Author Topic: Frequent night waking, taking sooo long to get back to sleep & super short naps!  (Read 1656 times)

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Offline ..Claire..

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I'm new to this forum, and to the babywhisperer so please bear with me! My DS is 5.5 months and has never been a great sleeper but since just before he turned 4 months his nighttime and daytime sleep has been awful. At first I put it down to the 4 month sleep regression, but it also coincided with him dropping his night feeds and us stopping using the swaddle (he started breaking out of it so it had to go). He started waking up a lot more during the night, anything from 3 to 8 times and most of the time needed help to get back to sleep (pacifier in, hold arms & shh) - though some times he managed to get back to sleep himself, and this has been more common recently so hopefully things are moving in the right direction.... He can also take anything from 15 mins up to (or even occasionally over) an hour to get back to sleep even with my help. Sometimes he'll try to get back to sleep himself but can try for up to an hour before he starts to moan. He usually manages a longer stretch at the beginning of the night (apart from one waking which usually happens 45 mins after going to sleep at bedtime - sometimes less) before the problem waking commences! The last few days or so he's had a good 7 or 8 hour stretch (settling himself back to sleep within that time).

Naps used to be usually 30 mins, but up to 2.5 hours (A time was anything up to 2 hours). Now we're lucky if he manages 30 mins. He more often has between 10 & 20 mins at each nap now. For the last 5 or 6 weeks I've been trying to keep A time to 1.5 hours, as he shows sleepy cues by 1 hour, and it takes around 30 mins to settle him. If A time is longer than this, it's usually harder to settle him, and his naps end up shorter... because of this, he's having up to 5 naps a day!! I try for 5, but quite often by the end of the day it gets harder to get him to sleep, by which I mean he'll get very sleepy in my arms but when I put him in his crib he's much more likely to wake fully. The past few weeks he's been having around 1-1.5 hours worth of naps. 2 on a very "good" day. I've found that I need to hold his arms during naps now as he starts to lift them and wakens up otherwise.

Pre-nap routine is: close curtains, in sleeping bag, white noise on, cuddles with pacifier in & lovey (only recently introduced this), then when very sleepy I put him in his crib. Bedtime routine is very similar, with the addition of a bottle, then a story before cuddles/pacifier/lovey. He can go down more awake at night time, with a pacifier and holding his arms/shushing until he closes his eyes. Note that he doesn't fall asleep with the pacifier in his mouth - he normally spits it out, or I remove it. I do feel he is becoming more dependent on it however to help him get sleepy.

He was a colicky baby until around the 4 month mark, and has reflux which is treated with Gavison Infant - and this makes him constipated so we give him lactulose to help with that.

We don't really have a routine as such, but I'm trying to space his feeds out every 3.5 hours, depending on his naps and what we have on for the day - he can easily go longer between feeds if needs be, and quite often doesn't want fed as early as that. He doesn't like to feed as soon as he wakes, and is a slow feeder so his last feed starts around an hour before he goes to sleep at night.

As an example, here is what happened yesterday:

Wake - 05:00am ( this last bit of sleep was only 15 minutes, prior to that was awake from 03:00am)
Eat - 06:15am
Sleep - 07:35am - 07:55am
Eat - 09:00am
Sleep - 09:40am - 09:50am
Sleep - 12:00pm - 12:15pm
Eat - 12:45pm
Sleep - 01:35pm - 01:50
(Tried to get him down for another nap, but he woke up fully when I put him in his crib and could get him back to sleep)
Eat - 04:45pm
Sleep - 06:05pm

Total nap sleep = 1 hour. Total night time sleep = 8 hrs 45 min.

If anyone has any insight into where I'm going wrong, I'd really appreciate your help. I feel like I do nothing but try to get him to sleep & stay asleep! I believe he is overtired and had thought shortening A time would help but it doesn't seem to be solving the problem at all. Maybe I should try him on an age-appropriate routine, but I'm concerned that it's harder to settle him with longer A time and his naps just get shorter. I hope I've given enough information... TIA




Offline creations

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Hi there and welcome to BW forums :)

Sorry you didn't get a reply yet. This post will give you a bump and I'm sure you will have some responses very soon.


Offline Lindsay27

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Hi hun!  Between 5 and 6 months is a tricky stage with sleep, most LOs are going through the 3-2 transition at this time and short naps can often be a problem unfortunately.  I think what is happening is essentially his A times are too low, which is causing him to take short naps, and then be overtired by the end of the day, which can result in frequent night wakings.

I think the best thing to do right now is to bump his A times - so start with the first nap of the day and I would try to not do anything less than 2.15hr and hold that for a few days.  I've posted a link below regarding average A times at this age.  He will seem really OT at first and that is normal, but you just kind of have to push through that OT until he stabilizes at a higher A time, and then continue to increase by 10-15mins every 3 or 4 days aiming to eventually be around 2.5-2.45hr.  Sleepy cues often become more unreliable as they get older, and things like yawning and general fussiness can just mean that they need a change in stimulation/activity, or they can act tired when they are used to be put down for a nap at that time.

Do you think his reflux is controlled?  Any signs of pain discomfort?  No amount of routine or sleep training is going to make a LO who is in pain sleep, so first things first is just to make sure that you believe he doesn't have any discomfort.

Average A times- BOOKMARK ME!
Sample EASY Routines from 0 - 13mths+
All about the 3-2 transition- 5/6 months



Offline ..Claire..

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Thanks so much for your replies. I'll take a look at the links and give increasing his A time a go and see what happens... fingers crossed!

Edited to add: I don't think his reflux causes him any pain at all and seems to be pretty much under control.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 21:28:22 pm by SonnysMum »

Offline Lindsay27

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Wonderful, let us know how it goes :)



Offline Tabathagucci

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Would agree with everything above.  Sounds so much like what we went through at that age!  She eventually stopped waking 30-45 mins after going to bed but it still happens during her leaps/regressions.  Try what is mentioned and stick to it!  Things will get better!

Offline ..Claire..

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Thanks for the encouragement tabatha!

Things are going OK; he's actually become much easier to settle to sleep though naps are still really short. We'll keep pushing on, hopefully will have some more progress to share soon.

Offline Lindsay27

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Sometimes you can sneak into the room 5-10mins before waking (in the nap) and hold or just pat his bum etc to kind of help him through the transition period.  What are you A times now hun?



Offline ..Claire..

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Hi Lindsay, for the previous few days his A time was between 2hrs and 2hrs 15 to the first nap, and a bit less for the subsequent naps. This morning A time was 2hrs 25 to the first nap and I'm planning to make his A time for the rest of the day around 2hrs 5/10, and try that for a few days.

I have been holding his arms at around the 10 minute point, as he usually starts to wake then but the past few days his naps have only got to 15 or 20 minutes  :(

Offline Lindsay27

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Ugh, those naps are the worst!! What I would probably do is stay with him until/past the 20min mark and that way if he's starting to stir you can hold his arms or do shh/pat to help him go longer.  I believe 20min naps can be either related to over-stimulation or OT.



Offline ..Claire..

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Just a wee update... The past 4 days I have stuck to 2hrs 25 A time. Still a few 15/20 minute naps in there but some 25 and one 30 minute nap today (could have been longer - I had been holding his arms until just before he woke). Nights have been variable... one awful night of only 7.5 hours sleep (with a couple of NW in between) then he took over 2 hours to fall back asleep - for all of 15 minutes! The night before that however, he slept through for a full 10 hours! He did make an attempt to go back to sleep but gave up pretty quickly.

I think I will increase A time to 2hr 35 tomorrow and see how that goes... unless anyone thinks otherwise?

Thanks for the support :-)

Offline creations

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Hi there
I think Lindsay is poorly at the moment so I'm just stopping by with a little support for you.

Sounds like increasing the A time will be a good plan :)
Your LO is approaching 6 months now so you can increase pretty comfortably to 2hr 45 and even 3hrs - not in one jump.  I'd go with the 2hr 35 for one or 2 days and then increase again to 2hr 45 if the naps have not lengthened or if he won't resettle after a short nap.

Good luck, let us know how it goes :)


Offline ..Claire..

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Great, thanks very much!

Offline ..Claire..

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Things didn't go to plan the first couple of days since my last update, the first day my DP got his times mixed up and put him down after 2 hrs 15 min instead of 35 min. .. the next day we were on track for 2 hrs 35 min,  but DS decided he wasn't ready to go to sleep and it took another 20 min to settle him so was awake 2hrs 55 min. I stuck to 2 hrs 35 for a few days then today went to 2 hrs 45 min... first nap was 25 min, then he had 2 hrs 25 A time before his next nap - which was just over an hour!!! It's been quite a while since he had a nap that long. Anyway, after 2 hrs 30 min, his next nap was only 15 min, boo! I couldn't get him settled for his last nap so he ended up being awake 3.5 hours before bedtime.

Am I doing something wrong with the subsequent A times, or is this still down to the initial A time not being long enough yet?? Also, if it looks like bedtime might be really late, would it be OK to shorten the last one or 2 periods of A time? Or go for a really early bedtime? Thanks!

Offline Lindsay27

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The general rule of thumb is if a nap is short then the next A time needs to be scaled back a bit.  Given he had a nap that lasted over an hour with a 2.25hr A time (that followed a short nap), that indicates to me that the first A time is still probably too short...the fast that you got a decent nap after a short one means he wasn't OT.   If you been doing 2.45hr I'd probably just go ahead and try to push to 3hrs.



Offline ..Claire..

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OK,  thanks I will do that  :D

Offline ..Claire..

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So the past few days I've started with 3 hrs A time, with A time reduced to 2.5 hrs for subsequent naps, and a bit less before bedtime so it's not pushed too late (though tonight I had to reduce it to 1.5 hrs as he was so tired and cranky). Naps are getting worse again, 4 naps to day totalling 45 minutes! I'm really not sure whether I should be increasing A time any more... maybe I've taken it too far? Scared in case I am making things worse for him  ???

Offline Lindsay27

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45min naps are classic UT hun.  I would try to keep the A time at 3hrs as he is 6 months now?  If the first nap is short I'd even venture to say to push to 3.10 or 3.15. 



Offline ..Claire..

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Thanks Lindsay. Actually, the naps were one 15 minute one and 3x 10 minute ones, making 45 mins in total!   :'(

Yes, he is 6 months and one week now. Where does the time go?!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 06:02:25 am by ..Claire.. »

Offline Lindsay27

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Oh jeepers! Sorry I thought you meant each nap was 45mins.  Well that makes for a long day doesn't it?  Give he is a bit over 6 months now I still recommend sticking with 3+hr A times, reducing as necessary when naps are short.  How does he typically fall asleep? I think I would stick around in the room if you can for the first 20mins to help him get into a deeper sleep if necessary/when he's stirring. 

I know I asked about his reflux before, but I do wonder if it is playing a part.  Short nap are normal, but usually 30 or 45mins...naps less than that I tend to think that there is some kind of discomfort at play which is not allowing an LO to fall into a deep sleep.  You said he was on Gaviscon? I might get some reflux ladies over here as I know many of them have found the Gaviscon to be not all that effective and have required Ranitidine or Omeprazole to truly control it.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 16:34:45 pm by Lindsay27 »



Offline ..Claire..

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Hi Lindsay, yes it does indeed! I increased to 3hrs 15 yesterday, first nap he got to 25 minutes (I had stayed with him until just before this), then his second nap was over an hour! (the same happened the first day I increased his A time to 2hrs 45... maybe just a coincidence).

The night before he also slept through the night!  :o 10hrs 45min.

For falling asleep, and both naps and bt,  I hold him until he is very sleepy before I put him down. He also has a dummy, though always spits it out before going to sleep. I know I really should start some sleep training, it's just such a thought when you're so tired anyway!

I guess maybe his reflux could be bothering him, though he certainly doesn't seem bothered when he is awake. He does however usually take a long time to take his bottles, but I've always put that down to him being a snack-feeder at heart.

Offline Lindsay27

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I increased to 3hrs 15 yesterday, first nap he got to 25 minutes (I had stayed with him until just before this), then his second nap was over an hour! (the same happened the first day I increased his A time to 2hrs 45... maybe just a coincidence).

The night before he also slept through the night!   10hrs 45min.
Sounds like good progress!  I think I found that around 6/7 months our A times kind of stabilized at 3.15-3.5hr so I think as long as you are staying "on top" of the A times so to speak, you should see naps continue to improve and/or stabilize. 

For falling asleep, and both naps and bt,  I hold him until he is very sleepy before I put him down. He also has a dummy, though always spits it out before going to sleep. I know I really should start some sleep training, it's just such a thought when you're so tired anyway!
Holding him until he is very sleepy is a good start, you can go from that point to reducing the amount of time you hold him gradually, and staying with him and resettling with holding and/or shh/pat when he stirs and wakes, trying not to pick him up, so he eventually learns to settle himself and move through sleep cycles on his own.  The fact that you got a nap over and hour is a good sign that he does know how to do this, he just may need a bit of encouragement for the first nap.  Having a paci isn't a problem if they can continue to fall asleep when it falls out, or if they have learned to put it back in themselves.  I usually leave several in the crib for my DD so if she needs it she just finds one and pops it back in.

He does however usually take a long time to take his bottles, but I've always put that down to him being a snack-feeder at heart.
Are you using the fastest level teat?



Offline ..Claire..

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Thanks for the reply Lindsay, yes I feel we are making some sort of progress, at last! Thanks again for all your help.

I'll try to make some progress on putting him down after less time holding him, hopefully that won't be too difficult.

To answer your question about the teat, yes we are using the fastest flow teat. He can drink it fairly quickly when he wants to, but usually wants to stop after a few Oz,  have a look around,  maybe play with his bib etc and is stop and start till he's finally had enough! ::)

Offline Lindsay27

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Let us know how you get on honey 😊