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Baby goes to sleep OK but when wakes, can't go back to sleep

(13 Posts)
Cha Sun 12-May-02 16:51:22

Hope you can help! My 61/2 month old dd initially did 'sleep through' some nights (til 5ish) and still does occasionally - which makes it all the more upsetting. She has a bedtime routine (bath, feed, in her cot awake but sleepy by 7.30ish)and is mostly asleep in minutes without a peep. When she wakes in the night it's a different story. She cries and cries and can't go to sleep by herself like she does in the evening. When she cries it's not inconsolable sobbing, it's more like 'wah wah' without tears, which stops as soon as I pick her up. She will fall asleep in minutes if she has a nipple in her mouth, which is what I do most nights, because we are exhausted and / or dh's other kids are staying in same room and I don't want to keep them awake.
We have tried controlled crying (this worked well with the initial going to bed routine a few months ago)but she can outlast us - going once for 3 hours (horror of horrors) till I gave in and picked her up. Have tried picking up and cuddling, but not feeding - this does not do the trick.
She has always spat dummies out and although sucked her thumb until 4 months (maybe coinciding with this waking up and not going back to sleep)she got a cold and stopped.
She is not very into food though generally eats more in the evening. Also does not sleep much in the day - 2x 30 minute naps if I'm lucky.
Is she hungry? Is she overtired? How on earth can we teach her that magic skill of going back to sleep in the middle of the night???????

batey Sun 12-May-02 20:20:39

Hi, how often is she waking? It could be teeth, in which case Calpol/teething granules may help. Or she may be struggling to breath normally if she has a cold. Our cold "routine" is to raise up their heads a bit ie flat'ish pillow under mattress, olbas oil on a muslin in the room, Vicks on the chest and Calpol down the hatch! If it's either of these it will pass, you'll either see a tooth(eventually) or the cold will go. I remember thinking my eldest dd was teething from 6m, but nothing appeared until 10m!!
Or it could be she's finding it hard to settle as it's not the normal sleeping routine in the middle of the night. Both my dds (now 4 1/2 and 2) would settle back at this age to a wind up music box that does a light display on the ceiling (cant remember what they're called!). I used to put this on as I was leaving the room at 7.30, so it was part of the routine, and it generally worked in the middle of the night too.
Good Luck.

Demented Sun 12-May-02 21:55:13

Agree with Batey. Noticed from your posting however that your DD was a thumb-sucker and has now stopped. If you don't mind her sucking her thumb maybe it would be worth just popping her thumb in her mouth and holding it there and see if she starts to suck it again, she may have forgotten about it. Also does she like a special blanket we had a bit of trouble with our DS at this age and it finally dawned on us that he liked the blankets with the silky edge and he didn't always have one of these in the cot and would kick up a stink about it.

mears Sun 12-May-02 22:01:51

I'm sorry - I would put the nipple in her mouth so you can all get some sleep. As she was sleeping through the night before she will probably do it again. I always fed all 4 of my babies while breastfeeding if they woke during the night. Despite taking them into bed to do so I was not left with toddlers who needed to come into my bed. Perhaps if you lift her whenever she does cry she will cry less. Worth a try.

SofiaAmes Sun 12-May-02 22:03:36

Have you tried sending in your husband rather than yourself. I found with my son that because I was breastfeeding, I had little luck at getting him to sleep without a breast. My husband on the other hand could get him to sleep by just holding him or even holding his hand. Perhaps your daughter is just used to getting your breast at night to get herself to sleep. Maybe she'll find daddy less appetizing and stop waking up. Also, I found that with the "sleep training" (i assume that's what the "controlled crying" is) I had to redo it every so often, like after a cold, or after a trip or any other major change in routine. My son's now 18 mo and I still have to redo it periodically. Good luck, I know how exhausted you must be. And I can empathize with the added complication of dh's other children in the same room and worrying about keeping them awake.

Nattie Mon 13-May-02 01:12:52

I had exactly the same with my dd. She is our second child. We had her in her cot in our room until she was 9 months. Until she was 4 months, she'd sleep very well only waking up once or, at most, twice for a (breast)feed. Then she started doing it more until it was 7 or 8 times a night! (Babies can start teething very early but their teeth might not actually erupt for several months.) Either it was teething which was waking her up, or she was cold (so I put a jumper on over her sleep suit) or we were waking her with our snoring! Anyway, my partner, on my instruction, was sleeping on the sofabed in the sitting room and I was leaping out of bed to feed her every time she woke up in order that my partner and her older brother didn't wake up. This was all spiralling out of control and I was beside myself with tiredness so I went to a sleep clinic (run by my GP practice). They suggested controlled sleeping and then to move her into her brother's room (we've only got two bedrooms). So, I slept with my partner in the sitting room for three nights with pillows over our heads whilst we weaned my ds of me. By the end of three nights she'd stopped waking up and she moved into her brother's room.

She is now 15 months and I don't hear a peep from her at night. She still sleeps with a jumper on, has never sucked her thumb or used a dummy and isn't interested in a comfort blanket. I do put a beaker of water in her cot which I hear her waking up to drink from but she never seems to need me now.

Tillysmummy Mon 13-May-02 09:33:31


Don't know how to help really except I think it sounds like she's overtired if she's having such short naps in the day. Have you tried putting a mobile on her cot and putting that on - it normally sends my dd to sleep. If not how about singing to her - you could tape record this ?

Really hope it gets better for you xxx

tigermoth Mon 13-May-02 14:03:15

cha, you say she falls asleep in minutes if she has a nipple in her mouth. As far as I can see, that's your answer for now.

As long as you've checked she is physically comfortable - warm enough bedroom at night, not hungry or thirsty, not irritated by teething or breathing problems, then just do what you know she wants. At least she is then getting practice at falling back to sleep quickly, even if it is nipple-aided. IME sleep pattens change every few months, so you might find a firmer, controlled crying stance works better later.

If she can fall asleep in minutes after her bedtime routine, the rest will follow - eventually!

My toddler son was, and still is, not the best sleeper in the world. The only way I have encouraged good sleeping habits is to give in, then adapt ie he wants to fall asleep in our big bed, so he does, but once asleep, he's carried to his cot. Increasingly now, he stays happily in his cot all night.


Cha Tue 14-May-02 17:42:51

WOW - wonderful, from all of you. Have not been able to reply as have been ill (due to physical exhaustion says doc) but it's really lovely to read all your advice. On doc's instructions, have been told to SLEEP so last night I made a bed in the living room, shut the door and put my head under the pillow. Got a blissful run of nearly 4 hours. Dh said she did cry a little but he wasn't sure when (how can they sleep through it??) so am trying not to feel too guilty.
As to other advice - have taken herself and me to our bed the last 2 pms for a nap and she's had a good 1 1/2 hours, and still went to bed fairly happily at 7.30.
Have tried putting thumb in mouth many times but is spat out angrily every time.
Dh going in when she's crying makes her worse!
She has teeth, but crying doesn't seem to coincide.
She wakes up between 2-5 times a night.

I think she will eventually grow out of it, it's just when you feel like the walking dead after months of it, you need reassurance and advice. Thank you all.

bubs Tue 14-May-02 22:48:09

I have exactly the same problem with my 7 month old son, except i can't even put him down awake!! He had colic as a new born till 4months old and all i can think of is that this has something to do with waking. Did your daughter have colic?
I get him back to sleep by putting him in our bed and let him have the nipple and he falls straight back to sleep. I know i am making a rod for my own back but as i work 3 days i need my sleep too. I have tried everything from 'controlled crying where after 1 hour he makes himself sick and then i have to change him and the cot by which time he is wide awake. My health visitor has given me number of the sleep clinic in my area and i shall phone to make an appointment so will keep in touch with any useful hints for you.
My sympatheys are with you!

aloha Wed 15-May-02 13:04:45

I could have written your message myself, Cha. My son also goes to sleep beautifully on the dot of 7pm, but wakes up at least twice a night, most nights and wants to suck himself to sleep. Luckily, he will take a dummy so my dh can go in half the time and give him a dummy and sometimes a cuddle. We too gave up on cc after three solid hours of non-diminishing crying - it wasn't working for us at all. BUT, when he doesn't have a cold, the wakings seem less frequent and shorter as he's got older - he's nearly 8months and we are getting more nights with just one waking and sometiomes he sleeps from midnight (a brief waking) until 6am or later, which to me now seems like a full night's sleep! I also go back to bed with him for a morning nap on non-working days, which is usually at 8.30 - 9am and cuddle up for up to an hour, which is lovely and is just enough sleep to keep me sane. Good luck, I do know how tough it is.

Ellaroo Wed 15-May-02 22:25:05

Cha, this is strikingly familiar and I know how you must be feeling. My baby started doing the same thing at 5 months and each time she did I got up and took her into our bed and breastfed her and she'd happily fall back to sleep. However, over the course of eight weeks she decided she liked this so much that she ended up waking up every hour to be fed! I tried everything from letting her sleep in our bed and dh sleeping on the floor to using a dummy (hadn't touched one for the first 6 months, so this seemed to be taking a step backwards but luckily dd hated it anyway). After ending up in tears in Argos of all places, exhausted I decided that I would try controlled crying which went against everything I believed in. However, it was rather essential as I was so exhausted and stressed that I was unable to play with her during the day (she has never slept in the day - am unsure of how she coped herself with so little sleep during this period!). Anyway, try it for long enough and it does work. (If you get one of those monitors that flashes to show they are still breathing I found it was a bit easier to bear as I was always scared she would end up stopping crying only because she could no longer breath!). Always thought I'd be the last person in the world to be recommending it, but I do think in extreme circumstances it is the only thing you can do to stop yourself from having some sort of nervous breakdown. Good luck. My dd is now sleeping 12 hours without waking up - which I never thought would happen again! There is hope!

Cha Sun 19-May-02 10:47:51

Dear Ellaroo, bubs and aloha

That's what's so great about Mumsnet - when you think you really can't cope and you're the only one.... Last night she slept from 8-6!!! Feel like a new woman. But this has happened before and she reverts to type too often for me to feel it's all over. Still, feel great.
One tip - one night when she woke up around midnight, I knew she couldn't be hungry so I went in and put a big soft toy on her chest. She cried into it for five minutes and then fell asleep. This doesn't work later in the night (earlier in the morning) but you could try it.
Seems like all our babies are the same sort of age and if we can get a bit of sleep now and then (I even considered going to a neighbour's for the night), we'll ride it out. In the meantime, here's to 6 hours unbroken sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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