My almost 8 month old is driving me crazy! I hate that I feel this way and know something needs to change. He has been co-sleeping since birth and is now in his own mattress next to my mattress as I found he seemed to sleep better not being so close to me. From about 3 months on, he would wake nearly every hour at night…which still occurs frequently and even wakes once or twice a night and not go back to bed! It’ll take me an hour or 2 just to get him back to sleep at times. In addition, he used to wake at 6:30am (which I thought was early), but it’s been progressively earlier and is not waking at 4am. I’ve played with his bed times to see if it will change his morning wake time, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I recently got him to stop nursing to sleep for day naps in hopes that it may help him realize he can get to sleep without nursing at nights and will help him sleep better/longer on his own, but it seems to have made things worse…he seems much more awake/active when he is nursing at night and will not let me detach or get away. His “mommy radar” has gotten 100 times more intense. I get really frustrated when I’m rocking him for 2 hours in the middle of the night and am not feeling like a good mommy when horrible cuss words are coming to my head during those moments…and then of course deal with “mommy guilt” when he’s peacefully sleeping. I’ve been living on only a few hours of sleep at night and it’s just too much. I have been completely against cry it out, but am finding myself considering it as I don’t know any alternatives. I’ve read “No Cry Sleep Solution” but it is too gentle for him and didn’t really work. My concern with cry it out and my DS is not only the serious lungs he has and the insane screaming he’s learned to do recently, but I worry my baby will be the baby to break the crying record and cry for 8 hours and still not sleep…that would be him. I feel awful about cry it out, it would be so confusing for him…for 8 months I’ve been there to help him sleep then all of a sudden one day he has to figure it out on his own? Seems cruel…but then again my feelings towards him can be cruel at times as well. Help!!! Do you know any other way/option? If I do cry it out, is there a way to do it gently?
I'm so sorry - you must be tired judging by the time of your posting...hugs.
Others may not agree, but I'm going to tell you I would cry it out. I've done it with all six at some point in their lives and I can tell you they are not emotionally scarred from it (they're now 12, 10, 9, 8, 6 and 4). Remember, you're not being cruel to him. You're going to be helping him get the sleep that you as a parent know he needs. And you'll be helping him by getting the sleep you desperately need. You can do it a couple of ways, but here's what I'd try:
After nursing him in the evening, lay him down to bed (by 7 or 8). Make sure you know that all of his basic needs are met (clean diaper, food, a good nursing session) so you won't be wondering about those things when he's crying. Tell him very nicely that it's time to go to sleep. Stay near him so he can see you and try to read a book (your own book) or listen to some music with some headphones. The key to staying near him, though, is not to engage with him. Every now and then you could give him a smile and tell him you love him and it's time to go to sleep. If that just doesn't work, or you can't handle the crying, you could just leave the room. He'll probably cry for a while, but I doubt he's going to break any records...lol. That's just your parental fear talking. :)
If he wakes up at night, try waiting 5-10 minutes before getting up with him. I often found that my little ones would go right back to sleep if I didn't rush in there. If they were still awake after a few minutes, then I'd go. Give him a good nursing session, then lay him right back down. I wouldn't nurse again for at least a couple of hours. I'm saying that to sort of "reset" the habits he's developed of nursing every hour or so. Also, I always made a big distinction between my daytime and nighttime nursings. We had a lot of interaction during the daytime, but at night I wouldn't talk much. I tried to keep it calm and quiet so they'd learn there was a difference between daytime and nighttime.
I know not everyone is the same and I hope that doesn't sound like some cookie cutter type solution. But I'd definitely give it a try. You're going to have to work through your view that it's mean for a mom to let her child cry if you're going to succeed with this approach. Oh, and another thought. I've always seemed to find that if I tried the "let them stay up later so they'll sleep longer in the morning" approach, they almost always got up earlier! I don't know why that is, but I've experienced it time and time again. And with my babies/toddlers, I've also always noticed a pattern that they'll wake up a lot earlier in the summer vs. the winter. 4 am sounds too early, but 6:30 is par for the course. Good luck!
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Oh boy, I remember those days so well! I don't post on here too often, but your post struck a chord with me. I was SO there at 8 months, even the silent curse words.
We did not do any kind of sleep training. We kind of rode it out. My son is still doing a lot of night-waking at 22 months, but it's not as bad as it was at 8 months, UNLESS he's teething (which he is right now god help me).
I also read NCSS and didn't find it helpful at all; in fact I was frustrated by it because it seemed to suggest if none of the methods worked for you that you just weren't following her advice faithfully enough. But I was!
Anyway, we ended up riding it out and it got a lot better. I noticed that my son was sleeping his longest stretch between when I put him down (around 9 tended to be the best time, despite attempts to get him down earlier) and when he first woke up around 1AM. Then he'd wake up again and nurse on and off (but still mostly sleeping) around 5.
While it remained really hard, my life took a huge positive turn when I started forcing myself to go to bed around 10 PM. This would at least give me a 7 hour night with only one wakeup (usually) and I was able to doze on the mornings I really needed it during the nursing sessions in the AM.
That said, if you are really feeling this wildly out of control, nobody should tell you NOT to sleep train. I'd only maybe say to try a few more other things first. Try to adjust your own bedtime if you can, and see if you can ride this out another few months (there are often big changes after this latest growth spurt). Dr. Jay Gordon has a decent nighttime transition page that many of my friends used a version of. He says to please not use it on a child under one year old, but I think you've gotta do what you've gotta do!
While it is gentler than the Ferber / Weissbluth, in my humble opinion it is still sleep training, so expect some crying.
Good luck, mama!
Okay, me again. I just reread more carefully and see that your little one is up every hour so maybe my reply won't be helpful at all. (Sorry). Have you investigated physical reasons for this? My son DEFINITELY goes through the waking every hour phase but it always, always, always means teething for us. And that can go on for weeks by the way. My little dude is a really sensitive teether. Every hour waking is supposedly not so normal.
The other thing that I think can cause this is the whole disrupted sleep cycle self-perpetuating. So if he naps poorly, he sleeps poorly at night, wakes up early, etc. I put a lot of stock in this. When my son does not nap well, naps too late, or skips the nap, nighttime is a nightmare for all of us. We've had to get a lot firmer about when the nap takes place. It's got to start between 1 PM and 2 PM or it just really messes with bedtime.
We cosleep by the way, and the mommy radar can be tough. Especially when they want you so much and you're (silently) dropping F bombs. It's okay to be frustrated - at least give yourself that break. It's not easy to exist on so little sleep.
I keep telling my husband that if we have another one, baby 2 had BETTER be a better sleeper or we're going to the nuthouse!