My son has never been a baby whose slept through the night. He always woke up constantly to feed. Now, he still wakes up the same amount of times and still wants to feed either milk or water. Doctor told us to sleep train but it’s been hard since my husband has to wake up early for work and the constant cry at night doesn’t get him the sleep he needs. Doctor said to wean down on milk but sometimes he doesn’t want water and will cry for until he gets his milk. Any advice?
1Hi Karen, and welcome. What does your child eat during the day besides milk?– anongoodnurseJul 3, 2022 at 13:43
You have a lot of components to your question, so I'm going to try to break it down a bit.
You Want Your Child To Sleep Through The Night
You want your child to sleep through the night, but are reluctant to do sleep training due to your own schedule. That's understandable.
Unfortunately, you aren't going to get the results you want unless you do some form of sleep training.
Fortunately, there are a number of methods to try. I recommend doing some research to see which methods might best suit you.
Your Doctor Recommends Weaning Down On Milk
If your goal is to train your child to sleep through the night, doing the same number of night-time feedings is not going to get you the results you want. Whether you use milk or water, your child is still going to seek the same number of feedings.
While your child is old enough to start weaning off of milk, you need to reduce the number of times you feed your child nightly.
Reducing night time feedings is going to be a challenge - be sure to provide the baby milk and food during the day, and try to reduce the amount you feed your baby at night gradually.
Weaning and sleep training isn't easy - you are changing the schedule your baby has known since birth. This isn't going to happen over night. Be consistent in the strategy you choose, and make sure both you and your husband are following through with the same strategy.
I can share my recent experiences with one of the two under two that I have.
The oldest, a boy, never had issues sleeping through the night by age 3 months. He was uncannily a "one in a million" baby in that regard.
Personal Case Study
His sister is under 1yr. She on the other hand was and is a challenge. Constantly she would wake at 3:30AM, 4:30AM during the night to feed. We tried waiting to feed her until 12AM. Nope. Up at 2:30, or 3:30, etc. She would under eat during the day. Nothing we did seemed to work. After 9 months of this insanity my wife went on a trip with her mother and took the kids. We have a sleep sack that has a weighted area in the front and an owlet that goes on her foot. Her mother got her down to sleep every night and she would sleep through the night. The trick she used is ridiculous but useful. My daughter loves to thrash and turn in her pack and play through the night (we're in the middle of a move so no crib until the new house). This wakes her up and she starts crying until she is fed. By placing her on her belly with the weighted portion of the sack on her back (sack is backwards at that point) and keeping it a bit chilly so she doesn't get hot and wake up (also white noise generator and a self soothing baby einstein toy she likes), she goes to sleep and stays asleep until 5:30 - 7AM (depends).
Our process with her for bedtime is to feed her one or two pouches of Happy Baby food about 30mins to 1hr before bedtime. We have her playing with her brother until then. We then bring her upstairs, put the owlet on, change her diaper to a night time one, put the sack on, give her a 6oz bottle of formula, lay her down and leave the room. In the beginning she cried quite a bit. As she got used to the routine (she hits a "wall" at 8PM) she would turn back and forth between the raised borders of the baby bed we placed in the pack and then sleep. This once light sleeper crying for food at a random time each night now sleeps through thunderstorms, bed creaking, and small dogs barking randomly with no issues. The doctor recommended her own room which she will have once we move in but that's our process. Every child is different.
My $0.02 Answer Based on above information provided
So from that I would say consider where your child is on self soothing and sleep position based on my experience shared above. I would personally keep the milk for during the day and the water for night. You set the pace, not them. Thirst is thirst. Water should quench it just fine. If they are actually hungry that is a different matter and as I shared we went through that. I think you're more concerned about your child sleeping through the night and that is extremely tough when you're in that situation. I completely sympathize and empathize with you and your husband. I hope maybe this answers your question and provides a different view point perhaps. I myself went through God knows how many links trying to find a good answer to the wake up at random time at night insanity. Not one mentioned this method, but my sleep has improved 100 fold since doing it.
Helping baby sleep through the night
Sleep, Baby & You (sleep info, not the SBY program)
Gentle sleep training: No cry methods, explained
Gentle sleep training, that minimizes your baby's crying, may be helpful, versus the "cry it out" sleep training.
For my daughter, I used the method where I sat in her room while she fell asleep, and if she woke up during the night I would sit in her room until she fell asleep again. I used a combination of the chair method and the pick-up/put-down method, since I did pick her up to comfort her when she cried, but put her down as soon as she stopped crying, and then sat in her room in a rocking chair. I did this because I believe that my daughter cried because she needed me, and I wanted to be there for her. I could not have used the "cry it out" method on any of my children, or any child.
I sat in a high-backed rocking chair in my daughter's room because sometimes I fell asleep before my daughter did, and while I don't have any proof, I think this might have helped her regulate her breathing, and return to sleep faster than if I had been awake.
In regards to milk vs water, fat is a necessary part of what we feed infants and toddlers because it's necessary for their growth. Whole milk has only 3.5% fat. Should you decided to feed your son whole milk at night it will only be part of your son's overall fat/calorie intake.
If feeding your son whole milk at night helps him sleep, and you adjust what he eats/drinks during the day to keep his liquid/food intake balanced, then feed him whole milk at night to improve his sleep and yours.
Fats in our diets are not bad, and for children they are truly necessary. You can feed him whole milk at night and make small changes to other parts of his food intake to keep his weight in a normal range.
In summary, my suggestions for improving your son's sleep, based on my experience with my daughter who had a difficult time sleeping, and the need for fat in a toddler's diet:
- feed your son whole milk at night
- when you son wakes up and cries, pick him up to comfort him, and when he stops crying, put him down
- stay in his room, sitting in a chair, where he knows that you're there, until he falls asleep