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3 mo old won't fall asleep til midnight and sometimes won't nurse to sleep...long, sorry!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My baby will be 3 mos old in a week and for the past 4-5 nights he hasn't fallen asleep til 11pm or midnight. That in itself I think I could live with, but the hours of trying to get him to sleep have been horrible as he often refuses to nurse during this stretch of time, never during the day.


The first two nights, he started to act tired at the usual time of ~8pm (last nap ended around 6pm) so I quickly changed him, laid him down on the bed, shut out the lights and laid down to side nurse, which is the routine we've had since he was born. And he started crying hard and spitting out the nipple even though it had been a few hours since he had eaten and i expected him to nurse well. Then I couldn't get him to stop crying which was very unusual. I walked with him, sang to him, bounced him on the exercise ball and did some knee bends and nothing helped. Finally out of desperation I turned on the vacuum cleaner and he was silent. I walked around with him for awhile, periodically trying to get him to nurse and eventually around 11pm he accepted the nipple and fell asleep. The same thing happened the next night except my husband was able to get him to sleep by bouncing him on the exercise ball and then rocking him until he was out cold. The last two nights the time he finally fell out was closer to midnight.


The reason it's such an ordeal is that he's not happy during this time. If he was just kicking around and awake I'd be happy to hang out with him and knit or whatever. But since he's crying hard it's a marathon of walking, knee bends, bouncing, trying to nurse, etc. Also, a couple of times I have been able to nurse him to sleep in the bed but then he woke up and started pulling back off the nipple which I couldn't let go on, so I had to either switch sides or try to burp him, both of which brought him fully awake (and crying) again. He would go suck, suck, suck, pulllllllll back, over and over. Quite obnoxious. This was in the DARK so I can't say he was doing it because he was distracted, I think it may have been him being full?


I'm thinking this is probably one of those things that will pass but I just wanted to run it by you and see if there are any red flags that jump out here, or if you've been through this and lived to tell about it. :) I am getting quite sleep deprived as it's hard for me to fall asleep after this, my nerves are so jangled and every sound he makes, I think he's going to wake up and it will start all over again. I have a very strong reaction to the crying and get all sweaty and my stomach is in knots. This is baby #3 so it's just the way I am, I guess. I have two other kids who are then up early and NOISY so I typically get up as soon as I hear them and go down to help them get breakfast, etc. And can only nap during the day when DH is not working. I am normally such a positive and upbeat person and the sleep deprivation is making me very negative, short tempered and depressed. I hate it.


It's been a tough time for me lately as I have resigned from my job and it was a stressful process over the past week or so, and I was having a lot of negative feelings/thoughts over it. I wonder if he has been picking up on that...how much do you think babies can pick up on and react to?


And...is it possible he doesn't like the side nursing as we only do it at bedtime (I nurse him in my arms during the day) or doesn't like the dark all of a sudden? Just trying to think of different things to try...


I know this got super long and rambly as I do when I am tired. but just wondering how to get back to our uneventful bedtimes.



Edited by Gracecody - 12/21/11 at 6:19pm
post #2 of 8

This sounds so, so familiar! My DD (now 8 months) had a lot of nights like that. I do know (because a child development expert at the Fussy Baby Network told me) that it is normal for babies that age to not go to bed until late some nights. Earlier bedtime doesn't develop consistently until later.


We also had nights where she got really upset nursing or didn't seem to want to nurse. There was no real solution, except that she outgrew it by 3-4 months. On some of those nights the vacuum cleaner and swaddling/bouncing was the key.


Hang in there--I bet he'll outgrow a lot of it soon.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, that helps so much!! I do think it will pass...I just hate that woozy zombie sleepy cranky feeling that has become the norm, I am sure many around here are well acquainted with it! Trying to count my blessings that I don't have to go back to work Jan. 3 as previously planned, as I'd be that much more stressed!!


Last night was better...when he got tired I nursed him in my arms in the bed with the light on and he fell asleep easily, then when he was soundly asleep I scooted down so we were side lying. He lasted 1.5 hours until he woke and started his pulling on the nipple thing and was pretty awake. So I got up with him and changed his diaper and hung out with my husband a little. It was clear he didn't want to be up though so I did some knee bends with him in the dark and he fell asleep on my shoulder. I laid him down and he was out cold (yay) but then I managed to knock over a glass on the bathroom counter and wake him up - !! Fortunately he nursed back to sleep. This was still 11pm when he was out for the night but overall he got a lot more sleep and there was really no crying and very little stress. Sigh....we will get there!

post #4 of 8

Glad it went a little more smoothly last night! You will get there, I know. Then new things will crop up--lol, says the mom of an 8-month-old who has recently become much HARDER to put to bed.


One thing I wish I'd done earlier--made an mp3 recording of our vacuum cleaner and then burned the track onto a CD so we have 75 minutes of the sound and can graduate down the volume. I used Audacity, which is a free recording program. Ran two vacuums at once for five minutes. We went through a lovely period where sometimes when she woke at night we could turn the recording on low and she'd go back to sleep! (Doesn't work anymore, though).

post #5 of 8

What time does he usually wake up for the day? And how often does he sleep during the day?


He sounds overtired by the time 8 pm rolls around. Maybe you could try nursing him to sleep at 7:30 and see if he falls asleep more easily?


Sounds counterintuitive, but it sure worked for me. My son also refuses to nurse to sleep when I put him down too late...he is "too tired to sleep" and requires really vigorous rocking, bouncing, and patting to get him down. But if I catch him at that sweet window between 6:15 and 6:45 he nurses well, unlatches, and falls right asleep when I put him down.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

The vaccum cleaner recording is a good idea! Although the vacuum hasn't been working like it did a few days ago. I know it's common for them to burn out on certain techniques...now he falls asleep with me doing this dance-knee bend move that is a fantastic workout. :)


Back when he was going to sleep before 9pm he'd wake up for the day around 8am. We had such a good routine going, I loved it. He has taken a long time to transition from the newborn snooze most of the day thing to structured naps and some days does a great deal of napping. It doesn't seem to affect his nighttime pattern though. Anyway he will take a 2 hr morning nap about 1.5-2 hours after waking for the day, then an afternoon snooze (shorter nap) about 1.5 hours after that, then a 2 hr afternoon nap from about 3-5pm. And will be acting tired again by 6pm. Usually at that point I let him have a short snooze again and after that he is happily awake, doesn't seem like he's ready for his big sleep (he has always done his longest stretch of sleep first thing). I get our room all ready for the night during this time so when he starts acting tired we can be ready to nurse in bed in just a couple of minutes.

It seems insane to put the baby to bed for the night at 6pm...my husband and I are night owls and later wakers and our two older children are as well...bedtime around here is about 9-9:30pm and they wake up around 8. They used to wake even later before my son started kindergarten this year. I am certainly willing to try it to see if it works for him though...

post #7 of 8

I hear you, I am not a morning person so I wish his 6:30 to 6:00 AM night would be just an hour or two later. But, I tried everything to shift his schedule and it always backfired. I've accepted that this his is natural bedtime, since 6:00 AM is his natural wakeup (he's woken up at 5:45-6:00 since he was a newborn, no matter what time he goes to bed).  For me it took 5 days for him to treat that as bedtime and not a late nap--he would fall asleep easily but wake up 45 minutes later. I just treated it as any other nightwaking--feed, change, soothe in the dark, no talking, very boring. I'd recommend starting at 7:30 for now and move it back 15 minutes until he falls asleep easily. Don't put him to bed earlier than 6:15, though.


I do think babies are programmed to be larks or owls, and it's unfortunate if your babe is the opposite of you. But yeah, give it a try and see if it works!


Also, I'd guess that he might be getting a bit too much nap sleep later in the day. However, I am a firm believe that you can't control naps for a lot of babies! What I would suggest, though, is just try shortening the awake period before his first nap to 1 hour, and stretching his awake time before his afternoon snooze to 2 hours, and seeing if that will result in a longer midday nap. Then the late afternoon nap could be shorter and hopefully end around 5:30 or 6. In my experience a very long late afternoon nap (after 3:00) results in my DS being groggy the rest of the evening (but it's a pain to get him to bed). It's sleep begets sleep, but in a bad way :)


Good luck! There's always lots of experimenting to find out what works best for your little one.

Edited by Phycologia - 12/22/11 at 5:55pm
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much; these are some great thoughts and I appreciate it very much.


I was thinking some similar thoughts while rocking him at 10pm in front of the Christmas tree. :) About shortening the late afternoon nap. He had one of his snooze most of the day, days yesterday. Like a newborn again. Last night I got him to sleep easily by nursing at 8:15pm but for 45 minutes, then wide awake, and more sleep at 10pm or so but not out cold until 11pm. And maybe 2-3 wakeups to nurse between 11pm and 9am.


Now that he's awake but not sad I'm not so stressed over it. But still 11pm is too late for me to function well. The stumbling block is that it takes him a good while to nurse to sleep and then he is FULL so if he wakes anytime soon he will start to pull off the nipple and not want to nurse, and bring himself awake. He won't accept a finger or pacifier at all, they make him MAD. Anyway if he is more ready to fall into a deep sleep earlier then I imagine this won't be such an issue. Last night when he did that at 10:45pm I quickly got up with him and did my knee bend thing and he was asleep within 5 minutes, then I rocked him for 10 minutes or so and laid him down. Not too bad.


He has never gotten up for the day before 7:45am, that is the earliest and it was when he was quite young. When he was going to sleep for the night 9-ish he would most commonly be up between 8-8:30. So I don't think he's a super early bird either. :) Since he's been going to sleep for the night at 11pm, he's been getting up for the day around 9:30 am but then wanting to nurse right away and snoozing on me while nursing. So he's still tired and not really ready to be up.


We have to run some errands today so I will try and plan our trip so that he can get some more awake time and hopefully not be too sad. He likes to sleep in my arms or on the bed and doesn't like carriers and hates his car seat...but due to cold and snow we have been outside and out of the house very little lately.

Edited by Gracecody - 12/23/11 at 9:14am
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › 3 mo old won't fall asleep til midnight and sometimes won't nurse to sleep...long, sorry!