What Am I Doing Wrong Re: Sleep?!

Updated on September 09, 2013
L.B. asks from New Rochelle, NY
16 answers

I nursed my first baby into a deep sleep every time he woke up, and I ended up cosleeping for 2.5 years. I really have been trying a whole new approach with my second, now four months. I have a new house and accidentally bought the wrong kind of beds, so I can't safely cosleep anyway. I put him down drowsy, swaddled with a Woombie (it zips so it can't come undone) with a pacifier, and I have been trying to stick to a reasonable bedtime (whereas with my first I kept him up too late.) This baby goes to sleep easily, but for six weeks or more, he's been waking every hour to 90 minutes, just like my first! I lay a hand on him to get him back to sleep, but this only works half the time. Sometimes I nurse him more, because he's crying so hard I wonder if he's hungry, even though he can supposedly go eight hours without food. I have been reading Baby Whisperer and Sleep Lady for advice. I know daytime naps aren't as long as they should be and he sleeps in the car too much, but I have to take my preschooler to school and his EI therapies. I would be happy with even three hour sleep increments! What am I doing wrong?! I am not asking for 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Just a decent chunk of sleep. I get the impression most people get to the point where baby sleeps 5-6 hours without even trying and without trying to follow some expert's method to a T. Is that true? What am I doing wrong? Did you use a "method" for sleep or did it just happen for you?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Portland on

Both of my babies did this until they were 18 months at least. But, mine had colic, so it doesn't sound like that. Is there anyway you could get a Graco Sweetpeace Soother? This is a swing type thing that you can put the infant carseat on also, but it will keep him moving like in the car, so he should sleep longer in the night, there is no reason he can't sleep in this, and then you know that since he is on his back and head up, any indigestion issues will be helped, and it eases the risk of SIDS too. (It comes with its own seat as well). Also, are you using a pacifier? These are a lifesaver! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Boise on

Whatever you do, stay away from Babywise. The AAP does not recommend this book because it has been known to create failure to thrive in some infants.

You're breastfeeding right, and the baby is 4 months old?

I think you need to do a little more research on breastfed babies. Breastfed babies, process their milk at a much high pace then a formula fed baby. They will feed on average 8-12 times a day, that's basically every 2 hours, and will actually feed more at night if mom is a working mom.

I'm not sure where you got the ideal that a 4 month old can go 8 hours without food, but that is wrong. It is believed that by 6 months old they can can go 5-6 hours, that is also the length of time that is considered STTN. Those who have babies that are going 6-8 hours are people who were lucky. They are not the norm.

Sleep is such a trap for parents. They hear all these stories of babies SSTN, and start to wonder what they are doing wrong when on reality they aren't doing anything wrong. Their babies are being normal.

Here's a site that will help you to understand the breastfeeding and sleeping relationship between a mom and baby. What is and what isn't normal.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I'm so sorry you're having trouble. I remember how hard it was with my oldest. There was a time I was so desperate for sleep that I was reading different books and ideas and was just getting myself all confused and even more upset.

Do what works, and don't worry about it. Don't worry about setting a bad habit or whether or not sleeping in the carseat should count as good sleep. (By the say, some babies sleep best in their carseat. In fact, it is often recommended for babies with reflux.)

You need to do what works. If nursing to sleep works, do it. If co-sleeping works, do it. You're not going to set a bad habit, because babies tend to change so fast and what works one day isn't necessarily going to work a week or a month later.

Cosleeping can be great. We coslept with both of our kids at various times. Cosleeping with my oldest saved my sanity. I had not idea how much more sleep he and I would both get this way.

If cosleeping with your first lasted for 2 1/2 years and that was too long for you, you should have transitioned away from cosleeping sooner. It's not that cosleeping is the problem, it's that you allowed it to continue too long or longer than you really wanted to.

My point isn't to say you did something wrong. My point is I wouldn't discount it as something that might help you and your baby get some sleep. There are ways to end cosleeping much sooner. You could try it for now and then in a few months start thinking about ways to transition.

Our kids spent most of the first 14 months cosleeping with us. When they were about 14 to 16 months, we had them begin the night in their own "bed," which was a twin mattress on the floor. They would often wake in the middle of the night and join us in our bed. But sometimes they would leave us alone all night. Starting every night in their own bed made it so much easier on us and really got them comfortable sleeping their.

Find something that helps this baby sleep. Don't worry about what others say is a bad idea or a bad habit. The best place for baby to sleep is wherever baby will sleep. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Perhaps your old way worked better for you. Trying someone else's way isn't always the right way.

Our baby's all went down around 9pm then woke up a couple of times during the night until they were a little older. Their tummies are only about the size of their fist. They do need to eat more often.

I put the baby bed beside our bed when my daughter was an infant. That way I could put my hand in to comfort her but still have my own space.

The grand kids have all slept with us, there are times now that I wake up with 4 people in the bed...I don't mind it though. I enjoy the snuggles.

Too soon they'll be wanting to have less to do with the "old" folks and I'll miss them a lot.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I used the eat, play, sleep method with my second son. I waited until my younger son was about 5 or 6 weeks, before I started. ( I didn't know about it with my first son). Wake up about the same time each day. Only about a 30 minute difference. By the time I started I had a good idea of when my son would wake in the morning to eat. I would get up half an hour earlier so I could go to the bathroom get a little something to eat and be ready when he woke up. I had to go back to work soon, so I once he was fed, I would put him in a bouncy facing me, while I pumped and I would talk to him. (I would wait ti change his diaper until after he ate, so it would wake him up). After I cleaned up the pumping supplies, I would put him on his belly for a few minutes and play with some of his toys while he watched. He was usually awake for about 45 minutes.When he started to get cranky, I knew he was tired and would cuddle and rock him until fell asleep. No nursing!He would fall asleep right away. Let him sleep until he wakes up and do it all again. I was feeding him every 2 to 2.5 hours. At night I would nurse him to sleep. If I remember correctly, it only took about 2 nights before he was sleeping 6 hours a night.
Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Baby is overtired. Does he have a lovely yet?

Yes, baby should sleep 5/6 hours without any method. But, many times, mom interferes and wake habits form. With that said, everything is out the window during wonder periods.

The baby whisperer would ask if you've moved to a 4 hour block nurse schedule? She believes that if you don't do this, you create a snackers and snackers are terrible wakers.

Get the baby whisperer solves all your problems. You can ignore the need o separate sleep and nursing.i also never dream feed. With that said, she has a lot of great advice. My first never slept, my other two slept11-12 hours by 10-11 weeks.

So indeed breastfed babies can easily do 6-8 hours if the can do 11-12 by 10 weeks. It's a myth that they can't. Two out of my three did, and they are big babies.....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I used a "method" with both of mine.
On Becoming Babywise maps out an order of things that happen for babies. They eat. They sleep. They are awake... and other than pooping, which they can do either awake or asleep, there isn't much else the first few months.

What OBB taught me, was to pay attention to the order of those 3 main things. Most people feed the baby to sleep, and when baby wakes up, then they have some awake time until baby is fussy, they feed baby to sleep again. According to OBB, if you feed them, keep them awake for a bit (over time this period of awake time gets longer and longer), THEN put them down for sleep they sleep better--and longer.

I followed this routine throughout the day, until bedtime. At "bedtime" you just omit the awake time. You feed baby, then put them right to sleep.

It can be a little bit of a challenge at first, and the "awake time" for a newborn is quite small. But it grows with baby. The eat/awake/sleep cycle for a newborn is around 90 minutes to 2 hours on average. As they grow, that cycle gets a little longer, with more minutes spent awake and more minutes spent asleep.
Both my babies slept for a minimum of 6 hours at night by 3 months old. The first one was completely breast fed only and took almost to 12 weeks to sleep that long. The second one we had to switch to formula around a month old. She slept 7 hours beginning at 6 weeks old.

And, I know you didn't ask specifically about putting them down at bedtime, but, we had all kinds of problems leaving my oldest when he was around 1 yr old, b/c he could climb out of his crib. Once he got to sleep, we were good.. no problems whatsoever. But he fought it and it was a tough road. But, by baby #2, I had discovered the Ferber Method (sometimes mistaken referenced as "cry it out"--which isn't what it really is)... and beginning sometime around 5- 6 months (which is what I believe is an appropriate and effective age) we used it with baby #2. In 3 nights, she was falling asleep in her crib, without me in the room, in less than 10 minutes, with zero crying.. and then sleeping "thru the night".

They are 12 and 15 years now. And still champion sleepers. No bedtime issues with them, or nighttime issues.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Have you tried going without the Woombie? maybe he's outgrown the need to be swaddled and needs to move more. Worth a try.
or as others mentioned...pacifier babies often wake everytime they lose their paci, is that the problem?

according to Happiest Baby on the Block
"Swaddling is recommended until at least 4 months. Many babies are ready by that age, however, some benefit from an extra few months of swaddling.

Here’s the general approach: At 4 months, try to swaddle with one arm out (it’s important to keep the white noise playing all night). If your baby sleeps well with one arm out, you can stop the wrapping (but still continue the sound). However, if he does not sleep as well with one arm out, continue with the regular wrapping and sound and try the one arm wrapping again in another month.

The white noise I is continued until at least the 1st birthday! It is super-helpful in preventing the sleep problems from teething, growth spurs and first colds that are so common around 6-12 months.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I had a similar experience with my second child, a boy, at around the same time-4 months. He had been sleeping beautifully until then. I nursed, we did not co-sleep and we swaddled. He went through a growth spurt and was nursing and eating (and growing) a ton at 4 months. It was EXHAUSTING because you have the first one sleeping through the night and then getting up in the morning ready to go! You are not alone. I don't have much advice but wanted to reach out because it can feel like you are the only person experiencing this. You are not. A friend once told me that everything was on 3 week cycles-the good and the challenging! So there are transitions are ahead. Do exactly what you are doing and try to make the last nap as far away from bedtime as possible. My kids always (and still) went to bed early. My son is now 18 months and goes to bed between 6:30 and 7pm. I had moved the bedtime up and it totally worked for us. That may be an idea to try, but I know the schedule of the first will dictate the sched for the second :) Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

All babies are different so you can't compare them, even to siblings. My kids were both 11# at birth, formula fed and slept 12 hours straight through the night the first week they were home. My daughter literally did from day one, but my son would wake up at 1:30am every night and I called the doc and said 'WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM???!!!' I was spoiled by my first born. After the doctor stopped laughing at me, she said, "have you tried a pacifier?". I didn't because my first didn't need one and I didn't like them. So I did try it, and from that night on, he too slept 12 hours straight. So maybe try that? Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am not an expert and only have 3 kids...so it is not a large "sleep study". But I used the same method with all 3 and my kids were sleeping through the night by 10 weeks. Yes...10 weeks. No Joke!! ANd..they are still such great sleepers. A friend gave me a book before I had kids and I swear by it... "Sleeping Through The Night" by Jodi Mindell.

I nursed all of them over a year...but I did not nurse them at bedtime or nap time til they were asleep...nor did we use a pacifier at bedtime. We did use pacifiers in the daytime...or in the evening..but when they were awake.

I think your sweet little bundle of joy is waking because of the pacifier. It is great that he goes to sleep on his own because you put him down drowsy..that is a step in the right direction. BUT...when he wakes up the pacifier is out of his mouth and he can't get it in...sooooo he is basically crying to get his paci back in.

Try doing exactly what you are doing..but without the pacifier. Make all conditions to where he doesn't need you to do anything to make the conditions the same as when he goes to sleep. Then if he cries...go pat him on the back and talk very calm and soothing. Then walk out. Come back in after 2 minutes and repeat the soothing talk then walk out. Then stretch it to 4 minutes and come back in and talk soothing words then walk out. Repeat til it stretched and he falls asleep.

This doesn't happen overnight...but keep with the process and it will train him to soothe himself back to sleep. If you make sure every night that he has played, and has a full belly and you have nuzzled and snuggled then he should slowly fall into the routine of snuggled in Woombie, kisses from mommy, lights out and off to slumberland. He will slowly learn to fall back to sleep if he comes in and out of his sleep...he will be so woozy and know how to go back to sleep without the need of the pacifier. He eventually will not need you at 1 a.m. to pat his back...he will go back to sleep on own and not work himself up to crying for you.

Just some thoughts on what worked for us!! Good luck with getting a good night's sleep soon.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Does he wake because he loses his paci? If so, maybe it's time to start working him away from swaddling so he can learn to put it back in himself.

Do you cluster feed in the evening? At 4 months, some babies are more hungry. If you work in a few extra nursing sessions in the evening, it may help him get through the night better.

Does he have any medical issues, like reflux? I found that all bets were off with a severe reflux baby. None of the traditional advice or rules applied because it's no longer about guiding baby behavior, it's about trying to lessen the pain. If your baby has reflux, I have an entirely different set of advice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

If he is hungry feed him. You might try pumping so your partner can do some of the night time feedings and you can get some sleep. I would be surprised if he could go 8 hours without feeding. There also is no 'putting an infant to bed too late.' We put DS to bed when we went to bed. He has his longest sleep after the first time he went to bed. If we were putting him down at 6-7 pm, his longest sleep would have been completely wasted. Putting him down at midnight (after feeding) worked much much better.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Oh I feel for you! Let me just say that I always found not sleeping to be the toughest part of parenting an infant. But then, trying to follow sleep rules, all the dos and don'ts, the schedules, etc., stressed me out even more, and I couldn't bring myself to follow much of any of it. I have three kids. Nursed all three to sleep from the beginning. My first two were not great sleepers as infant, had to be weaned off falling asleep while nursing. Well, I didn't do anything different with this third one. He's now 18 months, still nursing. Only now he's at the stage where he doesn't typically fall asleep while nursing. And you know what? After he nurses, I put him in his crib, he's wide awake, and he LAYS DOWN AND GOES TO SLEEP!!! I can't believe it! All the rule makers and followers were WRONG! So just wanted to let you know that it's not always what we do or don't do--it's the temperment of the kid. So do whatever feels right--for me, that was doing whatever I needed to do to get some sleep! When I was ready to make changes with my first two, who were not easy sleepers, I followed the advice in the no-cry books, and modifed as I felt comfortable. For example, decided I'd have my husband go to the baby, allow just a little crying, etc. Good luck to you.



answers from St. Louis on

Here's the answer and I am so serious about this! Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Get this ok ASAP and do everything he says to do. This was a GODSEND to me. My firsts were twin girls but thank god .....they oth slept through the night at 6 weeks old. I know, WTH, and a miracle at best. So, imagine my surprise when # 3 came along and this kid was part party animal and vampire! Sleep all day and party like a rocks tar all night! Just call me Zombie Mom because that's where I was headed before this book. I read this sucker cover to cover and then out it into action. My baby was sleeping exactly how I wanted her to in one week. ONE WEEK! We also did the same process with my niece when she was born and it worked again!
You can't be a wishy-washy on this. It's an all or nothing approach. You either want a baby that sleeps or you don't. I promise you that this work and will change your life and your kids! Oh....and don't think that the stories you'll read in the book about the kids and the parents couldn't possibly be you. Oh yes it can! I hope that has peaked your interest and maybe a few others on here as well.



answers from New York on

We used Ferber, it worked for us.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions