October 16, 2006 8:21 AM
Parenting Q&A - 8 month old fighting naps
I am working on my newspaper column this morning, then have a doctor's appointment, then a radio interview. But this just came in my inbox - a new mom who needs some help. If you have some advice and encouragement, please share:
I attended your speaking engagement at Mclean Bible Church this past spring and I have since had my first child and we have moved to Germany. My son is 4.5 months old and breastfed with occasional supplement in the evenings, since he was not thriving at the 3 month point.
My challenge now is sleeping. He fights naps! He is in bed by 8pm and often wakes up now at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7 in the morning and he goes back to sleep fairly easilly, but for instance it is 1:20 and he just woke up from a 10 minute nap. He hasn't slept since 8:30. I have tried to put him down several times now and he cries. I have been told to let him cry, but is seems to prolong him going to sleep and makes it stressful for both of us. He will cry the whole 20 minutes and once I get him to calm down and maybe fall asleep, he wakes up again shortly after. What are your thoughts? Please help. I am desperate.
Sleep Deprived in Germany,
You said that he is 4 1/2 months old, maybe he's trying to build up your milk supply? :) I have personally done better with my kids in bed with me (or next to the bed in a bassinet), then when they would cry, I would pick them up, put them into bed, let them eat while I relaxed and then when they were done, I would either put them back in the bassinet, or hold them while we slept. I hope that might encourage you. :) Plus, please know that he is only 4 1/2 months old and you are doing a great job! Mothering is quite an adjustment, hang in there!! You'll figure this out little by little!:) ~B
Posted by: B | October 16, 2006 8:58 AM
It's unclear if he's 8 months or 4.5 months, but either way, I believe 8 pm is too late of a bedtime. When kids get overtired, they sleep very badly. Try moving his bedtime back to 6 pm (for 3 weeks--give it a try). Try NOT to nurse him to sleep. Nurse him till he's sleepy, then put him in the crib before he's totally asleep. If he cries, that's okay. Sometimes babies cry to let off steam before they sleep. If he's really worked up after 15 minutes, go back in and rub his back, talk to him, etc. Then go out for 5 or 10 min. Repeat, repeat. If it gets to be too much for you, pick him up and nurse him a bit again, until he's sleepy. Then put him down and try again.
It's hard, but you want to teach him to make the last transition to sleep without the nursing. When he awakes at night (we all do), then he won't expect nursing to get back to sleep.
I'd suggest reading "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. YOu can also try the "no cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth Pantley if you are not able to let him cry to fall asleep.
Hang in there. It's very hard. My son had extreme colic as an infant and rarely slept. I tried bed sharing, nursing all night, etc, but he still woke and woke and woke and got more and more tired. When I finally broke down and allowed him to learn to fall asleep by himself, he slept better and was a much happier baby during the day. Remember that all babies are different. Some of them easily learn to sleep, despite nursing etc (my daughter sleeps great even when nursed to sleep). Some of them thrive on bedsharing. Some of them have to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep with a bit of crying.
Posted by: colicmommy | October 16, 2006 10:50 AM
I agree with everything in the previous response; there's some great advice there. You also may simply have a child who doesn't need as much sleep as the norm. My second child was (and is) like this; sleep has always been a bigger issue with him than it was with my first. Some children need more sleep than others, and at different times; do not expect one schedule to fit every child. Additionally, children go through many stages in the first year of life, and transition from one stage to the next at different times; this may be a transition time for him, and so a time for you to step back and evaluate what he seems to need now.
Another possibility: Children this age are becoming much more aware of the world around them. They are typically easily distracted during nursing (the world is just so fascinating, they have to look at it!), and many babies this age have a hard time letting go of that fascination with everything around them to go to sleep. The best solution to this, for both my children, was to take the child into a dark, quiet room, lie down on the bed with them, and nurse them to sleep. The dark quiet room minimizes distractions, and the nursing helps them relax so they can fall asleep more easily. Once the child is deeply asleep, you can generally ease away and go do something else, or stay there and catch up on your own sleep.
I have found many problems in mothering to be best solved through detective work and knowing your child. Spend a few days being especially attentive to the cues your child gives, and you will be better armed for figuring out what he needs. Is he crying because he is truly tired and needs to sleep, but doesn't know how to fall asleep on his own? Then helping him fall asleep -- through nursing, rocking, walking, or soft singing -- might be a good answer for you. Is he crying because he isn't tired and wants to be in the midst of the household activity? Then having him near you, positioned to see what you are doing, is probably the best answer. Only you are best equipped to do the detective work to figure out why he's crying, and then to try various responses to learn what works best for him.
In the meantime, get as much sleep as you can, so you have the energy to deal with your young one. Having him in bed with you, as the previous response suggested, is a great way to do this!
Posted by: Newt Sherwin | October 16, 2006 12:07 PM
my son is about the same age as yours, he will turn 6mo in a few days. His sleep pattern is similar to what you described, and our first born's was similar to this too, but he took longer naps. i have friends whose kids sleep through the night at young ages, but with my first one i tried many methods and nothing worked, so with this one i have not fought it and tried to make the most of the sleep i get. I have found for both of my kids that routine, darkness and quiet are really helpful. sometimes that isnt possible, but i have put dark curtains on the windows even when we are traveling to help them get to sleep. for me, cosleeping is more tiring than restful, but i do have our baby's crib right next to our bed, so i just sit up, get him and feed him and put him back in. if i dont have to change a diaper, i can almost do it without waking up! nap time has been helped by pushing him to go until he is really tired, then he seems to go to sleep quicker and longer, but he seldom naps more than an hour. hope that helps you. we have all been there. it will get better. Try to find a moms group to give you support and encouragment.
Posted by: monica | October 16, 2006 2:04 PM
Maybe you're giving him too many naps? Sleep times vary. My kids have always needed several less hours of sleep than other kids their age (Unfortunately, that comes from Dad's side. I need a lot of sleep, he doesn't.)
Also, I started food when they stopped sleeping through the night. That was at 5 1/2 months for our daughter and 4 1/2 months for our son. The extra food during the day allowed them to sleep through the night.
I don't function well at all on interrupted sleep. Babywise worked for us, loosly followed. They were fat, happy babies, and I was a well rested, happy Mom. Until they were sleeping through the night, it was not pretty.
We'll keep you in our prayers. Our daughter was born in Germany!
Posted by: Elizabeth B | October 16, 2006 2:27 PM
I agree that the bedtime is probably too late. My 13-month-old, for example, goes to bed around 6:30pm. My 3 year old goes to bed at 8pm. I also recommend the "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" book.
Also, you mentioned that you recently moved to Germany. I wonder if the time change is still affecting your son. When we moved to Africa (for a few months) it took our oldest 10 days to adjust and to stop being awake from 12am-4am.
I hope all these comments are helpful!
Posted by: Laurie | October 16, 2006 2:30 PM
Does he have acid reflux? If you are nursing did you change your diet recently to more high acid food? That would explain why he wakes up so fast. There are a lot of methods of handling acid reflux available online.
Posted by: been there | May 1, 2012 3:23 PM