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The need to play at 3am...how to handle?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just wondering how to handle the need to play at 3 in the morning. My son is 8 months old, and just learned to crawl a little over a week ago. He also learned to pull up to stand two days ago. He is definitely teething (doesn't have any yet though), and just said "mama" yesterday. He is plowing through milestones fast and furious right now, so I know that is the reason behind all of the crazy night waking right now, but how to deal???

I am a single mama, I have a daycare in my home M-F, and I work all day on Sunday at a retail store. I have so little free time and now I am getting no sleep either. I am fast approaching my breaking point, and I definitely need some advice.

This morning, DS woke at 3am and was nursing, popping off and on, wriggling all over, etc. I got up, changed his diaper, sat him on the potty, and he did poop and pee, so any of those could have been why he woke in the first place. I then laid back down with him and nursed him to sleep. He slept about 5 minutes and then woke up and was crawling all over the place, slapping, pulling my hair, kissing me, hugging me, babbling, screeching, and generally having a great time.

I tried ignoring him, and even tried my best to get back to sleep with him between me and the wall, but he only got more excited. I finally got up with him around 4:30, and he is now happily playing in the living room.

Just wondering what to do? Do I ignore the playing as best I can, or do I get up with him? I really don't want to encourage the playing in the middle of the night, but I do realize he doesn't understand what is going on. He only knows he is awake and really wants/needs to play.

I know this is a stage and will pass, but how do mamas keep their sanity on 3-4 hours of sleep? Especially those who have to work? I just don't know what to do.
post #2 of 14
when DS did that we just ignored him. It was hard sometimes b/c he was so cute and we had to try not to laugh but we just didn't engage him except to say "it's sleepy time christopher..."

It lasts a couple of nights at a time.
post #3 of 14
Just after my son realised that he COULD get up on his own... he did... alot.

I figured that he was just exploring his new abilities... We ignored him really. We pretended to be asleep and then took turns trying to hold him and shhh him - then letting him escape and doing it again.

Eventually he got the picture. Mostly it took him realising he could lay hid head down once he was on all fours... prior to that, I had to re-roll him on his back or his side to get him back to sleep.
post #4 of 14
I just doze through it and let him crawl over me back and forth-- I surface a little when I sense him about to crawl off the bed or something. It usually takes about 45-60 minutes before he starts to droop again and then I put him back to sleep. I keep the lights off and don't engage with him.

I figured out that the 4:30-6 stretch, now, is the soundest and best sleep I get all night because he's worn himself out with the 3:30 crawling session. So in a way I actually am better rested this way.
post #5 of 14
This happened for us only a couple nights at a time too. Nothing much could be done, the PP's have good ideas (don't engage, lights off etc). One of us had to stay up while the other slept.
post #6 of 14
I don't have a lot of advice, but wanted to give you . My DS did that, and still does fairly regularly. We don't co-sleep- DS was having NONE of that when he was younger! But when he would wake up one of us, usually me, would go in and as the pp have said, ignore, nurse, etc. My DS would usually be awake for 2-3 hours at a time though, so since I grew tired (and sore) from sleeping in the glider rocker, we have made up a bed on the floor for those nights when DS needs us.

Good luck, and I feel your pain!
Kelly
post #7 of 14
Roll over and play dead.

When my kids got like that, I'd let her/him crawl all over me but I continued dozing off and being "boring" so the LO wouldn't want to play. If the baby wouldn't stay on the bed, I'd put him in the crib (in my room) for safety and go back to sleep. If he cried, I'd explain the rules again (either you stay on the bed or you have to stay in the crib) and give him another chance in bed with me. Usually at that point he'd want to nurse and go back to sleep.
post #8 of 14
I agree with ignoring and keeping the lights off. You might also try tweaking bedtime and wake time a little bit if it starts to be a habit.

I had a terrible time with ds1 doing this at about that age, too. I had just read a number of sleep books that suggested putting your child to bed earlier to get them to sleep better, and I kept doing that. I stubbornly believed the "experts" that it was going to help, but when I finally decided to stop and just put him to sleep later, he really slept better, and only woke to nurse.
post #9 of 14
I "ignore" DS when he does that, but he is not even 6 months old yet, so all he can do is roll. That ain't half as much fun as getting UP on ALL FOURS! WOW! LOOKIE AT ME, MAMA! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! LOOK! MY.FEET.ARE.THERE.AND.I.CAN.CRAWL.
AND.SLAP.AND.KISS...

lol... so cute... i guess not so cute at 3 a.m. though
post #10 of 14
My dd was an awful sleeper. My rule is I don't turn the lights on for anything. A diaper change can be done with a nightlight or flashlight, and real fast. No lights for anything else. And there is no getting out of bed. I will comfort, hug, kiss, rub her back, give her milk, etc, but crying or fussing would not get her out of bed. (unless there was actually something wrong) It took a little while, but it worked. I HAD to get some sleep. I could not sleep with her awake, but she did eventually learn that night time is for sleeping, not playing.

Its a little more difficult now that she is potty trained, since she will say she has to go to the bathroom just to get out of bed. I put her on the toilet and she won't go. I take her back to bed and she screams for the toilet again.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the tips. I did try to "play dead", but after an hour and a half of it, he was only getting more and more excited about just how mobile he could be in bed. Luckily, last night, he just slept and nursed. I am really hoping it doesn't become a regular thing.
post #12 of 14
another idea if playing dead doesnt work and you checked all the usual hungry, diaper etc.:

i take him in the living room w/ the lights off. i just sit in the chair and be boring. toys put away. have a book and a booklight for you. whatever you're best baby proof space would work. as it gets closer to 5am i get up and start my day.
post #13 of 14
My 9 month old does the same thing once in a while, usually coinciding with a new tooth or something. Of course, the tooth or the milestone comes AFTER the middle-of-the-night-playtime, so it is only after a few times of it that we realize what it is.

For us, it is usually just one night, and seems out of the blue. I usually try to get her back to sleep by ignoring, nursing, etc... but if it is clear that she won't go back to sleep, one of us gets up with her and takes her out to the living room. We put her down on the floor with some toys, pull the blankets and a pillow down in the floor, and doze while she plays... after an hour or so she is ready to go back to bed.
post #14 of 14
For Ds this was just a passing phase. We ignored as possible and let him do his own thing. We made the room baby safe and let him have at it then rocked or nursed back to sleep when he was done again. He did it a 3-5 nights a week for a few weeks at two different ages, if that makes sense. We didn't really do anything to try and change it and it just went away eventually.
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