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My son has turned year old last week and for the past month or so he's been sleeping less in his bed and is more agitated in the night.

Our current tuck in protocol is between 19:00 and 20:00 (depending on the naps during the day) my wife gives him breast until he falls asleep and then I carry him to his room where he will sleep for 3-5 hours, then he wakes up, we take him to our bed and then he spends the rest of the night glued to the breast.

Previously after he woke up we were able to get him back into deep sleep so that he could be moved back to his bed, but nowadays his sleep is either too shallow and he can't be moved (but he'll sleep with us calmly) or he'll wake up very 20-30 minutes crying, demanding breast, making it difficult for my wife to sleep.

He refuses to drink formula and he refuses to drink breast milk from the bottle, the only thing he tolerates in a bottle is water. He also won't suck on a pacifier. When he wakes up in the night he also won't get comforted by holding him in arms in any position, this just results in him crying and waking up even more.

At this point we're not really sure what to think and what to do. Reading online it seems that some children are like that and he'll outgrow the need to suck at night which I am fine with. We just need a way to keep him calm during that time so that all of use can actually sleep.

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    Hi and welcome. I feel for you. A few questions: did anything happen about a month ago that might have a hand in this (an illness, maybe) or do you just think he's matured enough to know what's going on and how to keep you two doing what he needs? Have you looked into any methods of "baby-training" to self-soothe, e.g. Ferber? How do you feel about weaning him off to a different bedroom? Thanks. – anongoodnurse Dec 27 '18 at 23:42
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    @anongoodnurse He had a 3-day fever around that time but whether it happened immediately after it or a week or two later I can't say. He is mature enough to demand things and be fussy when he doesn't get them but the randomness of his behavior suggest to me that it has more to do with getting too long naps or overstimulation during the day or teething or something else or everything. After reading about Ferber methods, especially more modern criticisms and research we decided to not try implementing it. Kid's bed is in a room other than ours at the moment. – Maurycy Dec 27 '18 at 23:59
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    As a Mom I went through something similar at that age, lasting for several months. We found no way out of it, nothing we tried worked, and I was very sleep deprived. We realized some phases were worse than others and that was before new teeth would come out. Not very encouraging for you, I'm afraid. Hang in there! – iulia Dec 29 '18 at 20:23
  • Do you feed only breastfeed your child or do you give him additional food? For a one-year-old breast milk is not enough. He might be simply hungry. We started to additinally feed our kids pureed vegetables from age 7-8 months. – Sefe Apr 3 at 8:31
  • @Sefe He's been eating additional foods since he was roughly 6 months old. Since this post things got better, he tends to sleep much longer during the night, most likely when he is problematic during the night is related to teething since that's been the pattern so far. – Maurycy Apr 4 at 9:43
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I know it's kinda old topic, but just for others who will end up here...

We've had something similar with our little one, but when she was 3 months old. It turned out mum's milk was less milk, more water and she wasn't eating enough.

We had to switch to formula, which fortunately was not a problem, and it proved to be a solution.

But I still cringe thinking we starved her for almost a week before we figured it out. On our own, because in UK healthcare we got was pure BS.

After reading Sebe's answer i remembered something else: there was another factor in our issue: our little one was simply cold. We've had pretty stable and comfy 21C in our room, but apparently it was too cold for her. When we added another blankie (light and fluddy polar-like) to the tuck-in set, her sleep patterns improved as well. That is: became more regular - for a change she was waking up on - literally - insertion of the bottle with milk (formula), and that not always... It happened sometimes she ate without waking.

So in our case secret was giving here more food and making her more comfortable (warm) and it did us good until she was 1.25 yo, after which she rather fast snubbed formula and started sleeping through the night.

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Generally, there are two reasons a child will ask for breastfeeding: hunger or comfort.

Hunger

Starting with 7 to 8 months of age, breastfeeding is often not enough to get your child full. When your baby starts growing teeth it's nature's sign to start feeding additional food (unless you believe the teeth are there to bite mommy's breast).

Comfort

Optimally you try to avoid giving your baby the breast for comfort from the beginning. One thing that is important for that is to try to avoid letting your baby fall asleep on the breast. Once your child is used to be comforted by mommie's breast its hard to get him off of that. It will also make weaning harder. For a one-year old weaning might be the only way to end a situation where the child asks for the breast only for comfort.

So for your problem, you should figure out the reason why your son is waking up in the night. Is it because he is hungry or because he woke up and cannot fall asleep without the breast? If he's hungry, start to feed him (more) additional food.

If it's for comfort and you want to change it, the choice you have is either to deny him the breast for comfort in the night, which is truly heart-wrenching since probably your kid will cry until is he is so tired that he will fall asleep without the breast.

The other way is to wait until your son can get full only on solid food and then wean him off the breast completely. From my own experience, I would recommend waiting and weaning, since you will have to wean him eventually anyway. So maybe its better to not put your kid through the stress of learning to breastfeed only for hunger. Also, what could happen is that your child will stop accepting the breast altogether. Then you have weaned accidentally, maybe even before your kid can sustain himself only on solid food.

None of this is easy, so you should always remind yourself that the tough patch you are going through is not there to last. Your child will eventually grow out of it.

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