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At wit's end getting 8 mo old to sleep...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I've read through some of the other threads, but I'm just so tired I can't process well right now, so forgive if this post is repetitive...


Our 8 month old DD has never once slept through the night.  She's never slept longer than a 4 hour stretch, but typically she's up about every hour or 2.  We started to try sleep training when she was about 6 months and we were on vacation so DH could get up with her, but as soon as we got back home everything went back to normal, and worse.  Here's what we're facing:

-we basically live in a 1 BR house, so there's no separate room to put her in, or for one of us to sleep in - She's sidecarred next to our bed.  DS (almost 3) sleeps in a crib in the living room.  The only room with doors is our bedroom, so we're constantly worried about her crying waking DS up, so I defaulted to nursing her practically immediately whenever she woke.  This is now what she expects - if I try to comfort her in any other way, her little cries become tortured, purple-faced screams.  Same if DH tries to comfort her.  This can go on for over an hour if we let it, but usually after about 10-15 mins, I give in and nurse her.  Or I nurse her immediately because I'm too tired to try and break the habit.  The result? Sometimes she's up every 45 mins, and often she's clearly comfort nursing - she'll just keep nursing every 45 mins, and then spit up massively.  I have an oversupply as well, so on bad nights where she's up that often, she boosts my production, so then the next night, if perchance she goes 2 hours without waking, I'm hugely full and she gets too much foremilk and has an upset tummy, and then she's up every 45 mins again after that first or second waking...

-To make everything even more difficult, she's started pulling herself to standing, and she's always been hugely active - so when she wakes up at night, she immediately flips onto her belly and starts crawling around.  If I don't wake up right away when she does this, she'll go to the edge of the crib and start pulling herself up - since she's sidecarred, the mattress is high, which means she could easily pitch herself over the edge.  So I sleep on eggshells if she's in her crib, and can't just let her sort of crawl around and wear herself out...so usually she ends up in bed with me after the first waking at midnight, which means she's screaming because she'd rather play, and if she's sleeping she's tucked in right next to the boob, which means she wants to nurse every 45 minutes.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

-DH usually has to be up for work at 3:30 am, so he can't take the night wakings (and sleeps through them anyway unless she gets to the purple-faced stage).  I don't get home from work until 10 pm.  The only time he and I get together is our dinner at 10 pm, so we're loathe to send him to bed before I get home since that means we won't see each other at all.  DH often naps when he gets home, but I can't nap during the days - I have multiple jobs, and even if I had the time, naps give me migraines...so I'm running on 3-5 hours of sleep a night, and DH on 5-6.  We're just absolutely spent.


We cloth diaper and EC, so we've tried no diaper, doubles, triples, and tried disposables a few times this week since she hates being wet and maybe that's contributing.  We've tried swaddling, warm pajamas, no pajamas...If we give her the pacifier or a lovey, she just plays with it and that seems to wake her up further.  She has no teeth yet, but doesn't seem about to pop one, and this has been going on since birth, so it's not a regression, just what it is.  We have a white noise machine that seems to make no difference at all, and we don't want to CIO, but couldn't anyway because of DS.  She can go a 6 hour stretch during the day with no food without problems (not something we try to do, but it's happened once or twice with communication failures/long naps) and naps great during the day - a minute or two of crying or fussing and then right to sleep - and she even falls asleep okay at 8 pm, but then it's screaming, wanting to nurse, wanting to play...all. night. long.  She's such a lovely, easy baby during the days, and at night I'm at the point where I could potentially leave her outside for the wolves.


Any thoughts?  Miracle solutions? Hungry wolves you know of?

post #2 of 7

Oh, boy, I remember those days!  No fun at all.  :(  At this age, night waking is normal.  Maybe not appreciated, but definitely normal.  Also, night nursing isn't a "habit", it's called proper nutrition.  Nursing at the first sign of stirring is a good way to ward off crying.  For oversupply, I used to nurse laying flat on my back.  Night nursing is normal and desirable from a nutrition standpoint.  I hope that you are able to find a coping strategy that gets you more rest and is kind to your LO.  Best wishes!

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm ok with occasional night nursing, but last night it was 6 times between 1 am and 7 am, and she spit up twice...  She's not getting any REM if she wakes that often, I don't think.

post #4 of 7
This young, her sleep cycles are 45-60 mins or so in length so unless she's waking more often than that, the quality of her sleep should be fine. A LOT of infants and even toddlers have trouble with staying asleep or transitioning between sleep cycles and that's why they wake at night (apart from hunger, discomfort, pain etc). She may do better in her own space without others whose movement/noises may disturb her at those super sensitive transition times. So I do have one suggestion but it may not be super feasible for you. Would it be possible to get your DS to sleep with dad in the bedroom while you try an experiment? Try putting DD to sleep in the crib in the living room and let her sleep alone while you join everyone else. She MAY be able to stay asleep better without the company. I'd also move the white noise in there for her but what works well for us is a fan. I realize this may be a big undertaking but it's the only way I could think of trying it out with your living arrangements. I hope you find something that helps
post #5 of 7

I agree with skycheattraffic.  You need to try something.  Sleep is essential for your health- mental and physical.  I am all for attachment parenting, but there comes a point when the mother has to take care of herself.  It sounds like your LO is "reverse cycling" where she nurses more at night than during the day.  Some mothers can do this-- I cannot- and it sounds like you cannot.  I had this problem with DS2- it go to the point that I was in chronic pain from sleep dep.  I was filled with rage every day.  It was awful.  I ended up sleeping alone with DS2 in a bed without my husband for a long time.  It worked for us, although wasn't what I wanted.  DS1 was easier- I taught him how to go to sleep on his own- without any crying- and it worked like magic.  He was 16 months old though and he wasn't a high need baby like DS2.  I can give you more details, but I have a feeling that this won't work for your daughter.


Take care of yourself!!  This is probably a ridiculous analogy...but I'm going to write it anyway.  I grew up with cats that frequently had kittens.  (Don't know why my mom didn't take care of that....).  I LOVED them and this was my 1st experience wiht nursing.  The momma cat nursed her babies and when she was done nursing- she stood up at left.  If a kitten tried to continue nursing she would sometimes hiss at them or even nip them.  Moral of the story-- wild animals do not nurse their babies at every request....we're so far removed from what is natural that sometimes I look at wild animals for help LOL

post #6 of 7
Sillymom I don't think it's ridiculous at all to look at other mammals to see nursing as it naturally works. If mama cat in the wild can't rest, she can't hunt effectively and will not lactate sufficiently to provide for her kittens. It's in everyone's best interest to allow mama rest to function properly so she can maintain milk supply and provide the best care for her offspring. It's simply the sad reality that today most of us are venturing into unknown territory where our mothers/aunts/older sisters, etc usually can't provide advice and guidance on nursing. My just turned 2 year old just weaned herself due to my pregnancy and while I'm sad and think it's too young, I nursed literally 50 times longer than my mom ever did.
post #7 of 7

Glad that you liked my analogy. LOL  I thought someone would probably tear that logic apart, but it truly has helped me in the past 10 years of nursing and mothering my children!!  It's true though-- we don't have the support we need.  I say that coming from a mother who nurse me until I was 2 and nursed my younger sister as well.  Her mother did not nurse her TEN children however- b/c the doctor told her not to- so my mom had to rely on LLL and friends for support.  So, even now, I have very little support.  Even my pediatrician thought it was GREAT that I was STILL nursing at 6 months.


Thursday2- I forgot to mention that you should consider the possibly of watching the clock and nursing at least every 2 hours during the day and trying to reverse the "reverse cycling" situation. I would try very hard to feed her often during the day.  My 6 month old has no interest in nursing during the day.  I have found that I have to either go into our bedroom and lay down to nurse or give him a toy to hold while he nurses!  Isn't that crazy!  He's too busy to nurse.  There are actually nursing necklaces on Etsy- baby plays with it while nursing. I found one that I want to buy soon.


Another possibility is that your daughter is teething or experiencing reflux.  For reflux- you could try eliminating highly allergenic foods.  I would suggest starting with wheat and dairy...  


But, she may already have a habit of nursing, so more drastic measure might be needed.  There are tons of books out there, but overall, the idea is that your baby needs to learn to go to sleep without nursing.  When she wakes at night- babies wakes momentarily at night pretty frequently- she needs to be able to put herself back to sleep. There are many books out there for gentle solutions.  Make your DH in charge of that!!!


Good luck!!

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