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... and what can we do about it?

We breastfeed, so it’s normal that she feeds regularly at night, but two out of three times, this kid wakes up just to be held and rocked for thirty seconds and then falls asleep immediately.

We tried comforting her in bed, singing to her, and many other options, but she is so impatient that her cries escalate and then it’s only harder to get her to go back to sleep. Cosleeping also is problematic. She arches her back and squirms, she just wants to be held and nothing else.

I see many other parents of seven month olds on various forums, even those who also breast feed, can sleep in four hour increments. Wow, that’s an unimaginable luxury.

How can we get there? Your advice, tips, input would be great!

  • Ever just leave him to cry a bit? – user20343 Oct 30 '18 at 19:13
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So first off, it is totally normal for babies to still be waking in the middle of the night, and more frequently than once or twice. However, it's also possible to sleep through the night (barring teething incidents, which I'll get to). I have an almost eight month old who until she started sprouting teeth all at once (three in progress at the moment) slept from 7pm until 6am without waking.

How We Got There

When we started sleep training, our daughter was 5 months old and still fully breast fed. I was back at work and unable to function at my full faculties because I was also up every 2-3 hours to feed her. You are super lucky because your child has already made it clear they don't want/need food, only comfort--my daughter would happily nurse for a full session even though she wasn't hungry, so it was difficult for me to make that connection.

What was happening for me and what's happening for you is our daughters don't/didn't know how to self soothe. Think of sleep like a series of waves approaching wakefulness then slipping down to deep sleep and back up again multiple times a night. What's happening here is your daughter when she approaches the wakefulness limit isn't able to settle back down. Instead of coming slightly awake and then dozing off again she's realizing she's awake, she doesn't like it, and has determined only mommy or daddy will do.

For us, the only way we could help our daughter learn to do this herself without outside assistance was through a little tough love. We picked a Friday to start. We did our usual bedtime routine, with a walk, bath, and breastfeeding, but when she started to drift off we took her off the breast, patted her to reassure her, then placed her in her crib awake.

Now, obviously this was not in her gameplan, and she made her displeasure very known. We waited 5 minutes, then went in and soothed her until she was calm, and put her back down again with a pat. More crying, but we waited 10 minutes this time. We repeated this in increasing 5 minute intervals until about an hour and a half later she fell asleep.

The next day we followed the exact same pattern. This time she only fought for about half an hour. The next day, only ten minutes. Every night after that she would grumble for a minute or two, and go right to sleep. Just instituting sleep training and teaching her how to sleep on her own solved 75% of her night wakings; the other 25% came with time as she learned to handle the bigger surges in the night.

These Days

Now a days this has held true. Unless she's teething, she goes right down after her bottle and sleeps through the night. Right now because she's having such a rough time we're a little more lax; more snuggles, shorter intervals, and more comforting helps her get through these temporary periods while still maintaining that she has to put herself to sleep.

It's rough, I won't lie. Hearing your baby cry is the worst thing ever. But what I can say is my daughter still loves me, has not changed from her happy, loving self, and has even improved mood and nap wise because she's getting such a good night's rest.

I recommend if you want to try sleep training to do so on the first night of the weekend, or a similar period of time where you'll be able to recover if the night is rough, and will be able to commit to staying up late to do the soothing.

Good luck!

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You already have a (successful) sleep training answer above, so I’ll give some alternatives to try. My child was a "happy chucker" (ie he vomited a LOT, but didn’t seem distressed by it). About 3-5 minutes of crying would cause vomit, so sleep training wasn’t really a good option for us.

I ended up cosleeping a lot, just me and baby in a double bed set up to be as safe as possible. So baby has their own space in the bed and the same amount of bedding as in a cot. I used one pillow (none on the bed would be safer). I also planned for baby rolling out of bed, but it didn’t happen. He was pretty much in the middle of the bed with me around him, pillows on the floor. Obviously the cot is the safest place but SIDS rates drop off at 6 months and sleep deprivation made me consider the risks acceptable.

You don’t say if your child is in their own room. Sometimes the sound of someone else’s breath is enough, so if they stir and you’re present, they go back to sleep. Sometimes the smell of a parent can help. We had some success with putting my top from the day near the cot.

Lighting is stupidly important. Get a blackout blind so that when you say it’s night, Mr Sun doesn’t contradict you. Where we live, summer evenings are long, so black out blinds are a must.

If you do get up at night, keep it quiet, keep it boring, keep the light levels as low as possible. I didn’t rock or sing, it was cuddles only, or music from the mobile, or milk. I didn’t night wean, but I’ve heard people have some success with that. I did limit eye contact, sometimes, too, but that’s only really necessary when they’re trying to smile and play with you. Even when a full bed change was required, baby would be wrapped in a blanket and ignored while the change was completed rapidly and then back to darkness and quiet and sleep.

I got night nappies (12 hours of dryness!) and didn’t change them during sleep time unless there was poo or a leak. Or they felt really, really wet.

We used appropriate bedding for cosy feet. We used the baby sleeping bags quite a bit, too.

The biggest success I actually had was simply adopting a relaxed attitude to my sleep quota. I stopped looking at the clock. Stopped keeping a tally of how many times I’d been up. Improved my ability to go to sleep quickly (relax face, relax jaw, relax hands, breathe). I was simply as tired as I felt on any given day. We bought one of the color changing clocks, so I could tell "daytime" from "night" without looking at the numbers. And that worked for baby, too, once he was old enough. Stress stops you from sleeping and stressing about how tired you’re going to be is really counterproductive when trying to get to sleep!

My partner helped when required, but I breast fed and I was on maternity leave, so I did most on the night shift (voluntarily).

This will pass, and you might not even notice its passing! Ok, maybe you will, the first few times they sleep all night in their own room, you might lie there, wide awake, worrying about them but too scared to check on them in case you wake them!

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