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Sleep training 8 months old

(9 Posts)
onemumtwocountries Mon 10-Apr-17 12:36:48

I’m looking for advice and support on sleep training. Sorry if this is long.

DS is 8 months old next week. BF 5 times in 24 hours + 2 solid meals, slowly building up to 3. Eats well, takes the occasional bottle of either expressed BM or formula if I’m not there.

During the day he’s a delightful little boy. Happy, curious, busy. Crawls and cruises. Naps well (2-3 naps a day in cot, car seat/pram or sling). Occasionally on me or DH if we’re napping with him.

Night sleep is our only issue.

Bedtime routine is dinner at 7, play, bath, breastfeed and bed at 9pm (cot in own room). I do not feed him to sleep but he sometimes falls asleep on the breast if very tired. He’s then up around 1am. I don’t know if he’s hungry but I’m in the habit of giving him a breastfeed, and again around 6-7am. Up for the day at 8.30. A few grumbles between the 1am feed and the morning one. This in itself would be ok I guess, but more and more I struggle to settle him back into his cot – for the last few weeks I’ve just resorted to taking him to the spare room the first time he wakes up, feeding him and falling asleep together. This is convenient but I’m sure I’m creating a problem.

From around 10 weeks he could self settle. Literally put in cot, turn music on, quick stroke and out of the room. He would sometimes have a little grumble, but would always be asleep within a few minutes. Since learning to crawl/pull himself up, this isn’t working anymore. Put in cot, he’s straight up again, crawling, pulling up, rolling around. If I leave him, he plays for a while then cries. If I try to settle him, I have to really pin him down with 2 hands! I feel awful. He does give in eventually but takes ages. He falls asleep nicely on me but I often fail to transfer him to his cot.

So two problems really: 1) how to re-teach him to self-settle and 2) how to stop cosleeping. I don’t want to do CIO but I’m open to more gentle techniques. Happy to drop his night feed as I think the time has come. We were on holiday recently and he slept 11-6 on a few occasions, which shows me he can do it. Perhaps a dream feed at 11 would tide him over?

Thanks for any advice!

FATEdestiny Mon 10-Apr-17 13:07:57

This stage of needing to (gently!) pin them down at sleep time is quite normal and often happens twice - you'll go through it as baby learns to crawl and then if you manage to sort it and things settle, it'll start again when baby can pull to standing. You mention crawling and cruising, so you are right in the middle of this phase.

I imagine it like needing to teach baby how to switch off their activity-switch. Some children don't naturally know the process of how to go to sleep. By that I mean what humans need to do to get their body able to go to sleep. These are stages you probably don't even register in yourself, but for example when you are tired, you (and baby) needs to:
- Lying down, getting comfortable
- Stop moving, be still
- Stop talking, be quiet
- Stop thinking, reduce stimulation
- Slow down breathing, relax
.... and then your body is ready to go to sleep.

Babies (some of them) don't learn these things naturally. They have to be taught. Once taught, baby will be able to learn.

- Dummy/nipple in mouth teaches being quiet and slows breathing.
- Dark, calm, quiet environment reduces stimulation

The stop moving, lie down and be still is harder to teach. I had a cosleeper cot (normal cot with 1 side removed) so could lie down in my bed to physically cuddle baby to keep still and lying down. Cosleeping works in this same way, as does feeding to sleep and baby napping while being held. In the cot, the firm hands you are using helps reiterate the need to be still and calm to sleep.

for the last few weeks I’ve just resorted to taking him to the spare room the first time he wakes up, feeding him and falling asleep together. This is convenient but I’m sure I’m creating a problem

If you are aiming for independent sleeping, this is a problem.

Why cant the cot be in the spare room?
Or the spare bed be in the nursery?
Or the cot be in your room?

Then you can be there to shush and do the firm-hands-on-chest thing, but while also having your bed there. Maybe baby will cope with just having a hand to hold. Or just knowing you are there.

2014newme Mon 10-Apr-17 13:10:53

He goes to bed really late, 9pm. What is his nap routine in the day? He sounds a bit out of kilter

onemumtwocountries Mon 10-Apr-17 13:38:27

Thanks so much FATE. There isn't a lot of room to move things around but the cot (or perhaps a travel cot) can go in our room.

2014, he may sound slightly off kilter based on British customs. We're an international family and we're used to later bedtimes and later rising times. He's naturally tired around 9pm, which seems to also work for our mornings as I'd rather not be up at 6am if I don't have to. Thanks.

2014newme Mon 10-Apr-17 13:41:41

You are up at 1am! But if that works for you, crack on!

onemumtwocountries Mon 10-Apr-17 13:42:38

Sorry 2014, pressed Send too soon. He has 2 naps: 11.30-1pm and 3.30-5pm roughly. If he's up early the naps start earlier and he sometimes fits a third nap around 6pm.

onemumtwocountries Mon 10-Apr-17 13:46:32

Good point :-) I'm trying to see if he can sleep 9pm-5am without a feed. That would be a very good starting point. Happy to do an earlier bedtime but he's not tired before 8.30pm.

FATEdestiny Mon 10-Apr-17 13:46:34

2014newme - from the OP: "Up for the day at 8.30"

Nothing at all wrong with a 9pm-9am night time, if it works for the family at the moment.

2014newme Mon 10-Apr-17 13:47:29

Agree.

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