What's the best way to get my 3mo to sleep for more than 2hrs at a time at night?

Stacy - posted on 09/21/2011 ( 24 moms have responded )

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For the first two months of my LO's life, he used to sleep according to a schedule so strict, you could set your watch by him. I never put him on a schedule and always followed his lead.

About two weeks ago, he started waking up every two to three hours a night, will take about 60ml of formula and go back to sleep. He doesn't have a problem distinguishing between night and day, because at night he literally wakes up, feeds and goes right back to sleep.

I've tried increasing the volume in his feeds, but the poor thing is physically incapable of drinking more than 100ml per feed, even during the day.

Any suggestions?

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Stacy - posted on 09/23/2011

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Dear @Amy, thanks so much to you and most of the other moms for your advice. We had a much better night last nightand I'm trying to extend his periods between feeding, by first offering him a pacifier and only feeding him the next time he wakes. It's gonna take time, but I also think that you were all right, it must have been a growth spurt, because he was a lot less restless this morning and not taking nearly as much formula.

Thank @Amy for the comments you made about breastfeeding. @Pamela, I did try breastfeeding, for the first two weeks of his life, I struggled with a little boy who would become histerical the minute I just put him in the breastfeeding position (and trust me, there isn't a position that I haven't tried, I think I even came up with a few of my own). I had a lactation consultant come to my home, at an astronomical fee might I add, to help me, because quite frankly I had no idea what I was doing. She assured me that everything I was doing was correct and that I should perseverel, which I duly did. Four weeks later, I was a wreck, my little boy would still engage in hostile warfare before he would even attempt to feed, so again, at his six week check-up, I asked the lactation consultant to observe a feeding and yet again I was assured that everything I was doing was fine. Notwithstanding this, my breasts were in constant pain, so much so that I would cry everytime he latched. Not once did I need to take the painkillers that were prescribed for me upon discharge from the hospital, yet here I was taking them to deal with the excruiciating pain of my breasts. Why not try a nipple shield, you ask? I did, there is not a single brand out there that I didn't try (FYI I found the Medela to be the most effective) but this just aggravated Malachi's irritation.

In the interim I had been admitted to hospital because I had developed post-partum hypertension and because I was away from him during a couple of feeds, a bottle and formula were introduced as an interim measure.

Problem is, my milk supply wasn't properly established, so it started drying up, but not to be defeated, at his eight week paed visit, I got a prescription for Eglonyl, to assist with my milk supply. As a matter of interest, Eglonyl is actually an anti-psychotic used for the treatment of acute cases of schizophrenia and lactation is merely a side effect of the drug, but because I was so hell bent on giving my boy the best start in life, I was prepared to do ANYTHING and I did. Because I didn't have anywhere NEAR enough milk for him to even get 10ml, I was advised to express, so for the next two weeks, I would try and put him to the breast and then feed him formula every three hours, thereafter sit and express for another 45 minutes to stimulate my milk supply. Day and night I did this for two weeks, which means that at most I would only get 90 minutes of sleep at a time.

Eventually, at 10 weeks, I found myself trying to breastfeed him one Saturday morning and right on cue, the "Battle of the Boob" began. We struggled for another fifteen minutes, switching breasts, trying different positions, him crying so much so that he had tears streaming down his face and me feeling so angry at him, because he wasn't playing fair. That was the morning, looking at my clearly traumatised child, that I realised that I was so hell bent on what I wanted for him, that I didn't stop to think that perhaps what I WANTED wasn't necessarily what was GOOD for him.

To this day, it is my greatest regret that I wasn't able to breastfeed my son, but it is also my greatest regret that I forced him to keep trying with me for so long.

I get it and I agree, that breastmilk is the best choice for these little ones, bar none. But, what I also get, is that it doesn't work out that way for everyone, try as you might. My memories of the first two months of Malachi's life are peppered with negative thoughts of failure and incompetence on my part, because I couldn't master the art of breastfeeding and it saddens me, because I keep wondering how much did I miss out on, because I was so obsessed with breastfeeding him.

For the last two weeks, Malachi has PROUDLY been exclusively formula fed and I have more happy memories of him and have enjoyed him more in the last two weeks of his life, than I have in all three months of his life. Because I am no longer spending up to six hours of the day expressing milk, another 2 hours fighting with him to take to the breast, I suddenly have all this extra time to SEE him. To see how he's discovered that he has fists and that they can fit into his mouth if he REALLY, REALLY tries. To see how he (like his mother) LOVES to hear his own voice and to discover that he squeals in delight when he is engaged in "conversation".

So, in short, @Pamela, I am not breastfeeding Malachi, because instead of fight with him and be angry at him and resent him all the time, I have to chosen to love him and to be a present witness in his life.

I wasn't looking for any quick solutions to get a full night's rest, either. I was just looking for some advice from other mom's who might have been through the same thing and had some ideas about how to IMPROVE my situation, not CHANGE it.

The greatest lesson that motherhood has taught me, is NEVER to judge another mother's choices. I am an academic by nature and research just about EVERYTHING, but there is NOTHING, no literature, no advice, no previous life experience (other than being a mother) that can prepare one for this terrifying, exhilarating, difficult, rewarding journey. We're all just doing the best we know how and when we know better, we will do better. Your response to my question was hurtful and the only reason I am replying to it, is so that hopefully, now that YOU know better, you will do better the next time you respond to someone else's question.

Amy - posted on 09/22/2011

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@Pamela, it sounds like Stacy just asked for advice on how to get her baby to sleep longer. I don't think she needs to be berated on why she is not breastfeeding or why she is looking to an answer to her problem. I would think that questions are generally posted on here so that moms can find support with their problems and not to be told that they way they have chosen is wrong.
@Stacy, I agree that it sounds like your little guy is going through a growth spurt. Just remember that they don't last forever and he will probably be back to his normal sleeping schedule soon. My almost 5 month old has been sleeping through the night since she was about 6 weeks old but has recently began waking in the middle of the night. I am just assuming it's a growth spurt and that she will be back to her normal schedule soon! Good luck!

September - posted on 09/22/2011

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I just don't think children under the age of 6 months should be eating baby cereal or solids at all for that matter unless for medical reason of course. Putting rice cereal in a bottle is a choking hazard. Plus it's been proven that rice cereal does not help a child sleep better/longer. I think a child should be offered rice cereal when they are old enough to eat it from a spoon. I have yet to meet a 3 month old that can eat from a spoon.

Joan - posted on 09/22/2011

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Yes, massage is very good for health as well as sleep...I was trained by Maharishi Ayurvedic techs on how to do this and started on my lap when they were little (as in this video) and did it on a towel-covered dresser as long as they enjoyed it (til maybe age 4-8; kids are different). This video gives you the idea, but the way I learned is a little different and gentler. Use sesame oil; do long up & down motions on the long bones and round motions on the joint. And don't forget the face, head, ears, and feet. The massage is not only relaxing; it helps move toxins out of the tissues...ideally follow with a warm bath. Enjoy! My kids loved it. You can do it in a minute or 2, or spend 10 minutes if you like.

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Haley Marley - posted on 09/27/2011

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- same here but i apply baby lavender oil (Johnson & Johnson) sleeps all night. You try too. Hope it helps. Gd luck.



- Or, you feed you child untill he/she satisfied. I did mine too (and still apply those oil) and everything is smooth sailing.

Chrissie - posted on 09/25/2011

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I have an 11 1/2 wk old and he does not sleep thru the night. I dont know if you swaddle but you should start that helps a lot even if you start swaddling him and he still wakes up it will help you in the long run when he does sleep longer it will keep him from waking his self up. So to swaddle tuck his arms into it and make it tight. I do not agree with giving cereal yet either, try increasing his milk little by little my baby drinks 5oz and has drank this much for about a month now. I also use a paci and it helps soooo much because babies are born to suck they need to suck to sooth themselves if your baby doesnt seem to wanna suck on one try a different type we were using one for 10 weeks and he really didnt care for it but would use it sometimes, then i tried a different nipple type because I thought it was a cute paci and he just loved it he would suck on it and it wouldnt fall out like the other one did plus its for 6mo and up. So you feel better my baby will sleep 3 hrs sometimes, sometimes 4, and rarely 5 hrs at night but its usually 3-4, if hes eating such a little amount i think that he would need to wake up as often as 2-3 hrs.
I wish you the best!!

Wanda - posted on 09/24/2011

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My youngest daughter had the same problem, so when I posed the question to my pediatrician he suggested adding one tbsp of baby cereal (rice cereal) to her last bottle before bed; she was eating 8ozs so you might not want to add that much to your son's; please check with your child's doctor first to make sure that he thinks is a good choice for your son and so that he may also rule out any other issues, and I wish you the best of luck! :)

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/23/2011

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He is hungry. The only thing that is going to stop him from waking up is time. He is only 3 months old....he is suppose to be waking up when he is hungry still. His body is doing the right thing by waking up and letting you kjnow. It gets easier....but the first 6 months can be rough. you can do it!

Fit2BMe - posted on 09/23/2011

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Stacey, You know yourself and your baby best. It would be unfair for any of us mom's to speak into your life with judgement, as we could not possibly know or understand your situation fully. I am sorry that things did not go as planned for you, but celebrate with you in the growth and development this brought you and your son. A lesson many parents unfortunately never learn, that you learned right off the hop through this, was that your child is a unique individual with their own thoughts, personality, and preferences, regardless of ours. Love and respect trump Pre-formed plans and ideals. Good for you for working trough the grief of an unrealized goal, and instead celebrating with "pride" a nee acceptance. :)
Kudos to you!

Anna - posted on 09/23/2011

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The worst thing you could do is overfeed your baby in order to get him to sleep longer. Your baby's sleep cycles will change very often and it's very commong for babies who slept through the night to start waking up around 4 months due to teething. You're lucky that your baby goes right back to sleep after feeding. At that age, mine wouldn't settle sometimes for an hr.

Rebecca - posted on 09/23/2011

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my first thought was "growth spurt"! My second thought was "try a pacifier first". My daughter would wake a lot and just need a pacifier. Now that she is 7 months old, she will wake, hunt for the paci, and only cry if she can't find it. She has a certain time of night she normally wakes and actually wants a bottle, but that is just once.

Claudia - posted on 09/22/2011

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This will continue for a few more months, but you can help. I did this with both of my boys and I learned from my mom and grandma. Keep a chair in his room, when he cries get the bottle ready before you enter his bedroom, do no turn any light on, never leave his bedroom with him. Feed him in the dark, do not talk and do not make eye contact. Feed him, and as soon he is done, put him back in his crib. You can also use camomille tea instead of just H2O to mix his formula (not a strong tea). This will help in the long run. Also do not change him unless he has a poop, use a bigger dieper, and later you can buy night time diepers. I did it, my 5 sisters did it and all of us recomend this. Good luck!

Pamela - posted on 09/22/2011

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Allow the baby to grow in his own way. So what if he was sleeping through the night and then changed? So, it's inconvenient for you...nothing else. Increasing the amount of formula obviously doesn't work, so stop trying. Why aren't you breast feeding? Breast feeding provides immunities from Mother to child that cannot be gotten in any other way. Not that breastfeeding means the child would sleep through the night either, but it is certainly best.

You might want to try massage before the last feeding of the night. There are books that deal with baby massage and just as in adults, it relaxes the baby making fitful sleep less likely.

Joan - posted on 09/22/2011

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Run don't walk to bookstore, library, or amazon.com and get the book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber. It will help you figure out the best solution for your situation...the main thing to understand is that we all have associations with falling asleep (and staying asleep/going back to sleep after normal nighttime arousals), and those associations must NOT be adult-dependent or the child will keep waking you up. He gives you a step-by-step process to deal with this if it's the problem; also covers every imaginable sleep disorder...but your situation sounds like a simple association of sucking/nursing/having a bottle with falling asleep. He can learn other associations that are independent of Mom, bottle, rocking, or other outside factors so that he can go back to sleep by himself when he (naturally as everyone does) arouses during the night. Read this book!

Karen - posted on 09/22/2011

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@America3437 little baby tummies are not mature enough to digest the food properly.
I agree with everyone else about it being a growth spurt. you can to give a sucky first to see if he's settle without feeding but I doubt it. Good luck, pretty soon you'll look back and think "it wasn't soooo bad" LOL

Rebecca - posted on 09/21/2011

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Make sure that he is comfortable and wrapped up, clean diaper and full tummy. Also my pediatrician says to keep their room at 65 degrees. Aside from that I really don't know what else you could do. Make sure it's dark in the room maybe that'll help.

America3437 - posted on 09/21/2011

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why no cereal? All three of mine had it at this age and it was fine. I'm not saying fill it with cereal but just a bit to add to his milk. As a matter of fact my 17 yr old was eating mashed potatoes and baby food carrots at 3 mo.

September - posted on 09/21/2011

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Please don't put cereal in his bottle, that's not the answer. Most children go through phases of sleeping well and not sleeping well. It could be for several different reasons. I would guess since he's 3 months that he's going through a growth spurt. Hang tight and it should pass soon. Be prepared to go through a similar phase in the future as sleeping patterns are known to change up until 3 years of age. Good luck! :)

America3437 - posted on 09/21/2011

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Benedryl..... kidding of couse. Try putting a bit of infant cereal in his bottle befrore bedtime. It really works.

Fit2BMe - posted on 09/21/2011

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Here are some things I noticed and I did with my little one:

-I noticed that during change of seasons my little guy seemed to have a period of about a week or so where his sleeping seemed "off" (waking up earlier or having a harder time falling to sleep)

-I noticed the same for during growth spurts (I did not actually find it easy to identify growth spurts until after he had gone through them and was looking back.)

-I also found that if we had gotten off routine this would happen.

While my son wasn't often waking up in the night, we still noticed sleep being affected other ways.

-we chose to allow him to have a soother in his bed (a few actually) which helped a LOT in our case. I would try to stretch out his night-time feeds or wakings by holding a soother gently in his mouth instead and he'd fall back to sleep. When a longer period had passed. If he was waking every 2 hours, for example, I'd use the soother (leaving him in his crib but with my hand on his cheek so he had that touch) and stretch him out to 3 hours. What I found is that I could get him to go back to sleep for an hour before waking up again, and eventually he'd just sleep longer and longer.

-if I suspected a growth spurt, I also added cluster feeding in the evenings. Sometimes I even woke him up for a "dream feed" just before I went to sleep for the night, to "top him up.". That worked very well for us for a time also.

Ultimately, do whatever works for you and your baby, and remember that this will not last forever. That is sometes the hardest part of parenting, is "staying the course" and keeping in mind that "this, too, shall pass"

Take care of yourself and sleep whenever you can. Leave the housework for now and get your rest. Tired mommies need their sleep so they can think clearly. :)

Ez - posted on 09/21/2011

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Yep just a phase. Not much you can do besides keeping the night feedings dark and quiet so he hopefully goes right back to sleep. If your baby was a good sleeper previously, chances are he will return to those patterns once this is over.

Nikki - posted on 09/21/2011

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I would say it's just a phase, he might be going through a growth spurt and need the extra nutrition. Sleeping habits fluctuate a lot for the first couple of years. I would dream feed my daughter before I went to bed in the hope I would get an extra few hours sleep, sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't. (dream feeding is feeding them without really waking them)

The best thing you can do is just follow his cues, it can be tiring at times but it will get better :) Sleep during the day whenever you can too if your up half the night.

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