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15 month old early morning hell

(5 Posts)
manateeandcake Thu 16-Feb-17 11:55:38

We are really struggling with our 15 month old DS's early morning waking. Apologies in advance for the long post -- just want to include detail in case it helps.

He's never been a good sleeper, but a combination of night-weaning and gradual retreat a few months ago helped. We actually thought things were looking up as he slept through a couple of times from about 7.30pm - 6am.

The problem now is that he is waking up around 4 or 4.30am screaming at the top of his lungs. He's very very loud and we have a 4 yo DD who, if she wakes at that time, usually won't go back to sleep so we really can't leave him to cry for any length of time. They are in separate rooms but he is still capable of waking her. If we didn't go to him, he would stand in his cot screaming and bellowing at the top of his lungs.

He's clearly still tired, so we try to get him back to sleep either by shushing and stroking in his cot or picking up him and walking around with him. He usually does go back to sleep after a struggle, but the problem is it seems to be a very light sleep and he wakes up again within 10 minutes. This means that either DH or I (or sometimes both) is awake from 4/4/30am every day. We are really suffering physically and emotionally from this. Often DD does end up getting woken up a bit earlier than she would wake naturally (she's another early riser but not THAT early) and I feel so bad when I see her tired little face.

It's not cold, noise or pain that's waking him. I think he is hungry but we know he's capable of going for longer. He has supper at 6pm and 5oz whole milk just before bed. He won't usually take more milk or food at bedtime; we have tried offering banana and/or toast with peanut butter. I think what he really wants when he wakes at 4-ish is a BF but I stopped feeding at night months ago and he doesn't get milk or breakfast before 6am, so why hasn't he got the message that room service is closed?!

Re naps: we're still transitioning from two to one. Most days he has about 2 hrs at 12.30 or 1. On the days when he still has a morning nap, it's a half hour snooze at 8.30 or 9. I had hoped that dropping the morning nap would solve our problems, but so far it doesn't look like it's going that way. DH thinks that completely stopping BF is the answer (I'm feeding once or twice a day and more for comfort than milk) which I'm definitely willing to do but am also not sure. Any advice/thoughts/experience would be very welcome.

FATEdestiny Thu 16-Feb-17 13:54:04

4am is a night wake, it isn't a morning wake up. So treat it as a night wake. Why don't you feed? If you really don't want to breastfeed, give a bottle of warmed toddler milk.

15 months is on the early side to be expecting a breastfed baby to "sleep through". This is especially true if baby is breastfed, cuddled or rocked to sleep. How does baby go to sleep at bedtime?

Having said that, stopping breast feeding now is unlikely to make any significant difference. As you found by the fact that night weaning hasn't been The Magic Answer. It actually makes sleep more difficult because you then no longer have the option of breast feeding back to sleep at 4am. Stopping breast feeding altogether won't make any difference to sleep. It if helps you because you can share the milk-giving duties, then that's fine. But if you are just doing it in the hope sleep will improve, you'll need a rethink.

I would try a 11pm feed. Or whenever you go to bed. Wake baby up, change nappy and give a milk feed (breastfeed, Beaver, bottle, whichever you prefer). The idea is that in early morning baby's tummy is a little less empty and baby's nappy is a little less uncomfortably full of wee. It acts s a bit like a "reset button", restarting baby's night sleep.

If this reset wake up works is largely dependant on how easy it is to get baby to sleep. It's a great technique if resetting back to sleep isn't difficult. But if it's a difficult task then I wouldn't do this. Instead focus on in-cot self settling at bedtime.

FATEdestiny Thu 16-Feb-17 13:55:40

Beaker. Not beaver blush

Hatemylifenow Thu 16-Feb-17 14:02:18

Toddler milk is pointless. Just give regular cows milk.

manateeandcake Thu 16-Feb-17 14:13:08

FATE thank you for the thoughtful reply. I did wonder about beaver! grin

I completely agree that 4am is a night waking. I decided to stop feeding at night because co-sleeping wasn't for us for a variety of reasons and I was getting up to feed every two hours on a bad night, which was unsustainable. Whether down to night weaning or not, things did improve in terms of getting a longer stretch of continuous sleep.

DS defies received wisdom in that he usually settles himself brilliantly at bedtime. Milk, books, teeth, cuddle, pop him in the cot and walk out -- he's asleep within a couple of minutes. I think the BF-ing back to sleep boat has sailed, but the late night bottle is worth a try. I think he would probably be easy enough to resettle.

Thanks again for your advice.

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