Reducing night feedings/ problem sleeper

Emily - posted on 11/06/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )

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Hi moms,

My son has always been a problem sleeper unless he is nestled up against me. I believe in the value of cosleeping, and we do cosleep when I am in bed, but I can't be with him for naps or during the first part of his night since he goes to bed at 6:15.

Teaching him to sleep in his crib for those first hours was a real challenge. In theory, I do NOT believe in crying it out. However, my son would not learn to sleep any other way. Going in to sooth him would only reset his clock and start him crying again, and we do not have a dad around to partner with me. I tried every modified technique in the book for weeks when he was around 4-5 months old before finally just letting him learn to sleep on his own. Within days, he was set. I established a pattern of bringing him to bed with me around 9:30.

Now, he is 9 months old and experiencing all kinds of transitions. He learned to speed crawl recently, and can pull himself up to standing and furniture surf on practically anything. Those things combined with what must be teething have conspired to make it really hard for him to sleep again. In addition, I have finally started to want to get out of the house after he gets to sleep, and have a new roommate who can stay home with him.

I have three problems: first, not only does he have a very hard time going to sleep now, but he can pull himself up to standing, which really makes going back to sleep a problem. Second, I need my son to learn how to stay asleep longer, since I know he does not need to eat at 9:00. Third, it's time for him to nurse less at night overall. He has been waking up a TON and I know at 9 months he does not need to nurse 5 times at night.

Please help!

Emily

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Jayne - posted on 11/13/2010

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Hiya,
At 3 and half months my lil man was depending on me to sleep...he would nurse and then i couldn't put him down till he was in a deep sleep. I explained this to my health vistor and she suggested the let them cry method. (which i know you dont want to do but i was exactly the same but was at my wits end). So i did the whole bedtime routine, he has a bath at 6pm and then i nurse him and then i put him now (still awake) and kissed him and said good night. I then left the room. Where he then cried. 5mins later i went in and resettled him but didn't look at him and left the room. The first night i did it 6x but the next night it 3x and by night 4 he went down awake and sent himself off to sleep. And even now 8 and hlaf months i can put him down (anywhere) and he will sleep. Works a dream.
as for feeding during the night my lil man was getting me up 4x a night even afer having 3x good healthy meals a day. So i cut out 2 in the last 2weeks. I basically pick him up and soothe his tears and then put him back into his cot and he has now realised he doesn't get nursed during the night most nights i can now have him asleep for midnight til 7am. my next mission is to get rid of the midnight feed!
x

Lauren - posted on 11/13/2010

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Babies tend to sleep restlessly and nurse more when they're going through developmental changes and growth spurts, and both of those happen at 9 months when the kid is starting to walk/stand/crawl. My daughter is 9 months and going through the same thing. I'd hang in there and see how things wash out once he's through this stage. Then, you can think about changing up the night routine. Maybe he doesn't NEED to nurse, but his little body and brain is going crazy with this new stuff he's learning, so he will wake frequently at this age no matter what you do. For ideas on encouraging better sleep, try Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution book.

Krystle - posted on 11/13/2010

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My son as very similar. At 14 months he was still waking 4 times a night. I didn't want to let him cry it out (but it's tempting when you're so sleep deprived!) I just thought "he's going through a lot, learning a lot, getting teeth, and who knows what else. Sleep isn't something that is taught, it's more of a developmental milestone, so I'll keep getting up with him and I hope he learns to sleep better soon."

Fortunately for me, once he got comfortable walking well, and more teeth popped out, he started only waking once at night!! Hooray for me!! :)

Emily, you have my sympathy, but know that it won't last forever! :)

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19 Comments

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Stephanie - posted on 11/19/2010

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Hi Emily, My son Malachi was the same way. After reading about 20 parenting books and trying atleast 10 different sleep training methods, I found that there is no such thing as "no crying". Not to say you have to Ferberize your son - I totally don't believe in that either. I did find this one book, The SleepEasy Solution, the exhausted parent's guide to getting your child to sleep from birth(really 4 or 5 mo.) to age 5. It was the only truly step-by-step book that also met my needs emotionally and they go as far as teaching how to wean night feedings and incorporating dream feeds if you want - it has been a life-saver! Our pediatrician heard all of our concerns up until almost 6mo. Than at his 9 mo. check up, she saw that I had said Malachi was sleeping 12+ hours a night and napping great...she asked what I did! He is now 2 and we are looking at transitioning him to a bed, and this book helped with that as well. I am also looking forward to sleep training our 3mo. daughter when I feel she is ready. And that's another thing the book says, you have to do this when you are ready. Oh, and they also have ways to train even if you are co-sleeping, so you don't necessarily have to give that up if you don't want. It's a great tool, and hope you find something that works for you!

Jessica - posted on 11/18/2010

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Re rolling over and playing dead: my DD will crawl on top of me, pull my top down and attach anyway! I figure that means she really really wants to feed, so I let her.

Emily - posted on 11/18/2010

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This is all such good advice! I love learning from all of your experience. Since I posted, he's gotten past his cold and cut a tooth.
My son took bottles from months 1-8, and then refused them. Now, he takes very thin cereal at the daycare so he can get his daytime milk, and we nurse at home.
When I was teaching him to fall asleep in his crib, we went through hell. He's such a happy kid, but he hates change and he loves company. I am SO not a cry it out kind of Mom, so for weeks, I tried the gradual soothing. That made it worse. We had to go cold turkey, and then he learned in a week.
My latest strategy is to teach him to stay in the crib until about 1 a.m. That means I'm sleeping on the couch for the first part of the night at this point, and going to him at 1 to nurse and cosleep. He cried a TON last night, even more than the night before, but then slept until 2.
Once we are cosleeping, I'm aiming for two nursing sessions max until we get that down, and then I'll try for one. Dr. Sears says to roll over and play dead if you want to skip a night nursing session. We shall see how that goes.
Any thoughts on this strategy?

Ania - posted on 11/18/2010

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He can't sleep he wants to nurse for comfort it will pass. I took my son to bed with me for couple of nights when he was going through this

Ania - posted on 11/18/2010

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it is going to happen on its own you cant speed this up i went through the same nightmare. two weeks and he will be fine again. I go through things like this every 6 weeks or so. Brain development and other milestones contribute to this. 9 months is one of them. I recommend this book "Wonder weeks" you will find there why babies act certain way at certain weeks. My child is a horrible sleeper too.... I'm hoping that when he turns one it will get better

CJ - posted on 11/18/2010

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My daughter co-slept with me and my fiance the first 9 months. We managed to get her to sleep part of the night in her crib, but she spent the majority of it in ours. I didn't get her sleeping completely in her own crib until she was a year old, and now she's in her own room, but all of a sudden is insisting mommy needs to sleep in her room with her. SO I can't say if your son's sleeping issues will go away anytime soon, but learning to fall back to sleep on their own definantly does help, even if it means letting them cry a bit. I go in and reaffirm that it is bedtime, lay her back down and check if she needs anything else, like a diaper change, some oragel, or a drink of water, tell her to go night night and that I love her and leave the room...though I leave the door open until she's fallen asleep, as that seems to reassure her. In the beginning I'd bring my laptop into the room with me and lay in my bed (this was when she was still in our room and I was trying to get her to learn to fall asleep without cuddling mommy) and I'd just do my own thing, and let her do her's in her crib (interferring only to lay her back down occasionally) The less attention I'd give her while she was putting herself to sleep the quicker it seemed to happen. I also play music in her room and have the humidifier on(which makes a kind of white noise) as the continous sound, even after I leave the room seems to help with her not noticing as much if she wakes later, that anything is different than when she went to sleep, so she'd just put herself back to sleep. As for the night time nursing, to cut back the feedings I'd take a bottle with some water in it and give her that instead at first. If she was actually hungry she'd start sucking it down eagerly (even though it was just water)then i'd pull the bottle away and actually feed her, if she wasn't she'd suck at it a little, then lose interest (My daughter was already getting pumped breastmilk in abottle occasionally at this point, may not work if your son hasn't been introduced to a bottle at all) After finding a feeding shat she wasn't actually hungry at I'd keep giving her the bottle of water instead for that "feeding" After a few nights of doing this at the same feeding she quit waking for that feeding. Then I just cut them back one at a time until she was only waking for the feedings she had actually been hungry at. This also worked for weaning her off night time feedings all together when she was no longer nursing.

Jessica - posted on 11/17/2010

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Nine months is definitely a tough time with all the new things they are learning - his brain is rewiring itself overnight and of course he wants mommy! Can you cope for another week or so until he's past this developmental stage?

Linda - posted on 11/15/2010

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WOOOWWW!! I thought I was the only one with a sleeping problem!!! My son is 9 months, and he sleeps in his bed, but lately it's been too cold here, so we put him in our bed!! Now that the weather is back on hot (!!) I thought that he was gonna have problems sleeping in his crib, but no!! The problem is he wakes up around 4 times at night, either to be fed or gassy or teething!! Sometimes I know he is overtired, so I let him cry for a little while, because he has a bunch of stored energy and when he cries he lets it out.... but the best is after... I bf him and he falls sound asleep for around 4 hours!!! This doesn't happen every night, but when it does I enjoy the time ad SLEEP!! that way I have more energy forthe following nights!!
What I have also tried is to tire him!! I puthim an the floor and play and crawl until he comes to my arms because he is tired!! (he sleeps from 8:30 - 1!! yay!) We also bought him a jumper!!! Maybe your baby is as energetic as mine and all he needs is to be more active during the day!! Hope this helps!!

Jessa - posted on 11/14/2010

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Just a thought here, but if your baby isn't sleeping well, say only 30-45 minutes at a time and then waking up there may be something else going on. Especially if they slept fine previously. When our son was born he had all kinds of issues, one of which caused him to stop breathing everytime he would fall asleep, so he wouldn't sleep more than 30 minutes at a time. We did that for 7 months before we got a doctor to really listen, even though he had been in the hospital and on the monitors for them to see it numerous times. It turned out his Adenoids were severely enlarged and when he would sleep they blocked his airway completely. For that 7 months he never slept outside my arms because I was terrified he would stop breathing and not wake up. When the ENT saw us and heard what we had been doing she ordered the tests, once the results came back they called and told us it was the worst case they had ever seen and keeping him right with me is probably what kept him alive.

So if your baby changes sleep patterns to something so drastic as not sleeping longer than just 30-60 minutes at a time, check for other things. It could be as simple as teething, but you never know, pay close attention to their needs and behavior so you know exactly what is going on. If you can't get them to go back to their "normal" with in just a few weeks then its time to talk to a doctor and see what could be up.

Melissa - posted on 11/14/2010

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I wanted to comment on potential teething. My daughter got her first teeth around 8 mmonths old and I was still nursing. I saw the increase of night wakings and she naturally was comforted by bfing and I didn't realize I could try anything else. Finally, I was exhaused and at my wits end and just rocked her without feeding. She nestled into my chest cuddled against her blanket and sucked her thumb. She just wanted comfort and I thought she was demanding feedings! If your son doesn't suck fingers, consider trying a pacifier or teething ring. If he likes it, perhaps you can keep one close by him so he can find it himself in the night.

Maren - posted on 11/13/2010

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My daughter did the same thing. She was sleeping pretty well up until 7 months. Then, for some unknown reason--perhaps teething--she would wake every 30-45 minutes, all night long. This went on for some time (we didn't cry it out either) and as time went on it would get to 1 hour, then 4 hours the first part of the night then every 45 minutes. My husband and I just toughed it out. I wouldn't nurse her every time as i didn't want to get into that habit. As it is now, she usually goes to bed around 730 and wakes around 1. Sometimes she wakes before then if she's teething or gassy and we just give her some medicine and get her back to sleep with patting or rocking...whatever she needs. So, if you have someone that can give you a break every once in awhile so you can get a good stretch of sleep, you could try this. I don't think I could have done it alone.

I know another mother whose baby never slept well. She finally had to let him cry, after trying everything else. She hated it and does have some residual guilt but I think she had to. Her son wouldn't sleep longer than 30 minutes and there is no way anyone was sleeping well. She tried the no cry sleep solution book as well as others (the baby whisperer being another) and nothing worked. So, I suggest either toughing it out or getting those books from the library.

It took some time but we learned when my daughter would need something. If she woke and we got her back to sleep but she woke again within 10 minutes we knew she was needing motrin or gas medicine. Sometimes she wakes from nightmares. I know she has nightmares a lot.

Good Luck.

Jessa - posted on 11/13/2010

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My youngest son is 16 months old and to this day has not once slept in a crib, I think he had a 6th sense and just knew when he was laid in one. Crying it out didn't work for him in the least, the kid had a stronger will than I could stand to listen to, so I feel your pain.

I had to get creative with his sleeping arrangements. To start with I just started keeping him in bed with me and going to bed with him, this sucked when he would go down early, but most nights he was more of a night owl and was up til 10 or 11.

I also started working with him on getting down from the bed or couch safely, teaching him how to turn around and drop his legs over the edge and slide down. He actually started this around 5-6 months and did amazing with it. Once he had that down we were a bit less worried about him climbing or falling.

Then came the toddler bed, even after all my other kids none had ever gone into a toddler bed so early, he started at 9 months! All my other kids stayed in their cribs til at least 2 or 3 years. To start him safely in a regular bed or toddler bed I used pillows, boppy, walls, etc. Anything I could to keep him as contained as I could. (although containing him has been a challenge since he started moving on his own, he can climb baby gates, move them, get around anything and has even figured out how to move our 7 foot long couch when we tried using it to block his path...)

As for the nursing a ton right now at night your lil guy may be getting some teeth causing him to need the extra comfort. All my kids got their teeth way earlier than normal and by 9 months were beginning to cut molars and things. Give him a few more weeks and see if he comes out of it or try some tylenol or motrin for him to see if it allows him to sleep better.

Marsha - posted on 11/13/2010

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I am one of those people who can not co-sleep. However I had too for awhile.
It is hard to change things for them once you have a schedule/system. You have to do it gradually.
So, if you want them to sleep longer, when they wake up say at 4am to feed, don't feed until 5am - yes they are up...hopefully just looking for you and not crying...but if they are just looking, you can maybe lengthen the times between feeds this way.
For me, my daughter who is 18 months is in her own crib, and usually, not always, sleeps thru the night. If she is sick, and wakes up and I nurse her, she very easily will fall back into waking up in the night to nurse. Usually my husband will go to her. If you don't have that option, it is much harder.
We had to let our little one cry too, to get her used to falling asleep on her own. Of course not to the point where she was so upset, you can tell between a "I don't like this" to a "I am scared, need you mom" cry. Or I would just rock her, not nurse her, so she felt me, and safe and all that, but not nursing.
This is one of the hardest things I think...good luck. My oldest is 4 and altho she sleeps in her own bed, we still have to be either sitting just outside the door or in the room with her for her to fall asleep. It is hard!

Nicole - posted on 11/13/2010

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Borrow Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Sleep Solution from the library! Such an awesome book!

Mindy - posted on 11/07/2010

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Hang in there hun! I am going through the exact same thing with my almost 15 month old daughter! I am ready for her to sleep in her bed ALL night and she goes to bed on her own but then wakes all night long. I am trying to wean her too from breastfeeding and it is not going well at all. She still wants to nurse 2-3 times, sometimes more in middle of night. Lastnight I tried ignoring her and she screamed bloody murder, I had to give in. I wish I had some advice but unfortunately I have no clue what to do myself. Good luck! ;)

Karlie - posted on 11/07/2010

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my son was the exact same girl. and he still is! we still cosleep at 20 months and up until i had to stop breastfeeding at 13 months he was feeding 4 - 5 times a night! i think what you need to do is when he wakes during the night try settle him without the breast until a certain time. say he can feed at 12 and 4am or something. also have you tried giving him a bit more solid food an hour or so before bed so he has a full tummy? i wish i could be more help but im struggling the same way lol

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