11 week old wakes every two hours. Sleep training?

(49 Posts)
bakedpotato123 Tue 13-Aug-13 06:31:08

Hi all,

First post here. We have an 11.5 week old who is consistently waking every two hours or so. A few weeks ago he was managing four hours at the beginning of the night then every two from there, but even the first sleep has slipped back to two-and-a-half if we are lucky. It is seriously affecting both me and my husband as well as our relationship. We normally do shifts, but last week I was away with him so I had to do the lot and it got so bad by the end of the week I broke down and seriously suggested putting him up for adoption.

He is a really happy, healthy baby who has no issues feeding or anything. He is mainly breastfed but with one bottle of formula at night (sadly we have had to increase this recently, just to give me a chance to get a break. Plus my milk production seems lower from lack of sleep). When he wakes he feeds, often for just a few minutes, then goes straight back to sleep. I'm sure he is not really hungry every time, but he sticks out for milk (e.g. I have tried giving him his dummy instead but he keeps crying until I feed him).

I would like to try some sleep training in a few weeks time, when he is 14 weeks. I have chosen that time as it is when we will be at home for a while and I don't have much on, so can cope with the initial difficulty.

What would people recommend for sleep training at three-and-a-half months? And does anyone have any advice on things to try to help us in the meantime?

I am sure there are people out there who have stuck with feeding on demand for many more months than this, but please don't judge us for wanting to find a way to train him out of the regular waking. We all have our limits, and we have reached ours.

Thanks in advance!

NeedlesCuties Tue 13-Aug-13 08:36:51

Sorry to read you're finding it tough - I remember with my two that around 3 months was hard work.

Personally I would avoid sleep training at that age (actually I avoided it totally, but that's my personal view). My DS woke about twice a night till one year old. DD is one year old now and still wakes maybe 6 times a night. Both different babies, both different needs and personalities.

If you do a MN search there have been lots and lots of threads about sleep training, about kids of different ages and there are lots of tips and experience.

11 weeks is just so tiny, likely going through lots of growth, and just wants comfort.

Here is a link Kelly mom that might help, in fact the whole of that website is amazing, really helped me when I was bfing for hours and hours.... DD is one year old and I still bf her what feels like a million times a night.

docsarah Tue 13-Aug-13 09:33:03

My DD is exactly the same - she is now 21 weeks. Slept great as a newborn, then around 12 weeks the wheels fell off and she started waking up every 90 mins - 2 hrs. It coincided with her learning to roll so we couldn't swaddle her any more. I put it down to a growth spurt hoping it would sort itself out in a few weeks and if anything it's gotten worse. Most of the wakings she's not hungry but just can't get herself back to sleep. We've started doing some of the techniques from the No Cry Sleep solution to try and get her to fall asleep without breast or bottle. Early days yet so can't comment on how effective it is. Formula makes no difference to her ability to sleep.

I've found myself shouting at her as I'm so tired and am deeply ashamed of that as she's a fabulous baby. I find some of the Kellymom resources deeply unhelpful when you are at the end of your tether and it's saying it's all natural etc - my DD is not hungry, she just can't get herself to sleep.

I'm convinced it's my fault for feeding to sleep and cuddling her so much when she was tiny, and I feel wretched about it.

I wouldn't.

12 weeks (or thereabouts) is a prime growth spurt and developmental spirt time. Unfortunately, frequent night waking is a big part of this. I know it's bloody hard, but honestly, once you are past it, the night wakings will lessen again until the next spurt (though there's no guarantee of sleeping through the night)

Chubfuddler Tue 13-Aug-13 09:36:36

I'm not judging you, I'm just not convinced you can sleep train a 14 week old baby. It is tough and with both of mine sleep patterns were circular rather than linear, I'm afraid you may find something "works" for a bit and then weaning/teething/change in weather/clocks going back sets the whole thing back again.

It is tough and you are completely normal but I think you're on a hiding to nothing. Sorry.

TallulahBetty Tue 13-Aug-13 09:41:39

12 week (ish) growth spurt.

Picklepepperpiper Tue 13-Aug-13 09:42:05

My ds went through a phase like this. I worked hard to make sure that he went to sleep by himself at night. He has a light projector cot mobile which I out on for him as a cue for sleep.

He was ebf and at about 10 weeks I started the pick up, put down, cry down method to get him to go to sleep by himself as he would only fall asleep on the breast. The first night took about 30 mins and then got much quicker. Once he was able to put himself to sleep I felt able to tackle the waking every 2 hours. I stopped offering the breast every time and would pat him until he settled. After 2 nights he just stopped waking every 2 hours.

Now when he wakes at 8 months he can usually go back to sleep by himself as his mobile starts to play music. He is not a fantastic sleeper and still wakes for at least 1 feed at night, more when his teeth bother him. The most important issue for me is enabling babies to self settle (I know that not everyone agrees, but this is what suits me and my family).

I also tried formula a couple of times, but to be honest it made no difference as he was waking through habit rather than hunger.

Bugaboom Tue 13-Aug-13 09:45:02

Can you cosleep? My DS was awful around 12 weeks waking every 90 minutes. I was getting more and more frustrated until I found that he slept much better next to me. I could bf in side lying and we both got more sleep. I also tried to feed him more frequently and for longer in the day to fill him up. I think most people don't recommend sleep training until 6 months or older. I hope things improve soon.

TwasBrillig Tue 13-Aug-13 09:50:52

I didn't think even hardened sleep trainers like Gina Ford recommended training before nine months. Its just so little. Going from my experience and those around me I don't think its at all unusual to be waking 2 hourly -and nothing quite prepares you for it.

Are there other things that can help? Are you napping during the day when baby does? Can anyone take the baby for a bit while you sleep? Are you trying to keep up life as you were, some things need to slow down just to allow you to cope with now.

Remember too this is just a phase, they are only little for a while, its not going to be like this forever.

May not be your thing but have you tried co sleeping? It can mean you barely wake when they just need a quick drink.

Two hourly waking isn't unusual at this age.

I would really recommend an app called 'the wonder weeks'. With this you can spot developmental leaps, and it will explain what is happening. So much is happening for your baby, absolutely vital developments are taking place, but if you are not aware what is going on you just see the crap sleep. No one likes waking every two hours with a baby but I find understanding what is going on makes it a bit more bearable.

"one bottle of formula at night (sadly we have had to increase this recently, just to give me a chance to get a break. Plus my milk production seems lower from lack of sleep)"

Lack of sleep won't affect your supply, but increasing the amount of formula you give will.

I think in these early days you just need to stick it out. Would you be happy to bedshare?

bakedpotato123 Tue 13-Aug-13 10:45:01

Thanks for all your replies. It's really nice to have such support and helpful ideas. We have tried bedsharing over the last week or so over but it didn't make any difference to his pattern of waking. Last night he was in his cot in his own room (he is a big baby and has already outgrown his moses basket) and we had the monitor but his pattern was the same again so I'm sure it is just habit.

TheSecondComing Tue 13-Aug-13 10:48:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sunnysummer Tue 13-Aug-13 11:00:26

We're pre-booked into sleep school at 6 months, as 4 month old DS has ha such bad reflux that teaching him good habits or in fact lying down sleep at all has been impossible hmm However this is the earliest that the serious sleep trainers will take babies (and even then they won't be looking at cry it out just hands-on settling / pick up put down).

We are having some admittedly small successes with the No Cry Sleep Solution as anther poster mentioned above, or for a slightly tougher approach some of my friends love the Baby Whisperer.

Bedsharing has worked for us not because he wakes less, but because each waking is so much less disruptive when you just roll over and feed. But hopefully your baby is just going through a growth spurt and this will all be over soon!

mrsmalcolmreynolds Tue 13-Aug-13 11:00:42

secondcoming that is unnecessarily sarcastic and really unhelpful. The OP doesn't expect loads of sleep, let alone no interruption from her newborn but is on her uppers and seeking help. Others have managed to be constructive while making their reservations about sleep training clear so not sure why you felt this tone was appropriate.

TheSecondComing Tue 13-Aug-13 11:04:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Oriunda Tue 13-Aug-13 11:13:02

My son woke every 2 hrs until he was about 10 months (when he got to that age I started replacing milk with water). 12 weeks is tiny, still a newborn really and they need regular feeds. I had one of the worst sleepers in our NCT group but by a year he was starting to sleep through the night (I didn't want to sleep train). It's really early days, I know you feel like you can't take any more but it will get better. We didn't put DS into a cot in his own room until 8 months but the recommendation is that they spend the first 6mths with you.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Tue 13-Aug-13 11:18:34

I am not going to get into a tit for tat with you secondcoming as you seem determined not to actually read others' posts. I will point out though that the OP had doubts that all the wakings were hunger related. Plus in any event it is entirely possible to make your point without being unpleasant and making the OP feel even worse than she already does.

And as for the 6 months in your room, I'm sure the OP is aware of that. There are however valid reasons IMO for deviating from that recommendation, as for many others.

My main point though is that it's a shame when people can't be constructive on here.

bakedpotato123 Tue 13-Aug-13 11:44:41

Actually 'TheSecondComing", I am worried that the lack of sleep is interfering not with my own sleep but my ability to be a good mother. I have reported your comment to Mumsnet as I think they really need to clamp down on this sort of thing. That kind of comment has put me off posting until now.

Thanks to everyone else for being so helpful. I guess we will try to ride it out a little longer and sleep in shifts.

Hey bakedpotato, did you see my post? I think it's important to understand the waking at this age isn't 'habit'. If its a developmental leap then his brain is fizzing and making connections. It's hard work and scary and confusing, that is why he is waking for comfort.

You need to do whatever you can to cope with night wakings whilst maximising sleep for yourself. Sleeping in shifts is a good idea.

ScottishDiblet Tue 13-Aug-13 12:16:04

Hello. A bit controversial but we had amazing results with Alison Scott-wright's sensational baby sleep plan. Everyone I know who has tried it had had babies who slept through from 8ish weeks. Not for everyone but it's worth a read if you are interested in sleep training. Best of luck and many congratulations on your baby. X

TallulahBetty Tue 13-Aug-13 12:40:18

By the way, having your baby in his own room is up to you. If it works, it works. We put DD in her own room, I know the risks but made a decision that was best for all of us. Sounds like you've made an informed choice, so ignore any negative comments.

oscarwilde Tue 13-Aug-13 12:41:50

Couple of things if you haven't hidden your own thread
"Sleep training" = evil mother to many Mumsnetters so brace yourself and grow a thick skin. I'd repost and ask for help on how to extend his overnight sleep periods.

"Sleeping through" is a relative concept. Someone posted recently as to what it was defined as and people reported their DC as sleeping through as everything from 12 hrs straight without a murmer to a single 4/5 stretch. There is no norm, there is just what you can all survive on.

12 weeks is a bit of a milestone imo. They only really seem to "get" the difference between night and day then. It's a good time to properly start the whole bedtime routine then. If that's when he has his formula, do it in a darkened quiet room.

It's your PFB, so I am guessing like many of us who have learned the hard way too, that you picked up and soothed your DC every time he sounded upset, quite possibly assumed he was hungry and put a boob in his mouth. Cue a child who gets lots of food overnight and can't resettle himself. I also had a pfb who was a poor winder and I couldn't face a spot of robust back rubbing when she dozed off in my arms so frequently put her back down after a half hearted rub or two.

This is what worked for me / the lesson learned with DC2.

ALWAYS WIND THOROUGHLY.

Put them in their cot awake or semi awake. It will serve you well even if you have to revisit initially for frequent shushings or pick ups. 12 weeks is a little young for what is traditionally considered "sleep training" ie let them scream for 2 mins, then 3 and so on.

Learn the difference between grizzling and proper crying. Set yourself a time target for leaving him to grizzle, and return to soothe. If he's screaming his heart out, then he's still hungry/windy/teething/arsey for no good reason but just wants a cuddle.

If formula /mix feeding works for you, then use it.

If you have a spare room bed with a firm mattress then co-sleep with your DC when you reach the end of your rope. Put him down in his own cot, again after a dream feed but by all means take him into bed with you to feed lying down when he goes off again at 4am or sooner.

Put him in a gro bag, put yourself in some warm pjs and a light blanket so he is just sleeping on top of the sheet and you are not stressing about SIDS, or waking your DH or anything else.

When co-sleeping, if baby starts to stir you can be right beside them with a gentle shush and breathing deeply right beside their face seems to soothe them back off before they wake properly

Alternate the wakeups with DH. Babies will often settle for someone they don't associate with food.

Ensure he has lots of physical tummy time and interaction/stimulation during the day so he is actually tired. Make sure he has reasonable naps. My pfb was a bad napper and spent a lot of time in her pram being taken for long walks because I was bored at home by myself.

When he gets to 6 months, if things are still this bad, come back to MN to have the same conversation. grin

Resign yourself that some babies are just poor sleepers - they do all grow out of it eventually.

Cancel your holiday/Christmas and hire a night nanny to do it for you.

TheSecondComing Tue 13-Aug-13 14:15:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

purrpurr Tue 13-Aug-13 14:30:01

Wow, points for nastiness go to TSC. Nice work. Because it's, like, soooo easy caring for a newborn and being so exhausted you really do want to put the baby up for adoption / on eBay...

Op, totally get where you're coming from with the tiredness. It is soul destroying. Whatever you can do to help your baby sleep will be good for the entire family. Whilst I put my baby first I don't put her at the head of the family. If you're looking at potential physical or mental illness through sheer bloody exhaustion then the family can't function as a unit - your baby needs you to be strong and healthy, so making choices for the good of all is a positive step. That's my personal view, in the middle of caring for a 12 week old.

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