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8 month old with loooooong (2-3 hours) night wakening every night - help!

(19 Posts)
WhoGoesWhere Mon 09-Jan-17 23:24:04

Very long and slightly frantic post coming up, sorry! Blaming tiredness (of course)... First paragraph has the gist of the issue, other paragraphs gives the background (and allows me to vent).

A summary - my 8 month old has never been a great sleeper, but we used to be able to get him back to sleep reasonably quickly when he woke overnight. For the last month or so, however, he wakes every night some time between 11 and 1 and it always takes 2-3 hours to then get him back to sleep. Sometimes then sleeps though till 6 or 7, sometimes wakes again once or twice before then. It's the long wakenings that are the problem - can anyone advise?

More details - he's mix fed with breast and bottle (because of low milk supply) and up until a month or two ago he slept in his cot for the first part of the night then I brought him into bed and we co-slept from the first wakening onwards. First wakening varied but was usually between 1 and 3 and I breast fed him back to sleep, then he usually woke 2 to 3 times more after that and I breast fed back to sleep each time. We changed things because neither DP nor I were sleeping much with the co-sleeping (growing baby - not enough space in the bed). We also started giving a bottle as well as breast at the first wakening because I had a feeling he was getting frustrated by not getting much breast milk (the low supply - during the day I always give both breast and bottle at every feed). Things are probably better now because we do all sleep better when we're asleep if you see what I mean, and there are probably overall fewer wakenings, but we now have these very long wakenings around midnight to deal with. I have a feeling that he is now waking up for the bottle and we have created this - I don't think he's actually hungry (and he is climbing up the growth curve quickly enough to raise HV's eyebrows so he really doesn't need the extra formula).

Yet more details - when he wakes up we initially can calm him by cuddling and singing but he cries and then screams when put down. This escalates and I can temporarily settle him by breast feeding, but he then wakes up again and cries and then screams till he has a bottle. Then either gets drowsy or doesn't, but sooner or later wakes again, cries, screams and we need to hold him to calm him down again. The cuddling/crying goes on until he eventually falls asleep - 2-3h after the process first began. We've tried not picking him up, feeding more, not feeding - nothing seems to work, and the screaming doesn't calm down with time, it just gets worse (we've tried not picking him up for over an hour before, comforting intermittently in cot with increasing times in between but the screaming just increases).

FInally, even more details - at bedtime (between 7 and 8) he goes to sleep when put down drowsy after being cuddled and sung to. Sometimes protests for a bit but usually he gets to sleep within 15 minutes. Naps were more difficult but for the last 2-3 weeks he has had usually two naps, sometimes 3, and the routine is similar to bedtime. (Previously had to feed to sleep for naps). Nap times vary, usually roughly around 9.30, then around 1, then sometimes around 3. The first one lasts 30 - 90 minutes, the others usually about 30 only.

Phew, epic long post - apologies, congratulations and thank you very much to anyone making it this far through it. Any suggestions for managing the long wakenings? Thanks so much if so. I would be so very grateful....

Temporaryanonymity Mon 09-Jan-17 23:26:45

My youngest was like this. I dealt with it by bringing him into bed. I'd doze while he patted my face or breastfed. He's 7 now and still likes the odd night with me but thankfully the breastfeeding and face patting has stopped.

WhoGoesWhere Mon 09-Jan-17 23:54:46

Thanks for reply TemporaryAnonymity. Difficult - I know coming into bed with us would get him back to sleep quicker..........but then my partner and I are awake and moaning about back pain. Bed not big enough for two adults and rapidly growing 8 month old! (and no space for spare bed)

FATEdestiny Tue 10-Jan-17 09:47:14

Has baby got a comforter of any kind? Dummy, snuggle blanket, rhythmic movements?

WhoGoesWhere Tue 10-Jan-17 10:00:17

He has a small comforter in with him (one of those animal heads on a piece of material things) but he's not interested when he's agitated. We've not really pushed it to be honest because of all the advice about not having toys etc in bed with babies because of risk of them being smothered by it. I'm guessing these comforters are pretty safe though. Do you think encouraging him to use this would help? Have not had it next to my skin to get smell or anything like that.

WhoGoesWhere Tue 10-Jan-17 10:13:27

Ps by rhythmic movements do you mean something the baby does? None of those. Thanks for your reply by the way FATEdestiny

FATEdestiny Tue 10-Jan-17 10:46:54

It sounds to me like baby doesn't have an adequate way to self-sooth. When babies/toddlers/young children go to sleep, they need sonething as a comforter. This is usually grown our of by school age.

The mistake many make is us they assume self soothing means no soothing, that baby goes to sleep without comfort. You'll just have a baby who finds going to sleep very difficult (unless they are exhausted and literally flop) is that's the route you take.

Sounds like baby has been using feeding and cosleeping as the comforter. But now baby needs less milk, she probably isn't hungry so doesn't want to feed but had no other way of adequately feeling comforted.

So the first thing to realise is that the primary reason for these wakes is probably comfort, not hunger. It's comfort baby is seeking from you. Make sure you give lots of food, water and milk in the daytime just to be sure it's not hunger or thirst.

Ways older babies can self-sooth:
- dummy to suck
- blankie/toy that is "special" to cuddle
- cosleeping
- breastfeeding
- rhythmic movement

By rhythmic movement I mean something the child does to him/her self that they find comforting. These can develop spontaneously or can be copied from a movement the parent does. For example:
- tickling own ear with finger
- stroking own cheek repeatedly
- hair twiddling
- patting own leg/arm/side

There are loads of really unique things do. As a child I used to roll my ankle around and around in bed i sometimes still do when tired.

My eldest son liked to do a finger-scissors movement on clothing.

My youngest son liked to run his fingers against the grain of any short hair (including eye brows if his hair needed cutting).

What you need to work on is a consistant comforting mechanism baby can learn to do herself and use long term as a sleep trigger.

FATEdestiny Tue 10-Jan-17 10:51:31

Oh and I meant to say - I would use as many independant comfort mechanisms as possible, not just one.

So my son's that I mentioned, they had a dummy and a snuggle toy and a ritualistic movement they did to themselves. These are all things they could do themself, without my help, to feel comforted.

ElspethFlashman Tue 10-Jan-17 10:55:44

Well you're not going to like this, but mine started this shit at 10 months and it lasted for months.

We really tried everything. Eventually we twigged it was just developmental and we got a comfy chair and a spare dressing gown and gave in to sitting in with him for two hours every night. Ours always was awake between 2-4.

We took it in turns - one hour each cos we'd crack up otherwise.

A duvet and pillow helped actually. Though I seem to remember we waited till after 12 months cos there's some arbitrary rule that you can do duvets after 12 months, I dunno. Seems a bit random.

But in the bad times we literally spent 2 hrs hanging over the side of the cot (hence the chair/dressing gown) with our hands pressed on his side. If we even eased the pressure he'd freak.

He had no feed during the night by that stage and I didn't introduce one as I felt he wasn't hungry and it was just creating an issue down the road.

If you Google, there's a lot of stuff on these 2 hr wakings, which is grimly reassuring.

FATEdestiny Tue 10-Jan-17 12:48:00

At 8 months I'd still got baby in the sidecar cot (full sized cot with one side rem9ced and butted up to my bed), so to be honest wasn't paying much attention to the number or length of night wakes.

I'd just throw and arm into the cot, locate and reinsert dummy and do some stroking and patting. All whilst not opening my eyes or moving from the duvet.

So baby could well be awake on and off for ages. I didn't pay enough attention to the time to notice.

StandardNameHere Tue 10-Jan-17 20:23:24

My little one did this when she was about 7 months, I'm sorry to say that we tried everything, everything going but it was developmental.
It lasted about 2 months (that's long! I think most are shorter)
Sorry it's not much help but what I'm getting at is sometimes you just got to do what you can to get through and not worry about changing habits/ routines

Huishnish Tue 10-Jan-17 21:26:41

I'm in exactly the same boat, if that helps at all. Ds2 has been waking every night about 1 and takes 2-3 hours to get back to sleep. Absolutely nothing we do helps. I remember ds1 doing the same and at 10.5 months it just stopped overnight (so to speak!). Really really hoping this won't go on that long (ds2 is 8.5 months). It's totally killing me as Ive got the 2 of them to look after during the day and DH is working like a madman. It's particularly frustrating as we'd managed to get the night wakings down to 1 and for a couple of weeks we're having great nights, only getting up once for a quick feed.

If you come up with anything magical let me know!

WhoGoesWhere Tue 10-Jan-17 23:19:23

Thank you so much to you all for replying - it's really helpful, even if it confirms my suspicion that we may just have to wait things out. It is helpful to know when to stop trying to solve the problem and just accept it and wait. Hadn't found anything via Google before but just found article explaining split nights which sound like what we have....will try to post link in a bit but basically developmental with long wakening caused by babies not being able to switch from sleep at beginning of night induced by tiredness to sleep in the second part of night controlled by circadian rhythm ie sleep because it's middle of night. So they basically stay awake till drowsy again. Article suggested shortening night to try to improve sleep during it so I'll trying getting my son up earlier (already goes to bed btwn 7.30 and 8) - though my hopes are not hugely high. FATE, I'll try encouraging comforter too as there's definitely room for improvement on the self-soothing front. Huishnish, very many commiserations to you, will report back if success - please tell me if you find a magic solution too!

WhoGoesWhere Tue 10-Jan-17 23:24:05

Can't copy/paste link to article on phone but can find it by googling "child sleep science split nights"

Huishnish Sat 14-Jan-17 14:39:17

Thanks who interesting article. I'm wondering about getting him up at 6:30 every morning (groan). Things going from bad to worse with sleeping here. It's worth a try. When he does his awake for 2 hours during the night thing he often sleeps in until 7:30 or 8 which is lovely but maybe it's throwing things off a bit. How are you getting on? Any progress? My ds2 is definitely working on developmental things, this morning he pulled up to standing for the first time and he's mad to be on his feet all the time. Hoping that once he's mastered some of this things will settle down again a bit...

chloechloe Sat 14-Jan-17 20:28:50

I'm another one who thinks it's developmental. DD1 did the same at 8 months - she would be awake for 2-3 hours from 1am and nothing would get her back to sleep. I night weaned her at that point as I decided there was no point in BFing her if it wouldn't get her back to sleep. It did then stop after a month if I remember correctly. At 11 months she started sleeping through.

Around the same time she was finallly increased the length of her naps having been a 30min napper (sounds like you have one too!). Apparently it's common for babies not to be able to fall into a second sleep cycle during the day until 8 months. I do wonder whether it's all related.

Not much advice I can offer, just my sympathies as I remember how horrific it is! Hope it ends soon!

WhoGoesWhere Sun 15-Jan-17 18:39:22

Hi Huishnet, no great change here. Trying to stick to routine with getting up in morning earlier and naps at consistent times - not convinced will have an effect but guess if it will, it will take a while longer to see it. Trying to stay hopeful!

Thanks for sympathy Chloe, greatly appreciated!

Huishnish Tue 31-Jan-17 14:22:16

Hi who, just wondered if your situation has settled down at all? And if so, how did you do it?! We are still up every night for 2 hours, anywhere between 11 and 5, it's killing me! Was working this morning and made a right mess of it as I was so tired... any advice??

WhoGoesWhere Wed 01-Feb-17 14:41:03

Hi Huishnish, commiserations - it's so hard isn't it. I don't want to tempt fate, but things are - touch wood - better here. (Apart from last night, which was a bad one, but I'm hoping a one-off). Some of the improvement might just have been due to happen anyway, but here's what we did and I really hope it's some help. Firstly, went to an easier and more consistent waking up time. Initially was around 7 but DS is now waking up consistently at 6 - not ideal, but much better than the long overnight wakenings. Secondly, really focused on getting DS to go back to sleep in cot - sat next to him for hours on end, singing to him while he was in cot instead of picking up and cuddling to sleep. He did cry, but it was tired crying rather than distressed crying, IYSWIM. After two very long nights, he slept through when he would usually have a bottle so we stopped night feeds (had been slowly night weaning until then as really don't think he needed, was just habit). Since then, things have been much better. Sometimes he wakes and cries a few times overnight, sometimes just once - but over half the time, the cries are brief and he self-soothes back to sleep. The rest of the time I sing to him and he goes back to sleep, usually within about ten minutes. Re self-soothing, once he was going back to sleep in cot he started to use a small toy as a comforter as Fate mentioned and we've encouraged him in that.

Is that any help? Really hope so. Predictably, it's made such a difference to both DS and me here, both calmer and happier - very much hope same happens for you soon.

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