Author Topic: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours  (Read 5408 times)

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Offline arialvetica

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My son is 7 months old.  The night wakings are killing us!  I'd like advice on helping him learn to sleep through the night.

He will fall asleep on his own for naptimes and bedtime, but during the night he wakes every 3 hours, for a total of 3 night wakings.

When he wakes at night, baby is usually only half-awake (eyes shut, but crying and looking for the breast). 

We don't go to him at the first peep, but we don't let him cry it out.  When the sounds escalate to genuine crying (or very loud fussing) Dad goes to him.

Dad gets him, puts him next to me in bed, we nurse, and Dad puts him back in his crib, awake, and he falls asleep on his own just fine.

Daytime routine isn't by-the-clock but there is a rough circadian rhythm to it: Awake for 2 - 3 hours, nap for 2 hours.  For example:

8am wake (nurse upon waking)
10am nap (nurse before nap, place in crib while still awake)
12pm wake (nurse upon waking)
3pm nap (nurse before nap,  place in crib while still awake )
5pm wake (nurse upon waking)
... in this awake time we normally offer food, he usually ingests just a few small bites
8pm bedtime (dim lighting, medicine, pajamas, story time, nurse,  place in crib while still awake)
11pm wake, nurse, sleep
2am wake, nurse, sleep
5am wake, nurse, sleep 

When placing baby in crib, we use a pacifier 100% of the time, sleep sheep 75% of the time, and swaddle 25% of the time.

Every nursing session is usually about 8 - 10 minutes on one side, and he seems satisfied.

We always resort to nursing, but we have tried offering his pacifier (calms him down for a few seconds, but then he pulls it out and wails).  We have tried other things (patting, rocking, talking, singing) but they got zero response so we gave up.

When he's awake, he spends about 50% of the time playing on his tummy, 25% of the time playing in his Bumbo, and 25% of the time being held (in the baby carrier, on my lap, or on my hip).

Baby is not teething, and I don't believe there are any developmental milestones or growth spurts going on.  This is just his normal state.

He does not have a lovie.  I was reading old posts @ this forum and thinking that's something we could try. 

I'd love advice on how to eliminate these night wakings.  My husband and I are exhausted!  (Our son seems happy as a clam...he's probably proud of successfully sleep training us!)

Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 19:47:43 pm »
(Our son seems happy as a clam...he's probably proud of successfully sleep training us!)
:D :D I know this is not really funny, but it did give me quite a chuckle.  Happy babies are always a good thing. :D

Ok, on to the real stuff.  Welcome to BW! :) His routine looks really good to me, in fact I'm a tad jealous.  He's definitely nursing enough, so doesn't need all those NFs. Are you only offering him solids at supper time? Since he's 7 mo, you may think about starting to offer them one other time of day as well, either breakfast or lunch, it doesn't really matter.  The goal here is to start to drop some of those nursing sessions during the day.

When you nurse him before his naps and bedtime, you say he goes into his crib awake: is this fully awake, drowsy, how would you describe it?  Is he capable of falling asleep on his own if you don't nurse him at those times?

When placing baby in crib, we use a pacifier 100% of the time, sleep sheep 75% of the time, and swaddle 25% of the time.

I'm curious about this.  Are you weaning the swaddle, or why do you use it only 25% of the time? I'd use both the paci and the sleep sheep 100% of the time.  Consistency is key for these LOs.

Ultimately, I think he's just used to the routine of nursing and going back to sleep in the middle of the night.  I'm not sure it's a prop issue, if he falls asleep independently, but when you say you always resort to nursing, I think he is dependent on that.  In order to break this habit, you'll have to pick a method you're comfortable with (be it shh/patting, rubbing his back, singing, whatever) and stick to it.  Yes, he won't like it for the first several times and it might take awhile (1-2 hr is not unheard of) but eventually he'll realize that there will be no feeding and he needs to go back to sleep.  A lovey would defintiely be a good introduction here, and he can still have the pacifier in the MOTN, but I wouldn't keep giving it to him or it'll just become a prop.  Put several in his crib and guide his hand to them if he wants one.

So, I'd choose a time interval you're comfortable with (maybe start somewhere between 4 and 6 hr), and not feed him before that.  Your husband will be key in this as obviously he associates you with nursing.  What is typically recommended is that you each take two nights.  So, send your DH in to soothe him back to sleep the first two nights and then you take the next two and so on.  I'm guessing your DH will be on board as he's already quite involved, but if he's not, you can definitely do the work yourself, it might just take a little longer. The key is you have to be determined not to feed him, because if you cave in and feed him, you'll only be teaching him to cry that long to get fed.  So, even if you go over the allotted time interval, he must fall asleep (if for only 15-30 min) before you feed him.

Let me know what you think.  We'll be happy to help you through this!



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 21:02:30 pm »
Thank you so much for your insight!!  :)  I can see the humor in my son having sleep trained us...my husband is a little more grumbly.  :)

To answer your questions...

1. I'm wanting to keep daytime nursing his main source of nutrition until his 1st birthday.  I offer more food every day, but for now it's just an edible toy.  :)

2. For naps, I put him in his crib Wide Awake.  Over the last couple days I've experimented with not nursing him first and was surprised at how well that went!  A little more "winding down" fussing, but he still fell asleep within 15 minutes.

3. The swaddle is what I use when nothing else is working.  (For example, this afternoon we have been trying for a nap for 45 minutes. I finally swaddled him and he fell asleep within 5 minutes.)  I'm going to take your advice and do the sleep sheep 100% of the time.  (I don't purposely not turn it on, I just forget sometimes.)

My husband is on board, but we have a few questions.  Does the baby need to stay in the crib for this to work?  I just imagine my poor exhausted husband hunched over the crib frantically patting a screaming baby from 3am - 5am....yikes!  I'm wondering if it would work for him to bring the baby into bed with him (I could sleep in another room)?

Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2012, 03:55:47 am »
1. I'm wanting to keep daytime nursing his main source of nutrition until his 1st birthday.  I offer more food every day, but for now it's just an edible toy.  :)
Yes, that's what's recommended, so you're right on. The only thing I'm thinking is that down the line as you drop the NFs, he's eventually going to get hungrier, so offering breakfast at some point should help that. But, you can also start offering the other breast as well and continue with the top up feeds, so solids really do play a smaller role.

2. For naps, I put him in his crib Wide Awake.  Over the last couple days I've experimented with not nursing him first and was surprised at how well that went!  A little more "winding down" fussing, but he still fell asleep within 15 minutes.
This is great, it will go a long way in helping him to settle without feeding in the middle of the night. :) I would keep those top-up nursing sessions somewhere in the A time, close to the end though, because you don't want him to start waking hungry from a nap.

3. The swaddle is what I use when nothing else is working.  (For example, this afternoon we have been trying for a nap for 45 minutes. I finally swaddled him and he fell asleep within 5 minutes.) 
Gotcha. The swaddle is a great tool for that, as long as he's not rolling over in it. I've heard of LOs still being swaddled until they're 9 mo old. When you get to the point of needing to drop it, a firm hand across the arms and legs can help them settle when they get into that 'can't get to sleep' state.

My husband is on board, but we have a few questions.  Does the baby need to stay in the crib for this to work?  I just imagine my poor exhausted husband hunched over the crib frantically patting a screaming baby from 3am - 5am....yikes!  I'm wondering if it would work for him to bring the baby into bed with him (I could sleep in another room)?
I would tend to say, yes, baby should stay in his crib for this to be most effective. If you bring him in to your bed, then you're really only exchanging one habit for another that you'll eventually want to break (I'm assuming you don't want to start co-sleeping). DS will also likely be a bit confused here as that's where you usually feed him in the middle of the night, right? Your DH can bring a chair in to sit beaide the crib and reach through to pat DS or put a mattress next to the crib and do the same. If he does want to sleep beside him, then I'd say do it on a mattress in his room and you can more easily remove that prop by gradual withdrawal. Whatever you think will work best for your family and that you can stick with is how you should decide, because consistency will be the key.

It will most likely be best to start on a weekend, so your DH won't have to go to work and can rest a bit during the day.  :)



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 12:22:46 pm »
We were too excited to wait for the weekend LOL.  :)  I think it went pretty well!

Night #1

8:15pm Bedtime (bath, diaper, medicine, story, nursing, placed in crib wide awake, asleep within 10 minutes)

11:35pm Night Waking (daddy turned on sleep sheep, put pacifier in, rocked for 30 minutes until the screaming/crying stopped, then placed in crib awake, asleep within 10 minutes)

3:00am Night Waking (daddy left baby in crib, turned on sleep sheep, put pacifier in, and applied pressure on baby's tummy for 15 minutes until baby was calm/sleeping (he's not sure if baby was asleep or awake when he left the room))

Despite the wakings, this was the best night of sleep either of us have had in 4 months.  We don't officially "co sleep" but our son usually ends up spending a lot of time in bed with us.  I'm not opposed to co-sleeping, but I can say without a doubt it does not work for our family!  When we're all together, we DOZE instead of SLEEP.

Normally we have 3 night wakings, last night we had 2.  Normally I nurse baby to sleep, last night he got back to sleep without nursing (but with some crying/screaming/help from daddy.)

Does it sound like we're on the right track?  More advice?  Next steps?  I want to make sure we don't introduce any new bad habits or dependencies.    :)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 13:12:22 pm by minneapolisite »

Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2012, 19:24:51 pm »
We were too excited to wait for the weekend LOL.  :)  I think it went pretty well!
LOL yes, I know the feeling of just wanting to get things sorted! It sounds like it went really well in my opinion. :)

Does it sound like we're on the right track?  More advice?  Next steps?
Yes, I think you're definitely on the right track.  The next step would be to continue as your DH did with the second waking and keep settling him in the crib.  Hopefully, he'll just start to sleep through, but if not after a week or so, then you try to do less and less intervention each night.  So, going in and giving him the paci, but using mostly your voice to settle him rather than patting or pressure.  Since he's already an independent sleeper, I think once he gets the hang of not feeding, you probably won't have to do much more. :)

Did you end up feeding him around the 4-5 am mark, then?  I think at 7 mo, it's probably quite early to expect him to go all the way from bedtime feed until wake up, especially when his night is 11-12 hr.  So, definitely keep that one feed for awhile.  Other than that, you're on your way.  Yay for some good sleep! ;D



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2012, 20:36:51 pm »
We did a dream feed when my husband got up at 6am.  After that he slept until 9am or so, which is unheard of.  :)

I'll come back tomorrow to let you know how tonight goes!  Thank you SO so SO much for your guidance!

Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2012, 23:48:41 pm »
You're most welcome! Keep me posted. :)



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 13:08:47 pm »
Last night went well!  He stayed in his crib The Whole Night.  Two nights in a row without any nursing--my breasts don't know what to do with all that milk!

Night #2

8:15pm Bedtime (Same routine--a few squawks, but asleep within 10 minutes)

1:45pm Night Waking (Daddy turned on sleep sheep, put pacifier in baby's hand and baby put it in himself, and rested his hand on baby's cheek for 25 minutes of crying--once baby was calm, daddy came back to bed and we didn't hear another peep)

5:00am Night Waking (Daddy turned on sleep sheep, gave baby pacifier, and stroked baby's cheek with lovey for 10 minutes of crying--once baby was calm daddy came back to bed.  There were a few squawks, but asleep within 10 minutes)

6:00am Dream Feed.

If I had realized the second waking was 5am, I would have just nursed the kid.  I'm kind of glad my husband was on duty--it was just one more "practice" session of falling asleep without nursing.  :)

Tonight is my first turn at bat.  I'm a little worried my son won't be as complacent for me since my name is Milk, but my husband didn't like the idea of every night being "Daddy's night."    ::)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 13:13:07 pm by minneapolisite »

Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 18:52:35 pm »
Last night went well!  He stayed in his crib The Whole Night. 
Woohoo!!! ;D ;D  Well done little man and daddy!

Yes, it probably would've been easier to just feed him at 5 am, but good for him for still settling.  You can do that from now on, so you don't have to be awake twice in the early morning.

Tonight is my first turn at bat.  I'm a little worried my son won't be as complacent for me since my name is Milk, but my husband didn't like the idea of every night being "Daddy's night."    ::)
Do you think your DH would be willing to do just one more night?  Often, when it goes this well and you have an angel/textbook baby, they can drop habits after 3 nights (it's not guaranteed, but it might be worth a shot).  Otherwise, just go in there confident, because he has proven that he can do it.  If he senses your confidence, he'll do much better.  He may put up a bit more of a fuss, because he wants to nurse, but if you're confident and reassuring he should be fine.  My DH and I did this with DD when she was about that age.  He did the first two nights and I did the third.  After that, she didn't wake.  It did take her much longer to settle for me, but I think she got the message.  ;) Good luck!! :)



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 12:52:59 pm »
Unfortunately (or "fortunately," according to my husband, LOL!), I didn't see your post suggesting that daddy do a 3rd night in a row, so I was on call.

Here's how last night went...

Night #3

8:00 Bedtime (exact same routine, not a PEEP after daddy put him in his crib)

10:30 Dream Feed (20 solid minutes of nursing, 10 on each side)

7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Woot!!!   :o

6:00am "Night" Waking (Not sure if I should call this a "night waking" or not.  Since we did that 10:30 dream feed, I didn't nurse him. I turned on the Sleep Sheep, gave him his pacifier, and then applied pressure to his tummy.  Over and over again, he would calm down, I would remove my hand and remain nearby, but as soon as I tried to move away he would start crying.  He wouldn't even let me sit on the bed just a few feet from his crib.  I eventually pulled a little stool over near his crib so my face was RIGHT THERE.  70 minutes later he fell asleep.  At one point he pulled the pacifier out, lost it, and pawed around for it, found it, and put it back in his mouth (all with his eyes closed tight), so that was pretty cool.)

So, not sure what to think of last night.  Obviously that super long sleep was delightful. In the past 4 months, we've only had one other full night of sleep, and that was a total fluke.  On the other hand, it did take 70 minutes for him to fall back asleep.  Thoughts? Reassurance? More advice for tonight?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 13:13:37 pm by minneapolisite »

Offline ambula603

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2012, 14:23:06 pm »
I am so glad I found this thread - as I am RIGHT there with you, minneapolisite!  I am going to try what katie80 has suggested!  Our babies are the same age and are on a similar schedule and I was about to post this same question!  Hope you don't mind if I follow along!
 
My next question is - if I drop a feeding (or 2) in the middle of the night, do I feed more often during the day?  We are on a 3.5 hour EASY right now.  Do I do this with more nursing or add more solids?  She currently has solids as part of the "A" time in between nursings, about once a day.  My DD has formula on occasion and we are thinking we might give her that at night so that my husband can do the nighttime routine.  I don't get much when I pump so this is better for us when we do a bottle.  I just want to make sure she isn't ever hungry!



Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2012, 18:45:35 pm »
7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Woot!!!   :o
Wow, awesome!!!  Isn't it such a good feeling? ;D  He's doing so well!

At one point he pulled the pacifier out, lost it, and pawed around for it, found it, and put it back in his mouth (all with his eyes closed tight), so that was pretty cool.)
That is pretty cool and shows that he'll be great at getting himself back to sleep in the middle of the night without you soon.

Thoughts? Reassurance? More advice for tonight?
Well, I think there were a couple things working against you, probably.  One being that he was probably starting to get hungry.  I'd say average for a 7 mo old would be 6-8 hr of sleep between feeds.  He was at close to 8.  Another factor is that he'd had a nice stretch of uninterrupted sleep, so although he wasn't ready to get up and start the day, it's a little tougher to fall back to sleep at that time in the morning.  Finally, having you come settle him was different and he was most likely trying to figure that all out.  Even though you did things according to how DH did them, it's never exactly the same, and he probably wondered why he wasn't being fed more than with DH.  When you noticed he didn't want you to leave, I probably would've just held my hand on him until he was all the way asleep.  I still think that's a success considering where he was three nights ago.  He seems quite adaptable to change and is already a great independent sleeper, so I think that one time (or even a few) of 'helping' him back to sleep wouldn't hurt anything.

As for tonight, I think you have a couple options.  You could give him a little feed if he has that early wake again.  I'd do just enough to tide him over til wake-up and know that eventually, he'll push that out on his own or just drop it (either alone or with a little nudge).  Since you're doing the DF at night now, I probably wouldn't feed him before ~8 hr (you decide what you're most comfortable with).  He's shown he can do a nice long stretch.  The other option would be to not feed and settle him again, but give him a bit more assistance if needed.  Who knows, since he did it once with you already, he may settle quicker on his own this time.

You guys are doing really well, keep up the good work!  I think you have many more of those nice long stretches of sleep in your future. ;D 



Offline katie80

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2012, 18:53:10 pm »
ambula603 - You are more than welcome to follow along on this thread. :)  If you feel like you need more personalized advice, please feel free to start your own as well or I can split this one off for you.

My next question is - if I drop a feeding (or 2) in the middle of the night, do I feed more often during the day? 

The usual thinking is that when a night feeding is dropped, a LO automatically takes in more during the day.  At first, you'll notice your breasts are much fuller and DD will most likely take a bigger feed either right away in the morning or for a NF if there still is one.  You could definitely add in a small top up feed somewhere in the day or do a dream feed between 10 and 11 at night.  I wouldn't replace a feeding with solids at this age, as any solids she takes are likely to be quite small in volume and caloric value.  Milk is much higher in calories and much more nutrient dense than anything she would get in solids.

I just want to make sure she isn't ever hungry!
I think this is probably a natural worry of most mothers, especially ones who breastfeed, but be assured, she'll most likely let you know if she's hungry. :)



Offline arialvetica

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Re: 7-month old goes down easy, but night wakings every 3 hours
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2012, 17:36:13 pm »
katie you are my hero.  I hereby nominate you for sainthood.   ;D

Last night was a little rough again with a super early morning waking, but we are feeling so much more rested than before!!

Night #4

8:00pm Bedtime

10:30 Dream Feed, which I confess was a little rushed on my part. I probably could have let him nurse longer than I did...I was just antsy to get into bed because I needed to bake cookies super early in the morning.

4:30am Night Waking.  Oh the horror.  I did everything the same as usual, but it just escalated.  Finally daddy came to the rescue.  Over the course of 90 minutes he had a few moments where he had settled down, but then re-escalated.  By 6:00 daddy needed to get ready for work (and I was already up to my elbows in flour making cookies for daddy's birthday) so we decided to just call it "morning."  I nursed him at 7:30 and put him down for a very reluctant nap.  

I still feel like we're making progress.  Before I found this forum and started following your advice he was waking up and feeding every 3 hours.  The last two nights have been basically 8-10 hour stretches of sleep (6 - 7.5 hours between feedings) which is a HUGE improvement.  Do you think that's the best we can hope for out of a 7 month old?  At what point do you think he can consistently go 8 hours between feedings?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 13:14:03 pm by minneapolisite »