He is still learning how to put himself back to sleep, and you can help him. There are lots of options between nursing all night and crying it out--like, specifically, being with your baby when he wakes, reassuring him, offering a pacifier or a lullaby or helping him find his fingers. It may take several nights, but you are teaching him something valuable, and you're also showing him you won't abandon him while he learns it. I highly highly recommend that you read the chapter on nighttime parenting in Dr. Sear's The Baby Book. He has lots of supportive ideas, and is never dogmatic. Hang in there! Those sleepless nights are so so rough. Whenever you can find someone to hold the baby so you can take a nap, take advantage!!! I Know That Zombie Feeling
From my experience, your 4 month old's behaviour is totally within the range of normal. The only advice I can offer is a story from what happened with us. My daughter (now 2 years 4 months) was an awful sleeper. When she was between 4 and 9 months, she'd wake 4-6 times a night with a similar story to yours. If she had the paci she'd fall back to sleep but then it'd fall out and she'd wake up again. We tried EVERYTHING to get some sleep. Nothing worked until we read ''The Baby Whisperer'' and followed her technique. Bascially what you do is go in when they wake up in the night and pick them up only for so long as it takes to calm them down. They you lay them back down. You do this over and over and over again until they go back to sleep. The first night, it seems like you do this 150 times. But then the second night, its 30 times and the third night its 3 times and then its none. It took our saughter 3 days and then she was putting herself back to sleep and we didn't hear a peep. You might want to read the book though because she gives lots of techniques for calming and such. Good luck to you - a goodnight's sleep is every parent's dream! Lynn
My son woke up 3-7 times per night until he was 9 months old. I quit my job after two months because I, too, was a zombie. I was working full time and taking care of the baby on like 3-4 hours of broken sleep per night. We also tried the cry-it-out at 4 months and it totally did not work - I think it made it worse. I highly recommend joining a Mommy Group if you haven't already. My mommy group kept me sane, and I had other moms to commiserate with, and get ideas about getting my son to sleep. Crying it out did finally work for my son at 9 months, and I am sure it will work for your baby too, but maybe not right now. Good luck! Shauna
The good news is, your baby's developmentally normal. The bad news is, your baby's developmentally normal! Waking 3-4 times a night at 4 months, especially if you're counting from that 7pm bedtime, is not at all unusual, though some babies do wake less - - and others wake more. (Remember that ''sleeping through'' is defined by the docs who study such things as 5 hours. Sure, babies sleep 16 hours or whatever out of 24, but very few of them are going to sleep from 7pm to 7am without waking to eat several times.) Try to get in a good long nursing session just before YOU go to bed -- even if you have to wake the baby to do it. You'll up your chances of a longer stretch of sleep when you need it most. If you haven't mastered nursing in the side-lying position, practice. Even if you or your baby aren't comfortable co-sleeping all night, you will get a little more rest if you can doze through the early morning feeding than if you just get up.

Other than that, you can start reading the sleep books -- at 4 months your baby is (just barely) old enough to start with some ''sleep training'' if that's what you choose to do. A good place to start is Pantley's _No Cry Sleep Solution_ and Weissbluth's _Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child_ (or something like that), which will provide you with a lot of basic information about babies' sleep patterns and needs and both ends of the ''AP vs. CIO'' spectrum so you can decide what approach feels more right to you. Cosleeping mama


Helping 4mo. baby stay asleep

Oct 2004

Dear Parents, Having trouble getting any sleep at night! My 4 mo. old either nurses to sleep or ''bounces'' (swaddled and being held on one of those exercise balls) to sleep. So far so good. Then, often when we try to put her in co-sleeper or crib (we have both) she wakes up and cries.(She doesn't settle with patting, sshhing, etc.) Even when she sleeps with me (which I would do all the time except I sleep poorly and wake her up often and vice versa) she wakes up about every two hours, sometimes more (especially in the morning)I can nurse her back to sleep ususally but then I feel stuck - I can't sleep well next to her. Lately she has been in bed all night with me because I'm just too exhausted to try a ''plan''. I'm not interested in crying it out, it just doesn't feel right to me. I also want us all to sleep better. I've read a few books on this, but I thought advice from parents would be the best.


As you have a co-sleeper, have you tried putting her to sleep with her lying in the cosleeper (even if on your arm) while you lie on the edge of the bed next to her? Once she's in deep sleep (and yes, you may have to wait a while before she gets there), slowly remove your arm. I don't know if you can do this with a co-sleeper (I used a crib positioned next to the bed) but it may help to have the mattress at a low incline, so that her head is still a little bit higher than the rest of her body. A lot of babies get their noses stuffed and sometimes can't sleep for that reason - having a humidifier may help as well. Good luck! anon
I hear your pain! Our little girl had the same sleeping habits while we were breastfeeding. There were a couple of things I discovered, which once changed, helped her sleep better. The first was that she was using me as a pacifier, but she wasn't necessarily eating alot. As a result, she was hungry and needing to breastfeed every hour and a half or two hours. My initial solution was to hold back feeding her so that she would eat more when fed. Well, this didn't work as well as I thought and she just wailed all the more. Ultimately, I ended up pumping breast milk and gave her last couple of feedings for the day by bottle. Try to tank her up before putting her down for the night, and then if you go to bed two or three hours later, try getting her up (but not awake) for one last feed. The other tactic I used was to train her to go down for her naps before trying to be more disciplined at night (when you're exhausted). You have to be diligent and very patient about getting her into her crib or co-sleeper while she's still awake (but really sleepy) so that you can teach her to fall asleep on her own. It's been about a month and a half and we still have our challenges. You may have to pick her up 40 times and put her back down for the first few days, but she will get used to it and it will get better. The one thing I will suggest you really think about before adopting is the use of the pacifier. Our doctor told us we should introduce one as a solution to using me as a pacifier. She's totally hooked on the thing and can't sleep without it, but because she's so little it took a solid month before she could keep it in her mouth for any length of time on her own. This meant getting up at least every hour to stick it back in. I would never have introduced it knowing what I know now. Good Luck!! ~Laura
Your situation sounds almost identicle to what we went through recently with our son (who is now almost 5 months old). He was waking up about every 2 hours and the only way to get him back to sleep was with milk. This meant he was eating way too much, plus got really gassy and in the end, did not get good quality sleep. And neither was I, to say the least. It was really a mess and I didn't know if I could go on. I was very opposed to the 'cry it out' method, though my husband wanted to try it. I thought that would only be an option as a last resort and only until our son had the ability to sooth himself (with his hands or pacifier). Up until 4 months of age, he would not take a pacifier. Then I found one he liked and that was a godsend. Then one night we had a 'sleeping breakthrough' as I call it. Basically, I could not get Max to stay asleep for more than 5 minutes. Finally, I just decided there was nothing I could do but to let him cry. This was a hard decision, but I felt that all he really wanted to do was to go to sleep and that perhaps I was actually part of the problem. I gave him his binky, kissed him goodnight and shut the door. Braced for a horrible experience, I breathed a sigh of relief as he feel asleep after 10 minutes. He woke then at the regular times, at which time he either went right back to sleep once I gave him his binky or I had to let him cry for another period of time (between 10-20 minutes). The next night he only woke twice, once for his binky and once to be fed. He now sleeps from 7 pm until 4 or 5 am at which time I feed him. He then sleeps until 7 or 8 am. For whatever reason, this crying broke the bad cycle we were in and made him more responsible for putting himself to sleep. Generally, he is very easy to put down now for naps or at bedtime (he goes down awake), though sometimes he needs to cry for about 10 minutes at which time I put his binky back in his mouth. In summary, I guess we are doing a modified 'cry it out' method. I have not let him cry more than 30 minutes at a time. I recommend reading 'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Marc Weissbluth. It helped me understand that helping your child sleep well is really important. Believe that it can get better because it will. I find it helpful to remember that Max really does want to sleep, he just needs help sometimes getting it. I am no longer afraid of putting him down for a nap or to sleep. It's still unbelievable to me that I can just put him down to sleep and I don't hear another sound from him until it's time to wake up! If you have any other questions about what we did to get Max to sleep better, please email me. There is more as well that I can tell you that might help. Regular, solid sleep has changed him into a more relaxed, happy and enjoyable child. The difference is really amazing. Good luck! Jessie jesscat008@yahoo.com
I can tell from your email that you are exhausted. But, I can also tell (just from my amateur status of being a mom and talking to other moms) that you are making it very comfortable for your 4 month old to keep waking up each night too. You need to allow her the opportunity to fall asleep on her own. If you don't, you are continuing a cycle which will be harder and harder to break. Have you tried putting her in her crib with lullaby music and a nightlight? Or a snuggly item that she likes to curl up with? Maybe even an item of clothing with your scent may help. The important thing to remember even if she cries a bit in the beginning is that you are allowing her to sleep on her own and get a good night's sleep. She can't learn this intuitively and of course, she wants to be with you the moment she wakes up if you allow her the chance. Good Luck! Mom to One-Year Old
When my son was first born we really wanted to have him in our bed but no one slept well. He slept through the night in his crib in our room for a few months but then started to wake 2, sometimes 3 times during the night. He would cry for at least an hour and nursing didn't help. About a month ago we moved our bed into the living room and he has been sleeping through the night ever since. I guess my advice would be to get baby into her own bed in her own room. co-sleeping doesn't work for every baby. Pam
We used to do the swaddle or bounce routine, too. At around 3 or 4 months we switched her to the crib. We also read a bunch of books, all of which boiled down to “put your baby in the crib and let her cry herself to sleep” which we also didn’t feel too good about. We tried a few different things and now she falls asleep pretty well on her own. Here are some ideas that seemed to work for us: - develop a routine when you put her to bed. This doesn’t mean you have to create a complex plan, just be consistent in what you do each night (i.e. feed her, then change her diaper, then change her clothes, then do some low-key playing for a few minutes with the lights dimmed, then put her in the crib). - aim for the same bedtime each night. We target 7:30pm, but it turns out to be anywhere from 6:30-8pm depending on baby. - white noise (from an air filter, white noise machine, etc.) - use a night light. Than when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, she will be able to recognize her surroundings is and not cry because she feels alone. - when you put her down, give her a pacifier and a toy that she will begin to associate with going to sleep. We use a little stuffed kitty that she likes to grab. - after you put her down, let her cry for 5 minutes, then go back and check on her.  Calm her down however you like, then put her back in the crib and let her cry for 10 minutes and repeat. This was suggested by the books and worked pretty well. Also, if the crying is more of a whimpering, complaining cry that a full on wail, we’d wait a little longer before going to check on her. - stuff her before she goes to sleep. After you nurse her, offer her a bottle of expressed milk or formula and let her eat as much as she wants. And after you stuff her, keep her awake for 10-15 minutes so she doesn’t associate food with sleep. (Possibly your daughter is associating nursing with sleeping and can’t fall asleep without being nursed.) - very important: put her to sleep very soon after her first sign of being tired. You have a window of opportunity. Once you miss it and baby becomes overtired, it is much more difficult to get her to sleep. It’s better to put her down earlier than later. Sometimes we feel we are putting her down before she’s really ready, but those turned out to be the easiest nights. Hope this helps. Anon
We went through a similar period when our daughter turned 4 months. All of a sudden she wouldn't sleep longer than 1 hr or so at a stretch. She had slept 4-5 hours before that. What we found was that she didn't like being on her back. We started putting her to sleep on her side with bolsters and she eventually rolled onto her tummy. We were reluctant to have her sleep on her tummy because of all the SIDS warnings, but it was the only way she'd sleep soundly! Good luck. Anonymous
WOW! I could have written your posting word for word exactly!! I, too, have a 4mo.old who also has a tough time sleeping in the exact same way. At first because she was colicky and so hard tosettle, we would swaddle and bounce too, in addition to vacuum, walks, ssshhing, you name it. - we did this up until about 2 weeks ago, We actually stopped swaddling because it felt too restrictive and she hated it. - she couldn't get to her fingers to self-soothe. When she wouldn't fall asleep nursing (which happens a lot) we would have to bounce and hum or sing and basically lull her to seep. But like yours, every tme we laid her down on our co-sleeper after any kind of soothing or sleep she would cry and we would have to repeat it over and over. We were going crazy and she had started to wake up several times a night crying unable to get back to sleep.

We also read books etc. and knew we didn't want to cry it out either but are trying something new this week and it seems to have promise. We go through about 45 min of bedtime ritual (bath, massage, lights out, lullaby and then nursing). If she doesn't fall asleep nursing or wakes up when we put her down, my husband lies right next to her while she cries in her co-sleeper. He holds her lying down and says soothing words and she just cries. The first night it was 90 min, the next about 45 and now we are down to around 25 min. We feel like it is the best approach - we want to get rid of using props and help her to fall asleep on her own while having her feel loved and secure. It is hard but knowing that she is being soothed and held helps a lot. She finally winds down and then sleeps. When she wakes in the night (not from hunger) we do the same thing and the crying lasts about 5-10 min and then she sleeps. (We sleep right next to her but she isn't in our bed for the same reasons you menioned, we are all light sleepers. ) The No Cry Sleep Solution is a good book but doesn't address the crying baby every time you put them down or the baby that just won't be soothed easily. It is a tough assignment! Hang in there. Best of luck, natascha


Sleep expectations for a 5 month old

Nov 2003

I need to know if I have unrealistic expectations regarding how much my baby should sleep and how often she should wake at night.

She is 5 months old. She goes to sleep at 7pm and wakes up for the day at 6 am. She wakes up a minimum of 4 times a night. She will usually sleep a 3-4 hour stretch, then wake up every 2 or 1 hours. She wants to nurse or at least have a pacifier. We co sleep. She in her co sleeper, and me in the bed. Halfway through the night, I usually bring her to bed because nursing is easier.

I have tried the no-cry sleep solution with some success, depending on the day. I will not do CIO methods.

Am I unrealistic to think that at 5 months, she should be sleeping most of the night? Will she eventually wake less if I do nothing? Am I doing any harm to her? I've read Ferber, Weissbluth, Pantley and Sears on this subject and believe it or not, I still don't understand what to expect of a seemingly healthy, non sleep deprived 5 month old. She is a happy, adorable child and does not seem to be suffering from any kind of sleep disorder and she goes to sleep quite effortlessly for naps (in a crib) and at night.

Your insights as parents are appreciated! I'm feeling like I'm doing something wrong. Sleepy Mommy


I have a 5 month old as well (my 2nd child). I also do not like the CIO methods. I am breastfeeding and also bring my daughter to bed at night. She takes 2-3 45 minute naps during the day. She usually goes down for the night around 9pm-10pm in her crib and then wakes around 1am to nurse when I bring her into bed with me. She then wakes every 2-3 hours until 7am in the morning. This is what my older daughter did as well at this age.

My older daughter nursed every 2-3 hours a night until she was about 14 months old when she started sleeping mostly through the night on her own. After she did this a few times in a row, then if she did wake at night and asked to nurse, I simply said no...not till morning. I still brought her into bed with me. She would wimper slightly then roll over and go back to sleep.

I don't mind nursing through the night especially since I have to pump during the day (I work part-time). My daughters are healthy, happy, secure. And it feels natural to me to follow their cues with regards to how they sleep and how often they nursed. anon


My son woke up at least 3 times a night when he was 5 months old. I've asked a lot of people about this, and there is apparently tremendous variation about when a child ends up really ''sleeping through the night.'' Ours was almost 2. The cry-it-out methods never really worked for us, and every time our child was sick or we traveled we'd have to start over again -- so we quit. I don't think you're doing anything wrong, I just think that every kid is different in how and when they learn to sleep. Karen
Every baby is different. If your nighttime arrangements are working reasonably well for you and your baby is healthy and happy (not cranky from sleep deprivation), then her sleep pattern is normal no matter whether she wakes 4 times a night or none. If her waking is disturbing your sleep too much, well, you've read all the books, so there isn't really anything else I can tell you to try! :-)

Yes, she will most likely begin to wake less as she gets older, though you may very well have periods of time when she wakes *more* often. Try to let go of the idea that there is any particular age at which a baby ''should'' be sleeping a particular length of time and just go with what works for you and your baby. Holly


Sounds like your baby is pretty typical (recognizing that ''typical'' includes quite a wide variety!). Many babies still wake and actively feed several times a night at this age. mom of two ''wakers''
Oh my gosh, you're doing GREAT and your baby is doing GREAT! Give the little demon on your shoulder who's whispering that you're doing it wrong a flick on the head. EM
That sleep pattern sounds just like our daughter when she was that age (she's now 7 1/2 months). We also co-sleep, and have just kept doing that without doing the ''cry it out'' method...and now she just rolls over to nurse usually just once a night, sleeping pretty much from about 7-8pm to 6am. The waking every hour or two after the big initial sleep was driving me crazy, too, but then it just went away. Good luck! (p.s. I just couldn't stand the thought of her crying it out...it seems so sad) Jenny
My five month old son goes to bed between 6 and 7 and wakes up for a bottle around 2am, then goes immediately back to sleep until 5:30-6am. He actually used to sleep all the way through the night, but then got sick and started needing to eat at night again. I'm planning to break him of his nighttime bottle around the holidays when I have some time off from work. (I'm planning on first reducing the amount of milk I give him every night, and then giving him a pacifier to soothe him the nights he gets no milk).

So, a 5 month old CAN sleep for at least 8 hours without needing to wake-up, eat, snuggle, etc. By the way, I have a friend with a 5 month old who does the same thing, so I don't think I have a special baby or anything.

Here's what has worked for us to help him be a better sleeper-- even though its no longer recommended, we started putting our son to sleep on him stomach at about 8 weeks and he INSTANTANEOUSLY started to sleep more peacefully and for longer periods. Also, we feed him only every 3 hours during the daytime. Once we extended the time between daytime feedings, he started to sleep longer at night.

One other thing that really helped us (and the previously mentioned friend), was to stop sleeping with the baby in our room. I found that there are times when he'll ''wake up'' just to move around, make a few gurgles, or whatever. If he's in his own crib in another room, he can do that without us disrupting him-or him disrupting us. However, I know that co- sleeping is a family choice many people make. It just made a huge difference for us.

Lastly, I don't let my son ''cry it out.'' However, I do let him fuss it out--what I mean is that if I KNOW he's tired, I'll put him down. Sometimes, he'll spend as much as 10-15 minutes settling himself down by doing his vocal stylings (he's got a lot of little noises). If he seems upset, I'll let him do his thing for no more than 5 minutes. Again, this might be something you're not willing to do, but I have found that it takes him a little bit to settle down and be ready to sleep. If he's wailing, I'll pick him up. If he's fussy, I let him do that until he falls asleep. jn


I can't remember the specifics of your e-mail, but I did just want to tell you that you basically have to ignore the books when it comes to sleep and your baby. My (now 21 month old) slept like a dream (4-7 hour stretches) up until he was 6 months old, then he went on this crazy waking up every 2-4 hours for months until we finally had to try the cry it out method at 9 months.

He now for the most part (except for during/right after illness, and during/after travel) sleeps great, goes down at 9:30 wakes up around 6-7:30 (he is on a 6 am wake up stint which is a killer though right now).

So anyway all I am trying to say is that most kids sleep cycles change throughout the first year (really throughout their lives) some drastically others mildly. I remember my grandma said she didn't get a good night sleep for 20 years, she was either waiting for a baby to cry, or for a teenager to come home (granted she had four.)This knowledge comes not from books, but from the 3 moms groups I was in during the first year, and all the posts I read back when my own baby was 6 months and I was trying to figure out why he wasn't sleeping through the night like all the books promised he would be.

Your baby is normal, though I know that doesn't make you less sleep depribed. Sometimes it helps to blame it on teething I did that for months. been tere


You sound like you're doing all the right things. Sure, you may be hearing moms around you joyfully announcing that thier baby slept through the night or only wakes up once or twice now but there are also some babies of five months who wake up sometimes SEVEN times a night. Your baby might be a little slow or just might need a little extra care. I do not belive in just leaving a baby in bed screaming even if they are in another room so all you have to do is turn off the baby moniter. Julian

5-month-old Starts Waking at Night

Help! My five-month-old boy has been sleeping from 7 PM to 4 AM, waking up to nurse, and then sleeping until 7 AM since he was six weeks old in his crib! I know we're the luckiest parents on earth and probably most of you want to kill me! Just this week, however, he has suddenly begun to wake several times a night the way he did when he was a newborn. He will nurse and go right back to sleep. He weighs over 16 pounds and eats a big dinner at night, including rice cereal and a vegetable, so I don't think he's hungry. Our pediatrician says she thinks it could be separation anxiety. I don't want to let him "cry it out," and I'm not sure if letting him complain for a short time and then going to him will work either. I know this is a fairly common problem. What worked for some of you?
Our baby slept beautifully every night until he was 5-1/2 months old. Suddenly he had trouble getting to sleep, and woke up several times during the night. In our case, it was teething. After 3 weeks of difficult nights, two beautiful teeth appeared, and he slowly went back to his former sleeping patterns. There wasn't much we could do except comfort him, but it was good to know that there wasn't anything really wrong either.
Our son went through the same routine as your baby: slept from 7pm-early am in his crib, woke to nurse, and back to sleep til 7am again from about 6 weeks to 6 months. Like your child, the waking rarely seemed hunger-related. The only solution we found was to take him into our bed when he woke--and he'd go right back to sleep. We are still doing this at 19 months and now he only wakes about once per night, usually between 3-5am. He does keep us up some with kicking and wiggling, but it's a lot better than walking the floor with him kicking and wiggling. We also were dumbfounded at our good luck at first and still don't know what changed. I imagine it was some sort of developmental thing--but maybe we just had to make up for the relative ease of those first months!
our child did pretty much the same thing -- slept throught the night from about 6-7 weeks until about 5 months. then she would wake and want holding, comforting, pacing, etc. but not really nursing. in hindsight we think it was the start of teething. she has had a pretty hard time with most of her teeth as they have come in (she's now 12.5 months old). she generally sleeps through the night, but every 3-5 weeks she has a spell where for several nights in a row she is waking during the night and wanting attention. often she just wants to be held and will go right back to sleep on someone's shoulder but other times we have give her the baby ambesol or baby orajel during the night, and that then does the trick. if this is your problem as well, then it just takes patience and understanding. the teething really does hurt them, and it hurts the parents as well to see them in pain.
Our son did almost the exact same thing: he slept beautifully from about 6 weeks to 6 months, then suddenly he was waking up two, three, four, even five times in one night. We attributed the difficulty first to our recent move, then to teething. We would get up with him, feed him, walk with him, and eventually, when it got to the point that none of us were sleeping, we would trade off nights sleeping with him on the couch. That way, at least every other night we'd get some sleep (our baby is a terrible wiggle worm). Finally, after three months and still no teeth, we decided we must have trained our baby to expect talking, cuddling, and parents all night long. We are a very close, attached family, but we just couldn't hack it anymore. Someone recommended the book "Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems." It was written by a doctor named Ferber, and it's pretty much a modified cry-it-out approach. I was very afraid, and I'll admit the first night was awful (Ferber also recommends making your child cry it out for naps, but we've never done that). It only took two days and now, 4 months later, we all sleep all night, no crying. And the best part is, now that we are rested, we enjoy our days together much more. Crying it out is a last ditch effort, certainly, but when you start to resent your baby for your lack of sleep, it's time to play hardball.
Our ten month old daughter was exactly like your child! She slept great all night from birth (at least 7 hours straight) and at around 7 months began waking at least 2 times a night. We gave her bottles, held her and then she would go right back to sleep. But, at around 9 months we just couldn't do it anymore! We were so tired, we had to sleep. So, we did just let her "cry it out" BUT, we were ready to listen to her cry for at least 20 minutes. She did cry for 2 nights for 20 minutes each night. We did not go to her crib but stood at the door and told her it was time for bed. We didn't let her see us but just hear our voice so she knew we were still there. After those two nights, she has been sleeping from 7PM to 7AM. You have to reach the point where you are ready to hear him cry before this method will be beneficial however.
What worked (still does) for me is to have our daughter (now 20 months) sleep in our bed with us. That way when she rouses (not really waking up all the way) to nurse, I don't have to get up. We both fall back to sleep within 15 minutes most of the time. My guess is that your son is working at increasing your milk production (that's what frequent nursing does), maybe because he's having a growth spurt. Just about all the babies I know of have dramatic changes in their night-waking patterns as the months pass (except the Ferberized ones--who knows how many times they may wake and re-settle during the night), so I wouldn't take it as a sign of trouble that he used to sleep for a longer stretch than he does now.
You were lucky your boy didn't give you a hard time before this! I had the misfortune of having 2 kids who didn't need very much sleep (their docotor told me). So, I have lived with waking up several times each night for the longest time. My youngest is now 4, so I get up to take him to the bathroom at least thrice each night. Before he was out of diapers he would get up at least twice, and sometimes he wouldn't go back to sleep until the sun came up! This is probably not what you want to hear, but this waking pattern may go on for awhile. After he learns to soothe himself back to sleep he probably won't be so much trouble. Try to let him fall asleep on his own as often as possible and he may learn sooner. If all fails, you may have to let him cry it out. You'd be surprised how quickly babies learn what they can and cannot get away with. With my daughter (who's now 9) it took only 3 days before she quit crying altogether. Good luck!

7-month-old waking every 45 minutes

June 2004

As unbelievable as it sounds, our 7 month old is waking up approximately every 30 - 45 minutes, all night long. He wakes up screaming, like he is in intense pain. We co-slept for 6 months and just recently moved him to his crib because he seemed to want to have more room. At first, he really seemed to be happy in there and he slept all night. Its just been the past week or so that he has been waking up like this. I don't think he is lonely or scared since we eventually end up bringing him back to bed with us, and this doesn't seem to stop the waking. We have taken him to the doctor twice and she says there is nothing wrong with him and we just need to let him cry it out - something we absolutey do not believe in and refuse to do. We've tried many other suggestions too - patting him, putting his pacifier back in his mouth, nursing him, giving him a bottle, etc. All of those things put him back to sleep fine, but nothing keeps him asleep. Any advice would be appreciated!


Oh dear -- I am so sorry that you are having to endure this. We just emerged from a three-month period in which our baby was waking every hour or two, and it was hell. I know how desperate and bad the sleep deprivation and exhaustion can be. For us, it got so bad that I insisted on a referral to a neurologist. She ordered a brain scan to see if my baby was having seizures -- he wasn't. In the end, her advice was the same as your doctor's: Sleep training. We did it. We didn't want to. But we did. We never let our baby cry it out when he woke in the middle of the night, but we did do sleep training with respect to putting him down for the night. When your baby wakes in the middle of the night, is he in the same place and doing the same things as when he went to sleep? The idea is that if he isn't -- for example, if you rock him to sleep and then put him down in a crib -- he won't be able to soothe himself back to sleep when he wakes in the night because he'll wake up into unfamiliar circumstances. I know you don't believe in sleep training -- and whatever choice you make must be the one that is right for you and your family -- but I have to tell you that for us, it has made everyone -- including my baby -- much happier. We put him down at about 7:00, and after about five minutes of fussing, he falls asleep kind of cooing to himself, and doesn't wake up until 6:30 or so the next morning. And -- best of all -- he wakes up happy and babbling to himself. It wasn't easy. For about a month, he'd scream for about 30 minutes to an hour when we put him down for the night. We kept at it because of two inescapable facts: When we did the sleep training (as opposed to comforting him to sleep), he (1) slept through the night and (2) woke up happy. Regardless of whether you decide to go with the sleep training, I have two other thoughts for you. We consulted with Meg Zweiback (836-1450) a nurse practioner, who was very supportive and helpful. Perhaps she could think of some alternatives to sleep training for you. We also consulted with an osteopath -- Catherine Henderson in Albany (don't have her number off hand). Perhaps an osteopath would be able to find what is troubling your baby even though your medical doctor couldn't. (If you want to know about osteopathy, look at www.osteohome.com.) Also, feel free to email me. Good luck. Amy
You mentioned that you're opposed to crying it out, and I completely understand and respect that, but you might nevertheless find it helpful to read some of the ''cry it out'' books out there, that address the issue of WHY babies wake up etc. Armed with that knowledge (usually based on many years of research) you can then come up with your own non-cry-it-out method of dealing with your own child. Also, if you haven't yet checked out Elizabeth Pantley's ''No-Cry Sleep Solution'' you could give that a try. I'd recommend Ferber and Weissbluth to read for information only. (btw, I had a very similar problem. My baby was sleeping through the night fine, and then suddenly around 5 months started waking more and more often until he was up just about every hour. I started off with some of Pantley's suggestions, but ended up doing my own modified Ferber plan which involved some crying but not too much. The night before I tried it, my baby woke every hour. The night after, he slept from 7:00 until 6:00 am.) anon
Is your baby in pain? My 10 mo daughter does the same thing when she is teething (3 teeth in the last 2 weeks). We give her Motrin when she goes to bed, and she sleeps 6 hours - the duration of the medicine. If I don't dose her again, she is up every 45-60 minutes until she is up for the day. If I dose her again and feed her, she sleeps until her normal wake time. Good luck. Julia
My baby did the same thing starting around 4 months. She wouldn't scream, but she would wake up every 1-3 hours and wouldn't stay asleep. One night I had her asleep on her side and she rolled to her tummy and slept for 4 hours. Now she sleeps 7 and I always put her to sleep on her tummy. I know it goes against all the medical advice. Apparently, once a baby can roll over, it's okay to have them on their tummy. Anonymous
Hi Guys, it is a hard time being in the infancy years no? Your baby sounds normal to me. There are two things I thought of, firstly, teeth. Is it possible he is teething? This created extraordinary waking in our son (now 4), almost every 30 minutes for what seemed like a long time. I recommend a teething gel (homeopathy, Hylands) and a cold wet handtowel to chew on during waking hours. Try seeing a homeopath, they have worked magic with our son without intervening and do not suggest using "cry-it-out" techniques which we are STRONGLY against. Last thing that sounds radical but made sense to us. Does your baby get held and walked enough during the day? We discovered when we carried babe in the sling and were very very active (carrying on with life with him in it, lots of walking and action) he seemed to get his need for what we believed to be an active busy life met. He tended to sleep much better when held alot and we walked, cleaned, cooked, shopped etc with him close to our bodies. The Continuum Concept talks alot about the accuracy of this. Its a great book. Best of Luck cassandra
I have (and am) co-sleeping with my baby who is now 11 months old (the older one slept with me until she was about 2). I usually put them down in their own crib in the beginning of the night and brought them to bed when they woke up for milk. I don't believe in the cry it out approach as well. I noticed that around 7-8 months, my babies would start to wake at night more. They seemed more alert at this age and would wake up interested in what was around. Assuming that you are okay with bringing your baby to bed with you, the best advice I have is to ignore them if they are not hungry or wet or want a pacifier. If they are crying sometimes a little pat to remind them they are not alone will do the trick. Don't turn on any lights, don't talk or play (other than a comforting ''mama's here''). Just keep your arm around her to make sure she doesn't crawl away. They will soon learn that nighttime is for sleeping and stop doing this. (I have had nights where I had to hold them or have them lay on me to get them to fall back asleep...but only a few). Also, as they get older, don't respond to every little cry. My 11 month old sometimes crys out now and falls back asleep within a minute. However, if she crys more than a minute or two...I usually get her. (I know...there are many out there who will think this is extreme...but it makes us all happy in my home.) Anon
Did your pediatrician check for an ear infection? Sometimes my son's were symptomless (no fever etc.), other than the pain. And the pain often does get worse when the baby lies down for extended periods. Karen
Did you steal our baby? We had a very similar situation, except that we had usually only co-slept with our baby after midnight or in the early a.m. hours. Suddenly, as she got older (around 5-6 months), she would wake up for hours at a time and try to play with us, even at 2:00 a.m. After weeks of agonizing, after reading every ''gentle plan'' sleep book, after trying every non- cry-it-out plan (we swore we'd never do c-i-o), after being insane from intolerable sleep deprivation, guess what we did? We let her cry it out. We consulted with Meg Zweiback (she is fabulous!) because it was just too hard for us and we couldn't chose amongst the c-i-o plans. She gave us a method we could handle. It was very hard (!!) for about 2 days and then things changed dramatically. She never did sleep all the way through the night, but we immediately went from hourly wakeups (with periods of 2-3 hours of no sleep at all!) to 1-2 wakeups per night and the ability to put her down easily. I'm not saying this is what you should do, I'm just telling you our experience. If we could've found a better way, believe me, we would have. Sometimes it is just a developmental stage and if you wait it out long enough, it will pass. Especially because your baby was a good sleeper before, which ours never was. My fear was that we were contributing to her sleeplessness by all of our efforts to help her get to sleep. Who knows? Good luck with this one. I know it is hard; I almost lost my mind! Formerly Sleepless in Albany
I'll bet your bean is starting to teeth. are his gums swollen and/or is he grabbing his ears alot? this is around the time to start expecting teeth. anyway, try a little baby tylenol before putting him down. if the pain is realy intense, you can alternate every two hours (i got the okay from my ped. to do this when things got really bad for my boy) tylenol and baby motrin. good luck! Jen
As a 2nd time parent who could not/ did not ''sleep train'' my 1st child, I think you should find some gentle way you can live with to let your baby cry a bit. Our 1st did not sleep thru the night until 18 months. We gently ''sleep trained'' our 2nd at 3 months and I think it was soooo good for him as well as for me. Given your posting, your baby is not crying because he needs you- bringing him into bed with you doesn't help. He needs to work this out with your help. I know it's hard the 1st time to let your baby cry and I say from experience that the longer you wait the harder it is. But, if you let him cry for (let's say) 5 minutes and then go in and reassure him (''Let go of the day, sweetness, go to sleep'') without picking him up and then every 5 minutes after that until he falls asleep or you need to pick him up and try the crying every 5 minutes again- I think in a night or two he'll be sleeping just fine. Babies get really stimulated and sometimes need to cry. You have evidence he is not crying fo you. Good luck rested, therefore more available, mom
Sounds like teething to me. Try a little Tylenol before bed. Joan
At 5 months old our baby sometimes woke up screaming too--as if he were in pain. I don't think he was in any pain but he has had problems sleeping for long stretches. I also do not believe in letting him ''cry it out''. I can recommend the book ''The No-Cry Sleep Solution'' by Elizabeth Pantley. She offers good advice about methods to help your child learn to sleep longer w/o letting him cry. I found the book thoughtful, informative and sensitive and full of helpful ideas to gently help your child learn to sleep. She also clearly explains things about babies sleep patterns that no other book I read did. You can read excerpts from the book at www.pantley.com/elizabeth. You can buy it for about $12 on Amazon. I hope this helps. Good Luck. anon
HI, That sounds really awful! One thing that I have read (and which certainly seems to be true for my daughter), is that new nightwaking at this age can result from tiredness/inadequate overall sleep. HOw much is your baby sleeping, what time does he go to bed and how much is he napping?

I like Weissbluth's book ''Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child'' because he explains why children wake and how much they should be sleeping at what age. He does advocate some crying, which I also couldn't tolerate, but with persistence and patience we got my daughter (7 1/2 months) into a great sleep routine WITHOUT hours of crying. It did take several weeks and I try very hard to protect her nap and bedtimes.

Also, consider with his new activity level and solids, is he getting enough breastmilk during the day (no matter how much solids you give him now, his primary source of nutrition is still breastmilk/formula)? My daughter has become much more active and it's easy to forget to nurse during the day but I really made a point of it when she began waking more at night and I was getting very depressed from lack of sleep. Good luck. kristin


8-month-old wakes every two hrs

December 2002

My 8-month-old used to sleep between six and eight hours at a stretch. However, for the past two months she's been waking up every two hours, wanting to be nursed. Any suggestions on getting her to sleep through the night? We're opposed to the ''cry it out'' approach. EB Mom


I don't have a magic bullet, but perhaps it will help a little to know that 6-9 months is a very, very common time for disruptions to sleeping patterns. Babies this age are going through huge developmental changes (learning to crawl and stand) and are usually teething. So what you're going through is normal. My only practical suggestion is to read the book, _The No-Cry Sleep Solution_ by Elizabeth Pantley. I happened to find it easier to co-sleep and night nurse than to do anything else (and my now 22-month-old sleeps through more often than he wakes at night these days), but many friends whose sleep deprivation reached unreasonable levels found this book very helpful. Holly
This is a very common problem, esp. with co-sleeping mom's (I posted this same question on a different board then, and have seen it elsewhere too). The same thing happened to me, at the same age, and I didn't do anything to nip it in the bud at the time--she subsequently kept up the every-2-hour-night-nursing pattern until she was 18 months old!!! Here's what I did to curtail it (and should have tried this a lot sooner). When she woke and asked to nurse, or otherwise indicated that she wanted to nurse, I would say "not til morning", and then hold her and soothe her and pat her and sing, or whatever would calm her. She DID cry, but I was right there, soothing and holding her. If she got truly hysterical, I would give in. It was obviously hard, because of sleep deprivation, but it finally worked. Because of the gentleness of this approach, it took a few weeks to work (rather than a few days). Good luck... Christine
She might be going through a developemental milestone (or two or three), simply wants you there or needs to pee. Have you tried taking her for a pee then? Can you get back to sleep after nursing her (assuming you sleep together)? If so, I'd put it in a bubble and blow it away and nurse her. She's only 8mo. Kathy
Hi, I read your question and many of the very useful answers, and I just wanted to put in my two cents. Our 9-month old was doing the same thing, and we finally did two things: -Since our bed is on the floor, we got a little mattress from a crib and put it on the floor next to our bed, butted up against my side of the bed. We had to put something under it so it was the same level as the bed. We put a trunk along the far edge, with a bumper, so she wouldn't crawl out in her sleep. This got her out of our bed but kept her very nearby for night nursing. - The problem then was she woke up more often because she got cold, even with warm pj's and blankets. It took us awhile to figure this out. Now she wears an interesting garment like soft overalls made out of polar fleece (Gap label), with a long-john shirt under it. It's very warm but not stifling (I read recently about a study that links SIDS with overdressing infants), and we often only cover her legs with the blanket. Somehow the combination has worked: since we got the new fleece thing, she sleeps for 6 hours at a stretch, nursing twice in the night, one of those being an hour before waking. We've been doing this successfully for the past week and a half, so wish us luck! Anon
As long as your child is eating solid food, they can probably do OK sleeping longer stretches without nursing. I ended up stretching out the times between feedings at night. First from every 2 hours to every 4 hours. If my son woke up before the 4 hours were up I would comfort him some other way. We used a pacifier and also rubbed his back. I had to absolutely stick to the 4 hour stretch and he figured out that he wasn't going to get to nurse each time. This helped him to find a new pattern to fall asleep. It was made easier since he slept in our bed; I didn't have to get up to go to another room to comfort him back to sleep. After about 4 days, he was sleeping the 4 hour stretches without waking up. Later, I wanted to stretch it to longer periods of time, but this was only after he was 12 months old. He would go down at 8:30 pm and I wouldn't feed him until 6am. In order to do this I slept in the other room for a while and my husband comforted him back to sleep, sometimes giving him a bottle of water or milk. We also made a separate little bed for him next to our matress (on the floor) so that our movements at night wouldn't wake our son (and vice versa). He seemed to sleep more soundly that way. I hope this is helpful! anon
9-month-old wakes six times at night March 2004

Our 9 month old still wakes 4-6 times each night. We are doing a combination of crib and family bed. He wants to eat each time he awakes and we are not sure it is even possible to wean him from frequent nightime feedings if he is sleeping next to me, his mother for the second half of the night. Has anyone had success with nightime weaning of a child when using a family bed? Is it even possible we are wondering...Any tips and experience would be greatly appreciated. We are choosing not to do the crying out method for bedtime (he still goes to sleep at the breast). For a few nights my husband tried to soothe/pat/carry him to sleep each time he woke up but now he seems to be an even more determined nightime nurser. Very Tired Mom


Yes, it is possible to night wean while nursing and co-sleeping. We did it with our then-18-month-old. We talked about it with our son a lot during the day---not as helpful with a 9-month- old, I know---then went to a sippy cup of water in the night. He cried a bit, but really not more than a couple minutes. I had high hopes that he would stop waking altogether, and though that didn't happen, he did accept being soothed in other ways.

If you haven't read ''The No-Cry Sleep Solution'' by Elizabeth Pantley (a nursing, co-sleeping mom herself), I'd recommend it. While you're not specifically trying to get your child to sleep through the night, she has lots of ideas that I think would be helpful to you. She discusses sleep patterns and ways other than nursing to help your baby go to sleep, which affects your baby's ability to go back to sleep when s/he wakes. The idea is that once your baby is able to go back to sleep on his or her own, s/he'll only wake you when s/he's really hungry. Best of luck to you! Denise


Please be sure to read advice posted under ''High needs baby nurses all night'' -- it is a similar question and I have posted my suggestions there. Good Luck Blissfully Sleeping w Baby Boy

10-month-old wakes up hourly

Aug 1998

Help! My son is 10 months old, breast feeds fairly frequently (about every two hours) eats some foods, never in large quantities, but the big problem is he's not sleeping through the night. Now this isn't a few wakings, it's about every hour during the night. He wakes up and apparently doesn't know how to go back to sleep since I nurse him to sleep. Then he wants to be nursed back to sleep and then only when he's totally asleep can I sneak in and lay him in his crib (sometimes he wakes up when I'm putting him down and I have to go right back to nursing till he falls asleep). I've tried having my husband go in and pick the baby up and console him and return him to his crib, but my son just cries until I finally give in and feed him. I'm sure lots of people have been effective with letting their babies cry it out, but it doesn't feel right to me and I'm wondering if anyone has had any luck with some other strategy. We have tried having him sleep in our bed, but my husband continually rolls onto him and I sleep very lightly thinking he's going to fall off the bed, or something. Does any one have any advice? Jena


Have you read any of Dr. Ferber's books on sleeping? He is an expert on sleep patterns and provides some logical tactics for getting your child to sleep through the night. Granted, he does advocate some degree of letting kids cry -- and it is somewhat stressful to implement. But, as I and many of my friends learned, his approach works quickly and effectively.

My son was unable to fall asleep on his own -- and thus cried whenever he woke in the middle of the night. When he was about 8 months old we tried Dr. Ferber's approach. After two nights my son fell asleep alone in his crib, and stayed asleep for 10 hours. He didn't have any sleep problems again until he was 2 years old and sleeping in a real bed for the first time. At that point we tried Dr. Ferber's tactics again, and they worked. Stephanie


We never thought we were the cry-it-out types either. But after two months of hourly wakings, we were just about dead. My son had slept through the night for about a month until we moved when he was six months old, and sleeping got really bad only when we moved into the third temporary place, so we may have had more reason for hope, and a bit more structure to build on. But the first night in the permanent place, I just put him down (following a very short routine -- nursing, stopping nursing, a song) and he whimpered and went right out. When he started the hourly wakings again a month later, we did structured crying (go in at 5 minutes then 10, then 15, 15, 15, etc.) for 45 minutes total the first night, less the second, much less the third and fourth and none after that. He's up twice a night, max, now (at 14 mos), and often sleeps through.

It wasn't a lot of fun, but now he wakes up cheerful (MUCH more cheerful than when he was missing all his REM sleep by waking so often), he's developing faster, and we feel a million times better. Now all we have to do is get the 4-year-old to sleep through! Laura


Hi- a brief note on our experiences with our now 20 month old son. He, too, has never slept through the night. When younger, I didn't want him to, because I preferred the lactational amenorrhea provided (then I was starting to get worried that I'd have to wean him to become pregnant again, since we were trying for a 2 yr spacing- luckily it finally gave out a few months later, so they'll be 26 months apart and I still nurse my son). Anyway, somewhere around a year, we tried to get him to start falling asleep on his own in the crib. That didn't work AT ALL- a few nights of screaming and then he started vomitting within minutes of putting him in the crib (I asked for advice on that situation on this list a number of months back). We ended up putting a toddler bed between our bed and the wall (on my side). This has worked well, because he can't fall out and yet he is in his own space, it doesn't have the emotional trauma that the crib did for him, we have our bed back, and I am no longer worried about him rolling off the bed when he climbs up next to me (the toddler bed is about 4 inches lower than ours). At first, I would nurse him for a while- enough to make him sleepy but not asleep- and then I would lie in our bed with him in the toddler bed until he fell asleep. After a few nights of protest, he learned to fall asleep by himself. At that point, I would still nurse him when he woke at night (although for him it was usually at least 2-3 hours, not every hour or so). Somewhere around 18 months, shortly after having become pregnant again, I decided to stop nursing "on demand", partly because he wanted to nurse all the time with me home for the summer and partly because I knew I couldn't do it with another baby. He now nurses in the morning before getting out of bed, in the afternoon before taking a nap (here I let him fall asleep nursing), and at night before going to sleep (sometimes he falls asleep but it doesn't seem to matter anymore). At night, he still wakes up a few times, but I won't let him nurse. The nights were hardest, and he still protests every once in awhile (like 4am this morning), but usually he'll just crawl up next to me and go back to sleep. If I give in and let him nurse one night, though, the next night he expects it again and really complains- I have learned that it just doesn't pay to make exceptions to the rule. Your baby probably will cry for a while every time he wakes the first few nights, but he will get used to it eventually. Especially as they get older, they can learn what the appropriate times to nurse are- after the first few days of our new schedule, my son rarely indicates that he wants to nurse, but he never turns me down if I offer! Some flexibility is OK- if for some reason he misses his pre-nap nursing (due to my absence), I will sometimes let him nurse in the late afternoon or early evening, or if he's having a particularly grumpy morning I will sometimes let him nurse again after he's up and about. Good luck! Naomi
One suggestion I read about and was getting ready to try with my 6 month old was to dilute my milk in a bottle with water -- increasing the water to milk ratio slowly each night. Supposedly, the babies lose incentive for waking up.

Before trying the diluted milk approach, I just tried holding him but not nursing. It was my compromise to letting him "cry it out". There were a couple of tough sessions (I would only do this once per night) but soon all he needed was a firm hand on his chest.

During the crying (and clawing) sessions that seemed to last for hours but in reality were more like 15 minutes, I tried to mitigate my guilt by reminding myself that this was for the whole family. Lack of sleep had lowered my tolerance and adversely affected my relationship with my toddler and husband.

For the most part, my son now sleeps from 9pm-6am.

Best of luck. Cynthia


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