My 4 month old has never been a great sleeper, in the hospital I expressed concern several times that he was not sleeping. When we got home he slept for 15-30 minute stretches due to poor latching (tongue-tie) until I started exclusively pumping. We started swaddling/white noise/bed time routine as well and he went to doing a 3 hour stretch in the early evening and then waking every 1.5-2 hours or so until the morning. At 3 months old he stopped doing the 3 hour stretch. Now at 4 months old, he'll do a 1.5-2 hour stretch and then he's up every 30-45 minutes until morning. His naps used to be okay but now he's completely regressed on those as well - doing only 2-3 naps the entire day for a total of 3-3.5 hours. Altogether he's not getting more than 9-10 hours max of sleep in a 24-hour period.

We suspected silent reflux so we got him a rock n play (he's never spit up), he sleeps in that and it doesn't make a difference. We've tried co-sleeping. We've tried the Mamaroo. We tried swaddling/not swaddling and do white noise. We've tried modified CIO (going in every 5 minutes). The only thing that gets him to sleep (or back to sleep) is milk. The past month though he only drinks when in the rock n play or in his car seat, he won't drink in my arms. He was 7 lbs 5 oz at birth and now he's 17+ lbs. At his peak he was drinking close to 45 oz of milk per day, but he's since tapered off to about 32 oz. Our pediatrician dismissed his sleeping patterns and told us he was at risk for being overweight (which sounds crazy to me because he only drinks breastmilk). People do regularly think he's around 8 months though. I'm at my wits end, I don't know why my son won't sleep. I can see he's tired and I know he needs a solid block of sleep. Has anyone else experienced this? Could it be allergies (he's got a bit of eczema on his eyebrows/forehead, I keep it at bay with Aveeno lotion)? I don't drink cow's milk and I don't eat anything soy/nut related because I'm allergic. All advice appreciated.

edit: just wanted to add, his tongue tie was fixed. and he was a very quick all-natural birth, we've been to a chiro to fix any alignment issues and it didn't help at all.

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    "Our pediatrician dismissed his sleeping patterns" - why do you ignore that doctor? Did you get a second opinon? What did that second doctor say? Are you in contact with a health visitor / midwife / etc - what did they say? Also, what makes you think your child needs more sleep?
    – DanBeale
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 10:52
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    Everything we've been reading says that a baby his age needs around 14-15 hours of sleep per day. Breastmilk is digested completely after 90 minutes, so he's not waking up due to hunger. He's rubbing his eyes/yawning constantly after waking so we can tell he's tired. We don't expect a 5-6 hour block, it just doesn't seem right for a baby to not sleep at least 2-3 hours straight. Not sure what a health visiter is, but we did have a postpartum doula come in and she's stumped as to why he's not sleeping. He's never even slept in his crib even once. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 10:58
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    FYI, a health visitor is a UK version of a nurse who comes to your home to do regular checkups.
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:42
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    At risk for overweight is silly at that age - he'll eat what he needs, and getting some extra weight right now is great. 17 pounds isn't overweight, it's 90th or so percentile which is fine (my guys were well over that, though length has some impact of course).
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:44
  • I would either look around your area or specifically ask your pediatrician for a referral for an office that specializes in pediatric sleep disorders. It may not be anything but speaking with someone who specializes in sleeping patterns may help you figure out what is going on. I found that "pediatric sleep specialist" is a good search string in google for my area. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


First of all, I would find a pediatrician that takes your concerns seriously. Most babies are starting to sleep through the night at that age, and take a few naps during the day as well. This kind of sleep pattern isn't sustainable for either of you.

Next, I would adjust his feeding schedule. You didn't say anything about timing and amounts, other than implying you're feeding him every time to get him back to sleep. One thing to try is taking the amount you're feeding him to get him back to sleep the first time, and make him take it before the long stretch instead. The idea is to gradually make that feed bigger, until it covers his needs for the entire night.

Alternately, especially since the doctor thinks he might be overfed, he may not really be hungry, but just wanting to suck for comfort. Have you tried a pacifier instead of feeding him to get him back to sleep? Some parents avoid pacifiers, but at a certain point the negatives of a pacifier are outweighed by the negatives of a sleep-deprived baby and mom.

  • In terms of timing, we feed on demand during the day and then cluster feed in the evening to tank him up for the night. He'll drink a bottle around 530pm-6pm and then he will not go to sleep until he has another bottle at 7pm for sleep. He usually takes anywhere from 3-5 oz a feed. When he's feeding at his waking intervals, it's usually an oz or so, until 4am, when he takes another full bottle. I've tried pacifiers and he used to like them but has now either taken to spitting them out or if he's unswaddled, "playing" by pulling it back and forth between his gums to create a popping sound. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:31
  • i'd like to add that he always wakes up grunting with his eyes and grunts whenever we are not paying attention to him. if i ignore the grunting, he wakes up fully. we burp successfully after every oz or two when feeding but he still gets a lot of gas. gas drops do not help but putting him on his tummy usually does, unfortunately it also wakes him up because he loves tummy time. he never really cries unless you ignore him for too long (which we never do, as i'm a sahm), and even then it's more of a fussing sound, so he's not colicky and never has been. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:38

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