I knew it was too good to last…

by Janice

For two beautiful months, I got to sleep. At three months old, Olivia began sleeping through the night.

And not just a five hour “sleep through the night.” No – I had a star sleeper! Olivia would sleep at least eight hours and usually ten hours. Often I had to wake her up after eleven hours!

I was in nighttime parenting bliss. It was incredible. But deep down, I was worried. This couldn’t be real – it couldn’t last…

And it didn’t.

A month ago, Olivia started to wake up. Phil would try to rock her back to sleep (from 3-5 months, when Olivia did wake up in the night, Phil just rocked her back to sleep,) but she wouldn’t have it. She wanted mommy!

So I gave in and nursed her back to sleep.

And now she is waking up to feed every three hours! It has been a month of it now and I don’t know what to do.

A similar pattern happened with Jackson. After successfully dropping his 3am feed, at four months old Jackson started to wake up again to nurse every few hours. Finally at nine months, I tried to put a stop to it. I stuffed him before bed with cereal and a bottle in addition to nursing. And then when he woke up at 3am, I didn’t feed him. I would try to rock him back to sleep, but it wouldn’t work. I ended up walking the floor with him, even putting him in his stroller and walking up and down the hall in my house until he eventually went back to sleep at 5am. (I guess some would have said to let him cry it out. But I didn’t have the heart.)

It went on for over two months until he finally learned to sleep through the night. But ladies – I just can’t do it again. I am exhausted just thinking about it. Back then, I had only one child to deal with and I was on maternity leave. Now, I just can’t imagine fighting with Olivia for two hours every night.

(Susan co-sleeps with her kids, so her babies always continue to nurse at night. But Susan is half asleep and barely even remembers feeding them, so it doesn’t really bother her.)

So ladies – I need your advice! What do you do to get your babies to sleep through the night? Is it normal for a six month old to feed two or three times during the night?



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

View all articles by

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill March 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

It’s probably a growth spurt. Has Olivia started on solids yet? Maybe she’ll sleep a bit more when you decide to start those.
Audrey will be 6 months old on the 2nd of April and she wakes up several times a night. We co-sleep so it’s not too horrible, but I do miss that 6 hour stretch that she used to have.

Good luck with it though!I know it’s so hard!

Silly babies and not letting their mommies sleep.

Reply

2 Alicia March 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm

I definitely think it’s a growth spurt, which means even though it may last a while it won’t last forever!

I know it’s not an easy thought, but I would propose being open to letting Olivia cry (if you are confident she has a full belly/dry diaper/etc). I am not a mom who gets joy out of hearing babies cry, but you would be amazed at how quickly they learn to go to sleep. In my experience, by the 2nd night the crying is shorter, and by day 3 or 4 completely gone. The most I would give it is a week, but I would say at least try it 2 nights and see if you notice any change. Maybe it’s an option to keep on the back burner if nothing else works?

Reply

3 Suzanne Bastien-Adams March 27, 2008 at 6:17 pm

I swaddle them until they glare at me. *laughs*
It was the best way to get them sleeping (almost) through the night from birth. I’m also the schedule queen. Everything in order and at the right time, if it’s thrown off at all, it screws it all up.

As for suddenly feeding alot, I’m gonna go with the growth spurt thing. My little one is 10 weeks ok, and I’m noticing an increase in nightly wakeups.

Good luck!

Reply

4 Sarah March 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Wow. I wish I had advice lol. I’m the last person to ask! I, like Susan, cosleep and am in a daze when my SIXTEEN MONTH OLD wakes up to feed in the middle of the night. Thankfully she’s down to one or two feeds a night! How did I get down to just one or two feeds? I started to try to comfort her by rocking her or rubbing her belly when she woke up. I was awful at it at first and would give in and just nurse her back to sleep but I think I’m doing better now. I’m a little more sleep deprived because I have to come out of my haze to get her to go back to sleep without nursing, but it’s gradually and S-L-O-W-L-Y getting better.
She has also just come out of a growth spurt a few months ago and so is growing slowly and eating less.

Reply

5 NerdMom March 27, 2008 at 7:00 pm

4 months and 6 months are growth spurts. You could do deliberate cluster feedings in the evening and then let her cry it out in the middle of the night. We did 7pm, 9pm and then 10:30pm with kid #2. That got her over the hump and she nursed until about 9 months. All my kids wake up in the middle of the night, talk and giggle and then go back to sleep.

Reply

6 Becca March 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I have 2 children (ages 2 and 7 1/2 months) When we started having problems with my star sleeper who is now 2, a friend referred me to the sleep lady, Kim West. She is WONDERFUL. She has written a book called Good Night, Sleep Tight and the first day I tried it, it worked like a charm. It’s about about having a schedule and a routine. The first 2 weeks we were home with our daughter (the 7 1/2m old) were rough as is expected of the newborn stage but once we got her into a routine, she is my star sleeper as well. She sleeps for a good 12 hrs at night and takes 2 naps a day for about 2 hr each. We don’t rock her or pat her. She gets her bedtime feeding (BF) and laid down. She is asleep within minutes. Kim West also talks about cosleeping. I highly urge you to look into her book especially if you want some much needed sleep. Good Luck!

Reply

7 WAHM Tara March 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm

I am guilty of co-sleeping as well. However, when my 6 month old wakes up to eat, we normally go into the living room and watch TV while he nurses. He has never slept through the night, actually my two year old still does not sleep through the night.

I can not remember when I had an entire nights sleep last.

I have found that when my babies are in bed with me they sleep better. My 6 month old cuddles very close and sleeps much better than if he is in his own bed.

Reply

8 Stacey March 27, 2008 at 7:22 pm

First thing’s first: Hugs, hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

This is my lot as well! My 6mo baby (child #5) slept beautifully from about 2 months to 4 months, and now for the past two months my nights are totally dictated by his whim! I am SOOOO exhausted! I find that I’ve been much more passive about fixing it, though, because this time around I haven’t had to go back to school or work (I did that with each of the other 4). But too many nights of no sleep, and I’m of no use to anyone!

I’ve done a little bit of everything – let him cry, rock him, feed him. I cannot seem to get the same results twice for each kind of attempt. He’s been on solids for a few weeks, and there’s been no big change.

So, I’m not much help, am I? But hopefully it will help you to know that you’re not alone!

Reply

9 Danielle March 27, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I sure hope so! Eliza gets up to feed usually at 2:30. She slept through the night for 6 weeks and then completely stopped at 4 months old!

Reply

10 Nell March 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Janice, I’m going through the same thing with my baby. Well, not the exact. My son doesn’t nurse, but for about 3-4 months he’s been waking up crying a few times per night.

I go into his crib, cover him back up, pat his back or feed him and he’ll go back to sleep for a little while before he gets back up again.

He was also a star sleeper. He is now 15 months and I assume it’s either night terrors or simply a growth spurt.

It surely isn’t easy…when you have that good sleeping baby and you’re thrust back into newborn behaviour!

I imagine it’ll pass…or you could bring her into bed with you.

Hang in there Mama. Sleepless nights are so rough, I know.

Nell @ Casual Friday Everyday
http://twitter.com/casualeveryday

Reply

11 Brenda Prentice (Time and Season) March 27, 2008 at 7:46 pm

My son did that too. I thought I was going to have a baby that started sleeping 10-12 hours from three months on, but it didn’t last. :)

Here’s what I did. I realize there are a lot of opinions out there and you just gotta do what works for you.

I started letting him cry for about 10 minutes before I would get up with him. That gave him a chance to learn to put himself back to sleep. I began to realize that sometimes he just woke up, like we do when we roll over, and he could manage to go to sleep on his own again. If he cried for longer than 10 minutes, I got up with him and nursed him.

I did this for a week, then increased the time to 15 minutes. I was amazed at how quickly he learned to put himself back to sleep. Within a few weeks, his awakenings decreased and we were able to get it to waking up only once for an early morning snack around 4 or 5. And that, wouldn’t you know, continued until he was weaned at 11 month.

I guess you could call it a mix of methods. I didn’t feel guilty for letting him cry it out, since I had put a time limit to it, and knew I wouldn’t have to listen to him cry for 30 minutes or hours.

He’s now a happy 14 month old and doesn’t remember that I “made him cry it out”. :~)

Reply

12 Brenda Prentice (Time and Season) March 27, 2008 at 7:54 pm

P.S. I’m of the opinion that just because a baby wakes, doesn’t mean their hungry (although nursing sure is the easiest way to get them back to bed).

According to some scientific studies, newborns have a built in survival mechanism. Their body will sleep when it is tired. It is capable of shutting everything else out. When a baby reaches 3-4 months, that machanism shuts off, giving the baby a chance to learn how to sleep. Sometimes, this frustrates baby when she reaches her “more alert” stage of sleep… can’t remember if that REM or non-REM. Her little brain fades into her surroundings, leaving the blissful ignorance of sleep. She doesn’t like her sleep being disturbed, and she awakens communicates this frustration in the only way she knows how… cry.

Babies do need to learn to go back to sleep. It’s the method of assisting them that is argued upon. :~) Everything from “let ‘em cry and they’ll finally figure it out” to “soothe, nurse, and rock” to a combination of both. I think the method will vary depending on the needs of the baby, the mother, and the family.

(Ok… Maybe that was a bit too long winded. Sorry.)

Reply

13 Dawn Weigum March 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

I am like Susan- I cosleep and nurse during the night half awake. What a chore it was to get my one year old to sleep in a crib. But I noticed there were times that Lily would nurse CONSTANTLY through out the night but she was usually teething or going through a growth spurt. I think you get her back to sleep with what works best for you. I found it easiest to nurse instead of staying up for an hour rocking. Now I let her cry it out and it lasts at the most 5 minutes. I wish you luck and hope you go back to getting sleep! :)

Reply

14 MaryBeth March 27, 2008 at 8:27 pm

My oldest, who is now 3, nursed and co-slept with us until she was 10 months old and we were both absolutely sleep deprived. At that point I hatched a plan to “Ferber-ize” her. After one night of crying for about 40 minutes to get to sleep, she slept through and woke up very happy and well rested. The very next night I put her to bed awake and she rolled over and went to sleep without a peep! She has been a champion sleeper ever since… usually still sleeps from 7:30p to 7:30a.

However, because my younger three came as a package deal (triplets), I had to be much more strict and scheduled from the beginning. I tried to use Dr. Weissbluth’s book (which I would highly recommend) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and even still they didn’t sleep through the night until they were 7 months old.

Even though they’ve been sleeping all night for about a year now, we still have stretches due to sickness or teething where we don’t get any sleep to speak of for several nights in a row, so I can sympathize with how exhausted you are right now.

Hang in there! I keep telling myself that they won’t be little forever, and I try to enjoy my one on one time with them… even if it is in the middle of the night!

Reply

15 BeachMama March 27, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Janice, I feel your pain. My 7mos old does not always sleep through the night. Either I go for stretches where she wakes every few hours or she will go for 8 or 9 hours without waking. Our problem seems to be nasal, she gets stuffed up at night. The waking I don’t mind, it is when at 3:36am she wakes for an hour or so, that I mind. Very much and it seems to happen a lot.

Hug and best wishes.

Reply

16 Tracy March 27, 2008 at 8:50 pm

When this happened with my son at about 5 months, we started him on some solid food during the rest of the day and that did the trick. I think they need more calories than they can easily get from only a milk diet.

Reply

17 Shanna March 27, 2008 at 8:52 pm

We just went through that with my 7month old. He was waking 2-3 times at night, and refusing to go back down in his crib – meaning co-sleeping (starting at 10pm). We started letting him cry. I shudder to think of it, but we did – oh and I have a 2 year old as well. So we let him cry through one feeding at a time. At the worst, he cried/fussed for 15min. Clearly I didn’t give him enough credit, and I just dreaded the crying so much that I never gave him the opportunity to figure it out on his own, and it wasn’t as bad as I had prepared for. Within a month we are now down to 1 feeding at 4am and he goes right back into his crib until 7ish. Good Luck!!!

Reply

18 Morning Rose March 27, 2008 at 8:58 pm

We read Baby Wise and Growing Kids God’s Way when our children were babies and tried getting them on a schedule and letting them cry themselves back to sleep. After a while, it does work and the babies learn to fall asleep on their own. A little crying is worth it in the long run to have better sleep for the whole family.

Reply

19 distybug March 27, 2008 at 9:24 pm

It could be a growth spurt. I’d give it another 2 weeks, then when she cries, don’t pick her up. Just pat her tummy/back and talk softly to her until she calms down. I’d do that a couple of times in a night, then let her cry it out. I’ve even turned on the fan in my bathroom and closed the nursery door and my door so I don’t hear it! Sounds terrible, but at 6 months, she’s more that capable of not eating through the night. Mine slept through the night at 7 weeks, 10 weeks and 8 weeks. Blessings!

Reply

20 Briana March 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Earplugs, closed doors, and the security of knowing that you will be a better mommy to both of your children when you have a good night’s sleep. My second child was an 8hour sleeper at two weeks old, but my first was a spurt sleeper up until a year old. Once I determined that she was clean, dry, and not really that hungry(only took an ounce or two at most), I just let her cry. It hurt me alot, but I think the sleeping helped me more.

Reply

21 Adrienne March 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm

When my daughter would wake in the night I would make sure she was clean and dry and then let her sleep. Once I weaned her from the night feedings and I knew her diaper would hold through the night it was letting her cry. I wouldn’t let her cry more than 45 minutes but it usually only took 10 for her to settle back to sleep. But it really takes watching the clock if you don’t after a 1 min it feels like 20 and you go in. Hang in there it will pass. I also read Baby Wise very helpful book…didn’t follow to the tee but used the basic guildlines.

Reply

22 Stephanie March 28, 2008 at 12:54 am

First, I just wanted to send a hug and a kind word your way. Sleepless nights can be rough and it sounds like you’re a great mom despite this hard “stage” in early motherhood.

In regards to your questions about what is “normal” for a 6-month-old – here are two quotes from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (an excellent book that I highly recommend):

“…sleep specialists…agree that up to twelve months of age, some children truly are hungry after sleeping for about four hours…Experts also agree that to grow and thrive, a baby may not only want but may also need one or two night feedings up to about nine months of age.”

“Most babies awaken two to three times a night up to six months, and once or twice a night up to one year; some awaken once a night from one to two years old.”

Reply

23 melody is slurping life March 28, 2008 at 1:16 am

I’m going with the growth spurt thinking. Other than that, here’s a {HUG}.

Reply

24 Janice March 28, 2008 at 4:54 am

THANK YOU all sooooo much for your advice and wisdom! It is so wonderful to hear – AND to hear that I am not the only one. :)

I too thought it was a growth spurt with Jackson – but it kept going! LOL I joke that he is in a perpetual growth spurt. (He is soooo tall!) Olivia is also very tall for her age as well. I imagine she is growing too.

I also really appreciate Brenda’s comment about the different sleep stages at 3-4 months. Very interesting!

Thanks ladies – you are the best! Now I better hurry and get to bed. It is almost time for her to feed again and I haven’t even gotten to bed yet.

Reply

25 Kellyn March 28, 2008 at 8:24 am

I am going with the majority here. Growth spurts can cause hunger, which would wake anyone up. My daughter went through it like clock work until she was two. She would wake up and need something, a bottle or just a little water would sooth her stomach. Now that she is a bit older, she doesn’t get up, but eats like it is going out of style.

Reply

26 Amber Stevens March 28, 2008 at 8:25 am

I fed her, but I also co slept and gave her a bottle of BM, plus cereal, plus formula powder mixed into the BM for extra calories. Just try diff thing out and do whatever works…sleep helps with sanity!

Reply

27 Tammy :):):) March 28, 2008 at 9:13 am

That’s the way it was with my now 2 1/2 year old… only it started right when she started solid foods. It’s the growth spurt/change in metabolism thing. The biggest mistake I made, looking back on it, was not realizing it was opportune time to make or break bad habits. If I have a third somewhere down the line, I will do the “let them cry it out thing”… maybe. Right now, because I couldn’t do it again either (my twins are 10 years older) I have a child who makes it into bed with me before sunrise most mornings. Sometimes that means 5 or 6, which, if I was smart and well rested, I’d just go ahead and get up… but it usually means we both sleep in Mommy’s bed til 8 or 8:30!
That said, I have SO enjoyed sleeping with my little girl (most nights)… there’s a comfort there that is just hard to explain. Something I would have NEVER done with the twins. I DID rock and cuddle all three of mine to sleep and would never do that differently. The joys of being a second time mom!

Reply

28 Amanda March 28, 2008 at 11:15 am

I think it could be due to teething. My 6 month old got 2 bottom teeth in a couple of weeks ago and before they broke thru, he was waking up in the middle of the night. I started to give him Tylenol before he went to bed and that seemed to help him through the night.

Reply

29 Shannon H March 28, 2008 at 11:33 am

My son (now 2 1/2) was never a good sleeper as infant, my best suggestion is a swing. After a certain hour (usually 3 or 4am) he wouldn’t go back in his crib, but he would sleep in his swing and that was a lifesaver. Good luck!

Reply

30 Emma (Fairy Shop owner) March 28, 2008 at 11:54 am

I have 4 kids. My youngest is now 3 years old (thank goodness!). My kids have for the most part have been naturally great night sleepers. My youngest does co-sleep with us now and has been since about 14 months old. Before that he would sleep great in his crib in his own room. He started getting out of his crib at 14 months old, and has become terribly afraid of his closet. As for your lack of sleep, it will get better. I highly recommend the feeding of cereal before bed. Have you tried putting something in bed with your little one that has your scent on it? That helped with mine. Good luck!

Reply

31 Morning Rose March 28, 2008 at 1:23 pm

In the book “Homebuilt Discipline” by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, they suggest giving the baby a bottle of water if they wake up at night. The baby may throw the bottle at first because it’s not what they wanted, but eventually they won’t wake up for just water. I thought if I ever had another baby, I would try that.

Reply

32 Capturing Today March 28, 2008 at 3:25 pm

We have 3 little girls and have practiced extended nursing with each one (to the age of 3). We co-slept with each one also. Most of the time the increased nursing at night is teething or a growth spurt. Also, as they get older and practice more independence during the day, they seem to use the night-time for reassurance and reconnecting with mom.

We did not feed cereal at all and waited until each of our daughters started reaching for foods on our plate before starting any food. We then began just feeding them blander portions of whatever we were eating. None of my girls ever liked the baby foods as a result, so we didn’t have that expense! We have a huge history of allergies and all my reading had convinced me that starting the foods too early could enhance the allergies. So we just tried to work through the increased night-time feedings with some naptime during the day, even for mom!

Hope you find what works for you!

Reply

33 crystal adkins March 28, 2008 at 5:07 pm

YOU should be happy! My little guy is 20 months old and as of the last week has been sleeping all night!! I wish I had some advice to give you love but sorry I can’t :) Good luck! Hugs, Crystal

Reply

34 Kim Priestap March 28, 2008 at 6:37 pm

If she wakes up every night at the exact same time, then it’s a habit. If she wakes up at different times every night, then it’s hunger. If it’s a habit, set your alarm to go off five minutes before she normally wakes up. Then go into her room and rouse her. That means, rub her tummy or her back just so she moves but doesn’t wake up. Do that three nights in a row. That should break the cycle/habit and get her to sleeping again. If it doesn’t work, then do it again for another three nights. That should do it. For this and other great ideas on parenting, see The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Whisperer-Solves-Problems-Teaching-Questions/dp/B000FTBPQE/ref=pd_sim_b_title_1″The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg. Her books have helped me with so many issues. I can’t recommend them enough. Good luck!

Reply

35 Kimberly March 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Looks like you have plenty of advice already =). My baby is 8 months old and when she was 4-5 months old she started waking up in the middle of the night. After a few weeks of that I realized it was becoming a habit for her to wake up at that time (growth spurts don’t last that long). So I did what I had read in several books and magazines and let her cry herself back to sleep. They say it takes about 3 nights…and it did. Each night was easier…less and less crying. (the first night was crying/moaning off and on for less than an hour…which may have been in her sleep anyway). It was hard…but it would be harder still having her wake up at night.

There’s not just one right method of course. You have to find what works for you and your baby. What worked for me may not work for you.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you are able to get your baby sleeping through the night soon =).

kimberly

Reply

36 Jenni March 30, 2008 at 1:39 am

my ds is 14 months, and it’s only been the last month or so that he’s cut down to just once a night nursing… he was 3+ times a night up until about 10months. Some babies just are.
I know it’s a killer–TRUST ME I know! I seriously considered forcing him to night wean around 9-10m, but I had friends who reassured me and supported me, and I stuck it out. I’m so glad we still have our happy nursing relationship!
Nothing lasts forever (it’s kinda like labor, lol!)

Reply

37 Missy April 1, 2008 at 11:59 pm

It may be normal, but it is not necessary.

I let mine CIO. Three of my four kids got stuck waking up at 4am. When I was convinced they were not hungry, we turned off the monitor. It never took more than three days. It is hard, but it works. I promise it hurts us more than it hurts them. I am such a horrible mom when I have no sleep – it was a necessity. Desperate times call for desperate measures…

I PROMISE they will not be damaged by it. My kids are extremely well adjusted, as are the dozens of CIO babies I know. And they are all great sleepers too.

Reply

38 Missy April 2, 2008 at 12:03 am

By the way, you may already know this but my sleep bible is called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluff. Excellent book.

When I let my first CIO, I had all of his research on how babies need sleep to grow and for their brains to mature highlighted and I would read it over and over!

Reply

39 Janice April 2, 2008 at 2:54 am

It is so fantastic to read everyone’s valuable experience and opinions! THANK YOU so much for sharing!!! I am reading and taking in everyone’s thoughts. THANKS!

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: