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9 month old - crying / screaming in her sleep

(19 Posts)
SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 20:59:13

My 9 month old has never slept through the night. Up until a month ago she was still waking up at night to feed but just recently she has dropped a feed and is now only waking up hungry at 3 or 4am. So there is progress but she still cries A LOT in her sleep. She often just lies there crying, sometimes actually screaming.

It's really upsetting because it wakes me up but she doesn't actually 'need' anything as such as when I do feed her or give her pain relief in case it's teething, it makes no difference. Some nights it goes on for ages with me going in to reassure her and then she starts crying again 10 minutes later again and on and on for 2 or even 3 hours. Last night she was awake on and off from 1:30am until 4am.

When I asked our doctor about this at her 9 month check-up, she suggested it was night terrors but AFAIK these don't start until much later? I thought maybe it could be teething but it's almost every night so that is unlikely. I thought it may also be reflux as she often burps or farts once I pick her up but she is getting a bit past the stage of having reflux now I would have thought?

Anyone else had this problem? I never know what to do with her when she is crying like this. She has been doing this ever since she started the 4 month sleep regression although she used to actually wake up with it too. I am started to get panicked now at night time from fear of being woken up so much and am struggling to get to sleep myself even when she is quiet. It seems to be totally random crying with no pattern that I can see.

mewkins Sun 09-Aug-15 21:02:24

How does she go to sleep at the start of the night and does she have a dummy (that keeps dropping out perhaps?)

donkir Sun 09-Aug-15 21:03:12

How does she go to sleep? Does she self settle or fall asleep feeding/being rocked? If it's the later then she's probably waking and not knowing how to get back to sleep.

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 21:29:01

She used to need to be fed and rocked to sleep up until about 7 months when I started feeding her but then putting her down drowsy rather than asleep because I had read some sleep training info and wondered exactly as you say that putting her down asleep was making her wake up more.

It has definitely got better since I stopped feeding and rocking her to sleep but she now just cries and howls in her sleep instead of actually waking up. She does use a dummy but I've seen her on the baby monitor cry briefly and then she finds the dummy and puts it back in by herself. Sometimes I do need to put it back in for her though.

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 21:29:17

Thanks for reading by the way - I know my post was pretty long!

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 21:31:20

Should correct as well where I say in my OP that she was awake last night from 1:30am-4am: she wasn't 'awake' as such but was crying off and on through that entire time with half hour / 20 min intervals but she was asleep. I just couldn't sleep myself because she kept waking me up crying!

mewkins Sun 09-Aug-15 21:43:20

Is it usual for her to cry on and off like that or unusual? My ds is a good sleeper in general and you can always tell when he's at the start of a cold or other illness as he will have a restless night like that.

Greenstone Sun 09-Aug-15 22:00:07

Mine is the same age and does this some nights but not every night. I have a feeling that it might be related to overtiredness? I'm not sure if it's too early for night terrors but DD woke crying tonight about 45mins after going down and it did occur to me that it could be a bad dream. You say your DD often burps after you pick her up though- that could well be it.

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 22:07:39

She does this every night at some point and for some amount of time but it does vary. Some nights are worse than others.

I can see she has top teeth coming through right now so I guess that is making things worse but even if I give her pain relief she will still keep crying. She pulls at her hair and face a lot too in her sleep. Can a baby get symptoms of teething for months at a time non-stop? If so, I guess I'd better just settle in for long-haul because she only has 2 teeth so we have 18 more to go shock

FATEdestiny Sun 09-Aug-15 22:11:39

Maybe the baby just wants your reassurance to feel comforted and settled enough to sleep soundly?

It's reasonable that she doesn't need feeding every time she cries in the night because waking and crying in the night is often not hunger related. Likewise it's good that she doesn't need picking up or rocking to be settled.

But maybe she would settle better if you placed a hand on her for reassurance. Or some babies just need your presence, to know you are there.

To cry so consistently through vast chunks of time would be something that would concern me.

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 22:14:25

That's interesting Greenstone, thanks. Our doctor said the same thing to me actually and suggested that I put her to bed even earlier than I already do (usually 6:30) or start getting her back to taking 3 naps a day. She has never really been keen on the late afternoon nap though.

She naps usually about 8:30-10am and then 1:30-3pm but napping later than that is a lost cause so I just put her to bed at 6:30. Yesterday I put her down at 6 based on doctor's advice but it made no difference! She does seem tired a lot of the time.

donkir Sun 09-Aug-15 22:20:01

How is she during the day. Does she do the hair pulling ect at any other times? My eldest used to do this when he had an ear or throat infection.

SolasEile Sun 09-Aug-15 22:24:15

She is generally happy during the day as long as I am with her but she has always been a velcro baby, cries if I leave the room etc. She doesn't pull at her hair when she's awake usually unless she is overtired and yawning, ready for bed. I was wondering about an ear infection or cold too but she just had her 9 month check-up on Friday and got the all clear.

Greenstone Sun 09-Aug-15 22:35:20

Solas my dd sounds really similar to yours. She pulls at her ears when tired, and DH and I think it is a kind of a self-comforting thing she does as she does it when she's on the boob and also when cuddling her little comforter toy. I also used to do the exact same gesture as a baby/toddler, so that's why we're fairly sure it's not an ear infection. I do however sense that it might be teething-related (also only got 2 here!) but who knows.

In dd's case, she did definitely have reflux, pretty bad reflux, but it got better almost the day she started solids, and her windiness has also settled down a lot. She's still pretty Velcro though and we still rock or pat bum to sleep whenever that needs to be done (it doesn't always).

I don't know, it's a mystery really. There is a huge amount going on though at 9 months, we can't believe the changes we see in ours by the day. I hope it settles soon, lots of people seem to find that it does around the 10-month mark so here's hoping.

peacefuleasyfeeling Sun 09-Aug-15 23:03:50

Gosh. I hope I am way off the mark here but this rather sounds like my DD1. She would do exactly this. It has only recently stopped, and she has just turned 5. I know your DD is only 9 months and that sleep isn't necessarily every 9 month old's strong point, but it might be worth mentioning as I would have loved to have heard from someone who had experienced the same thing at the time when I first began to worry about DD1. It began like you describe, and as she grew older settled to an average of 3-4 "wakings" per night of anything between 5-45 minutes, although she was not actually awake, just sitting up in bed howling, impossible to wake properly, yet not asleep either. She would be chirpy as anything in the day and never have any recollection of any of it in the morning. She also developed a kicking tic during the episodes, where she would kick her own shins with her heels alternately, left, right, left, right, on and on, all while in this semi-conscious state. It was eventually labelled as "confusional arousal" (obviously nothing to do with being aroused, but in the sense of 'awake'), and we were told that we'd simply have to wait it out. Most importantly, no amount of sleep training would ever have put it right. Amazingly, since Christmas she sleeps through and I can't quite imagine that we went through all that time of poor sleep. There is plenty of information about "confusional arousal" online. But let's hope she's just going through a funny patch and will start to settle soon!

SolasEile Mon 10-Aug-15 01:24:00

I said I am going in to her when she cries, FATE - what makes you think I am not? I would hardly leave her alone to cry for hours, FGS. I go in, reassure her, usually by picking her up, then when she seems settled I put her back down. Then the crying starts again 5, 10, 20 or whatever minutes later.

SolasEile Mon 10-Aug-15 01:25:53

Interesting, peaceful. That's what my doctor thought, that she has night terrors basically in which case, yes, we are in for the long haul...sad.

FATEdestiny Mon 10-Aug-15 21:19:29

I said I am going in to her when she cries, FATE - what makes you think I am not?

I assumed you were. I assume everyone would at this age. confused

What I said was that she may be waking up just because she is seeking reassurance, your presence, your comfort. I wasn't suggesting she wasn't getting this. I was suggesting a reason for her waking.

Sometimes my DD goes through phases where she likes to know I'm there, just to see me, sometimes to feel my hand in hers periodically though the night.

My suggestion was that this could be similar for your baby, especially since she is pacified by your reassurance and presence when she wakes.

We go through phases (like when teething or ill) were our DD sleeps a million times better in the cot next to our bed rather than her normal sleeping place in her own room. She does those "environment check" slight wake and shuffle though the night. As she can see me in my bed next to the cot, she just goes back to sleep. If she was in her own room, she'd cry, wake up and then because she's woke u she would find it harder to roll over and go back to sleep.

wotamidoing Tue 11-Aug-15 10:03:57

This is interesting - sorry your sleep is being so disturbed op, but it made me take a different approach with my 9mo last night. Sounds very similar to yours, except I have been jumping up and bf him back to sleep every time - up to four or five times every night.... Not good! But last night I just left it a bit longer, at risk of waking the toddler (fortunately it didn't). He didn't get up to a full blown cry, just moaning and wriggling, but didn't actually wake up enough to need a feed until 4.45 - a massive improvement! I was watching a couple of times and he was definitely still asleep. Didn't help me sleep that much, but gives me confidence that he isn't needing the feeds, so am going to start leaving dh to it once or twice a week so I can start to feel human again. So sorry, not much help to you, but your post has helped me out quite a lot! Also think there is so much development going on at this age - mine is starting to crawl and getting much better at communicating, I think it just blows their minds a bit and they can't sleep.

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