September 07, 2007,
R.H. asks from Fredericksburg, VA on July 31, 2007
8 Month Old Won't Sleep More than 3 Hours at Night
My little girl is 8 months old. She has never been able to sleep more than 3 hours at a time at night. It really doesn't matter where she is sleeping (my bed or her crib). She wakes up, flips around like she is going to crawl and looks around for me. Sometimes she starts crying and won't stop until I pick her up. I usually feed her when she wakes up because that usually puts her straight back to bed, but that she just wakes up 3 hours later. Does anyone have any idea why she might be doing this and what I can do about it? Thanks
S.L. answers from Washington DC on August 01, 2007
My now one year old son didn't sleep well at night for the longest time. Now he is sleeping 12 hours straight! Here is what I had to do...do not feed her when she wakes up, she isn't hungry and it only gives her a reason to wake up. I would suggest sleeping in a different room because she is very dependent on having you there when she wakes up and this is only going to get worse and harder to break. Babies develope separation anxiety around that age and freak out when they wake up until they learn how to put themselves back to sleep and comfort themselves. This is a huge tool to give them...and you. When she wakes up, let her cry (I know it's hard but stand your ground, once you start you can't go back) for about 5 minutes. Watch the clock b/c it will seem longer to you. Then go in pat her back, giver her a pacifier or maybe start putting a toy in bed with her then leave the room. Let her cry for 7 minutes and do the same thing, then 10 and so on until she goes to sleep. The first few nights this process may take an hour but once she realizes that she isn't getting what she wants she will either not bother waking up or will just put herself back to sleep. If she wakes up and she is not crying - do not go in! You will only make it worse. My son was waking up 3-4 times a night around that age and in about a week I had him down to only 1 time. I kept nursing him at 4am until I finally realized that he wasn't going to give that up on his own so I stopped feeding him then too. Now he sleeps 12 hours straight. I put about 4 pacifiers in his bed so he can always find one! I'm sure he feels better with a good nights sleep just as I do. Good luck!
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C.D. answers from Washington DC on August 01, 2007
Every kid is different. My son didn't sleep longer than 3-4 hours at a time (at least on a regular basis) til he was 2. He needed the reassurance that I was there I think. He is a very social person and I think he just wanted to know someone was around. Like you I would nurse him back to sleep cause he would fall right back asleep. I tried just rubbing his back, putting him to sleep in his bed when he was totally tired, everything the books suggested, except for crying for hours, and nothing worked. Now he sleeps thru the night and tells me if he is tired and is ready for bed. I think he just had to be ready to do it. Hope this helps. At least you know you aren't alone and I feel your pain and tiredness.
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S.S. answers from Washington DC on August 06, 2007
Teething may be an issue,but with my son, I gave him a little cereal in his night time bottle. He was sleeping through the night at 3 months.
A.L. answers from Washington DC on August 01, 2007
First off do you have a bedtime routine?? My suggestion is to get a routine, one that she will get used too. At about 7:30 pm or 8 pm, give her a bath, read a story, say prayers (if you do that) make sure everything around her is condusive to sleep, lights low, house or room quiet and put her to bed. Also you might want to limit day time naps if she is going to sleep alot during the day, she may not be so sleepy at night, also if she takes a nap close to bedtime (you know like around 6 pm or so not a good idea). Also if you are nursing her, maybe something you are eating is keeping her awake, say if you drink a lot of sodas with caffeine, or tea or coffee, she just might be wired. I hope these help.
L.M. answers from Harrisburg on August 19, 2007
Could this be something medical? Have you ruled out Reflux? This is not unheard of with infants? Is it possible that every three hours she is refluxing and the burning in the back of her throuat causes her to wake up?
I experienced this firsthand with my son. I had the condition as an infant and he followed suit. It used to be called "Colic," but now that's recognized as the generic term that covers a number of symptoms. I have written informative articles on this and you can view them: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/25158/acid_reflu...
T.A. answers from Washington DC on August 01, 2007
Hey R., Try the Sleep Lady book. I cannot remember the title. That is who the book is by(just google the sleep lady). I was having sleeping issues with my 7 month old. We tried that book and it worked in about 6 days. Last night he slept for 12 hours. Good luck I know your tired!
T.C. answers from Washington DC on July 31, 2007
My first wouldn't sleep through the night until 10 months. I was breastfeeding so I thought it was because the food digested too quickly. She would wake up, I would feed her, then she would go back to sleep. It was a pain getting up like 3-5 time per night. I barely remember it now though, so that is good. Anyway, I had child number two. I still breastfed, but this child slept through the night by 2 months. So...breastfeeding or not, it doesn't matter. I did turn the monitor off with my second child. I can hear her if she cries, but I didn't want to hear her turning. Oh, I just realized you sleep in the room with her. Can you move her to a different room or sleep out of her sight? You can always do the other thing too....let her cry!
Both of my girls went through a period of crying when I put them to bed. I put them in the crib after having read a book and feeding. When they cried, I told them it was time for bed and left the room. They cried...and after 5-10 minutes I went back in, picked them up for a minute and put them back down. By the third round, they were sleeping. And this only happened for no more than 3 nights! I made a choice from the beginning that I would put them to bed while they were awake. I was not going to rock my children to sleep. My kids can sleep anywhere!
Part of me feels that it was my fault that my first child didn't sleep through the night until 10 months, but the other part of me thinks every child is different.
I do know that if your child has slept throught the night once, then they are able to sleep through the night all the time (minus the scary dream nights).
H.P. answers from Washington DC on August 01, 2007
Also, please make sure before you try any sleep solutions that your child has been evaluated for reflux and other disorders that can show up at night. My son had reflux and they didn't treat it and kept telling us it was a parenting issue because it was mainly a nighttime thing. Once he was treated properly it made a huge difference. He would wake almost every 2 hours, sometimes more frequently, and ask to eat because it soothed his tummy. It was a year of severe sleep deprivation, so I feel your pain. He still does not regularly sleep through and he is 2 1/2 now. A pediatrician can also tell you if the liver is processing enough glucose or whatever to be released through the night, at her weight, to see if she is genuinely hungry or wanting comfort for any reason.
It sounds like she is also very bonded to you and knows you will be there if she needs you. That's good, but the trick is to also teach her that she can deal with some of the small stuff on her own. At 1 year old we decided on a modified cry situation. We left him after the routine and soothing and winding down with a sippy cup of water and his favorite stuffed doggy, for first 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. He doesn't ever cry in bed for more than 10 minutes. He knows this and will settle if he can, but if he continues to cry we go to him. Every 10 minutes until he settles in. I want him to know that "I'll be there for you no matter what" means exactly that. But we can give him a bit to see if he can figure it out, pass the gas, have the drink, and see if he can do it himself.
Be warned, it's the longest 5-10 minutes of a person's life. We still have to set a timer so we can just sit and make ourselves do something else. But after about a week or two he started to figure it out and if he could settle, he did. The night feedings are also something that encourages wakings. If she's just wanting your company she has to learn that that's a day thing. If she's uncomfortable - reflux, gas, whatever, that needs to be addressed before you start to take that away.
Sorry such a wordy reply - this is a subject that we faced and still face.