August 13, 2008

Charlotte writes:

My little beastie went through a glorious sleeping through the night phase for months and then a long holiday, illness and hot weather (nice excuses) have meant that she is waking for nursing perhaps twice a night now. Do I just roll with it (she almost always goes back to sleep perhaps with some gentle singing to herself) or am I setting myself up for broken nights forever (OK for some months) more? Her room was like an oven last night and she genuinely seemed thirsty, but should I offer her water? Is it time to wean her onto that concrete formula that seems to make everyone else’s babies sleep through the night? I am mostly not that bothered about getting up for her as I go back to sleep quickly and hey, I’m her mummy, that’s my job! But the dreaded baby books and other mummy’s make me feel like a freak!

Hey Charlotte, you are not a freak!! Well done to you for just being prepared to go with the flow. The only time I would suggest changing things is when it’s clearly not working for baby/mummy/daddy, but if nursing once or twice at night is not a big drama, then go with it, I promise it won’t last forever. The one piece of advice I have for you is to throw away those baby books – they are nothing but trouble! Trust your own instincts, you know your baby best. And woo hooo for your sleeping through the night phase. Chances are if she’s done it for a bit, once things settle down again, you’ll be back in business. Here’s hoping.


Hungry 7 1/2 month old

August 12, 2008

Julie writes:

We have a 7 1/2 month old boy and our relatively typical night looks like this: he eats solids at 7pm, nurses at 8pm, and then goes to bed at 8:30pm (mostly falls asleep on his own now). Sometimes he’ll awake at 11pm crying. But often his first wake up is at 1am, then again at 4am or 5am. He’s up for the day anywhere between 6 – 7:30 am.

When he awakes at night, I usually let him cry for a minute or two to decide what kind of cry it is. If it’s an angry cry, I go to him and nurse him. If it’s a tired cry, he sometimes goes back to sleep, or sometimes it escalates to an angry cry and then I go to him. Is this too inconsistent an approach? I’ve read so much on the issue that it’s clear there are no right or wrong answers. Some people feel strongly about continuing to night nurse. Others feel strongly about sleep training (that he’s old enough and weighs enough – 18 pounds – to not need to eat in the middle of the night). I’m lucky to not be working, so it’s more an inconvenience during the day to be tired of getting up every 3-4 hours. I’m really not sure about what to do. I don’t have a strong intuition either way – to nurse or to wean him of these night feedings. I guess my fear is that by not going to him, he’ll feel like I’m abandoning him. But I’m worried that if I continue to always go to him, that he’ll never kick the habit of night nursing. He does not have his own room, which makes the idea of letting him cry it out at night really unappealing, but perhaps necessary.  Can you offer any guidance?

I’ve had the lucky experience of having a kid who would wake up every hour or two, so anything less looks quite appealing by contrast! My thinking is that at 7 1/2 months, a baby is just really getting the hang of eating a bit of food, milk is generally still their main diet and it sounds fair enough to me that some babies (most?) might still need a feed or two at night. It may not be that convenient for the parents (particularly the nursing mum) and it may be an incredible drag being so so tired permanently, but I really think this is part of the first years dramas of babyhood.

I think if you can bare it as it is, it will be easier just to go with the flow, but if it’s really unbareable, my other top tip is to send daddy in at night so bubs gets the message that nursing is no more. There may be some tears though at first until they get used to this new routine. But remember, even if you do decide to keep nursing at night to keep the peace, babies do eventually grow out of it at their own pace as their need diminishes.

I am keen on saying these days that babies need what the need until they decide they no longer need it. And there’s not much you can do about that.


Night nursing with a future soccer star

July 24, 2008

Kelly writes:

Firstly, thank you so much – had I not found your mumsnet thread and later your website, I would have been a gibbering wreck by now (well, more of a gibbering wreck). It is such a relief to know that there are other mums out there whose babies aren’t all-nighters.

I have two questions, I think:

How connected are nursing to sleep and night wakings? I nurse my 8 month old to sleep as it is the only way she will go down without tears, but she then needs to nursed back to sleep almost every time she wakes, which at the moment can be 6-10 times between 7 and 5. We start her off in her cot and then move her to our bed, and I don’t really mind the night nursing (bar the kicking, see below) but am flagging at the amount she wakes. but I’m worried that I am encouraging her to wake often by nursing her when she does wake.

Secondly, does anyone else out there have a kicker? And what can one do to reduce the amount of battering one gets in the night? I get pummeled for at least 15 minutes every hour or so and any attempt to protect myself by moving her or building a duvet fort around my legs is futile.

My thought about nursing to sleep is that it is often so much easier to nurse to sleep than the alternatives. The way it went with the Imp is that he nursed to sleep, until he decided not to fall asleep and then he had to learn to put himself to sleep. So I did it as long as it was feasible, and then gave up when it no longer worked and tried something else. That about summarises my whole parenting strategy.

I feel that it is important for kids to learn to put themselves to sleep, but all in good time. I don’t think there is any point forcing it too early, as it will just cause more headaches than it solves. But if you can try and notice when your child is ready and help them along the path, that is fantastic and may well help with the night wakings. But then again, it may not. See, there’s no real way to tell the reason your child is waking at night, and the reason he can’t go back to sleep. In short, teaching kids to self settle helps some with night waking, but not others. For us, there never seemed to be that correlation.

We didn’t really have a kicker so can’t help you there. Maybe our readers will have some ideas …

8 months is still fairly little (though it doesn’t feel like it). I think it took us a good 13 months to get the sleeping into a manageable state, and even then we hit some kind of regressions occassionally. But at least now, I can see the phases are temporary, rather than looking down a deep dark tunnel of sleeplessness. If only we got weekends off from our kids sometimes …


Part time co-sleeping

July 23, 2008

Hannah writes: 

I have a 9 month old who just will not stay in his bed the entire night.
He goes to bed like an angel, bed time is between 8-9 depending and he gets put in pj’s, given bottle, a little cuddle time and then off to bed. We do not hear another peep out of him until some-where between 1-3 am when he wakes and almost refuses to return to sleep in his cot. I have tried on a couple of occasions to implement some sort of rapid return or feed and settle type plan, but given that he has to sleep in our room and I have to be up for work at 6am, I normally cave and allow him to co-sleep. He normally wants to suckle, but I don’t think that it is for food, generally. When I get up, I am able to transfer him back to the cot as I do not trust hubby to ensure that he doesn’t fall out of bed.
Do you have any suggestions to keep him in his own bed, cos I end up sleeping in really funny positions in order to accommodate hubby/baby, bearing in mind that neither have to get up anyway!

I think the co-sleeping is such a common thing, more than people like to admit. It may not be a conscious decision, but we put our kids to bed hoping for the best, but then they wake up in the middle of the night and who can be bothered to rock them back to a deep slumber and carefully lower them into their cot, praying for them not to wake up in the process. No! A lot of the time, we sleepily grab them, pull them into our own bed and cuddle them to sleep. Far more pleasant.

Except when you are squished between a husband and a bed hogging baby with limbs flayed everywhere. Call me mean, but when the Imp has to come into our bed (not too often these days thank goodness), I kick hubby out onto the couch. I cannot sleep with more than one person at a time, no matter how small one of those people are. That’s just me. I’m a bad sleeper at best, and I just need that room. Last time I tried to sleep with both, I think I nearly dislocated my shoulder!

I’m wondering if you gave him a feed, would he be sleepy enough to transfer back into the cot? I think it’s a question or kicking the baby or the husband out of bed. Or going to sleep on the couch yourself and putting up a bed rail.

Do any readers have some suggestions for getting a comfortable night’s sleep in the family bed? Buying a huge futon on the floor perhaps??


Ask SIFTW: 7 month old feeding at 3am

June 11, 2008

Lauren writes:

I have a 7 month old who is habitual waking at 3/3.30am for a breastfeed.  I know at this age he should be sleeping through.  We put him down at 7.00pm.  He has solids at about 4pm and then a bottle at 6.30pm.  I always (now) try and put him down awake so he is learning to fall asleep by himself.  (I previously breastfed him to sleep which I know is a big no no).  Anyway for the last 2 weeks we have tried to get him to stop feeding at 3am, however I am finding this extremely difficult and am getting very tired.  I basically go in to him to check that he is dry etc and then try and shush / pat / kiss him back to sleep.  Doesn’t really seem to be working – should I just leave the room and let him cry it out????????
 
HELP.

Hi Lauren, we’re not very conventional here at SIFTW and what I would say is that 7 months is very little and you are not alone in having a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. Actually I won’t tell you how old mine was when he started to sleep through MOST nights, as it could be taken to be a little bit depressing. It’s little solace when you feel like crap every morning because your sleep is broken, but I think your bubba is doing quite well for his age. Do you have a partner who could get up with baby in the morning and allow you a little bit of a lie in to catch up once in a while. Even a sleep in once a week can do wonders, I find.

It sounds like the shush/pat/kiss is not working too well at the moment. I would probably take the route of least resistance, the one that gets him back to sleep ASAP, and yes, that probably means feeding him. There’s plenty of time to drop this habit later as their diet moves more towards having a proper dinner and their tummies can go longer.

There are those crazy babies who sleep through from a few months old, but I really feel that they are the exception.

Best of luck.

xx


10 month old twins and rocking to sleep

June 1, 2008

Lynn writes

I have twin 10-month-old girls who have always been challenging sleepers, though recently things have started to really improve. The girls usually take 2 naps during the day, 1-2 hours each, which is a huge improvement from the 30-40 minute naps they used to take. And even better, their nighttime sleep has improved too. Most nights we’re down to one waking per baby, and some nights they even sleep through. My question has to do with getting them to sleep. When they were younger I spent a couple of months trying to get them to fall asleep on their own but since I don’t want to let them cry it out and most gentle sleep training methods don’t seem to work for twins, I gave up and have been rocking them to sleep which is usually a much faster, easier method. I’m okay with the current system, but sometimes I worry about the future. I’ve never heard of an 8-year-old being rocked to sleep so I’m figuring we’ll transition out of the rocking-to-sleep at some point. But how? Does it always have to be a painful process? Does it ever happen naturally the same way their sleep has improved naturally?

Hi Lynn, I’m glad the sleeping has improved for you lately, you’ve got double trouble on your hands already! What I tend to think about methods of getting kids to sleep is that you do what works until it no longer works. That’s what happened to us with rocking to sleep and feeding to sleep. We rocked and fed and rocked and fed to sleep, and then one day those little eyes just didn’t want to close. So we had to figure a new way to do things.

These days, we have a cuddle, sing a song and put the Imp into his cot and he’ll mumble for a bit and drift off. What a dream! I can’t really say how we got from rocking and feeding to this point, it was such a gradual change, but I really feel as they become more confident in themselves and understand more of the world, they gain the independence to do such wonderful things and put themselves to sleep.

So I guess my advice is to do what you need to do to get them to sleep (at least they seem to be staying asleep for the most part which is 9/10 of the battle), and as they grow out of this stage, you will find new and innovative ways of getting them to bed and to sleep.

love SIFTW


Baby No Sleeping

April 22, 2008

The Giving-Up Guide for Parents Who Can’t Get Their Kids to Sleep