27 answers

8 Month Old Wakes up Every 3-4 Hours at Night

I have an eight month old son who does not sleep well. He has only been on breastmilk for the first 6 months. He would sleep 5-6 hours at night and take a morning and afternoon nap. Then we introduced solid foods, baby cereal first and now vegtables and fruits. He is a good eater. My problem is since beginning solids he has cut down to nursing about 3 times during the day and 4 times at night(9 pm,12am,3 am, 6am).
I am getting 3 little naps at night and want to help him sleep better.
Things I have tried so far:Darkend room with only dim night light, Feed only cereal at evening meal(6pm)with milk mixed in(no fruit juice), increased temp of house, dressed him more lightly(in case he is too hot),Tried comforting him but not picking up.So far none of this is helping. any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the help. I tried a few different things. Cooled down the house a bit,put him in short sleeve PJ's darkened his room, Kept a more strict bedtime routine(bath, books, nursing in dark room). Feed him more caloriesat the dinner meal(meat and bannana puree).
Now he is sleeping about 6 hours and only awkening once.(YEAH). Since his older brother never slept thru the night until 1 year this is GREAT! Thank you for all the advice.
NO we are not alone in this sleepless struggle(LOL).

Featured Answers

T.,

Try using breast milk or a soy based infant formula. Milk should not be given to an infant until they are over 1 year old. Their bodies are not ready to handle it. He could be having some minor stomach problems that is preventing him from sleeping.

T. Cornelius, MS, RD, LDN, CLT
Registered Dietitan

1 mom found this helpful

I have always played music all night and the one night i didnt she didnt sleep good!!I also have a camera monitor and would watch her for a long five minutes before i went in there

More Answers

If you still have good milk supply, you could try nursing him more. I was told by mothers and doctor's not to cut out any nursing (at least for a while) when we start solids. They still need the high fat in the milk to get them all the way through the night. My son is 6 months and he started cluster feeding a few weeks ago. He was getting hungrier and waking up in the night to feed more freequently (less than every 3 hours). Which i learned is called cluster feeding...it increases your milk supply and gives them more of the high fat milk that they need. I also introduced cereal and the combination of these 2 things has him back to sleeping through the night. I don't know if any of that will help....I'm new at this too!

2 moms found this helpful

It could be due to new teeth coming in and he's waking up because he's uncomfortable??? Does he seem uncomfortable when he wakes up at all, or is he just "up"? If you suspect teeth, it won't hurt to give him a tad of infants motrin before bed. Or, maybe he's just got an empty belly b/c of a growth spurt and needs a bit more at dinner time. Like a veggie container and then a fruit container mixed with cereal....or, maybe if you're still using stage one foods, he may be showing you that he's ready for stage two foods which have a little more "consistency" to them. I'd do a little experimenting with feeding him more and see if that helps keep him content through the night. Don't worry......he'll get through it and so will you! =0)

2 moms found this helpful

He is DEFINITELY old enough to sleep at least as many hours as he is months old (8). Either you mean for him to sleep, or you mean to let him keep ruling the roost (which, @ 8 months, is kind of scary).

Most babies are born with a 'ME, ME, ME' attitude (I mean, what ELSE are they concerned with or about?? LOL) It's our job to give them realistic doses of what life is really like (the world DOESN'T revolve around them), and having him sleep all night --as does the rest of the household-- is one of those important, early lessons.

I know many people say that letting them 'cry it out' is cruel, but it simply works. I'm a 'new' staff member working with a 65+ yr old Down's Syndrome lady, and after dinner she wants drinks of this and that (which makes her night staff have to get her up numerous times to 'go potty'). My manager told me that if I start giving her only water, she'll soon quit asking for 'more'! It 'seems' cruel, but it's for her (and everyone else's) own good! Discipline is a lifelong necessity. It just needs to be applied lovingly and for the RIGHT reasons -- EVERYONE's well-being and peace of mind!

2 moms found this helpful

I'd guess teething, tummy upset, or growth spurt. Look for signs of the first two. The other possibility is that since he stopped nursing as much your milk supply could be decreasing in preparation to wean. Although all those night feedings should be stimulating it enough! You may also want to be sure he's not congested or talk to your doctor about possible reflux if the sleepless nights started with the intro of solids. Most reflux babies show early signs with formula or nursing but may he's only sensitive to solids. If its been going on for more than a 2-3 weeks and talked to the dr. about it to try to determine the cause.

2 moms found this helpful

I have a different approach... first of all are you trying to help him to sleep better like you said or yourself...my girl is just now starting to sleep soundly all through the night and she is almost 3. I had her at 44 and realized early that my sleep schedule would revolve around hers. If she woke up, I nursed her back to sleep and never had to agonize about listening her to cry. That's just something that I can't stomach.. my girl is very loving, affectionate, a great eater, very healthy, and happy and smart. At night she might need me and I"m there for her. She can trust that. At 8 mos. it's very natural for a breast fed baby, which is the perfect food, to wake up at night... you should not feel pressured by those whose children sleep through the night. Sometimes on this message board if feels like there is some kind of a contest to see whose kid can sleep the most? Like the one who boasts of her child taking 3 naps and sleeping all through the night... why have a kid if you're so glad when they are sleeping... I wonder what the child's awake time consists of? I just nursed my baby for ;her nap and still nurse her to sleep. That is what I do for her because it works the best and it's healthiest for both of us. SO don't feel like something is wrong... unless you don't want to be bothered, I'd simply nurse my child back to sleep. Your baby is doing what is natural for him/her... that's the way I feel.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,
I'm going through this right now with my 9 month old daughter. She had started just started sleeping through the night about 6 months old but then we went away for a month, staying with various family members and I had to nurse her at night so she would go back to sleep and not wake the rest of the house. I couldn't wait to get her back home to get her back on schedule. We've been home for over a month now and no such luck, she's was usually waking up twice a night, but then started creeping up to 3X. It's a pattern for them, (I went through it with my other two as well) at this age, they don't need to eat, they will survive the night, you just need to break the pattern and unfortunately that means letting them cry it out each time they wake up for a couple nights. If I remember right it was 3-4 nights with my other two. We're on night two right now (It was easier to wait until my husband was away on a business trip to do this, which is why I didn't do it immediately when I got back, Daddy can't stand letting his little girl cry) I can definitely say she didn't cry as long last night each time, so it's working. I can update you again in another night or so if you like. :)

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,
What time do you put him down for bed? A lot of times when my son had trouble sleeping, it was because we were putting him down too late, which makes his overtired, and therefore causes restlessness and nightwaking. I think that when my son was 8 mos old- he was in bed no later than 7:00 p.m.
It is also possible that he associates nursing with sleeping at night and needs you to get to sleep. Have you thought about trying a paci? It's a little late in the game, but it might help him soothe himself back to sleep.
I hope things improve. :)

2 moms found this helpful

I have the exact same problem. Was about to consult the Baby Whisperer again, as we have done the same thing for this baby as we did for our 5 yr old who was sleeping 12 hours at 6 weeks! Argh! He is a hungrier baby, but PA-LEASE!!! I'll be 'listening' to the reponses.

2 moms found this helpful

Please visit http://www.drhull.com/. My husband and I have used this with our two children, now 7 and 4. The first time we used it, our son was 2 and still not sleeping throgh the night and couldn't fall asleep on his own. Less than one week later, he was falling asleep on his own and sleeping through the night. When our daughter turned three months, she started sleeping through the night. She nursed till she was 18 month but never at night. I'd feed her at 8pm and then in the morning at 8am. She still sleeps 12 hours (take or leave one hour)and she's 41/2...This is not just any other DVD, you e-mail your question and Dr. Hull will e-mail you back within 24 hours.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,

One thing you might try is to have a chat with your doctor to help you figure out how much milk (breast or formula) your son needs. That way you'll know if you're nursing enough during the day to meet his needs so that you have a choice whether or not to continue nursing at nighttime. Then have the doctor help you map out a food schedule to go along with the day nursing, telling him or her what you would like for your ideal sleep situation to end up being. I think that your doctor could be very helpful to you to navigate this. If you are able to work out a better feeding and nursing schedule during the day, you have a better chance of getting more rest at night.

You mention that you get 3 little naps at night. Bless your heart, T. - at 45 years old that's really tough. It's obvious that there are moms in this thread who think nothing of staying awake through part of the night - well, more power to 'em, but it's just not for everyone and no one should try to push that on you or anyone else who is writing in asking for help getting more rest, as you have. So go to the doctor and get help with the food and nursing/formula issue, and then ask the doctor to help you with the sleep issue. The feeding issue needs to be worked on first. (By the way, I mentioned formula because you said that you put milk in his cereal - one of the moms called you on this saying that milk is only used after the first year. I assume you called formula "milk".)

If you want to sleep with your baby all night like some of these moms recommend, there's nothing wrong with it. But if you want to sleep on your own and help your baby learn to sleep without you, don't feel bad - and don't let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Not all of us are made to do this. I wasn't either.

All my best,
D.

1 mom found this helpful

T.,

Can't help a whole lot because my baby has always been a great sleeper at night and I didn't breastfeed. However, I have read several books on babies & sleep, and I noticed one thing you wrote that is wrong. Instead of turning the temperature up in the house, you should decrease it. Our body temperatures naturally drop while we sleep, so this helps signal our bodies to rest and we don't get as cold as easily while we're asleep. This is true for babies as well. Out of the books I've read, I'd recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. It has been the most helpful to us.

1 mom found this helpful

My advice is to put him in his crib at bedtime, turn off the baby monitor and get a good night sleep. He might wake up and cry a little but just allow him to realize he needs to settle down and go back to sleep. Going in his room to comfort him is sending the wrong message.

1 mom found this helpful

I also have a 8 month old, and I am puzzled how to answer when people ask me how she is sleeping. Actually, I think she does wake every several hours, but since she is right beside me, all I have to do is adjust my shirt so that she can nurse or snuggle back to sleep. I don't have to lose any sleep over a baby's normal waking/sleeping pattern. If he has cut down his nursing during the day, my guess is that he will need to make up some sucking time at night. I think that babies still get a good percentage of their nutrition at night. It seems to only be a problem for Americans. When I work with international medical employees (from other developed countries), they are amazed that Americans will put their babies in a separate room at night. ("Is there someone IN the room to watch the baby?" or "Why did the leasing agent think we needed more than one bedroom?" they ask.) Yes, at 8 months, my baby is not as willing to nap or sleep as she once was, but look at all the changes baby is going through now (creeping, increased mobility, teeth.) Most of us wouldn't be able to drop off to sleep either with so many new developments taking place. and Yes, everybody and his brother wants to tell me how I am starting a bad habit by pulling baby into my bed; but I tend to believe it is a worse habit to ignore my heart that tells me my baby needs me. I am a much better mom if I get some sleep. Do what works for you. . .and don't leak the BIG secret that our babies still sleep with us.

BTW, before you join the BabyWise movement, check the author's credentials. . . he does not even have a two-year degree, and I believe that his "divinity" degree is from a mail-order school which does not even require Biblical Languages. Even Dr. Joy has SOME kind of degree, even if it is not in child or family therapy. . .but I'll save that for another rant.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.! I feel your pain! I have an 8 month old who recently started sleeping through the night. I know they are all different but I figured I would let you know what we did that worked for us. My pediatrician said to stop feeding at night because they are used to it and wake up expecting to eat, just like if we eat at the same time every day we get hungry at the same time. We stopped feeding and would just rock or do whatever we usually did when he woke up and he would usually go to sleep without nursing. Once we got that down, when he would wake up at night, I know it sounds difficult, but we let him fuss for a few minutes and within 3 minutes, the first night he was back asleep!! He woke up twice that night and was back asleep in a couple of minutes and I never once got out of bed! By the third night, he slept all night. I know I probably had it easier than most, but I just thought I would share my success story, because I feel your pain!!! I wish you the best of luck and hope you find something that works for you!!

1 mom found this helpful

My advice is different from most of the others. And it's real simple-----where is the problem?! If he ever, at any point, slept 5-6 hour stretches, consider yourself lucky. Sleeping thru the Night is only considered to be a 4-6 hours stretch anyway.

IT IS NORMAL FOR A BABY, EVEN AN 8 MONTH OLD, TO WAKE OFTEN AND NEED HELP GETTING BACK TO SLEEP.

Ask yourself what bothers you the most, his current sleep habits or that you *think* he should be sleeping better. If you could totally block out what others moms, books, society has to say on how babies should sleep, what would you do? Continue to go to him when he wakes? Continue to nurse him at night? Probably so, as this is what is instinctual.

I've been coming to mamsource for a few months now and I continue to be outraged at the number of moms who encourage Crying It Out (CIO). The first year is all over the map. There are so many "firsts" in this year, so many phases, sometimes they sleep good, sometimes they don't. Nobody ever said a new baby was easy so why do we expect these new little humans to sleep like adults.
I am strongly against CIO. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Breastfed babies are especially more likely to wake at night. My good friend said it best when she said "I don't ignore my 8 year old or my 16 year old when they need me at night, why in the world would I ignore my infant, who does not have the words to tell me what he needs!"
I can tell you that I breastfed my now 2.5 year old on demand, he slept in our bed, he woke often and slept little during the first year, we never let him CIO, basically we did everything 'society' tells you not to do. Now he sleeps like a log and rarely wakens.
I think his eating habits sound fine. Breastmilk should be the main source of nutrition right now anyway.
Here are some links on normal infant sleep. You'll find out real quick that this "sleep problem" is normal and MOST babies and moms are going through the same thing.

8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070200.asp

31 Ways to Get your Baby to sleep and stay asleep
(without using CIO!)
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070300.asp

Newborn Babies and Sleep
http://www.kellymom.com/pantley/pantley03.html

Sleeping Thru The Night
http://www.kellymom.com/parenting/sleep/sleep.html

Studies on Normal Infant Sleep
http://www.kellymom.com/parenting/sleep/sleepstudies.html

1 mom found this helpful

I saw your sleep dilemma on mamasource and wanted to give you a few ideas....Does your son have a security blanket, stuffed animal, etc. Something that is soothing to him when he cries or gets upset and for when he naps and goes to sleep at night. I have found not only with my 2 and 5 year old as well as hearing from other moms that this is a must. If you feed him at 6pm with milk and cereal and then again at 9pm the same way, there is no reason he should need to eat again before 6am. He has definitely regressed hearing that he went 5-6 hours at night and now is waking every 3. I do not think he is hungry as much as it may be that he is waking up and you come in and feed him and he is comforted by this. He needs to learn to fall back to sleep on his own. I've always heard it takes 3 days and 3 night to form or break a habit. So if you decide to do this, get ready to be firm and know your game plan and fdo not deviate from it. Both my children have sound machines in their rooms and have always had them. It is just the white noise. They also have a blankie that they have to have to go to sleep. I would recommend that if he doesn't have this, you get one and if it works go and buy 2 to 3 more. They wear out, or inevitablly you can't find it one night when it's bedtime and the house goes into "frantic mode". Also, I would start a bedtime routine...bathtime and book followed by 9pm feeding, lights out (with nightlight on, sound machine and blankie. If he wakes up let him cry it out for 10 - 15 minutes. When you do not enter his room, he will figure out that it's nighttime and the house is alseep and will eventually go back to sleep himself. If after 15 minutes he is still crying, quietly go in, let him know everything is ok, do not make eye contact, rub his belly or back and let him know firmly but lovingly that it is nighttime and he needs to go back to sleep and in the morning you will be there when he calls out for you. I think he is not so much hungry, but just doesn't know how to fall back to sleep and also knows that you will come running to the room. Do not underestimate his intelligence. It's a reinforcement issue and you just need to turn it around. Anyway, this is what I've done and both my children were sleeping 10 - 12 hours a night by 9 months of age. I feel that children definitely need the security blanket. My daughter has a pacifier as well. But we are to the point where she only gets the blankie and passy if she is taking a nap, going to bed, or watching a show on tv. This way she is not carrying it around all the time at 2 years of age. Just a thought...use what you can and most importantly you know your son and yourself, so just use what works for both of you. God Bless--R. W.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.-

I don't have any real good advice, because I am going through this right now, too (except my son is 13 mos. old) but he is teething unbelievably. There are about four teeth (besides the four he has) that are just right there ready to cut through. I think that is one reason that he has started to wake up again. I also had read that when the babies do eat more solids and nurse less during the day, some will try and make up for it at night. Kind of like playing "catch-up nursing" if that makes sense. Also, my son is off the charts in every area, he looks like he almost two, and I believe he is truly hungry when he wakes up sometimes (especially since breastmilk digests faster). One woman wrote in on a subject similar to this and said to try giving the baby a bottle of breastmilk instead of nursing, and if they chug the whole thing down then they were truly hungry, but if they eat a little and then fall back to sleep, then they are just looking to you for comfort and they can learn that in a different way (like a pacifier, just rocking, 'cry-it-out, whatever you are comfortable with). Anyways, just wanted to give you some things to consider since you had tried so many environmental changes to no avail.

Good luck-

1 mom found this helpful

Oh I feel for you! Our youngest starting sleeping consistantly through the night about 6 months. This is when I began giving him formula exclusively(sorry I'm not a diehard breastfeeder). I also bucked the system and laid him on his tummy, with my doctors approval. He said just like adults, some babies sleep better in positions other than their back. We play the same cd, as a sort of signal,when laying him down for each nap and bedtime. I use an air purifier to give him some white noise too.

I have a 10 month old son, 7 year old daughter, and a 10 year old daughter. Stay at home mom. Married 12 years.

1 mom found this helpful

T.,

Try using breast milk or a soy based infant formula. Milk should not be given to an infant until they are over 1 year old. Their bodies are not ready to handle it. He could be having some minor stomach problems that is preventing him from sleeping.

T. Cornelius, MS, RD, LDN, CLT
Registered Dietitan

1 mom found this helpful

We had to let our son cry. At 8 months old he was still waking up every 3 or 4 hours at night too. We started out letting him cry for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes the next night, so on and so on. The longest he cried was an hour. It took several nights of this horrible crying by both him and I before he started sleeping through the night. He is now 5 and is a great sleeper. Remember to watch a clock for how long you let him cry because 1 minute seems like 20 minutes. It worked for us...but not every kid responds in the same way. Also, we gave him a bottle before bed to make sure he had a full tummy. We also would go in and check on him without picking him up, not talking to him, but check to see if he was wet or dirty, etc. then leave the room. Hope it helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I would decrease the temp in the house. THe doctor told me babies do not sleep well in heat and to put our house around 68 degrees, but no more than 70. THen put on a better sleeper. I would try this. Also the food might too much at bedtime. I would do solids at the dinner hour, then load up on the milk right before bed. Then he will be full but not too full. Go down to one nap during the day and I wouldn't let him sleep too long if it is the afternoon.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

Your little one needs to be eating more during the day. At 8 months olds He should be having a good breakfast of baby cereal mixed with fruit and maybe an extra fruit. If you breast feed him first thing in the morning, then feed him 1 hour after your nurse him. Same thing for lunch. Vegetables mixed with cereal along with an extra helping of a different type of vegetable. Then nurse. The same for dinner, cereal mixed with a vegetable, an extra veg. some crackers that dissolve if he has teeth, then nurse. Just remember you both are going through an adjustment and he needs to be on a good consistent schedule in order to make it through the night. Also, when he wakes up in the middle of the night do not nurse him. If you feed him good during the day, then nurse him, then nurse him right before bed, he should make it through the night. Remember, he slept 5-6 hours through the night before, so he's capable of doing it. At 8 months, he's probably teething too, and wants to be conforted, not fed. Get up, cuddle him, put his pacy in his mouth if you use one, and put him back to bed. He'll cry the first 2-3 nights, then learn to put himself back to sleep.

I recommend 2 books, 1. Super Baby Food Book 2. Babywise (6-12months)

My girls, one is 4 now and my baby is 18months have slept through the night since 2 months old. I nursed both of them until they were 11 months old. You can do this! Remember you are the parent, you set the standard for your baby. They love schedules and boundaries. This is how we show them we love them. Feel free to email me if you have more questions at ____@____.com

Kressi
Mother of 2

1 mom found this helpful

I have a nine month old who sleeps wonderfully (knock on wood) I don't know if this will help, but this is what I do. She gets cereal in the morning and at night. I noticed that you feed him cereal at 6pm. That seems kinda early seeing how close that is to dinner time. I feed my little girl cereal around 8p.m. 'cause she just had dinner around 5p.m. and a bottle at 6:30p.m. I don't know if your son is a good eater. But it sounds to me like at 8 months old he should be eating more. Does he eat meats yet? My pediatrician started me out on meats at 7months. My daughter even eats table food now at this age. She takes three naps a day and sleeps in until 9a.m.!!! I would recommend giving cereal later in the evening and also introducing it in the morning time as well.
He also could be teething, if your pediatrician says it's okay you could give him some motrin before he goes to bed. Hope this helps!

When my daughter was about 4 1/2 months old, she would wake up every 2-3 hrs. This was after having been on a schedule of 5 to 7 hrs sleep. After talking to my mother about it, she said feed the girl, it sounds like she is hungry. So, at 4 1/2 months I started her on rice cereal mixed with 2% milk and I didn't look back. I fed her later in the evening around 7 or 8 pm and she started sleeping all night. If she woke up in the night, I would grab a bottle and she would go right back to sleep. By 6 months we were working our way to table food and she is going strong today at 2. If he is cutting teeth, a dose of tylenol if you don't mind giving him some. I, however, lived with Ambesol Jr. until my daughter was done cutting. It seemed to work a little better than Baby Ambesol or Baby Oragel. Hope you get him to sleep better in the next few days.

My oldest son nursed every 2 hours when he was a newborn baby. As he got older he nursed every 3 hours until he was a year old. He was a big baby, a big boy, and he was hungry.

He played 4 sports and lifted weights in high school and he is still hungry all the time. Some nights I hear him awake in the middle of the night getting a glass of milk and a sandwich. He is now a 6 ft tall, 215 pound freshman in college with an unlimited meal plan in the cafeteria.

Some boys are just hungry. Nurse your little one every time he wakes up. He is probably hungry. Feed him every time he is hungry. You may just have a little one who is going to grow up to be a big man.

I have always played music all night and the one night i didnt she didnt sleep good!!I also have a camera monitor and would watch her for a long five minutes before i went in there

It's a tough one. I would almost say let him nurse anytime he wants, but he is defintely at the teachable stage to learn to sleep on his own. Sounds like he is using nursing as a prop to get himself back to sleep. I would continue the not picking him up...which I know loud voiced opinions will stear you the other directions, but what works great and still shows them that you are there and care is going back into check on them every five minutes... or you can do (like I did) 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes (and she was already sleeping and sleeping through the night within 48 hours of me doing this including 2 long naps), then 15 minutes, etc. It took me until now (11 months) to do this, but I am finally feeling happier b/c I am getting sleep. :)

Blessings,
Amanda

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