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4 month old waking at random times in the night - help!

(19 Posts)
ElmMum Thu 25-Sep-08 08:52:58

Sorry for long post, but need some advice on sleeping...we're I've included as much detail as poss!!!

DD is nearly 4 months. She used to have one feed in the night and sleep for good long chunks before it and after it. Then she dropped the night feed herself and for 2 weeks she slept from the dream feed at 11pm right through to 6.30am, when she'd awake gurgling and happy, coo to herself til 7am when I'd go through, get her up and feed her.

Bliss - we thought we'd cracked it. Then for no particular reason, or none we can fathom, she's started waking up. It's always between 3am and 6am, but not at any regular time. She'll burble to herself but not fully awake, and eventually cry. (She'll occasionally wake up after being put down at 7/7.30pm, or between dream feed and 3am, but only briefly for her dummy and goes straight back to sleep).

When she wakes up between 3 and 6am, it's a different kind of waking up. She's not completely awake and ready to chat/play, but she's also more awake than just wanting her dummy.

We can settle her back down but it only lasts 10 mins to half an hour at best, before she's awake again. I don't think it's hunger, as she still only takes her first feed of the day around 7am.

The only other thing that's changed at the same time is that she's developed a funny thing with her arms. Before we would just put her down to sleep and she'd go off on her own, with the occasional need to put her dummy back in (but she'd go straight off again once you had). But now her arms appear to be on springs. She's obviously tired and ready to sleep but her arms flail around in front of her face and she prises her dummy out (sometimes managing to get it back in to suck on it noisily, sometimes just dropping it and crying).

This goes on for a while (while we wait to see if she'll settle herself or just drop off). She never does - she just gets more and more active and frustrated, whimpering and obviously getting really fed up that she's not asleep. When that happens, if we firmly hold her arms still against the mattress she immediately relaxes, her head goes from side to side a couple of times and then stays still, her eyes roll and close, breathing gets deeper and she's off. If you release her arms immediately, they'll spring up and she's awake again. If you wait a few minutes and take them off gently she usually stays asleep.

This isn't too much bother at 7pm, but is a bit much at 3am and also doesn't seem to work the same way. She'll go off again but will be awak within a short while.

The only solution (wrong, I know!) is we get her into our bed and hold her hands firmly and off she goes to sleep, sometimes sleeping then til 7.30am, when she wakes up happy and cooing.

So....what's going on!!!??!!

Can we swaddle her to help with the springing arms or is she too old for swaddling?

If we swaddled, presumably she couldn't go into her sleeping bag?

Should we feed her more during the day to tank her up? She's a big baby (over 15lbs) and has 5 x 200ml a day already.

How can I teach her to settle herself without needing to hold her arms still, which clearly isn't sustainable?

Do we need to wean her off the dummy?

Oh, in the same time period her daytime napping has gone a bit random as well. She's no longer reliably having one long nap a day. She wakes up after 30 mins either happy to be awake or clearly awake too early and whimpering to go back to sleep. If the latter, she isn't able to get herself back to sleep and gets more and more upset. If I intervene too much (i.e. get her up to rock her etc) she gets even more irate. The only solution again seems to be to hold her hand or hands firmly, not make eye contact and eventually she does a kind of sighing whimper and gives in and goes to sleep. Sometimes a few minutes later she'll awake crying in a kind of "oh no, I'm awake again" way.

Any advice??????

Sorry for long long post!

BroccoliSpears Thu 25-Sep-08 09:04:28

At this age you have never really got them in to a routine. They are growing and changing and their needs change. They do something for a while and then they start doing things differently - feeding, napping, everything really - it's just how babies are.

It's not wrong to have her in your bed.

She's not to old to swaddle and it sounds as though that might work well for you. She won't need her grobag if you swaddle her.

You can't really teach her to settle herself. That will come naturally in time. She is a tiny baby - concentrate on comforting her in whatever way works for your family, forget the rules.

It's normal for babies of 4 months to wake for night feeds. Classic growth spurt time. They have tiny tunnies and a lot of growing to do - it is a good thing that she's waking for feeds overnight.

Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 09:07:33

I'd advise giving up the dummy... You could try reading the "giving up dummy" thread. My DD is 15 weeks and has just given it up... It's made a huge difference to her sleep and naps!

As for the arm thing... I've read that their muscles tingle in their sleep when their going through growth/development and that would seem to tie in with her age... Not sure what you could do about it but if you get rid of the dummy she'll probably get better at self settling

Good luck grin

ElmMum Thu 25-Sep-08 09:08:37

So do you think I should try feeding her when she wakes up?

I think I'm resisting doing that because she doesn't seem hungry. To me, she just seems sleepy but not able to go back to sleep. And she doesn't wake up in the morning crying for food or even obviously ready to eat (and believe me, she tells us when she's hungry!)

I'm not really a routine person - we're just following her lead and so far she's had her own routines that have been very easy to predict and handle. This is the first behaviour she's displayed where it's hard to actually read what she wants and her natural way seems to be working against her, hence why I feel like I need to intervene and help her but not sure what's best to do.

ElmMum Thu 25-Sep-08 09:11:39

Becky77 - yes, I think you're right about the dummy. It gives me the fear though, the thought of weaning her off it!!! It's so brilliant as a cue for daytime naps - she shows a tired sign, I get her a dummy, she goes "ah, it's time to go to sleep" and falls asleep (or at least, she used to and still does sometimes).

I think I'm going to try feeding her more during the day and see if that helps with the night sleeping. Just got a feeling she needs more but doesn't actually need to eat in the night.

Anyone else swaddled at 4 month old? Not sure she'd fit into her swaddling blanket any more (we used one occasionaly when she was newborn).

BroccoliSpears Thu 25-Sep-08 09:11:59

Yes, I would try feeding her. Even if it's just a little feed and she goes back to sleep that's fine.

Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 09:19:49

I disagree with Broccolispears. Your DD sounds very like mine and you're right you know if they're hungry... Obviously if she starts crying for food in the night you're going to add in another feed...

The good news is it was very easy to get my LO off the dummy... It only took a day or two and a bit of grizzling but it was very worth it.

ElmMum Thu 25-Sep-08 09:46:56

Thanks both of you. Becky77 - I'm going to check out that dummy thread and see if we can do it. DH is keen to get rid of the dummies. I'm just a wimp about doing anything like that - path of least resistance is my motto and luckily she's been an easy baby so far, so this hasn't got us into any bad habits (apart from the dummy, er, and the arm holding grin)

Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 09:52:19

grin I just knew our baby was a good sleeper so all the waking had to be down to the dummy.... Now the dummy's gone we'll be able to tell much easier if she needs another night feed due to a growth spurt or if there's something else going on. And without the dummy she'll lie happily (if somewhat noisely) in her cot for ages before "lights on" time at 7am wink

peanutbutterjelly Thu 25-Sep-08 10:02:15

I need help too. my lo is 6 months old, and is on solids already 3 times a day, and breast and formula fed. He used to sleep from 7pm til 7am, but now recently he has been waking 3 or 4 times a night. He's not ill, but does make a different grunting like cry. I've tried patting him on the tummy, and the dummy, and that doesn't work. I don't know if it's just teething or wind. I usually have to pick him up and pat him on the back for a few minutes, and he'll go straight back to sleep... but then a few hrs later, he does the same thing. Anyone experience this?

Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 10:05:33

Has he recently gone onto solids? Apparently it can cause babies to wake more often at night as they're struggling to digest it??

beccam Thu 25-Sep-08 10:07:32

Hi ElmMum, we have a 16 week old and he is now waking 6 times in the night instead of the 2 (3 & 6). I am pretty sure the dummy started this as we introduced it for a few days and I think it coincided with the problem. I have been feeding DS back to sleep each time he wakes as it's the easiest/quickest method at 2 and 4am (which may also be the problem???) and my HV suggested yesterday that I only feed him the twice in the night and settle him the other times. She said he shouldn't be hungry. On her advice we have also started giving the bottle at bedtime (7ish) as well as the bottle we were also giving for the dream feed (11ish) so that we are absolutely sure he is not hungry.

Sorry, not sure if this is a help but wanted to let you know you are not alone. I am utterly exhausted as this has been going on for a few weeks now. Tonight we start the feeding twice only after the dream feed. Fingers crossed.

peanutbutterjelly Thu 25-Sep-08 10:28:00

hi becky77, no he's been on solids for a month now, but just this week, I've introduced the 7.30am breakfast of baby cereal and yoghurt. I do find he sleeps better if he sleeps at lunch times from 12.30 to 14.30. But he hasn't done this for a while. wish there was an easy solution

Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 10:34:14

There never is though is there? grin

TettyLouBar Thu 25-Sep-08 10:51:31

Hi there,
We too thought we'd cracked it with our LO. DD was sleeping 12 hours a night with only 1-2 wakings, then after her 12 wk jabs it all went haywire and now she's nearly 15 wks and still very unsettled (compared to what she used to be) at night.

DD wakes up between 4 - 6am sometimes a few times and she's not quite awake. She doesn't have that "hungry" cry that I began to recognise. So whilst DH is away (he would never be able to leave her) I've been leaving her go for 20 - 30 mins. Sometimes she's laughing and gurgling, or cooing then she'll drop back off. Sometimes she builds up very gradully to a cry.

I never know whether I'm doing the right thing. Ive read alot about babies needing to "learn" how to sleep through, but at the same time I don't want to starve the poor little thing if all it is is that she's hungry!?

(Hi Becky77, we meet again! Glad to see the dummy issues are resolved!)


Becky77 Thu 25-Sep-08 11:01:27

Hi TettyLouBar grin

Sounds exactly like what our LO is doing... Must be their age... She wakes up just the once for a feed but maybe 2 other times she'll wake up and just grunt and wiggle around. If I leave her to it she normally drops off back to sleep but it does keep you awake. it would be quicker to feed her and get her to drop off! In the long run it's best to leave her to it I reckon though

jojoisamum Thu 25-Sep-08 11:41:31

Our LO is swaddled within his grobag when he first goes to sleep. Then when he has his 11 pm feed we gently release his arms into the normal grobag position as if we don't he wakes in the night trying to get free from his swaddle! They are such funny little things!

phraedd Thu 25-Sep-08 13:51:04

is the house warm enough?

The tempetarure can drop quite a bit now that the nights are getting colder.

4 months isn't too old to still be swaddled....if it works for your LO then why change it?

Milsy Thu 25-Sep-08 20:16:05

It sounds like she might be overtired by bedtime. How often does she sleep in the day? There's a good book by Jodi Mindell which I found really useful - she suggests babies should go down every 2 hours until they're nine months - that way they're not too overtired for bed. Maybe you could try that and see if she's more relaxed when going to bed. Jodi also says dummies make for great sleepers since they're such a great sleep cue. We use a Sleepytot baby comforter with our little one - you can put the dummies on it - so she may be able to get it herself now, or you may have to wait until she's a little older. But the comforter will give her security and she will learn to find the dummy herself quite quickly. It doesn't sound like a hunger thing to me - she could maybe be waking up because she's a little cold. Good luck.

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