Please Help, Son Not Sleeping Through Night

Updated on March 03, 2008
J.O. asks from Leesburg, VA
29 answers

Hi, My son is now 9 months old and still not sleeping through the night. He gets up twice for a bottle and sometimes just because! I tried letting him cry once and he just hyper-ventalted. I refuse to do that again. Does anyone have suggestions that don't involve heart wrenching cry's?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone so much for your advice. I used a little of everyone and last night I fed him lots before he went to bed including a bottle with oatmeal in it. When he got up for his first night feeding at midnight my husband went in and kept laying him back down but I couldn't take the crying so I went in and layed him down and covered him with his blanket, gave him his binky and my shirt that I was wearing and gently stroked his hair while I sang sofly. He fell asleep and did not get up again until 7am!!!!!!!!! Then he played quietly in his crib until 7:30am!!!!!! I am sooooooooooo happy! Maybe we'll have a repeat tonight! Thanks again!

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K.A.

answers from Norfolk on

I have the same sleep-deprived issue with my 9-month old son. I work and adore time with my little guy, but also need for him to sleep. Please share any recommendations that you get! best wishes. -K.

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J.C.

answers from Washington DC on

IM J. I had 4 children. I was told by my DR if you put the child in his bed the 1st night is the big one, don't give up make him stay in his room. Each night gets better,it may sound mean but it does work. My same son was up all night changing clothes and climbing.He is now working nights on AIR FORCE ONE.GIVE IT A TRY.

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S.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Read "The No cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth Pantley it has many wonderful and compassionate ideas to promote infant sleep.

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C.T.

answers from Washington DC on

Jessica,

My oldest daughter was the same way and it took some time before she started sleeping through the night. I think she had colic so I spent most of my nights walking the floor and cuddling her. My cousin told me to place one of my night gowns are other garment of clothing in the crib with her. I did that and it worked for awhile. When that stopped working, I placed a clock in the crib with her -- she seemed to like the ticking sound. Sometimes I gave in and put her in the bed with me. That always seemed to work. Don't worry, he'll start sleeping through the night very soon. And then you will be the one not sleeping because you'll constantly be checking on him.

Good night.

1 mom found this helpful
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J.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi, Jessica, I am a working mom of a 2 year old girl and a 7 month old boy, who we finally have sleeping through the night. Would love to compare notes! I can tell you how I got my daughter sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and why I haven't been able to do with with the baby now... It seems that with number two it's different! We're here in Arlington, VA also. Drop me a note if you want to chat about sleeping through the night later... I have to go to sleep myself. :o) [email protected]____.com.

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T.O.

answers from Washington DC on

In April the College Park chapter of Mocha Moms is teaming up with the Laurel Moms Club to bring nationally renowned speaker Kim West author of “GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy” with co-author Joanne Kenen . Published by CDS Books in January 2005
West has spoken to numerous parenting groups across the country about the importance of children’s sleep and how to gently teach your child to go to sleep and sleep through the night.
Kim West received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland .Visit her website at www.sleeplady.com
This event will take place on April 10, 2008 at 7pm at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 13611 Laurel Bowie Rd. (Rte 197), Laurel, MD 20707. The ticket price is $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door. For more information about this event please email [email protected]____.com

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A.T.

answers from Norfolk on

Hey Jessica,
I have a 9 mo old daughter that I JUST went thru this with. Exactly the same problem. Eventually I had to just let her cry it out, no matter how bad she cried. It is the HARDEST thing I've ever had to do...but withing just a week, she is already sleeping thru the night!! If you can't handle him crying, one thing that was suggested to me was to dilute his bottle a little more each night until he is only drinking water. He may decide that is not worth getting up for anymore. Or just try to hold him a min to calm him down and not give him a bottle at all. Letting her cry it out was the best thing I did...even as hard as it was. She would cry hard too but if I knew her diaper was dry, and she was fed and safe...I would just let her cry. Eventually she learned that I wasn't coming back until morning and she just goes to sleep on her own. We just had our third straight night of her not waking up! Believe me though when I tell you it is VERY hard to just listen to him cry but you just have to tell yourself, its the best thing for him in the long run!

A. T

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T.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Jessica, I know exactly how you feel! My daughter is 15 months old and just started sleeping through the night two months ago!! I have been exhausted. I too could not let her cry for very long. However, I did try it again for a week. She learned to put herself back to sleep. I also have a 17 and 12 year old. I made the same mistake with my 17 year old when he was a baby and he had a terrible time learning to put himself back to sleep until he was about 3!!! I promised I would not make the same mistake twice,but I did. Once I made the commitment to let my daughter cry and work thru her stress, she really did learn to go to sleep on her own. She now goes to bed at 8pm and sleeps until 7 or 8 the next morning. It's not easy to do, but I really do believe it is best for you and the child. Good luck. By the way, my 17 year old is a great kid and sleep well!!

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M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi. Besides losing sleep yourself, I wouldn't worry to much. My daughter is 16 months old. Some nights she sleeps through the night and sometimes she wakes up once or twice.

Here are some things to try/check.
1. Check with your pediatrician. He may be teething or having problems with his ears. This is usually the case with mine when she wakes up more than once a night.

2. Adjust your bed time back a bit. If his current bed time is 7pm - 7 am, but he's up at 4 am, try moving his bed time back to 8pm.

3. When putting him down, don't sing to him, rock him, etc. just sit with him while he gets tired or drinks a bottle. It could be that he's feeling lonely and wants the touch or noise.

4. When he wakes up, try just changing his diaper and then calmimg him down and put him back to sleep. No talking, just 'shushing' and soothing. Unless he's really hungery, he should go right back to sleep.

These aren't immediate solutions but given a week or two should help or solve the problem.

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J.N.

answers from Washington DC on

What finally worked for us (and this advice was given to me by a friend so I can't take credit) is having my husband go in the first time the baby wakes up - instead of me. Also, it is very important that when whoever goes in to your son that you do not turn the lights on, even the hall light should be off, and make sure you do not talk to him other than shhhhh. Keep the interaction to a minimum and hopefully your little guy will realize that night time is boring and decide there is no point in getting up. Try stroking his back while he lays in his crib, but if that doesn't work of course you can pick him up and hold or rock him. If he seems genuinely hungry, feed him a bottle. You did not mention if he was eating solid foods yet, or what his feeding schedule was, but you can consider whether or not he is eating close enough to bedtime to last through the night, or if he may be waking up because his tummy is empty. Good luck!

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Dear Jessica,

I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine treating both adults and children for 20 years. There are a lot of thoughts I can impart to you. In Chinese medicine, the reason for restless sleep or insomnia in children is often from food stasis. You may try and reduce eating late in evening, and certainly make sure whatever foods are eaten after darkness falls they be foods that are not cold. Coldness reduces the movement of food through GI track and food will stay in the stomach longer. The body has to activate digestive functions to process the food, and this metabolic activity can wake someone up. There can also be some issues with the energy in the childs room. Have you ever experienced certain implements in you own room seeming strange in the dark? Your conscious mind knows that you are seeing weird shapes, or shadow in a bedroom chair, for instance, but it still has an eerie aura about it at night. We as adults can reason that or eyes are playing tricks on us, but children haven't developed ability to reason these things. Sometimes taking a dark cloth (like navy blue, dark green in color and draping it over things that may be giving off strange vibes at night will help calm the energy down. You may try doing a one night "sleepover" in your child's room. Make it fun like a camping experience, and take notice of how things are in the room. There may be normal house sounds that are only heard from your child's room, that will help you gain insight into possible sounds that may seem frightening to a child. If you live in the Baltimore area, you can visit our Center. We have a website and I have an article about Chinese medicine for children on our website. THe address is www.mcim.org.
Hope this was helpful.

Sincerely,
S. Martin

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A.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Jessica,

I had the same problem with my son, he is 1,1/2 now, and sometimes he still fusses during the night. What worked for us is a hardy meal about an hour before bedtime. I don't know if you have him on solids yet, I mix about 2 table spoons of Friendship farmer's cheese with a couple of spoons of fruit yogurt and a couple of crumbled multi grain baby cookies, or some sort of whole grain cereal, and it keeps hunger away throughout the night. I do give him a bottle at bedtime, and play soft classical music CD. At first he used to still wake up at night, I gave him his pacifier and patted his bottom softly until he fell asleep. I also place a sippy cup or bottle of watered down apple juice or just plain water in his crib in case he gets thirsty, along with a couple of extra pacifiers. This is what worked for me, hope it helps.
Take care,
A.

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T.B.

answers from Richmond on

Hi Jessica. I don't believe in letting them cry. It never worked for me. My son was only up for a few minutes during the night, so I just dealt with it (for close to a year). You can try watering down his formula, or just giving him less and less when he gets up during the night. They don't NEED that feeding anymore, it's just part of their schedule. I also have friends that would give their baby some yogurt or another healthy "snack" just before bed to fill them up. I sympathize!

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D.D.

answers from Norfolk on

it took me a while to transition my son into his own bed that i didnt have to share, and a couple of nights.. ha ha months where i spent 2 plus hours getting him to sleep b4 leaving the bed, but eventually you will be able to get him to sleep.

I used the top of a wooden bunkbed that has the saftey rails going all the way around, and well i hoped into bed with him and when he went to sleeep i would get out and go about things...

it took a lot and eventually, i could put him in bed, and just sit with him and not lay down and he could fall asleep and well now unless he is sick i put him in bed, and he goes to sleep all by himself and a million stuffed animal friends...

none of this was a fast process... this all started because my busband has to leave the house very early for work and well wakes up for every little noise, so when we brought our son home and i was breast feeding, it seemed the logical situation for me to "move" into his room, which i slept in the for 8 months until i finally had to stop and weaned him from me to a bottle, and into a twin bed by 1 1/2 years old... so its a slow processs but it worked for us.

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K.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I am no sleeping expert, but many of my mom friends swear by the peaceful sleep techniques of Kim West aka "The Sleep Lady". She's been on several national TV programs and resides in Maryland. She has a book “GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy” and many publications out too. She also happens to be coming to Laurel, MD to speak on April 10- I plan on being there! The Laurel Moms Club and Mocha Moms groups are sponsoring the event... hope this is helpful so both of you can get some solid sleep. Good luck to you!! KM

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S.H.

answers from Sacramento on

I feel your pain!! My 9 mos old son is just now only waking up once a night. We had a ton of trouble with colic teeth feeding more than once a night etc...I really recommend the sleep lady Kim West..her book 'Good Night Sleep Tight' is great...it is gentle but also focuses on teaching good sleep habit plus it is age modified (ie techniques based on age development etc)...it took a little longer than the book but I think that is more about our little love than anything else. I 'm ecstatic to be getting more than 2 hours rest at a time. Good luck to you and just so you know I've found that there are a bunch of boys this age that seem to be having the sleep issue!

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

We weaned off nightime feeds by decreasing the amount in the bottle by one ounce every feed until it was just water, then I would just hand him the bottle of the water while he was in the crib and leave. Don't talk to him when you get up with him, try not to turn the lights on. He'll soon get the idea that waking up is no fun and start sleeping better.

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A.T.

answers from Norfolk on

My son was like that for the firt 6 mo of his life. The best thing you can do is not to let him nap during the day and keep it very quiet and warm in the room where he sleeps, when he does wake up in the middle of the night, be ready, do not turn the light on, have a faint night light on already just enough so you can see, and at the first sign that he is waking, change him, feed him and do not talk to him or make any noise, he should eat and go right back to sleep, if he doesn''t, then just hold him and rock him back to sleep. Eventually he won't wake up anymore. But if you let him cry, it stresses him and angers him and he is wide awake at that point, so make it a point to stay quiet and keep it dark, and at the first sign he is waking, before he cries, to cater to him.

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K.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Unless there is some type of medical problem, there is no reason that a 9 month old should still need to wake up during the night for any feedings. My suggestion is to stop giving him bottles in the middle of the night. This is juft reinforcing his behavior. Of course, make sure he is getting plenty of food during the day and if you don't already have one, create a bedtime routine. Children have to learn how to fall asleep on their own. There are lots of books with different sleep-training methods. Do some research and choose the one you are most comfortable with. But, you must make the decision to "stick to it". Be consistent and know that it may take some time for your little one to adjust.
Some children this age (and older) wake up out of habit, not necessarily because they're hungry. I speak from experience because my oldest son did this when he was 8 months old until I broke the habit. I incorrectly assumed that he would just sleep through the night on his own (i.e. stop waking up for bottles) when he was ready. And maybe by the time he was 2 or 3 years old, he would have. But I wasn't willing to wait that long to get some uninterrupted sleep! And I don't think you want to wait that long either. Good luck and remember this too shall pass!

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S.P.

answers from Charlottesville on

There is no magic cure. I had to get professional advice to get one of my 3 to sleep overnight, since I was EXTREMELY sleep deprived. You are just not a good mom when it gets that bad. Anyway, the number one thing they all say is don't nurse them to sleep. Rocking and such are fine. I had help with this. There will be tears.You need to put them in there own space. You can go to them when the crying get crazy, but don't pluck them up (unless they may pass out of course, but the "expert said most are just over tired and really scream so they will make you cave) You reach to them and soothe them with calming words and rubs in the dark. My husband did it with me. It took 1 hour the first night and 2 other shorter sessions. The next night it took 45 ish minutes with one other session. The tend continued and I was pretty must not dreading bed at the end of 5 days. :) Our back we sore from leaning over the crib though.
The point is you allow some crying and you don't just pluck them up with they get hysterical. You soothe them in their bed with soft words and rubs. We also had to set a strict routine for bed with order. Something like cereal/nurse (staying awake, so before the child is too tired), teeth brush, 2 books, lovie, and bedtime song in bed with a pull toy or mom and dad sing.

I hope this helps you.

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E.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Jessica, I hope this message finds you a little more encouraged since Sunday. This advice may sound a little cruel and my husband was totally against it, but it worked! I was pregnant at the time so I had to do something in order to get some decent rest. First, I don't agree with letting him cry more than 10 minutes. Second, his belly is so used to getting that feeding twice a night, that he is going to wake up expecting a bottle. I had the same problem with my now 2 1/2 year old. Our pediatrician suggested we give him water in his bottle instead of the milk. She was strongly against giving him the milk especially because he was getting more than his daily requirement. He was fussy and frustrated at first, eventually he started refusing the bottle and finally he started sleeping through the night. Since your son gets up twice during the night try giving him the water with one of the feedings and then try both. I hope and pray this works for you, it's not fun being sleep deprived!

D.S.

answers from Allentown on

Hi Jessica,

If you have a pediatrician, call him/her. D.

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K.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Jessica,
When my son was 3 months old and would wake up every 2 hours, my mom's wisdom helped. She advised me to start putting a little rice cereal in his milk because he was hungry. With the milk feedings at night, his diapers would be wet every time he would wake, letting me know that he let out all his milk and mom was probably right...he had an empty belly. Although many say 3 months is too early to start feeding cereal, his pediatrician didn't think it was so bad to do so and it worked like a charm. Tip: make a small cross cut in his nipple so that the cereal can get through it...not too big b/c it will come out too fast. My son has slept through the night every since then. Thank God! good luck!

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H.H.

answers from Washington DC on

My sister-in-law gave me a book when I was pregnant with my first child called "On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. It basically talks about getting your child on an eating/playing/sleeping routine. I used it and both of my kids were sleeping through the night by around 8 weeks (as soon as I was allowed to LET them). I don't know if it works for everyone...every child is different of course. But my kids have completely different tempermants and it worked for both of them. I would suggest getting a copy even if it is just from the library and see if it works for you.
As far as "letting him cry"...I think this is one of the hardest things any mom has to go through and we all do. Listening to a baby cry for 5 minutes can feel like an hour. Someone once suggested to me that I wait 5 minutes, then go soothe the baby. Then lay him back down and this time give it 10 minutes before you go back to soothe him some more. Increase it by 5 minutes each time.
Keep your chin up! You are doing great and before long you will be getting some much needed sleep!!! ;)

D.M.

answers from Norfolk on

I know how you feel. My oldest son (who is now 9) didn't sleep throught the night until he was 2..... and he stopped taking naps at 9 months old, around the same time that he started walking, and climbing.......soo not fun. I wasn't consistant with him. And I can say that consistancy is key. My 3rd baby (boy) liked to get up a lot at night too, and our Doc said to try just laying him down, then walking out and waiting. If he cries, let him cry for like 10 minutes, or until it gets real bad. Then walk in, lay him back down. Don't say anything, don't turn the light on, nothing. Just lay him down, and walk out. Do this over and over again. It lets him know you are there, but also teaches him that at night, he needs to lay down, and go to sleep. It will be hard. It will be tiring. But you have to be consistant. I did this and it took about a week, and now I am happy to say he has been sleeping through the night ever since. If he likes a pacifier, that will help, or a special blanket. My son had both, I would give him the pacifier, and then cover him with the blanket. He still loves both to this day. He is now 20 months old. My daighter was soooo easy, she slept throught the night at a very young age. My boys have just been hard on me, but you have to love them, they are so sweeet. God Bless.

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S.S.

answers from Charlottesville on

I thought children just started sleeping through the night when their little bodies were ready to handle it. My daughter did not sleep through the night until a year and a half old. She was still breast feeding at 2 am!!! But during the day, she did not bother. So I started giving her a cup of water at the 2 am "feeling." After three nights, she didn't wake me up any more. S. S

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R.N.

answers from Washington DC on

Hello, my daughter at 9 mo. was waking up faithfully for her night feeding and I dutifully woke & fed her. Then at her 9 mo. check up, the Dr. said that if she is waking up every night it wasn't because she was hungry. She said it was just a habit. I went to the bookstore and bought a book on children sleep problems from birth to teens. I can't remember the name of it, but it had several different strategies in it. I chose the "cold turkey" one because it seemed faster and not as drawn out. This was the hardest thing I did besides having natural childbirth. She couldn't put her self to sleep; I always put her down asleep. She also woke up every night, so I knew that she had to learn to put herself to sleep on her own without me or every time she woke up in the middle of the night she would cry for me to put her back to sleep. My heart broke for three nights as I listened to her cry. The 1st night she cried for 30 min. I sat outside her door crying too. The 2nd night she cried for 20 min. The 3rd night she cried for 10 min. (30 min. was the max time the book said to let the child cry) By the 4th night she was settling down after a few minutes. She learned quickly that I would not be coming back once I put her down for bed. The book also had other ways to do it that involved weaning yourself from the sleep situation over a course of time. Having a ritual, like winding up a music box, holding the baby until the music ran out and then putting the baby down and sitting in the rocking chair across the room not talking or making eye contact. I used the music box part, but I felt like I couldn't do the weaning technique. I believe that it's important that you do it now, so go get a book and decide what method is best for you and your baby.

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C.R.

answers from Washington DC on

I would give my children cereal (oatmeal) before going to bed at night and that seemed to fill their little tummys up and they slept though the night. You didn't mention if you had done that yet. So, if not, give it a try and see if it works. Also, keep him up longer during the day, especially in the evening. Hope this helps!!

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G.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Jessica, My daughter is now 4.5yrs old and didn't sleep thru the night until after she was a year old. Now with a 2 yr old boy who's been sleeping thru since 10months old. I learned with my son to give him some rice cereal or oatmeal about an hour before bedtime. It worked like a charm. He has slept thru the night since I started giving him a pre-bedtime snack. Now that he is a bit older, I give him a piece of fruit or a few cookies and milk. He usually sleeps a solid 12hours each night and takes a 3 hour nap during the day!

Both of my kids also sleep with very soft lullaby music playing in their rooms. Martha Stewart has a wonderful lullaby CD. It helps to get them to fall asleep on their own. If either of them wake up during the night, I just hit play and it gets them right back to sleep.

Good luck and be patient, all kids are different and he will eventually sleep thru the night.

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