53 answers

8 Month Old Has Never Slept Through the Night

Okay, this is for all of you out there who have had babies who wake up every thirty minutes to two hours throughout the night. I have read lots of requests from mothers who say their baby used to sleep well and then started waking frequently, but even babies sleeping three or four hours at a time sounds like heaven to me!

My first son who is now four and a half had sleep problems--did not sleep through the night until he was over one and a half years--but my second son is worse. (I thought I was supposed to get an easy one next!) My baby was colicky for the first few months and NEVER slept well, many times only sleeping a few hours within a 24 hour period. I had to start taking him to bed with me and nursing him throughout the night just to get some sleep since I was going CRAZY from sleep deprivation. I have been trying to get him to sleep in his own crib for the past couple months, but he refuses to sleep for very long. I have tried the Baby Whisperer technique by Tracy Hogg, but my baby has crying stamina; I quit that technique after nine hours (yes, nine!)of him crying while I picked him up and put him down (Tracy's method). That was at four months old. I always stay with my baby and try to massage his back, which helps him sleep sometimes (I pull the porta-crib next to my bed at night). I don't like the cry it out method, and besides, it never really worked with my first son. (I do, however, try to let my baby cry himself tired after putting him down while I stay with him. I just don't like abandoning him until he falls asleep.) I'm NOT interested in the No-Cry Sleep Solution book (read tons of reviews by parents online) or the Ferber method. Has anyone tried the Dana Obleman sleep solution or the Baby Sleep Solution by Chris Towland? I've tried the nighttime routine, turning off the lights, oatmeal as the last meal, everything! I can finally get my baby to sleep within a half hour of putting him down (crying some or all of the time), but he will usually only sleep about thirty to ninety minutes at the most before he starts wailing again; and even if I can get him back to sleep without picking him up, he wakes up again soon after (tried this a couple times a night). I've tried leaving him alone to self-soothe but he won't have any of that and ends up crying for another hour or more. So then I end up nursing him in bed with me to get sleep, but he still wakes up several times and I have to switch nursing sides to get him back to sleep. He will not sleep if I just let him lay next to me; he has to nurse. I always think, "He's got to be so tired, he will sleep for hours," but then he wakes up again, sometimes within twenty minutes!

As for naps, he mostly naps for thirty minutes on the nose. Sometimes he will nap for an hour but with no regularity. Whenever he is put down, even when he is totally out, he will wake up. I am currently sleeping in a different room than my husband so the baby's frequent waking and crying doesn't keep him from getting sleep. First, I would like to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time without a baby attached to me, then I would like to go back to my own bed. Any suggestions out there that work from parents who have been there? Thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I really love the book called Babywise... they have great suggestions on sleep and eating. It's worth a try and may come in handy continually as it has for me. AM

I have similar problems with my 16 month old. I would love to hear if anything works??
I feel like I haven't slept through the night since before I was pregnant with my 6 yearold!:>


I tried a lot of the books, none of them worked. I was no longer functioning as a human so I called Kathy Sinclair at http://www.babysleepsolutionsla.com.

She was wonderful and within a day my son was sleeping WAY better than he ever did. I was in a similar situation as you and I had tried lots of techniques. Kathy is worth every penny.

Good Luck!

More Answers


To me, this look like a classic case of food intolerance. My baby is intolerant to all dairy proteins and allergic to soy proteins and he was intolerant to eggs until after he was around 1 (he's 19 months now). Before I cut out all dairy and soy out of my diet (including that hidden in other foods), he was up constantly. He was just so uncomfortable he couldn't sleep for any length of time. He also has reflux but treating the reflux without addressing the food intolerance issues did nothing. Once I addressed his food intolerance issues, his reflux was 90% better (we were able to take him off meds when he was 11 months old - he now only has reflux issues when he eats something that upsets him which happens occasionally since he's in daycare).

I basically did an elimination diet. I looked at this info http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/t083301.asp and decided what was most likely the problem based on what I was eating and I eliminated dairy, soy, eggs, chocolate, caffeine, nuts (including peanuts), fish, shellfish, tomatoes and citrus. By the end of the first week he was noticable better and by the end of a month he was like a different baby. It takes about a month for dairy proteins to entirely leave your system. But if you are effectively eliminating the problem, you should see improvement in about a week. If you don't see improvement in about a week, either you aren't successful eliminating the problem (if it is dairy or soy they are hidden in so many foods) or you haven't hit upon the problem yet. If my son wouldn't have improved, I would have added corn (including foods with corn syrup) and gluten (grain) products next. Once your babe is happy and pain free, then you start adding foods back one at a time to see what causes the reaction. I was able to add back everything but dairy, soy and eggs. And now he can also eat eggs. Babies do tend to outgrow food intolerances but it can take them a couple of years depending on how sensitive they are.

From my perspective, colic being "baby in pain and we don't know why so do nothing" is not acceptable. If my baby is in pain, I want to know why and I want to fix it. I think most colic is actually food intolerances. But I found that doctors were no help at all. So I did my research, did my elimination diet and the problem was solved. I now have a healthy, happy baby who sleeps. I figured it was a very low-risk trial. Worse case is that it would be inconvenient for a couple of weeks and do nothing. Best case is that it would be a little inconvenient but my baby would be better and that is what happened. I maintained a completely dairy and soy free diet until he weaned at 18 months but he's still completely dairy and soy free. Any time he gets any dairy or soy he'll be up crying off and on all night long.

Anyway, that was quite a book. If you need more info, my email address is ____@____.com I know the idea of doing an elimination diet is really intimidating so if you want to try it, I'd be happy to tell you what I ate.

Since your baby is old enough for solids, you'll also need to watch what he's eating himself. But that is pretty easy with a young baby. It isn't until you hit the stage 3 foods and the table food that you have to watch for a lot of dairy in
their food.


1 mom found this helpful

Y. -

I know you have had a lot of responses ... but here is one more. I have 20 month old twin boys that are taking their sweet time when it comes to sleeping through the night. My "poorer" sleeper used to wake 10-12 times a night. Things have gotten better even though we aren't there yet. We are at 2-4 times a night (right now he is sick so we are definitely on the 4 times a night routine). Obviously there is no one solution or we would have all used it by now. When I stopped trying to listen to everyone else, and started listening to my child things started to get better. What I mean is I worked hard to tune into him and learn when I could start soothing by patting his back or saying shh, and when I had to nurse (yes, I am still nursing both my boys). At 8 months old he didn't nap for more than 30 minutes either, but now he naps anywhere from 2 -3 hours. Sometimes he wakes around 1 hour and I nurse him back down. In the last month we have had good luck getting him down in 10-20 minutes (vs. the hour it used to take). If you are still nursing when your little one is around 18 months take a look at Dr. Jay Gordon's sleep article - it really helped me start to night wean which has given some better sleep at night. I know you aren't interest in the No Cry Sleep Solution, but the one thing that I got from it was that this process takes time. It helped look at improvements over a few weeks or a month instead of getting too excited about one good night.

There are a lot of folks in your shoes and I personally think that this means that it is normal for a child to not sleep through the night. Some do and some don't. It's about 50% either way.

Best of luck finding what works FOR YOU.


1 mom found this helpful

I'm so sorry I have no advice for you Y. but know that you are not alone. You have described my situation with my own 8 month old to a tee. Even though he doesn't sleep much he is a very happy go lucky baby and seems to only need as much sleep as he's getting. He is also developmentally right on target. I on the other hand, am going insane! A freind of mine has mentioned that he may be suffering from reflux as he has many of the symptoms. I will be checking into that with my doctor and maybe you might ask about it as well. Good luck to us both!

A Little about me:

I'm a bring my baby to work, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, make my own organic baby food, Dr. Sears worshipping Momma. With a baby on my hip, a guitar on my back and a song in my heart (despite the fact that I've had almost no sleep for the past 8 months).

1 mom found this helpful

The good part about advice is to get opposing sides. We seek out information that agrees with our gut instinct.

The timing of your post is poetic.... My daughter sounds eerily similar to your first. Never once has she slept more than 3 hours.... even when she was ill. We co-slept because the nursing for comfort was so repetitive throughout the night. I accepted my fate with her erratic sleep because her development and health are totally normal. I had to keep reminding myself, if this is the biggest problem I have, then I consider myself lucky.

She JUST turned 18 month olds and slept 7 straight hours for the very first time two nights ago. What changed? She did. The way I see it, when your baby does not understand language and is so limited in capabilities it can’t even control it’s own bowels, how can you justify ignoring the baby? Take the same scenario and think about a senile and incontinent senior citizen. Would you ignore cries for comfort from the elder?

I needed to think about my daughter's situation in this way to withstand a very difficult situation. Believe me, it wasn't fun. I moaned and complained a lot. I was irritable and cranky. But I felt I had to meet her needs first over my own. Adults are capable of understanding the concept of sacrifice. Babies are not.

I waited her out. I had to be patient. I knew once she had simple command of language we could negotiate. Negotiation is the key to harmonious human relationships.... even with little humans. At least you feel like you are being fair when you can explain and you know they understand.

Just last week, I stopped nursing in bed during the day. We started on Friday night to go through the hardest parts over the weekend. Our nursing time was in the "nursing chair" in my room. At night, I went through her room and said night-night to all the animals and toys with her to establish “everyone” in the house goes to sleep. Then I told her boobies go night-night too. We’d nurse one last time in the nursing chair and say “sshhhh , boobies sleeping now”. Then I started using a tiny baby doll for her to hug at night when I expected the cries to come.

Like clock work, she’d stir and wake up and say “nurse, pweas”. I told her no, repeated everyone is sleeping, and reminded her to hug the baby doll. It’s been hard. The first 2 nights of this, I wanted to give in a few times. But her dad would chime in “no nursing” and she responded to his strong voice better than mine. She was persistent, but in reality the longest stretch lasted about 15 minutes. She still woke up at her regular 3 hour intervals but she started falling back to sleep within a minute or so. On the fourth night, I woke up at 4:30 in panic that I hadn’t awakened 1 time throughout the night! I was scared something was wrong with her…. It was too shocking to expect a full night sleep after all this time with interrupted sleep. But there she was, soundly sleeping. The next night? She was up 3 times throughout the night. The return to sleep was so quick though. And this is a process and we’re only 6 days into it. I’d say she’s a fast learner at this rate. :) Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

My girlfriend went through a similar situation and it came down to not getting enough sleep. He's so sleep-deprived, as are you, that he can't get into the proper sleep cycles.

Personally, I weathered the "cry-it-out" method and felt sanity come back within days. I can't recommend any other method because it worked for both of my kids in about two days.

He should be getting about 12-14 hours of sleep a day. My kids do 10 at night and 2 during the day. I'm flexible with their times, but I never let them sleep past 4pm and their latest bedtime is 930pm.

It won't change overnight, but write down a schedule for them and it will eventually happen.
Is your husband able to help? When I needed to stop nursing, at 20 months, my husband took over the night time routine of prayer and songs; I stayed out of the room. It went swimmingly.
Good luck, it will happen

Hi Y.,
My first thought- is your baby is not feeling well. I would guess it's either a food intolerance or a reflux/pyloric valve issue. We went through the same thing, though (bless your heart) we figured it out earlier. In the end- the only thing that really helped was him outgrowing the reflux (11 months), but in the meantime, we were able to get him more hours of sleep in a row by changing my diet to a complete bland meat/veggie/fruit diet (no soy or milk products), found a way to have him sleep almost upright, burped him a lot (harder than I thought you would have to), and zantac. The fact that he "has to nurse" when he lies next to you says to me that his esophagus is burning, and the milk is soothing to him. we found a pacifier helped a little with this- to keep him swallowing without always having to nurse. You could try some of the suggestions you have received, but since this has gone on so long I would really recommend a specialist's opinion (pediatric gastroenterologist is where I would start). It is possible your older child also had this issue. I have heard some people do not actually outgrow it, but it would be best to know. I would not want to use the cio method if your baby is crying in pain. I hope that he outgrows this issue soon and that you all can have a normal sleep cycle again. All the best,

I don't know if this is even a issue, or what his eating habits are throughout the day, but have you ever thought that maybe he's hungry and that's why he's only okay if he's nursing? I have a 5 month old son who was very colicly up until just about right now. He's always wanted to nurse every 2 hours, and my doctor had convinced me that by nursing him so often, his system never had a chance to rest, and that was giving him the horrible gas. So for three weeks I held him off to nurse every 3 hours to much wailing that we accounted to the colic. And his sleep habits were terrible, up every 1 or 2 hours, with tons of crying. I'd try to sooth him back to sleep without nursing him, but the crying would go for hours, so I would break down and nurse him and he would go to sleep. So after 3 weeks I took him to the doctors for a weigh in, and he hadn't gained an ounce! He had also developed a food insecurity from being starved for 3 weeks. He would cry until he was fed, and then nurse franticly as long as he could until he fell asleep, this is all day and night. Finally I followed my own mothers instinct and I turned into a 24 hour fast food restaurant. All day if he wanted to nurse, he would START to get fussy, I would nurse him before he became frantic. Sometimes every hour I would nurse him. After a month of this he started gaining weight like crazy (Good, healthy weight+length) and he started crying less, laughing more, and sleeping longer! Then I started to pump, and I realized that I could only pump 1 oz from each breast, no matter that I had a $300 pump. So I went to my local health food store and got herbal supplements to boost my milk supply and he only got better! At one point he could sleep from 10 pm to 4 am, and I could pump 3 oz from each breast! And the colic got better too because he wasn't nursing so often at night, so I in turn got more sleep, so my stress level went down, and my milk could let down. Then we went on a trip and I didn't bring my supplements, and I stoped using them after that, and I started him on rice cereal about the same time. Then he started waking up all the time at night again, and I realized that my milk flow was going down again because I was lazy with the Mother's Milk tea and supplements. And he needed more milk now than ever because he was on solids and he needs more liquids to compensate. And yesterday my in-laws took him for 6 hours and when he got home I nursed him and put him to bed and he slept until 5:30 this morning! And I realized that since I built my milk up for hours, he slept longer, because he had enough food. You bet I'm sticking on my supplements now. Also, since I can't pump enough, he gets formula when he's away from me. That's just extra water as I see it. So I don't know if you pump and you know how much you let out, also I don't know if you supplement any other liquid into your son's diet,but maybe he needs water or more milk. Wow, this turned out really long! Anyway, I hope some of it can be any use. Good luck! (Also it could be teething pain, try baby ora-gel.)


I know how you feel. Both of mine woke up that often until the age of 2, after they night weaned. I didn't attempt to nightwean before then, mostly because even though they woke often, I didn't have to actually get up or even wake up, eventually they could serve themselves if you know what I mean (-: Is it possible for you to put a mattress on the floor in your room? Nurse him to sleep, get him off then get back in to your bed? W/out you being right next to him, he may not wake as often. Also, if hubby is willing, he could help by rocking/patting/singing him back to sleep. We never tried this with our first but we did with our second when hubby seemed a lot more confident and he was amazing getting our little guy to sleep. It didn't mean that he would sleep through the night but it got him used to another way to fall back to sleep other than nursing. My husband could only do this on occasion since he travels so much but when he did do it, it reallly helped and gave me some extra time to sleep. Looking back, I realize 2 years to most seems like a long time to not have your child sleep through the night, for me, it wasn't that bad, I knew it would eventually pass and now that I have two kids with incredible sleep habits, I feel like it was a success.

I hope you find the answers you are looking for and get the help you need,

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