Waking at Night: Toddlers
Berkeley Parents Network >
Waking at Night: Toddlers
my 14 month old still doesn't sleep through the night. she
sleeps next to me and i tryed to put her in her own bed. but
she would wake up anyways. sometimes she'd wimper like
having a bad dream and then she's passing out again
without nursing, but it doesn't work trough the whole night. i
sometimes feel so desperite that i think; perhaps a calming
herb like lemon balm might work. i tryed heavier dinners
and all that but it doesn't seem to help. at this moment i can
only use one hand so making her sleep in another bed is
not really an option for a while.
a mother who dreams of a solid night sleep
Dear Wakeful Mama,
I have a two year old who woke up several times a night on and
off until she was about 20 months. In our case there were two
factors. Firstly, she was teething and that was quite painful
for her at night so we would wake and give her tylenol and put
her back in her crib. Secondly, as a result of being picked up
due to the teething, she got used to be ''helped'' back to sleep
and so after teething ended, she would continue to wake up. My
recommendation may not work for you if you cannot tolerate your
child crying, but I have found it to be the quickest method to
good alnight sleep. Let your child cry when he/she wakes until
he/she falls back asleep, however long that takes (unless sick,
in need of diaper change or otherwise in physical pain). This
usually took one to two nights after several wakeful weeks.
Now the mother of a night sleeping child (who still wakes up
occasionally at night as she is now getting her 2 year old
molars - oh well, full sleep every night will happen
At 14 months my son was also waking up 2x a night. Then I
decided to wean him for reasons unrelated to his night waking.
I was particularly worried about this because he shares a room
with his sister - how was I going to get him back to sleep
without a lot of crying or nursing? So, the first feeding I
gave up was the one right before bed. That night and for the
majority of nights since he has slept through the night! I
think the feeding right before bed was keeping his metabolism
going so he was nursing every 3 hours = waking 2x night. Now
when I put him to sleep I put a sippy cup of water in the crib
with him. In the middle of the night if he wakes up usually I
can just help him find his sippy cup, cuddle him for a minute
and he goes back to sleep. I do not know how you feel about
weaning right now but perhaps try to pass on that before bed
feeding and see what happens. Good Luck!
Mine did this until about 16 mo -- don't worry, they will quit
it eventually. I found it helpful to wear a shirt and to refuse
to, ah, ''put out'' the first time she woke up. It took about a
week of getting yelled at but she did finally start sleeping
through until about 5...at which point I still let her nurse,
and then we sleep for another couple hours, and then she nurses
again. Now that she's quit nursing during the day I actually
kinda enjoy the dawn nursing....
I don't have much advise for you other than telling you that it's
normal. My daughter continued waking up twice a night until she
was about 14 months old as well and then once for some months
longer. Even now, at 2.5 years old, she will wake up if she is
in bed by herself (fortunately she finally stopped crying when
she does and comes to our bed instead).
The usual advise is to not nurse her when she wakes up. If she
needs something to fall asleep try giving her a bottle of water.
The idea is that if she doesn't get a treat, she won't be
encouraged to wake up. This didn't work too well for us (she
refused the water) but you can give it a try.
I have a beautiful 15 month old daughter who has never been the
greatest sleeper. However recently she has started waking up
about 2.30 am and pretty much screaming and crying until about 4
when we can get her back down. She takes 2 naps a day - the
second one can sometimes be a little late ending as late as 6pm.
Then she goes down about 9.30pm - I pretty much nurse her down
as if I put her in her crib before she is asleep she screams
until she vomits sometimes. When she wakes at 2.30 my husband
comforts her periodically. She will fall asleep in his arms but
wake up the second he puts her down again. He is stay at home
dad and I work full time which is why he mainly comforts her at
night as I have a high stress job which I need to be reasonably
Any ideas or suggestions? We are desperately tired.
You may find some useful advice in Elizabeth Pantley's ''The No-
Cry Sleep Solution.'' It's available from amazon. I used her
suggestion for nap extension and some of those tips may help w/
your night wakings, except it would be hard to prewaken to
anticipate the child's waking at 2 in the morning. I do notice
when I race in after my daughter awakens mid nap that she is not
fully awake and if I pat humm and shsh w/o lifting her out, that
in about 5-12 minutes she's sound asleep again. She's whimpering
but not full-on crying while I do this. taking your child out
might awaken her more fully, despite her cries. it's worth a
try. you can always take her out later.
I feel for you, as my daughter did the same thing! One thing to
remember is that every child and family is different, and what
works for one child may NOT work for yours.
But, here is what we did. First of all, try to transition her
into one nap a day. Both of my daughters began taking one nap
only at 13 months. It is hard at first, but better in the long
run (you might have to have an early lunch for a while). Second,
what they say is true (despite the fact that we all fight it):
Babies have to learn to fall asleep on their own. When she wakes
in the night, she cannot put herself to sleep, because she does
not know how. It was easier for us to teach our daughters to put
themselves to sleep by themselves during the nap, rather than
start it at night (but it might work better for her if you do it
for both the nap and the night). We explained to them that we
were not going to pick them up, but that we would be there to help
them (for example, we would come in and rub their backs, but not
pick them up. As hard as it was for everyone, they both learned
within three days). When they woke in the night, it was the same
thing. We never left them alone to cry endlessly, and always let
them know that we were there for them. You have to be quick when
you walk into the room to reassure them, though. Don't linger and
drag it out, as this makes it worse. In the end EVERYONE sleeps
well! This is the trade off. Both of our daughters like their
beds, feel safe and comfortable there, and we are all well rested.
Our daughters also threw up; I think this is pretty common. Don't
worry! If you are consistant, and really stick to your guns, they
learn quickly and it gets better each night. We are working
parents, so we did need our sleep, and could not hold our girls
all night, or sleep with them (no one slept well the times we
tried this). Good Luck!
A well rested parent
You might want to make the second nap her bed time. I
have read and seen with my own daughter that an earlier
bedtime can often help a child sleep better. It prevents the
child from getting overly tired which can make it harder to
rest well. When she wakes up from that nap she needs to
go right back to sleep. Of course maybe seven would
eventually be better. There is a great book that saved my life
called, Happy Sleep Habits Healthy Child. I forget the
author's name at the moment. When she wakes up, the only
thing that worked for us was to let our baby cry it out, which
is really hard to do but it was either that or wake up every
hour throughout the night. She got used to falling back
asleep on her own and now doesn't wake up at all. Good
It could be teething. Try some homeopathic teething gel. You can get
it at many baby stores, El Cerrito Natural Grocery, etc. It works like
16-month-old Waking at Night
I have a 16 month old daughter who is waking up between 3:30 and 4:00am
wanting a bottle. How can I get her to start sleeping through the night
again - HELP. The story goes like this: I have a elderly mother who
occasionally (between 3:30 and 4am) talks and screams very loud in her
sleep; One week three nights in a row. To make a long story short, my
daughters sleep was disrupted and now she wakes up every night. Closing my
daughters door won't work, because she can hear the screams, and my mom's
too scared to sleep with her door closed. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
We have a girl the same age who wakes up every night at least once. On our
doctor's advice, we try to totally ignore her when she does. And
eventually she calms down and goes back to sleep herself. We used to get
up and give her a bottle and then put her back to sleep and sometimes we
still do, but it's a miracle that she seems to know that her crying won't
work anymore. Of course, I still try to sneak near the door to her room
and make sure nothing is seriously wrong (dirty diaper, one time her foot
was caught in the crib). I usually wait until she had quieted down again
and then peek in.
Talk about the sandwich generation. What about dealing with the
grandmother's talking/screaming in the night? Any chance of dealing with
that? I don't have any very good advice re: the 16 month old. My own
daughter (who is now 22) slept through the night from the day she was born
until she was about 2 when she had an ear infection that woke her at night.
>From then on she didn't sleep through the night until she was about 5. I
know this is not an encouraging story. What does your pediatrician say?
Re: the 16 month-old sleep problem. It seems like your daughter has come up
with a good solution to her problem: to wake herself up before she is
awakened unexpectedly (and kind of scarily) in the middle of the night, and
she keeps you with her by asking for the bottle. Maybe you could find a way
to reassure your mother -- why is she afraid to close the door? Maybe you
could put a baby monitor in her room if she's afraid you won't hear her if
she needs help. It seems like you need to find a way to get that door closed
and try to reassure your daughter that she won't be awakened like that again.
To the parent with the 16 month old daughter who wakes between 3:30 and
4:00 wanting a bottle .. I have a similar situation. I'm not sure if it is
helpful just to know you are *not alone* ... I don't really have any
I am a "fost-adopt" parent through Alameda County and, although my daughter
(now 21 months) has been with me since she was only 5 months old, there
have been many complications, legally speaking. Due to the fact that this
is my daughter's personal life, I'm not going to get into all the details.
"All the details" are being managed and handled by Alameda County; suffice
it to say that this process has caused my daughter a great deal of stress
and so she too wakes up every single night. At six months she slept
through the night, from 7 months to the present she wakes up at least once
a night, and asks for a bottle. Thus far, the doctor has told me to keep
letting her have the bottle and, in fact, to let her sleep with me. Young
children who are very stressed just want to be reassured by their parent;
there is no way around it. My daughter seems quite calm and happy during
the day (her teachers say "she's always all right!") so the night-time
reassurance DOES seem to have a positive effect.
One thing that *might* help both your mother and your daughter is
background music ... a soothing low-level music tape which runs all night
long. Sometimes young children who hear constant background sound don't
respond as much to the sudden, louder sounds. Also, can your mom's doctor
do anything to help *her* sleep better?
I know at least one other person who's child didn't quit taking a
middle-of-the-night bottle till over two-and-a-half ... what about other
folks out there? Maybe even without stress, middle-of-the-night bottles
*really* go on much longer than we *formally* admit?
-- Mary Carol
Help. I need advice. Our 17 month old son has been having a lot of trouble
sleeping over the past month. He goes to bed fine, but wakes up *every
night* around 1 a.m. yelling out that he wants either his mommy or daddy
and to get out of his crib. If we don't immediately respond or just go in
and talk to him without picking him up he starts screaming. He really works
himself up into a frenzy and can't be settled without taking him to bed
with us. It isn't the night terrors. I think it's mostly separation
anxiety. So far, we've been bringing him in to our bed, but he's big and
the bed's small and once he's in there we're up for the night. I don't feel
particularly comfortable "ferberizing" him. It really goes against my
belief that if he's yelling for us, he needs something. But I also don't
want to instill any bad habits that we're just going to have to deal with
We practiced "family bed" with both our kids and, when they got too big and
I wasn't nursing, we made them a bed on the floor next to ours and they
were happy with that. Like the book, Family Bed, says - we are one of the
few cultures in the world that insists that these tiny, relatively helpless
creatures be independent and sleep by themselves in a room apart. I always
thought it made sense to err on the side of love and warmth. When the kids
were ready, they went to their own beds with no problem and I never
regretted handling it that way. We were firm at some point that they
couldn't be in the same bed with us because of their sleeping habits
(kicking, snoring, moving too much, etc.) but they were welcome to be close
to us otherwise. Hope this helps.
Christina asked for advice on her 17-month-old's sleeping
problems, and worried about instilling "bad habits that we're just
going to have to deal with later on." I only have one child, who is
about 2.5 right now, so I'm no great authority. But I used to worry
about this myself, and I feel so completely vindicated that we didn't
in fact screw my daughter up for life, that I wanted to respond... We
(mainly I) did all the "wrong" things with my daughter. I nursed her
to sleep from the beginning, then let her go to sleep with a bottle of
milk until I became concerned for her teeth. We moved her out of her
crib and into a double mattress on the floor *very* early on, way
before she was able to climb out of the crib. This was basically
because it was more convenient then to lie down with her until she
went to sleep. For a long time she would wake up every night some
time between 1 and 3 or something and I would just move in to her bed.
DESPITE ALL THIS, she now sleeps through the night consistently, and
goes to sleep quickly and easily (usually listening to a tape). So
she doesn't rely on us either to go to sleep or stay asleep, as so
many people and books threatened.
I'm certainly not advocating my particular methods, or lack thereof.
And not everyone can take getting up in the middle of the night every
night for that long. I know my husband, for instance, could not have
stood it, though during the day he's very patient. So for heaven's
sake don't sacrifice yourself for any principle. But I do think that
it's hard to go wrong if you do *what you yourself feel is the right
thing at the time*, without worrying too much about the future. Good
Our family has worked out a solution to the middle of the night waking that
works for us. for the last 2 years, my daughter will wake at some point in
the night and call for me. I go and get her and bring her into our bed
(which has been expanded by putting a twin bed right next to ours. Both
beds are at the same level.) She will fall back to sleep easily and sleep
until our usual waking time. The reasons that we like it so much are: I
can respond to the crying, we grown-ups get some private time in the late
evening, my daughter has gotten easier & easier to sleep along side of as
she gets bigger, we have the best and funniest snuggle times in the waking
moments of the morning. So even though this has developed into a routine,
it is a wonderful one and not an undesireable habit. By the time a change
is needed, we'll have figured out a way to approach it. Good luck!!
We have an 18-month old son and we have been dealing with what you are talking
about for a while. Jack goes down to sleep in his crib, then wakes up just
about every night calling for us or just plain calling. I wouldn't say
crying, although if we ignore it (and we have tried, briefly) he too will work
himself up. I also do not think it is night terrors, but rather a preference
for our bed. When he comes in with us, which was our MO every since he moved
into his own room at 7 months, he goes right to sleep.
We are now expecting twins, and must try seriously to get him to sleep through
the night in his own bed. From what I hear and read, there are two ways to do
this: let him cry and don't go in, or let him cry a bit and then go in and
comfort him, either staying in with him until he goes to sleep, or comforting
him briefly, going back into your room, and them going back again in
increasing lengths of time (i.e. one night, 5 mins, next night 10 minutes).
When you do go in, try not to be too accommodating--you are basically
reassuring him that everything is OK, you are near, and reminding him that he
sleeps in his own bed, but not playing with him or letting him know it is OK.
I heard someone say it is a good idea to be a little grumpy.
We are doing it the other way: going in once he has called for about 10
minutes, and then staying in until he goes to sleep. We have done it now for
about 4 nights and the time my husband is in there is getting less (last night
1/2 hour). It is our hope that eventually he will know that he can't come
into our bed any more, and simply put himself back to sleep, like he does at
other times during the night.
Our main mistake in all this has been not being consistent--we have tried on
and off to do this and I find I prefer my good night sleep and it has been
easier to just take him into our bed and all go back to sleep. Also, I don't
yet know if our method will work. Unfortuantely, there is no easy answer to
this problem, unless you are willing to do the ferber method. Good luck!
This is a long note, so please bear with me. Our baby, now 17
months old, has never reliably slept through the night. However,
over time he has been sleeping longer and longer, so we've been
willing to wait it out, hoping he'd eventually learn. Last month,
he had reached a point where he was sleeping from 7:30 pm to 5:00
am, drinking one full bottle of milk, and then sleeping for
another couple of hours - waking around 7:00 or 7:30. This was OK
with us - and sometimes he would even skip the 5:00 am bottle and
actually sleep all night. Then he got an ear infection, and now
he's back to waking several times a night - often at 10:00,
sometimes at 12:00 or 2:00, and again at 5:00. The first time he
wakes up, at either 10:00 or 12:00/2:00, he wants a bottle, and
then he wants another at 5:00. We've reached the end of our
patience, and would like to more actively teach him to sleep
through, especially since we know he shouldn't need the milk at
The thing is, all of the standard advice about how to teach
children to put themselves to sleep doesn't seem to apply to our
situation. First off, he knows how to put himself to sleep. We
have put him in his crib awake every night since he was 2 or 3
months old, and 9 times out of 10, he falls asleep without a fuss.
Second, what happens with our son when he wakes up is that he
fusses and cries for around 5-10 minutes, then quiets if we don't
go to him, then wakes up 10-15 minutes later and cries again.
This goes on for hours - in fact, once it starts, I don't know
when it stops, because I've always given in at some point - it's
incredibly crazy-making. If we go in to him during one of the cry
sessions to comfort him, he just gets very upset, so the 'go in
every five minutes, pat his back, and leave' technique results in
him becoming more and more agitated, and screaming louder and
louder. Although this does eventually end up with him falling to
sleep, exhausted, it makes me feel absolutely horrible.
I've never seen this kind of issue addressed in any book on sleep,
nor on the website. Anyone else have experience with this?
This may not be what you want to hear, but I have a friend whose
child did EXACTLY what yours is doing. She finally stopped the
going in to comfort him part of the ''cry it out'' recipe. Her
verdict: Ferber is a softie! The problem seemed to be that her
child would be winding down and the comforting would just
interrupt him and get him all geared up again. So she would
tell you, if you can stand it - let him cry, alone. (It's not so
much teaching him to fall asleep by himself, but teaching him to
GO BACK to sleep by himself - a different skill, because you're
in a different part of your sleep cycle.) If it helps - I can
tell you my friend's child is an adorable, very well-adjusted,
happy 2 and a half year old now. Good luck.
Here's some advice from the alternative medicine world:
My daughter did not sleep soundly for a long time, and I found
standard advice unhelpful as well. After combing through the
Sears' Baby Book repeatedly, I finally came across something in
the food allergy section that said basically, ''If you have a baby
who has never slept soundly, you might look into the possibility
of a food allergy.'' I had known that my daughter had a milk
allergy as an infant, but I thought she had outgrown it since she
no longer got the same distinctive rash when she had cheese or
yogurt. As an experiment I tried eliminating dairy again, and it
really did help.
Also, you mentioned that your child had an ear infection. I don't
know how common that is in your family or what kind of birth you
had (c-section, head stuck, smooth 'n' easy), but there might be a
connection to the molding of your child's head and the sleep
issue. I can't isolate the dairy/head molding variables in my
situation because at the same time I eliminated dairy, I took my
daughter to a craniosacral therapist. She did have a little head
bruise when she was born after getting stuck in my pelvis.
Osteopaths find a connection between the way the head molds and
children's sleep. In addition, also related to the head molding,
some kids, especially ones born via c-section, have higher
incidence of ear infections which can also be cleared up using
craniosacral therapy/osteopathy. I went to Barbara Newlon in San
Rafael, and her work on my daughter seemed to help the sleeping
I have the same problem with my 16 month old. He is constantly
waking up in the middle of the night and asking for a bottle. I
was losing a lot of sleep especially since he was waking every
night around 2AM and then again around 5AM.
HERE'S WHAT I DID - Instead milk (which can cause tooth decay) I
starting filling up two bottles with ice and placing them by my
son's bed. By the time he wakes up at 2 and 5 the ice has melted
into cold water. And everytime he'd wake up - he could reach and
grab a bottle on his own and would fall back asleep without
waking up mom. In the morning (7AM), I'll find an empty bottle
on the floor and a half empty bottle in the bed close to my son.
He may be awake playing with toys or still sound asleep. And I
also give him a big hug and thank him for not waking up mommy
during the night.
Nightime is the only time he gets bottles, as he drinks out of
sippy cups during the day. Hopefully in a few weeks, he will no
longer require the nightime bottles, but until he reaches that
point - there's no guilt about too much milk or too much sugar
during the night.
HELPFUL TIP - If your son isn't too fond of water - add a
tablespoon of juice to the ice.
I hopes this helps.
My daughter was a nighttime waker, similar to your child. She
was weaned at 16 mo., but would still wake at night and need
comforting. I could tell that some of the wake-ups were due to
banging into the sides of her crib. We went on a trip when she
was 20 mo. and she slept on a full size bed. She didn't wake up
the entire time. When we got back home, she woke up 10 times
that first night in her crib. We switched her to a futon and
now to a twin bed with a trundle pulled out in case she falls.
She has rarely woken up since. Maybe you could try switching to
a bed? I never suspected that would do the trick.
Our 22 month old son still wakes up 2-4 times a night. He is in
a regular bed and calls out to me to come to him. He wants me to
lie down next to him until he falls asleep again. He often askes
for a drink of water. (his sippy cup is next to his bed within
his reach) I am 4 months pregnant and am concerned about how the
lack of sleep will effect this baby and mostly I am concerned
about after the baby is born. I have read the No-cry it out
sleep book, but feel it is geared towards under one year olds. I
am not willing to let him cry it out for 20 minutes or more. We
have tried and tried and tried to have him attach to something
else besides me in the middle of the night, but to no avail. Any
suggestions on ways that you might have used to get your little
one to sleep at least 6 hours long without waking up will be
most appreciated. Thanks.
How is your child going to bed? If you are lying down with your
son to put him to bed, he will want to go back to sleep that way
every time he wakes up. When you get that in order the nighttime
stuff will (slowly! or abruptly) fall into place. For going to
sleep ritual is so important. We had a vague ritual with my now
2.5-yr-old, but things didn't fall into place until we made it an
explicit ritual that we followed every time. Also, I would tell
my daughter the whole ritual. First we'll put your PJs on, then
you get your warm milk, then we'll brush your teeth, then I'll
read you a story, then it's bedtime. After each step I would
remind her of the whole ritual: we've put your PJs on and you've
had your milk. Now I'm going to brush your teeth, then we'll
read a story and then it's bedtime. When she started by herself
to say ''then it's bedtime!!'' at the end, I knew that it was going
to work. At first she would still cry when left alone, but I
would go in and do the absolute minimum that was required to get
her to stop crying. I found that standing outside her door and
saying ''shhhh'' through the crack nipped the crying in the bud and
reassured her that I wasn't far. Here was the added benefit ---
when she wakes up at night I can often jsut say ''shhhh'' at the
door and she'll go back to sleep. Now that we've been at it a
while some nights when I put her down I don't have to whisper
shhh at all and the nights when she doesn't cry and wake us are
I hear you. The only reason I feel qualified to post a reply is
that I just dealt with this my second child who is now 19 month
old. He was waking about 2-3 times a night. He was sleeping in
his own bed (a trundle while his older sister is on the top bed)
and coming in to our room in the middle of the night. We
decided that he needed to learn to sleep through the night, so
we simply closed his door. He's not able to open it yet, and
I'm glad we did this before he learns!
Now, 3 weeks later, I'm happy to say that he only wakes maybe
once a night...cries for a minute, then dutifully climbs back
into his bed and falls asleep until morning. I feel he was
ready for this sleep-training. Honestly, he never cried for
more than 5 min (the first 2 days), and each night the minutes
of crying were fewer and fewer.
Good luck, and happy sleeping :)
I know this isn't what you want to hear, but since I've walked a
few miles in your shoes I have to tell you anyway: let him cry
it out. It won't scar him. It will teach him to sleep well and
you will be a better mother for it. A doctor friend of mine just
told me that a recent study found that kids who had
been ''ferberized'' or some variation had better sleep habits and
less insomnia than kids who were allowed to continue being
wakeful sleepers. After 18 months of interrupted sleep, my
husband and pediatrician wore me down and I agreed to sleep
training. My pediatrician said I would have to wait AT LEAST 20
minutes before going in or I was just prolonging the torture for
both of us. I can tell you honestly that it was hell doing it --
I very clearly remember the sick feeling that I had the next
morning. But, and here's the important thing: it doesn't take
very long (4 nights, I believe) and it works. Not 6 hours of
uninterrupted sleep: 10 hours. They just have to learn how to do
it. We've had to retrain a few times since then -- recently
after a long vacation where he slept in the same room with us --
but it never takes more than one tearfilled night to go back to
a blissful full night's sleep. Go ahead. Try it. Your whole
family will be happier if you do.
You may already be doing this, but I make it a priority every
day to provide my 22 mo. old son with as much outdoor playtime
as possible. In addition, to get some of that toddler angst and
energy expended, we walk up and down stairs at the slightest
opportunity and have been known to ''walk the hills'' in the
evening, if necessary, to tire him out. As a result, my son
takes 3 hour naps, and typically sleeps 11 to 12 hours a night.
By the way, the sleeping is just a great by product of this
philosophy---I learned early on that he was significantly more
happy on a daily basis if we employed a physically active
strategy. Good luck-this sounds like a tough phase for you!
I am so sympathetic. You must be very tired. My 21-month-old
does not sleep through the night and we have also been unwilling
to have him cry it out. I am now getting enough sleep because my
husband gives him a few ounces of milk in a bottle at one of his
wake-ups. The baby also is willing to go back to sleep with a
little back rubbing or just by himself if it is my husband
responding to him, not me. Good luck.
How about having your husband or partner do the night-time
work? If your son wants YOU, this may make him mad, and
he may cry, but you won't be leaving him to cry it out. And he
might just decide that if he can't get mom, then he may as
well go to sleep.
I've read the responses so far and I've felt so frustrated by
many of them that I finally have to respond. I'm with Nelly - I
have to say that nothing but good can come from ''sleep training''
your child! And I too was a hard sell, I promise you. My
husband and I truly agonized (not to mentioned judged our
friends, pediatrician and all other believers in sleep
training harshly) over this issue. But when I had to go back to
work and be able to concentrate, and was instead becoming
depressed, short-tempered and anxious, I had a change of heart.
But I can tell you, I cried more in anticipation of listening to
my 6-mo old baby cry for me at night, than I actually cried when
it finally happened!
It's hard to say how long it will take - some say 3 days, some
say 3 weeks (with a really tough child - but that's very rare),
but I believe that it is usually under a week, IF you start at
that earlier window (5 - 10 months or so?) For us, it was 2
nights of on and off crying for about 2 hours, 3rd night 45
minutes, 4th night 25 minutes, 5th and 6th night under 5 minutes.
I was told by many that we had it hard. She was about 6 1/2
months. I hear it gets much harder as they get older, BECAUSE
they have been taught by their parents what happens when they
wake up: They get mom. Or dad. And mom and dad get to be sleep
deprived way longer than they ever needed to be. But it is still
doable. Ask yourself: don't you want to help your child sleep?
Teach them to help themselves sleep? You must teach them because
it's not really an innate skill, and like many lessons, there may
be some pain involved. But you will all be so much happier for
it! I wish I could have been convinced about this earlier,
myself! and really, what's a week or two (or even 3) of
emotional pain (which neither you nor the child will remember 6
months from now) for years to come of blissful sleep for
And I promise you something: Even after the worst night of
crying, you will go in and find a smiling baby with his arms
reaching up for you, happy and rested, in the morning.
I wish you patience, fortitude and a good night's sleep!
Been there, glad I'm gone!
Hi, I do not really have an advice for you since my baby is
still 8-mo old. However, I am afraid I will have to go thru your
fate. He is still waking up every 2-3 hours, sometimes every
hour. The last month (and still now) has been extremely hard
because he has been sick-ish. Sometimes he is waking up EVERY
I read couple of the responses and some of them were not quite
sympathetic. I know that for a lot of mothers, they have never
realized how hard it is to have a baby who is a light sleeper.
The other big portions of moms also had relatively easy crying-
out method (or the lesser one of Ferber method). Or even the
I tried the Ferber method 2 months ago for TWO weeks. Everytime,
it took about 1-2 hours crying. No improvement for 2 weeks. I
tried the water trick for MONTHS now. Nothing there.
There was a response about the crib and the head molding. I am
going to explore more about them. About the crib, I do not think
so since my baby does not sleep better in our bed either.
I started the Ferber method again last Saturday night. He did
not stop crying for more than 2 hours. Finally my husband took
him and it took another 30 min before he fell asleep in the
futon with my husband (he took it away so my baby can not see
me). The whole day Sunday, he was extremely clingy to me and
cried a lot (may be total of 4-5 hours). Last night I let him
cry again. After an hour, we could not stand it anymore. His
voice was hoarse and he had difficulties breathing because of
the runny nose. My husband calmed him down, and for the rest of
the night, my baby had a blocked nose. Go figure.
Anyway, I just want to drop a line so you feel better that you
are not alone. Hang on there, I hope your problem will be over
soon. And I sure hope that I do not have to wait that long.
Mother who have tried a lot of ''tricks''
I read the original posting on this and also the response by
the woman with the 8-month-old. I felt like I needed to
respond to both of them.
I had a daughter who woke very often in the night, and did so
for a long time (two years). She was an incredibly light
sleeper as well; every creak of the floorboards was a terror
because she would hear it and wake up. And we had a
We tried lots of things, and found that there was some
combination that seemed to work. You just need to keep
trying different combinations of things. Here are some of
the things we found that helped:
-We didn't put her in another room, but did put her in a
separate bed, right next to ours. We put our mattress on the
floor (much quieter than the bed, and easily accessible),
and put a little mattress next to it, with a bolster to keep her
from creeping off in her sleep. We stressed to her that she
was getting her big girl bed, with big girl blankets all her
own, and tried to make it an exciting thing, yet we were still
right there when she woke.
-We started making a bedtime routine that included ''hot
chocolate'' right before bed (we use a mixture of plain and
chocolate flavored soy milks, heated up in the microwave).
This seemed to fill her up and relax her, and she slept
better; maybe because she wasn't thirsty as well.
-I began telling her that soon we were not going to nurse at
night any more because she was a big girl - then I did it,
within a week or two: I told her, when she woke up and
wanted to nurse, that we weren't nursing at night anymore,
nursing was a ''daytime thing''. (This is not recommended
for a young baby, because they won't understand).
We also tried to let her cry it out, and were totally
unsuccessful. When I read the post from the woman with
the eight-month old, I cringed, because our daughter also
refused to go back to sleep when we didn't respond, and
cried herself into a frenzy every time we tried it. All I can say
is please, please, don't do it to your child! If he is the kind of
baby you are describing, who can't just cry it out, and
especially if he is clingy and miserable the next day, you
need to pay attention to what he is telling you and try some
I know this, because 1) my daughter would not forgive me
when I did it, and became worse than ever as a result, for far
too long; and 2) my brother was like that and ended up
terribly afraid of the dark and had horrible night fears for
many years because he was left to cry for hours.
Try picking him up for a few minutes (daddy can do it), or
letting him sleep near you but not with you (same room), or
sleeping with daddy all night, every night for awhile. Or even
with you - after all eight months really is still an infant!
If he is crying that hard, that long, there is something going
on. Listen to him, and listen to yourself. I know it's hard,
because I spent two years totally exhausted; but my
daughter now sleeps 12 hours straight, and sleeps through
her younger sister's night wakings to boot. Some kids are
just like that at the beginning. My heart goes out to you -
believe me, it DOES get better.
--Mother of a daughter who sleeps like the dead now
I have a 22 month old boy and am so sleep deprived that I
thought your ad may have been mine, and that I had
forgotten I had posted. BUT - despite being sleep deprived
and feeling at the end of my rope because my boy still
wakes every 2 hours during the night, I refuse to let him cry it
out. I just don't have it in me. I have many friends who are
wonderful mothers and love their kids as much as I love
mine and they could stomache their child crying hysterically
for up to an hour or more..........I can't and have stopped, long
ago, debating whether I should. I've never let him cry for
more than a minute. And when I left for that minute it was to
collect myself so I could approach his needs in a loving
way.ANd when I did return I was able to be calmer. I am a
parent 24 hours a day and my baby really needs me in the
night. So my advice to you is to make up your mind how you
are going to approach this and stick to it. Go with what your
instincts tell you to do, and live with it. I tell myself that I am
closer to the end of wakeful nights than the beginning. I
have a very busy life, working part-time share-caring and
running the house.
Also, I am reading a book called 'The no-cry sleep solution'
by Pantley. I have yet to implement her plan (just got the
book), but in reading her book it so validates how I feel as a
mother. You should really read this book.
I read a report the other day that said that women who are
sleep deprived as mothers are sharper in their old age!
this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2004
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network