April 08, 2008,
A.D. asks from Portland, OR on April 03, 2008
6 Month Old Screaming/screetching for Hours at Night
I'm not quite sure where to begin, except to say that I'm very tired and distressed about my 6 month-old's apparent sleep problem. He is our second child and I now know how very easy my older son was, since by 6 months he was sleeping 11 hours at night without a problem. This baby, however, has been quite different. Let's see... about two months ago, we were on a pretty good schedule of going to bed at 7pm, breast feeding at 12midnight and then again at 5am. This seemed to last about 2 weeks when he started teething. He began waking every 3 or 4 hours. I didn't go to him every time, but somehow, I started nursing him 3 times a night although he wasn't really hungry. His two bottom teeth came in and I knew he was no longer distressed, but we had a waking problem. I guess I should say that I really do believe that babies need to learn how to put themselves back to sleep by themselves. I hate the term "cry it out" but, I guess that's what it is. I think babies need to learn this skill and I also know that with this little guy, he would cry just as much (if not more) if I were holding him or trying to comfort him, so we've tried to allow him to cry and learn how to go back to sleep. However, he is a very intense crier! He screams and screetches and will carry on for sometimes up to two hours. It's unbearable. I'm frustrated that he doesn't seem to be learning after so many nights. We've talked with or doc and have tried many things, including giving him Prilosec (maybe it's silent acid reflux?), rice cereal and formula (maybe he's hungry?), motrin (more teeth?), a luvie (he sometimes holds it), diaper changes (he gets really upset!), heat up, heat down, etc. He is able to fall asleep calmly in the day, sometimes with a few minutes crying, but at night he just cannot seem to settle down. We've tried total extinction-- not going to him at all and we kept it up for 6 nights, but it didn't get any better and I couldn't handle it. So, now I'm trying to feed him once a night, when he wakes after 12 midnight and not again till after 6am, but like last night, he woke at 9:45, after going to bed at 6:15 and screamed for an hour, then I went to check on him and he became even more upset and screamed for another hour. When he finally fell asleep around midnight, he woke again around 1am and I went to feed him. He didn't really seem that hungry. I put him back in bed calm and awake, he talked briefly and went to sleep, then he woke around 4:45 and cried (not too intensely) till about 5:30, when I went to feed him. I put him back in bed awake and he talked for about an hour then cried a little and went to sleep. So, I know he can fall asleep alone, I just can't explain these frequent night wakings and intense screaming and screetching sessions. It's really taking it's toll on my husband and me. Amazingly, our 2 1/2 year old, sleeps right through it all! So, I do know good sleep is possible, but I'm just weary of this and I feel that by 6 months, he should be sleeping better. His day time sleep is OK, we just can't get anything consistent since his nighttime and morning wakings are so inconsistent. It's made it very hard for me to get things done out of the house and do things for my older boy because we're always trying to get good naps in, hoping that will help his night time sleep (and because he really needs naps).
Any suggestions, encouragement, commiseration would be appreciated! Thanks.
M.C. answers from Seattle on April 03, 2008
Wow! That was our life just 6 months ago to the "T". I mean other than the breastfeeding part of it that is what our life was like. Our son (second child) was waking up between 3-7 times a night screaming this awful scream and would not sooth for the most part until fed/picked up etc. Well Our son Did (he is over it now at a year) have "Silent Acid Reflux" we had him initially on Zantac but got switched to Prevacid! At 7 months we finally broke we couldn't take it anymore and our Ped sent up to Children's to get him fitted for a sleep wedge (Wow! that was a change!!!) he went from waking up to 6 times at night to waking up only one to maybe two times. He is now off the wedge and off the meds and sleeping through the night from 8pm to 7am! We have the wedge still if you want to try it out we would be more then willing to let you have it! It is not just a store bought wedge it is a little bit higher and they get strapped in.
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A.F. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
A. although I understand "wanting to teach him", he is only 6 months old and this little guy has years ahead to learn how to sleep by himself. He is a baby, right now he seeks comfort and if he does not feel comfortable, he will not sleep. All babies are different even sibilings. As I deal with this with my daughter, 7 months, I tend to get up when she cries, rock her in my arms for 5 minutes, she is not learning yet to sleep on her own, but she is learning to count on me and she is comfortalbe enough to sleep the rest of the night. Maybe he needs a little more baby time.. And as most mothers will agree, the first baby gets much more attention smiply because motherhood is so new.
Also it sounds like when you do give him a little more attention he seems to sleep a little better. Maybe I am old fashioned, I just think sometimes us parents try to push our kids too hard.
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K.C. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
you have received lots of advice here so I will make this short. My son was a sleeper from 3 months on and my daughter (11 months) was not. So, it was frustrating and exhausting dealing with this same scenario. She didn't scream the house down but I agree with a lot of this advice. When she woke up, I breastfed her and rocked her back to sleep. My philosophy is that if they are crying, there is a reason. Mostly comfort, hungry, too hot, too cold etc. She woke up 3-4 times a night until she was 9 months. Despite peoples warnings, my exhaustion (working full time) and the thought that this would cause a bad habit I still fed her and rocked her back to sleep. My husband used to also walk around with her laying in his arms- 5 laps around the couch and she was out. Moral of the story is- it will hopefully be short lived- once she got on solids and started crawling she was well fed and tired so she has been sleeping ever since. Lower your expectations of the day and hopefully a feed and a rock will get this kiddo back to bed. I always felt 10-30 minutes was better than letting her cry and she deserved my attention. With this being our last child I also relished this time as funny as that sounds because I get very little snuggle time now. My son is almost 4 and I can't believe how fast it has gone. Parenting has many levels of sacrifice and for me sleep was it with her. It was very difficult at times mananging my son as well but I knew that would be short lived too. I don't think that you will spoil this one and as hard as it is it will probably be only a bit longer. You need to take naps during the day when the kids nap and go to bed early until he wakes up again. I know this is hard but at this point it's about survival. I managed on this working full time with two kids and it was hard but we made it through. She sleeps like an angel now. I am a total high functioning person and it was hard for me to crawl into bed when there was so much to do, but I did it and it helped. good luck. :)
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A.S. answers from Eugene on April 04, 2008
I am so sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time with this, I can tell you love your children so much and really want the best for your whole family. My advice is simple: sleep with him, nurse him when he wakes up. Babies eventually learn to meet their own needs (such as falling asleep on their own) by first having their needs met. Nursing three or four or five or more times a night is not at all out of the ordinary for a six-month-old. You will all get a lot more sleep this way, and he will grow up knowing that you are there for him, his needs will be met, and the world is a safe place, which will make a huge difference for him for the rest of his life. It is actually a good sign that he screams so much, that he is letting you know what he needs, rather than giving up in despair as many babies do (and then the parents think that it was a good thing to let them cry it out, since it apparently "worked" - but at a huge cost in trauma to the child, which will affect his ability to trust for the rest of his life). If you think your bed isn't big enough for the three or four of you, another option would be a cosleeper arrangement (we just had mattresses on the floor so it was simple), so you can nurse him to sleep in his bed and then just roll over into yours (and be willing to welcome him into bed with you at some point during the night or early morning for more nursing and sleeping). I slept with both of my babies for three or four years, nursing them as often as they needed (which was less and less as they got older, down to maybe bedtime, middle of the night, early morning nursings) and eventual weaning (at 2 and 4 years). They of course eventually learned how to fall asleep on their own, when they were developmentally ready and because their needs had always been met. Also, if you sleep with your baby, your and his sleep cycles will begin to align or entrain, so that it's no big deal to roll over and nurse since you will be waking up anyway. (All adults sleep and wake all night in approximately 90-minute cycles, most of us just aren't usually aware of them because we fall back asleep easily). Both of my children have grown into happy, secure, independent, loving adults and have babies of their own now, whom they sleep with and nurse during the night. Dr. William Sears has a number of good books, including one specifically on nighttime parenting. It sounds like your first child was easier for you in this aspect, which led you to think your second child was having a "sleep problem" but it's not so, he's just different, his own unique self. Please trust you instincts and don't let him cry - babies cry for a good reason, to express their needs, and meeting your baby's needs right away (when he first expresses them, before it turns into a full-blown cry) is the best way to help him learn to meet his own needs as he grows and is developmentally able to do so. Other good resources are Attachment Parenting International and the La Leche League. Wishing you well!
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M.G. answers from Seattle on April 03, 2008
Oh boy can I relate to where you are at right now!!! I have a 26 month old son and a 6 month old daughter. We did the the "cry it out" method with my son and he took to it really quickly. My daughter, on the other hand is a different story. I've tried it with her and she will go way longer than I am comfortable with. She was having a hard time with naps for awhile, but she has seem to work herself into a good 2 nap a day schedule. She fusses for a few minutes but goes right to sleep and sleeps for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. She has gotten it the routine of waking up every 2-3 hours at night. I'm with you, I think it's really important to find a good balance between taking care of your baby and totally sacrificing yourself and your needs. We as Mamas need sleep to be able to take good care of our kids, especially when you have more than one.
Just this week I have decided that enough is enough and I need to come up with a plan and stick to it. I picked up the book "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg at my local library. I just skimmed over most of if, but focused in on her chapters on sleep. I like most of her ideas. She also believes in letting babies lean to self sooth, but has a much more gentle method than "crying it out" . The basic principle of it is, you respond to your baby EVERY time they cry. Go in pick them up, calm them down, and then lay them back down NOT crying if they start crying again you pick them right back up, but only hold them until they calm down. You do this AS MANY times as it takes, and each night it will be less times, and eventually they will stop waking up. She also suggests, for older babies that have been nursing several times a night, to pick them up and let them suck on a pacifier or a bottle of water instead of offering a feeding, as a gentle transition to no feedings at all. The goal here is tho not get them dependent on the pacifier, but only to use it as a transitional tool.
Last night was my first night trying this with my daughter. I have been trying to keep her on a good schedule during the day and try to get her to bed by 7:00pm. She slept form 7:00-10:00 and I fed her one last time for the night. Then she sleep solid until 2:00 (4 hours is a LONG stretch for her....LOL) I went in and picked her up and tried to offer her a pacifier or water (she has NEVER taken a pacifier before) but she wanted NOTHING to do with it. So I continued to pick her up and lay her down, at first it wasn't so bad. She didn't seem to mind much, but she would start to fuss when I laid her down. Then as time went on she was not liking it AT ALL. I decided to try the pacifier again and after some coaxing she took it and sucked away. I held her for quite some time while she sucked on the pacifier. It took a few more times of laying her down and giving her the pacifier to get her to stop fussing. BUT after a mere 53 times and 2 hours, she went to sleep : ) Then she slept from 4-6:30 and I fed her. Then she went back down until 9:00.
Last night was a bit rough and I almost gave in several times. Not to mention I had milk running down my shirt from holding a crying baby...LOL. I am hoping that tonight will be a little better and that we are on our way to some good sleep. I liked this method because it is a good middle of the road. You are not just leaving them there to scream and scream, but you are not letting them control things either. You are giving them the comfort they need while teaching them how to sleep.
Some people will say that we are cruel for letting our babies fuss and cry, and for not feeding them whenever they want. Since becoming a mom I have learned that being a mom is a REALLY hard job, and most moms are really doing the VERY best they can. I try to be really understanding of how other moms do things. Just because I feel that one way is right or works for me, does not mean that I should force that onto others. After all, being a mom is hard enough.....us mamas need to stick together : )
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M.B. answers from Seattle on April 03, 2008
My first thought after reading your post was to wonder what kind of nighttime routine you have for your little guy. My daughter has the worst ear-piercing scream imaginable. When she screams it can give instant headaches and/or set my inner ears to vibrating, talk about uncomfortable.
My suggestion is to set up a very consistent bed time routine. That really seems to have helped us. Here is our routine:
5pm is dinner time
6pm bath (if needed) and jammies
7pm bottle of warm milk then off to bed
Sometimes she gets to cuddle on me if she's being really still and seems to need the extra Mommy Time. If we forget to give her the bottle she will scream/screech for hours. Or, she'll only want to be held, fall asleep as soon as she's picked up only to scream all over again as soon as you move anywhere near the crib.
Hope this helps,
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C.A. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Sounds like my firtborn. He started waking up screaming, doubled over in pain when he was 3 weeks old. He also always wanted to be held. Turns out he was/is allergic to milk. As soon as I cut all milk out of my diet (breastfed exclusively) he could sleep. Ahhhh.
Child #2 did the same at 3 weeks -- screaming, "scrunching", hurting. Eliminated milk and he still screamed. Pediatrician said to eliminate all milk "products" -- whey, casein, etc. THAT worked. But the "scrunchies" came back with baby cereal. Turns out he's also allergic to soy.
Child #3 did same at 3 weeks. This girl is allergic to milk, almonds, rice, yellow 5, and I'm not sure what else.
Allergy symptoms include: gastro-intestinal distress ("tummy aches"), eczema/rashes, "allergy ring" around anus (this one seems to have been my most concrete indicator), generally feeling "not well".
Also, child #1 is very easily over-stimulated. One hour of TV during the day as an infant (even up to 2 years old) would make him cranky, fussy, "colicy" and hard to deal with in the evening/night.
Best thing I found to get all of us the rest we needed was to co-sleep. Then none of us have to fully wake up to get what we need. Co-slept with each one until around 2 years old.
Also, Child #1 (now 11) has always been "hi-need" (even nurses in hospital mentioned it!) -- craves touches, cried if down more than 10 minutes. The Baby Sling was a life saver! I could hold him and still have my hands free. He loved that thing!! Worked even at 3 years old -- he had to take turns with his little brother. ;)
Hang in there. You are not alone! Feel free to email me if you have any questions!
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T.R. answers from Eugene on April 04, 2008
Well, you have a completely different parenting style than I do. Please take what you can from my post, and if there is anything you feel is totally wrong, just let it go. I understand that there are many parenting styles out there and here is what has worked for me. I have 8 children ranging from 16 years old to 14 months old.
We have always used the family bed for infants. (For those who want to share a bed without really sharing a bed, there are side-cribs that attach to the parents' beds.) We started with a crib close to our bed with our oldest, but soon she was sleeping with us. They just sleep better. Hearing mom's breathing helps regulate baby's breathing and sleep patterns. During teething, I am already there to offer quick comfort with a hand on baby's back, or a quick latch-on until baby drops back to sleep. I barely need to wake up... just enough to make whatever adjustments baby needs.
I believe that babies need that extra comfort from mom or dad to feel safe and cared for. I understand that some parents don't agree with me, but my kids have all grown up just fine with a good sense of self-esteem and independence. I attribute that in part to them knowing from the beginning that we were there to meet their needs at all times.
That being said, many parents do use crying it out and putting baby in a separate room to sleep from birth successfully. I can only comment from my own experience and what has worked for us. I try to put myself in baby's place. If I could not do anything to help myself in a situation, whether that was because I was in pain, or afraid, or hungry, what would I do? After awhile I would probably cry out in frustration that no one is coming to help me with this problem. A six month old doesn't reason like we do. They're still amazed that if we hold up a blanket in front of our face we're gone, and when we drop the blanket, we reappear.
Of course, if you asked someone else the same question, they may say that they would develop their own system of self-reliance. So, YMMV. Ultimately, we all must make decisions we can live with. If you can't live with the screaming at night, maybe you might be willing to try something different. We all make lots of compromises as we develop as a parent. While our kids grow, we grow too.
I hope that helps at least a little bit. Sending sleepy thoughts to your baby!
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S.A. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
I am a mother of four and know that each child even as an infant is very different. I am a firm believer in on-demand feeding. A baby's needs change often - they may be on a great "feeding schedule" and then hit a growth spurt and want to eat every hour, or teething, or illness, etc., and their needs change not only for nurishment but also for comfort. Yes sometimes nursing is just for comfort. Remember that babies are developing trust, and your quick response to thier needs teaches them that they can trust you, ignoring them (especially for such long periods of time) increases thier anxiety and despair. My rull of thumb for "crying it out" is 5 min. anything longer and I asume they have a need and I try to respond to it. While I also love my sleep, I catch up whenever I can, but I have never had an expectation of being able to sleep through the night (even a 10 year old occasionaly still wakes you up at night)
Have you considered any other possible causes - maybe food allergy? My second child was a good baby during the day and at night would wake up screaming and pulling up his legs. He was allergic to milk and was not appreciating my morning bowl of cereal (takes approximately 12 hours to get from your mouth to the baby)
Best of luck to you!
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P.M. answers from Portland on April 03, 2008
I feel for your weariness and desperation. I also feel for your little guy; he sounds pretty desperate, too. It sounds to me like something's wrong - I would pursue the possibility of reflux, which is very common and utterly miserable for the whole family.
You feel that by now, your son should be sleeping better, but that's your exhaustion talking. Every baby is an individual, and at 6 months, hunger is a real possibility. My daughter wasn't able to eat enough at a time to go longer than 2 1/2 hours between feedings for about 8 months, though after 6 months the nighttime feedings gradually became less frequent. The experts in those days insisted that babies should be able to go four hours between feedings. This turned out to be inhumane. Neither my baby nor I could endure the torture of her hunger.
We solved the problem by co-sleeping. I kept her in a little bed on the floor right next to my bed. When she woke, I could cuddle her and nurse her without fully waking up, and it was easy to slip her back into her bed when she was comforted back to sleep. We both loved it - no more misery for either of us. Might be worth considering.
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T.S. answers from Anchorage on April 04, 2008
My daughter is grown-up now, but for the 1st two years of her life I got very little sleep.
She had a piercing cry you could hear blocks away. It was not entirely her fault as she had health issues that caused her discomfort and interfered with her sleep.
What helped is when my husband and I encouraged her to sleep less during the day.
Before she started walking, I would put her on the floor and let her crawl and roll around the kitchen and livingroom. She had a lot of toys in her crib to keep her occupied when she had trouble sleeping and interesting things on the wall (by her crib) to focus her attention on. I would set her up on the countertop in the kitchen (in her car carrier) and let her watch me cook and clean.
We succeeded in making her a night sleeper and she slept so hard, we could vacuum by her head and she would not wake up.
T.-- soon-to-be Grandma
A.H. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Hi there! Something worth trying that worked for both of our boys (in different ways) was sending hubby in there. I nursed so as soon as they would see me they'd want to eat which left dear old dad to deal with this. We would let them cry for about 20 minutes or so then my husband would go in there and talk to the baby, comfort him, touch him to let him know that he was near, but he did NOT pick him up. Now with our first son he only had to do this a couple times the first night before the baby fell asleep and once the second night and then he was good to go. However, I (like you) realize now that we lucked out with him. Our second baby boy took a few more times per night for 4 nights or so, was good for about 2 weeks and then needed it again. Since then however, neither of them have had sleep issues. That is what worked for us, and hopefully is at least worth trying for you. Let us know when things get better!
M.P. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Boy, you must be exhausted!
My kids would wake up when they were little and have a hard time falling back to sleep. I can't relate to the screaming issue, but I can tell you what I did to help them sleep through the night...
It's white noise. Whether it be a fan, a radio station turned on static or a white noise machine, it may help to have that constant din the background to keep him asleep. My kids sleep so well when there is white noise in the room. The house is so busy all day and noisy all day and it seemed impossible for their brains to adjust to the quiet of night time. My kids happen to use a fan in their rooms for white noise.
Have you checked the possibility of constipation? Maybe the poor little guy is just plugged up and his tummy hurts. The screeching you are describing seems like pain to me.
Don't you wish they could just tell you, "Mother, my lower colon is blocked with fecal matter and I am finding it difficult to remove it."? Nah - the baby sounds are cute, but it would be nice to have a direct comment here and there!
Hang in there...you'll get it figured out and feel like mother of the year!
D.H. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
First of all, I know how you feel. My first and ONLY was just like this. The doctor kept telling me she is NOT hungry at night. I didn't believe him then and I don't believe him now. My dd is now 6 and at her hungriest at night and not because that's the way we feed her. We beg her to eat up until about 2pm and then she can't eat enough. I can't tell you how tired I am hearing the "I'm hungry" all the time before bed. It sounds as if your son has changed his habits. I truly do not believe in letting a child cry longer than 20 minutes before checking on him even once. I don't think it is beneficial for either of you. I was up with my dd 2-3 times a night until she was 3 years old and now she gets up at least once, but only to crawl into bed with us. I never started any special ritual, it was just her. The doctor told us that if we put her to sleep in her bed by herself first that she will eventually stay in her bed all night. Well, guess what? She still get's into bed with us in the middle of the night. My Husband has taken her back several times, but to no avail. He took her back twice this morning so we could have some alone time. All children are different and most of the time I just tell women to go with their gut. My doctors have never gotten her right from the beginning and I don't like being that way,(since they are the one with the degree) but I have to say that. You will end up with sleep problems, but eventually they can be fixed. Just get sleep when you can and relax. I know this doesn't fix your issue, but know that it will get better. This too shall pass. We are all with you and understand. This is a good place to vent.
E.P. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
I think you're asking a lot of a six month old. He is too young to be "crying it out". IMHO. Also, I know of many children that slept beautifully through the night until six months of age and then because of growing, teething, etc. they began waking. My daughter didn't sleep through the night until 18 months.
I have heard really great things about the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, although I didn't use it myself.
K.L. answers from Yakima on April 04, 2008
First off, deep breath. It will get better.I am guessing that your little boy is probably going through his first nightmares. As you might imagine, this can be very hard for little people to cope with this alone in the dark. I would second or third highly recommending co-sleeping. Especially if it works for you so that you both get good sleep. He needs you, you need sleep. It can work. Really. I have a 20 month boy that can't go to sleep (or stay asleep!) without one of his parents. And my almost 7 yo dd can't go to sleep without making a bit fuss unless one of is in the room. My kids really don't want to be alone. And I really think it is the rare kid through the eons of time that does want to be alone at night. Some kids you can train to sleep by themselves. Some put up a bigger fight. It's up to us to figure out a solution that works for everyone. Have you tried having him sleep in the same room as your oldest son? I put both the kids to bed at the same time. Once my oldest is asleep, it only takes a few minutes before my youngest one goes down too. Then I can sneak off for a bit and finish my day. She also sleeps through anything. So even if he and I are up because he can't sleep (usually illness), it doesn't bother her. Just an idea. I wish you luck.
J.W. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
This is a 6 month old baby who has no other means of communicating his needs other than by crying. It does him no harm if you go in and pick him up, swaddle him, hold him close, rock him back to sleep. It will get you both back to sleep quicker. I don't believe you can spoil a baby by responding to their needs. He could have a stomach ache, teething problems, wet diaper, leg cramps... who knows, but you'll never know if you don't get up and attend to him. You develop a relationship early on where they know they can count on you to be there, one that lasts a life time. You're not teaching him anything at this point in his life, if you thought he'd be self-sufficent, you were wrong, sorry.
K.W. answers from Anchorage on April 03, 2008
It can be so challenging to try to get through the day on very little rest! It can also be so hard to find patience at night when you are so worn out from all that you and your family are going through!
Hang in there!
Your little one is still *so* little! I know it's easy to remember how easy it was with your first, but also remember that they are two completely different people, and they each have their own, unique perception of reality. When we compare children, all we do is put unrealistic expectations upon them, and we also set ourselves up for disappointment when our children don't live up to our expectations.
Honor your son's uniqueness, and be willing to meet him where his at right now, in this moment, without regard for what any other child at this age might be like. Your son is telling you something loud and clear. You say you want him to learn to sleep on his own...that you are okay with the cry it out method. I really beg you to think more deeply about this, and whether you want this to be your son's experience, and whether you want this to be the foundation of your relationship with him. I would also suggest reading the continuum concept and dr. sears' nighttime book (I'm not sure of the exact title).
It could be a health issue, it could be allergies (this is a really big indicator of allergies! We went through this with our little ds), or it could just be his personality! You said he sleeps really well during the day. He may not be used to sleeping at night, as his rhythm inside you was probably to sleep during the day while you were on the move, and be up at night while you were sleeping. Six months isn't really a long enough period for a lot of children to be sleeping through the night on their own. A lot of times, when people say 'sleeping through the night' they mean a 4 - 6 hour stretch...not from 6pm to 6am the following morning. Perhaps he's a night owl. Like it or not, your son has his own internal rhythm, and it may or may not be in synch with yours.
It doesn't sound like you are co-sleeping. Have you given this some thought? Babies (especially one so young and extremely dependent) need a LOT of closeness and comfort. Even when they are crying, *especially* when they are crying, they need that connection. Our son went through a spell of crying a lot in the night...we NEVER left him to cry...we stayed with him, laying with him, rubbing his back, reassuring him that he was loved and we wouldn't leave him.....that no matter what he did, we were going to be there for him. Not to say there weren't moments of frustration and even anger or resentment. But we tried to live up to our ideals and act with regard to our values as often as possible.
Babies don't always nurse for hunger. They also nurse for comfort, especially when they may not feel totally secure or comfortable. This is normal, and it is perfectly fine. It is not indulging, it is not spoiling, it is giving your child what he needs. Meeting a child's need for love and affection will not damage him. You can never give a baby too much love.
One more thing that just came to mind that a good friend of mine told me, who has worked with lots of babies who have nighttime issues, is that some babies who are up a lot at night are babies who are not engaged enough during the day. This is not based on any sort of chart that tells you how much attention/interaction a child needs per day, this is based on your particular child. Each child is different, and so will have varying degrees of need.
You will probably get many responses telling you that many mommas have experienced the same thing. This is because it is normal. Again, I will say...he is SO young! It's up to you how to deal with it. No matter what you do, it will get better. Some ways make take longer than others, but those same ways that may not yield immediate 'results', are some of the ways that really honor the bond and connection between you and your baby, and really focus on meeting his needs, whatever they be, right here, right now, in a way that feels good to both you *and* him. They involve a lot of closeness, connection, patience, and gentleness...both with yourself and with your baby. It is work...but you might find that the bond you create with your baby is worth the effort, worth laying next to him for an hour, worth giving co-sleeping a try, worth every ounce of breastmilk he drinks in the middle of the night, worth evey minute of love that you share together.
My suggestion is put away the books, turn off your brain, clear your mind of everything you have 'heard' or read.
Trust your instincts, honor your mother-wisdom, and follow your heart. He will only be little once. This is his way of communicating...of letting you know that he needs something.
If you suspect allergies or other health issues, I suggest getting in touch with a good naturopath!
Blessings of love and light to you and your family!
A.C. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
My son has never had great sleep habits. You have to take into account that children are not all the same. My son didn't sleep through the night until he was almost 2. He's 5 now and still has problems. I took him for a sleep consult and we now have a sleep study scheduled. I don't believe this has anything to do with not being able to put himself back to sleep. Have you talked to your doctor about colic?
I've always had the rule that if a child is crying for more than 3-5 minutes there is usually something wrong and waiting for them to cry it out doesn't solve the issue for the child. That rule has always worked for my son and I (it's just the two of us) - but I know it doesn't work for everyone.
You know good sleep is possible - when what ever is causing the screaming fit's isn't upon him. You're frustrated that your son isn't learning? He's 6 months old. If he's not putting himself back to sleep then there's something wrong and he's trying to tell you that. I know he's young but you could talk to your doctor about nightmares??? I'm reaching but I know - just throwing idea's out there.
I really hope this passes or you find a resolution. I would be devastated to have to listen to my son cry like that so I can only imagine how hard it is for you - not to mention the sleep deprivation (which I have had/am experiencing now).
C.H. answers from Anchorage on April 04, 2008
I understand your frustration. My son (now 9 months) would wake up and start screaming and crying at about 6 months too and we had an extremely hard time getting him back to sleep afterwards. We had just started putting him to sleep in his own room in his crib a couple weeks prior. It wasn't until I forgot to close his door and shut off the hallway light that I realized he was scared of the dark. So, we got him a couple night lights and that seemed to stop the middle of the nights screams. I would hear him wake up on the baby monitor and he would play in his crib and "talk", but was able to go back to sleep by himself.
So, if his doctor says that he's fine and healthy, you might want to give nightlights a try if you haven't already.
Hope this helps, C.
D.D. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Try Gripe Water (can be purchased at European or Arab Delis - for colic). This is a great calming remedy, as well as being great for little tummies. (primary ingredient is Dill as in the spice used for pickles). It's not expensive and is very effective.
Try Chamomilla - which is a homeopathic remedy for teething and rage. Both of these are harmless to baby. I would not let him cry it out. Obviously something is wrong. Take him to a good naturopath or pediatrician.
God bless. What a perplexing heart wrenching problem!
T.B. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
It sounds like your little boy has gastrointestinal problems. Don't ignore it and let him "cry it out!" Massage his tummy or his back, give him a warm bath if he needs it and take him to the doctor. He could be allergic to the milk or formula he is taking. Go talk to a really good pediatrician and take your letter with you. You described his habits very well in your letter.
~Also, do you remember how the nurses showed you how to "bundle" the baby in the hospital? Even at six months, babies can still be comforted and soothed by being wrapped snugly in a soft, stretchy blanket. Sometimes when my daughter couldn't be comforted in any other way, bindling her in her blanket would calm her down and she would fall asleep very quickly. But also go to the pediatrician, I think your boy has some digestive problems.
A.B. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
I'm sort of laughing reading this. I know it is not funny but it is like my biography. I have two boys, five years apart. With my first, I follow the babywise books. He was textbook! By ten weeks he was sleeping through the night and never woke up. He can sleep through a train wreck. Along comes the second....... I was consistent, he could go down for naps well, but his night were like you describe...consistently inconsistent. I finally moved him into our spare room so that when he woke up he couldn't see us and when he cryed it was not as loud. We have a video monitor so I could watch him and see if he was distressed or just crying in his sleep. He would cry sometimes, but then put himself back to sleep. Some nights I would just feed him. You sound like me in the sense that I was always leary of creating a bad habit. Just face it now...this child is going to challenge your sense of order. Your going to have to let go and let your intuition/heart be your guide.
At one year we went on vacation and the whole family were sleeping in the same room. He began to wake up at 3am again. Pull up on the portable crib and cry to get our attention. We pulled him in bed with us. I remember telling my husband...things are going to change when we get home. Here where my story take a big twist...bare with me. The next day he became critically ill and almost died. He had a rare type of enchephalitis. He is still rehabilitating from this. This was 14 months ago. He is now 26 months. I have not slept well in two years. I'm not trying to scare you but share with you what I have learned. At some point I had to choose sanity and sleep over my parenting ideals. We stopped trying to figure it out started pulling him into bed with us so we could get some rest. Sometimes he will go three or four nights all night and then its back to 3am crying. They are young for such precious little time. Embrace the unpredicable. It won't be forever.
Other thoughts that come to mind. I've been trying natural remedies. Catnip and Fennel worked for the colic and crying. You can find all of this at a healthfood store or super supplements. I like the healthfood store because you get better advice. Are you supplementing with formula? We supplemented goats milk. It's PH is just like breast milk. You can't tell the difference from a goats milk diaper and a breast milk diaper. You can't say that about cows milk formula. You can get it at Albertsons (best price) or powdered at the healthfood store. Essence of Lobelia...very calming. You can use it in a bath or massage it into the skin.
Well, I hope you get something out of all this. This too shall pass. Have faith. Enjoy the ride.
T.B. answers from Anchorage on April 03, 2008
Our son had a somewhat similar problem. I was all about the book healthy sleep habits happy child, and still am. But our little guy was hungry! He started loosing weight because he would wake up and be hungry, but we thought he should still be sleeping. So I would go to him after he had cried for about an hour and feed him, because the book said. . .
Your little one might be hungry? Just a thought, I know it could probably be a million things, but thats what our experience was. Our little guy now has a very predictable sleep schedule and is super well rested. Yours will be too, eventually :) Good luck
B.L. answers from Jacksonville on April 04, 2008
There's a book called something like the Happiest Baby on the Block. It might have some ideas for you. My second son liked to be swaddled, and to suck on a pacifier, and to be reclined in a carseat (rather than flat on his back). We started to get more sleep at night once we figured those things out. I've known of people who drove their babies around in the car at night until they went to sleep. Maybe he doesn't tolerate the formula or rice cereal, epecially if he seems colicky at night and you give it to him before bed. Also, he probably is tired during the day because he doesn't sleep so well at night, and as hard as it is, it might be better to forgo a daytime nap or two so that he is more sleepy at night. Here's a link to the 5 s's of getting baby to sleep. Best of luck to you!
M.S. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Hi, A., You are a VERY good mom. This has been difficult. i do remember my second daughter keeping me up at night so that I was exhausted and often crying during the day. However, it did all go away eventually. And it did turn out that she had allergies.
My only suggestion is kind of way out there - but have you seen the babies in the maternity ward of hospitals with headphones on - they are listening to something soothing like mother tummy sounds. I put on headphones myself when I can't sleep and I love it. There are some great soothing tapes and cd's out there. Good luck. M. Barb
A.E. answers from Portland on April 05, 2008
Hmmm... My daughter is 7 mths now and just started sleeping through the night. She had a short spell where she all of a sudden was waking in the middle of the night like 4 times. That was around the same time she got 2 teeth. I also recently figured out my milk supply was not giving her enough during the day. So, she is on solids now. I also would think about how long he is sleeping during the day. My daughter's schedule goes like this: wakes 6:30am / naps 9-11 / sometimes another 30min nap @ noon / naps 3-4:30 / in bed by 8pm. I realize all babies are different. I had to work to put her on this schedule to fit with my own needs during the day. Babies usually need apx. 13 hrs of sleep at their age. I used to try to let my daughter cry it out, but I wouldn't let her go any longer than 30-45 min. Then I would go get her and sing to her or nurse her back to sleep. I was worried she would never grow out of falling asleep on the breast, but she did. I just thought about myself too. Mom's need sleep even if it means putting baby back to sleep quicker by the breast. I hope the best for you. My first child slep thru the night at 5 wks. My daughter has been a challenge, but we got there. Good luck!
A.H. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
I had a daughter with cholic that has never been much of a sleeper. I took her to acupuncture when she was really little and it worked like a charm!
K.B. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
geese, maybe you need to burp him...he could have a bubble in his tummy, even on the prilosec. Plus at 6 months, you should still be feeding him during the night often. It's not good for their brains to go w/o liquids that long! Every baby is different, I know to be a parent...sleep just isn't avail to you when you infant is so young. Geese if I knew you better, I'd come over and get up w/ your babe...hope things look up for you soon. And do try to burp him...tummy bubbles cause terrible pain in an infant. I think crying for over an hour is too long. The babe could also feel your tension, like he is doing something wrong...sad...
GOOD LUCK sweets!
B.G. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
Have you tried limiting his sleep during the day and putting him to bed a little later at night? I can't quite imagine putting a child down at 6:15 and expecting him to sleep through the night! I'd try putting him down at 8, and at 6 months a "normal" child usually takes 2 naps at 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours per nap, and maybe one late afternoon 45 min nap. That's what I'd try next.
S.B. answers from Richland on April 04, 2008
Have you tried a chiropractor? I had a sister that was like that and got much better after that visit. You might want to also look into craino-sacral work as it sounds like your baby has some bones out of alignment. Another thing you may want to look at is the vaccine record. Do any of his problems correlate? If it is indeed something like colic, I recommend Gripe Water. It has worked wonders for all of my kids and a few others I know.
Let me know if you have any questions.
K.H. answers from Anchorage on April 03, 2008
Hang on A.! You'll get through this! Keep doing what you're doing and the baby will get better at sleeping all night- it is a learned skill. Keep a regular schedule as much as you can during the day. I've found that to help a lot.
You'll make it!!
J.M. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
There are several cd's you can get to help children sleep. You can try story ones if the sound of a voice soothes them. Also tapes of nature, such as rain falling, or the ocean, or the rainforest sometimes will soothe a baby and help them fall asleep.
B.M. answers from Eugene on April 04, 2008
Hang in there. I too, know how it is. My fisrt cried so much for the first year and I did not know what to do. I was up about four times on average a night and I could not function. I was also working as a realtor and trying to be normal. My second has been a good sleeper, however, he was constantly crying because he had gas at night. I am not sure if this is the case for your little one. I noticed that what he was teething he would suck faster and swallow a ton of air. He still does. Even tonight and he is a year and a half. SO I had to burp him a lot. One thing that works so well for gas is a thing called gripe water. You can get it at walgreens and Fred Meyer. It is natural, but it works way way better than mylacon(spelling?) Also with my fisrt baby I honestly did not know what she wanted. You could not tell the difference in her crying as people said you could tell. I can with my second. Hope this helps. I know how hard it is to function with no sleep. It wears you down to nothing.. Email me if you want someone to talk with. ____@____.com
A.C. answers from Anchorage on April 04, 2008
Wow what time do you go to bed? Do you also fall asleep at 6:30 and 7:00? Maybe he's having way too much time in his room by himself?
As for my son, he didn't go to bed til I went to bed. Nice warm bath before bed helped alot too!
I would try to give him a nap around 2 or 3 and keep the little one up later so that he will sleep at night instead of in the evening and feeling like it's time to get up at midnight.
~just a thought~
E.W. answers from Seattle on April 05, 2008
So sorry to hear about your little one...it sounds like maybe he's having night terrors. I'm not too familiar with them but I do know that they happen when babies (or adults) get into a really deep sleep...it appears that they are awake, but really they are sleeping. I haven't experienced this so I really don't know...but maybe you could do some research on that. My little on is having sleep problems too (shes almost 5 months), and I really encourage you to not let him "CIO" it is really rough on the baby and you!! He may just need a little more TLC right now. A good book, if you find that he is just waking up for some attention/food...is the "No cry sleep solution" the author is out of Kirkland and she is very sweet...I emailed her personally with some questions and she emailed me back with a lot of great info on babies and sleep habits. Her email is ____@____.com go to her website at Pantley.com. Hope this helps...good luck!
B.B. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
With my son, the loud screeching type of cry usually meant he was feeling discomfort or pain. My son had a lot of problems with gas and we had some rough nights with him as well. We started using Mylicon which is an infant gas reliever that you can get over the counter and that helped our son. After we started using that he started sleeping 7 hours straight and by 6mo old he was sleeping 10 hours at night. I also believe in teaching babies how to self soothe and put themselves to sleep, it saves a lot of grief putting children to bed as they get older. My son is now 18mo and we lay him down in his bed at night and leave the room. He falls to sleep without any problem on his own now. You can do it!
V.J. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Ah sleep deprivation-- never a good thing! If you've ruled out food allergies or night terrors, maybe consider this?:
Our friends, John & Ruth, had a son who would wake in the middle of the night and scream for hours-- this went on until Michael was about 18 months old. They would hold him, feed him, console him (thinking it was night terrors), took him to doctors who found nothing wrong with him...they were exhausted. John finally took him to a naturopath-- totally not something John believed in, but he was desperate. The guy did some tests with some floaty things in tubes, and determined Michael had a calcium deficiency...he prescribed calcium supplements (over the counter stuff), and within 2 weeks, Michael was sleeping through the night.
Good luck to you with this! - Val
P.C. answers from Richland on April 04, 2008
Well not everyone needs the same amount of sleep and perhaps thats the deal here with the baby. You might want to try baby excerises, even swim lessons (yes even at 6 months). Then put him down for the evening bedtime at 8:30 or 9:00pm. I realize that may seem late, but maybe he is either feeling full of energy or insecure (for whatever reason). Physically wornout he may sleep better at night. You didn't say how long his naps are, could they be too much sleep for him. If that doesn't help I would then see a different pediatrician. Until this is better maybe you could get help at night from a relative or close friend who could spend the night while you and your husband sleep at their house or a hotel, once or twice a week? Good Luck.
J.B. answers from Seattle on April 05, 2008
I can sure commiserate with you. My first-born daughter who is a very strong-willed, independent, stubborn child (also known as the spirited-child). She screamed for four hours one night when she was six months old. That was the beginning of our battle with her sleeping habits. Actually I should say our battles started when she was newborn. She was even very hard to bring into this world! She is eight know and things are a little better. I have concluded from her and having other kids that some kids don't need as much sleep as others. All the advice I think I can offer is that you should try to back off on the night time feedings as much as possible, taper it off over time to no feedings at night. Just go in every 15 to 30 minutes to give a quick love and reassurance then leave. Over time it will get better! My daughter does sleep through the night it just takes her a long time to get there.
Don't give up! You can do it! I am one who needs eight to ten hours of sleep also. I have done it and had more kids. I know you can do it also!
E.T. answers from Corvallis on April 04, 2008
WOOWEE! That stinks. My 6 month old is not a GREAT sleeper either. She only sleeps sometimes 20 minute naps during the day. All i can say is don't forget "THIS TOO SHALL PASS"...that should be the mama's mantra. Sometimes I think at this age, 6 months, they really need their mamas. They are just realizing and recognizing the need to be with you. They are waking up to the realization that they have you in order to survive. Do you sleep with him? Perhaps sleeping with him for a short while will relieve this situation? Just a thought...who knows what thing it could be out of a million things...you can't rack your brain thinking about that. Just try a ton of different things and remember that it won't be forever. Good luck! Do you like coffee? That is my miracle drug! :)
D.S. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Have you tried leaving a night light on - maybe he's afraid of the dark if he's sleeping fine during the day. I had one like that also, the 2nd child too :) - Denise
B.F. answers from San Diego on April 04, 2008
A., My daughter did this as well. She would cry harder if I went into comfort her. After many sleepless nights I realized that she felt she had taken her "nap" (even though it was night time) and was ready to get up. So I would get her up and play with her for 10-15 mins and then do our sleep routine....Do you have a routine when you put him down??We do a routine before naps and bedtime where we say goodnight to the pictures on the wall and then I put her in her crib and give her her "snuggly" and her "binky" and then I put on her mobile kiss her and say "night night". Luckily babies can't tell time and she didn't realize she was only up for 10-15 mins and she would go back to sleep. Even though I still had to get up I would only be up for 15 mins instead of hours. Then after a couple of months she started to sleep though the night. I do have a fan on in her room for some "white noise" because she is a very light sleeper. She sleeps from 7:30pm-7am now. I wouldn't limit her day sleep too much because one reason for waking at night is sleep deprivation....go figure:)
S.L. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
You might try a chiropractor. I've heard that colic and other fussiness can sometimes be caused by a spinal issue and as soon as they take their baby to the chiropractor, the problem goes away.
C.S. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Check out this link for Dr. Sears, hands down THE best baby/kid authors and advisors I have read.
Here is the link for the store on their site, they have a book, The Baby Sleep Book. http://www.askdrsears.com/store/products.asp?cat=20
hope you get the sleep and peace you need :-)
J.S. answers from Eugene on April 04, 2008
A. D, you have my sympathies. I know exactly how you feel. My son is now grown but he was a screeching crier from the time I brought him home. I never had any more children. Luckily I had family that could watch him for me so I could finally get some sleep. It was hard having someone else take care of my baby for even one night but I thought I was going to go completely crazy. Is there anyone who could help you out? Do you have a sister, mother, or in-laws that would think it was great fun to take care of the little guy for a couple of nights? It is not easy to listen to them crying so horribly but if I had it to do all over again, I would get some earplugs and let him learn to console himself more than I did but still let my Mom keep him a couple of nights. Hang in there, it will eventually pass. Best wishes.
K.T. answers from Portland on April 05, 2008
Screeming baby, you may want to try massage tequniques or use natural anything for his room. My son had sleep apnia, I wasn't aware of this until I went to a specialist. My son would wake up in the middle of the night just crying and coughing and not very consolable. There were nights that he would be okay but a majority of the time he was awake. My Dr. said that adults don't usualy wake up if they have sleep apnia and 90% of children who have sleep apnia will wake and be coughing, tough to breath and crying for about an hour. My son may have perminant damage to his lungs, like athsma. But he had surgury to correct this prblem and now he is sleeping through the nights and is doing better. I wish you the best. My first thought was colic but he doesn't cry durring the day. -Washington
L.W. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
When our baby screamed at night and wouldn't sleep we got a fish tank and a rocking chair. We would rock him in front of it and it calmed him. He also ended up getting ear tubes for chronic ear infections, that helped too.
J.J. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Our daughter did the same thing at six months, coinciding with her bottom teeth coming in. She slept in our bed in a Baby Delight for the first three months, in our room in a portable crib until 7 months when we finally moved her into her room and did the Ferber method at 8 months. Our bible for the first three months was "Happiest Baby on the Block." Then I read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. At 8 months, I decided I just really needed some sleep and the Ferber method was the right choice for us and our daughter("Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber). You get to go in and check on your child at timed intervals during the process (after three nights she was going to sleep no problem and going back to sleep by herself when waking at night). Another thing that's great about Ferber is it tells you exactly what to do and has helpful charts, etc. You just have to decide what you can live with and then follow through with your decision (great advice from my sister-in-law who did Ferber with our daughter's cousin at 6 months). Some people are okay with nursing or making a bottle/rocking 2 times or more every night but after 8 months I decided I needed a good night's sleep in order to be a good parent to my daughter. She was a strong, healthy 8 month old and didn't physically need to nurse in the night, I could even tell she wasn't hungry and was just associating me and my boob with going to sleep instead of being able to go back to sleep on her own. Another tip, our daughter still sleeps with white noise (rain) carried over from her swaddled, happiest baby on the block days. You can get a little sound machine at Target for $20. Every night at 7:30 she gets in her jammies, we read a few books, go in her room, dim the lights, turn on the rain, she nurses in the rocking chair and then I lay her in her crib (drowsy but still awake), snap her into her Grobag sleep sack, say goodnight, turn out the lights and close the door. Within 5 minutes (by 8:15 pm) she's sound asleep (I know this because we have a video baby monitor). Oh yes, and she does use a binky too, you may want to do without the binky so you don't have to go through breaking that habit later. When she wakes up at 7:15 am or so I'm greeted with huge smiles from a happy, well rested baby. It sounds to me like you've decided you need sleep so I suggest Ferber method and a good, relaxing bedtime routine. He sounds pretty determined but if you don't give in he WILL learn to go back to sleep on his own. Another tip, the parent that is less bothered by the crying should be the one who does the checking during those first three nights and the other should use earplugs. :-)
P.K. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
I don't know what to tell you.. Is he confused about day and night, maybe?
I wish you luck. I can't even imagine going on such little sleep.
S.B. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
WOW I feel for you and your child.
For cutting teath I used OIL OF CLOVE on the gums and that stops the pain, you can get it at a health food store. Dentists use it instead of novicame.
Does your child take a bottle? If not it might be a good time to start. I use to give my kids a week tea of catnip, cammomeal, valerian root, and apple juse to sweeten it up a little, that usually worked. It sounds like just maybe the child should not have day naps, if the child is tired during the day they will fall asleep if not they wont. Increased phisical activity during the day may help. Look for alergies or other things that have advers reactions that could be giving him some discomfort. Not wanting a clean diaper at night makes me think that he may be having bowl pain and just does not want to be touched. He might have MONSTERS under the bed or in the room. That might seam funny but in a childs world it is very scarry.
Good luck and sleep
H.G. answers from Richland on April 04, 2008
I can absolutely commiserate with you. I have an 8-month old daughter and a 2 1/2 year old son. My son was a super sleeper and still is, but like you, the second one has been extremely difficult. At 5-6 months she was waking every hour. Not to nurse, but just waking and crying. She would go back to sleep pretty quickly, but then wake in another hour. She is better now, but off and on she will still wake frequently. And she wants to get up at 5 a.m. Today I let her CIO until 6 a.m., hoping to get her waking up later, but I doubt it will work. I feed her at 10 p.m. then not again until 6 a.m. I'm trying to force her to go 8 hours and I've been doing that for a couple months now. If I feed her at night she's not really that interested. Out of desperation I've even put her in our bed but she won't sleep. I am really tired, too, and have started going to bed right after my son's in bed, at 8 p.m. I miss my quiet evening time and my sanity. I don't know how she can function sleeping like this at night, but hopefully it will continue to improve. Have you tried white noise? I put a white noise machine in my daughter's room and I don't know if it helps but it's maybe worth a try. We wanted a third child but after this ordeal, I just don't think I could ever do it again. My kids are wonderful but I am soooo sick of being tired all the time!
Hang in there, I'm sure by the time the babies are toddlers it will all be a bad memory.
C.A. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Try teething tabs from the health food store. I have seen them instantly soothe a crying, teething baby. (they are tiny and dissolve in the mouth instantly)
Also, you did not mention what you are feeding your baby. If it is formula, try a non dairy one. It is a very common allergy. If you are breast feeding, consider changing to a non dairy diet yourself.
Light and Love,
E.K. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
Oh A. -
I am so sorry you are having a hard time and are so tired. I don't have magical advice, but did find white noise to be helpful. We did cry it out for my daughter at 6 months, but it didn't seem to work well. It worked MUCH better at 10-11 months. I just think she wasn't ready yet. Hang in there, it seems like are you doing the right thing. Hopefully, this is the height of the problem and shortly it will get better. I'll be thinking of you and hoping this gets better soon!
M.H. answers from Seattle on April 08, 2008
We have a seven month old who was a fantastic sleeper from birth, and at 6 months was going to bed at 8, waking twice to feed, but returning quickly back to sleep, and then getting up sometime between 8 and 9. But for the past month, not so much...
We think its teething that does it - some nights she is just inconsolable. The nights we've given her tylenol it has worked pretty well, but we don't want to give it to her every night, so we wait to see if it is a 'bad' night.
I guess one thing that has felt right to us is that we have focused on night time sleeping. We try to keep her on a schedule at night, and have a little bed time routine. When she does get up during the night we comfort her and calm her down, but then put her back to bed. My mental message is 'i'm here, but this is not a time for playing.'
I do usually give her a chance to go back to sleep herself - sometimes it works. We tend to go in when the cries start escalating.
I have been trying to stretch out how long she goes between feedings (my medical advice is that a six month old can easily go 8 hours without eating, and this jives with my day time experience where she is happy for 5-6 hours frequently), so my goal is to feed her only every four hours at night. The only way this works for me is if my husband is the one who goes into comfort her during 'non-feeding' wakings. He does a great job, and she will usually go back to sleep. Miraculously, this often leads to less waking, where if i go in and end up nursing her, it leads to more waking.
During the day we just follow her cues - sometimes she sleeps a lot, sometimes she hardly naps at all, but i try not to force things in either direction. I'm okay dealing with whatever during the day if it means she sleeps at night.
So, is there advice in there? I guess i'd suggest focusing on night time and ease up on any day time goals. I suppose, also, we try to be reasonable in our expectations - i don't ask her to stretch feedings more than she normally would during the day, but i do expect her to go at least that long. Its a bit of a compromise.
Mostly, though, good luck. I was drawn to this post because it struck a nerve with my own experience. I am hoping that if we just keep on, with a steady expectation, things will just improve over time.
(Oh, ps. - i entirely support those people who suggest you get a babysitter for some amount of time to get real sleep - everything seems better with some sleep.)
L.C. answers from Portland on April 04, 2008
I understand your pain - it seemed like my daughter never slept - but he will get there if you are consistent.
You said he has been teething. I know that my daughter's tooth pain was worse at night and in the early morning. Think about when you get sick - when do you feel the crummiest - morning and night. Have you tried giving him a little bit of Baby Ibruphroen before bed? It lasts for 6 hours and could help ease any pain he is feeling.
It IS important that he learns how to soothe himself to sleep at night. It is something, just like everything else, that you need to teach him. Still a 6 month old is a little young to sleep all night. Try putting in the shirt you wore that day in his crib (it has your scent on it) and could help him relax.
Good Luck - may the sleep faries visit your home soon.
M.K. answers from Seattle on April 04, 2008
I thought there were lots of good suggestions on here. A lot of it comes down to you and your baby's needs and your philosophy. My situation is a little different as I have a 4 month old, but similar in that he screamed and shreaked for hours at night- it's been awful. We've tried everything- and i honestly don't think there is one answer anymore. i think some nights he has gas, and others he's hungry and others he is just not happy. One night after four hours of it i laid down by him on the living room floor and we both just cried. So I know how your head hurts from the screaming and your heart hurts for the baby and sometimes you're not sure which is worse.
i never thought i'd cosleep, but we're doing it now and it has gotten me some much needed sleep (not every night but glad for the ones i get). i know it can be harder to sleep train later on, but an older baby will have better skills to do it, even if you've established habits they have to break. anyway, it's possible there may not be one answer that 'fixes' things, but remember that the one constant with babies is change, so it won't be long til we have a new problem to deal with ;)
One last thought i didn't see on here... can you get a night off? My MIL came over one night and stayed with him downstairs. i leaked milk all over the bed, but i slept a whole night for the first time in months and it helped SO much.
Good luck & I wish you some quiet nights in your near future!