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#1 of 36 Old 09-06-2011, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I apologize in advance for the really long post.  I just really need help trying to find a solution, and I thought that the more information I could give here, the more likely someone who's BTDT might recognize something familiar?  I asked for similar help with extremely problematig BFing during our daughter's first 3 months, and it's only because of help from the boards here that we found and treated her posterior tongue-tie, so I thought I'd solicit here for help again in the hopes that the wonderful people here might be able to help us hit on a solution again! 

 

A summary of the problem:

We've tried everything, and while our daughter (7.5m) now can go to sleep on her own reasonably quickly without any sleep aids (pacifier, nursing to sleep, bouncing, rocking, singing, noise machines, etc), she still wakes repeatedly throughout the night (at least once per hour).  Sometimes she gradually improves to waking only three times per night, and then suddenly she is back at the old pattern.  This has been going on since at least 3m (she slept ok for a newborn, but not fantastically well, usually waking every 2h, and then every hour after 4/5am, but sometimes occasionally going 6h).  I would be happy if she'd just limit her wakings to 2 times per night (and I'd take 3 times) as long as she goes back to sleep fairly easily after eating. 

 

What we've tried:

I've read through almost all the sleep books at this point.  (I refuse to read Weissbluth or Mindell since I'm offended by some of the excerpts I've read from their books, but I've gone through Pantly, Karp, Kurcinka, Sears, West, Ferber, and am just starting Reichert.)  We've done everything in the books except CIO (took away all her sleep associations, made sure she gets enough sleep, put her on a regular schedule, changed her sleeping location, environment, etc), with no luck (and even Ferber wouldn't recommend CIO in our case, since our daughter can fall asleep on her own, and doesn't have any "sleep crutches.")

 

More details about the problem:

We cosleep/bedshare, and our daughter still breastfeeds three times per night.  She seems very happy and well rested during the day.  Most of the repeated wakings are concentrated in the middle of her nighttime sleep - she may sleep for 3h at the beginning of the night (or she may wake once per hour from the beginning of the night), but she is definitely always really wakeful between 1-4am, and after 5/6am.   She goes to bed at 9pm and gets up around 6-7am, with two naps per day totaling about 3h together (she gave up her third nap about a week ago, and just made her morning nap later and longer). 

 

Here's what it's like when she wakes at night:  she starts thrashing her arms and legs a bit, and starts fussing (not really crying, but making unhappy noises).  If it's not time for her to eat, she will just make noise and thrash around for a while, and then settle back down to sleep on her own.  During this time she often rolls over onto her stomach and pushes herself up as though she wants to crawl.  She may smile and open her eyes, or she may writhe around so much that she claws my face and hits me with her arms and legs quite forcefully.  (I've tried both just letting her do what she wants without touching her or talking to her, and I've tried holding her tightly so that she can't thrash - I think she actually goes asleep more quickly if I just leave her alone.)  At times when she really seems to be crying and upset and getting more and more wild instead of less and less, I feed her, and then she seems to calm down and then go to sleep after I have taken her off the breast. 

 

What I've ruled out?

I don't get the feeling that she is actually in pain, although there may be something that is causing a milder discomfort.  Since this has been going on for months and months, I just don't think it can be teething.  She doesn't have any signs of GERD other than spitting up some, but I think it is within the realm of normal.  I've tried pulling on her ears to see if that causes her to cry out (and signals fluid in ears or ear infection), but there's no reaction to that particularly, so I think that rules that out.  She isn't in the midst of any major motor milestones (she's been pulling herself up to standing and crawling for at least a month, and these sleep behaviors didn't come or go with those changes).  I don't notice any pattern to when she sleeps well and when she sleeps poorly (the wakings don't come after more stressful periods, or when her schedule has been disrupted, or when she has had more or less sleep - they just seem totally random).  In particular, we did a ton of traveling that involved sleeping in strange beds for several nights in a row, interrupting her nap schedule when travel schedules were awkward, and crossing six time zones - none of this made her sleep worse, and she adjusted to the new time zone in 2 days.  She's doesn't act underslept, and attempts to get her to sleep more each day result in bedtime battles and no improved sleep. 

 

My current theories - what do you think?  Which one is it?  Is it something else that is not on my list?

Having just finished the Ferber book (I'm not in favor of his CIO method, but I liked that his book at least talked about all the possible types of sleep problems, so that one can try to actually diagnose why she is waking up), I can come up with the following theories, but they may all be wrong:

 

1)  She won't sleep better until I nightwean her b/c she is waking all the time b/c she wants to nurse.  (I'm not sure that nightweaning her now is a good idea, even though doctors say it is fine - she can go for 6-7h without milk during the day voluntarily sometimes, so maybe it is fine, but I just don't know how to tell?)  But if this were the case, why doesn't she wake once an hour every night?  Why does she sometimes wake only 3 times per night, and sometimes 10+ times?  Weaning her from the pacifier and rocking and singing, etc didn't make a difference, so I am skeptical about this one, but I guess I can't rule it out completely.  Maybe I should try feeding her a ton during the day and gradually reducing the night nursing? 

 

2)  She's having some kind of confusional arousals (like night terrors, only milder), where the thrashing around at night is when she is going from one sleep state to another, but gets sort of stuck between sleeping and waking.  Since when she gets really agitated BFing calms her, I'm not sure that this is it (since supposedly you can't calm or interact with or wake a kid in this state).  If this is it, though, I guess we need to see a sleep doctor? 

 

3)  Her naps are too long or her nighttime sleep is too long, so she is having trouble staying asleep in the middle of the night because she is not sleepy (but when she thrashes around, her eyes are usually closed most of the time as though she is tired but just can't sleep, so I'm not sure that this is it - although she does sometimes open her eyes and seem like she wants to play).  She naps about 3h/day and sleeps about 10h per night, which I understand is normal (11-12h is supposed to be normal for her age at this point). 

 

4)  She has some kind of medical issue like GERD or itchiness, or twitchy limbs, or whatever, that is causing her discomfort (probably not horrible pain, but maybe just something uncomfortable enough to keep waking her - for example, sometimes I can't sleep because I have achy-twitchy hips and legs, so I have to get up and do stretches).  Not sure how to diagnose this, though, since she can't talk!

 

Thanks for reading my super-long post.  If you have any ideas here or BTDT that you want to share, I'd love to hear it!  Which one of my theories do you think is most likely?  Is there something else I should put on the list of possible causes?  Should we try to find a sleep clinic?  Any other recommendations?

 

Thanks again in advance for your help and advice! 


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#2 of 36 Old 09-06-2011, 05:47 PM
 
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Honestly?  None of that sounds abnormal to me.  7.5 month olds aren't supposed to be great sleepers.  Even my 28 month old thrashes around in her sleep and cries out, but settles herself and goes back to sleep.

 

I think considering a sleep clinic is really jumping the gun.  Since she acts well-rested, it doesn't sound to me like a problem for her, just that she seems to be a restless sleeper that affects you.

 

Night-weaning is not recommended until after 12 months.  Right now she still gets a lot of her calories from night-nursing.  I'd just keep doing what you're doing and before long, her sleep will change again (watch out for the 9 month sleep regression which is a doozy, but normal!).


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#3 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 07:19 AM
 
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Yep, sounds just like my 7.5 month old. This, too, shall pass.

I don't think there's much to be done to change the kind of sleep disturbance you describe. Their little brains and bodies are so busy - too busy to rest, some days. Learning to sit/crawl/pull up/cruise, some big wonder weeks and teething all wreak havoc with sleep. Plus, our ped told us that it's really common for babies to start dreaming more vividly, at this age. Add in possible indigestion from new foods and there are many (non- fixable) reasons for disturbed sleep.

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#4 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses Bokonon and expat_canuk - I appreciate you taking the time to read my (long!) post.  I do appreciate you sharing your point of view, but I'm just not sure that I've clearly described the problem if the responses I'm getting are that it's just normal and that there is nothing I can do. 

 

I'm really hoping for some concrete suggestions.  I just don't agree that this is normal - my instincts tell me that something is bothering her.  She has been waking 10+ times per night, 90% of the time, since she was about 3 months old.  She doesn't just rouse and make a bit of noise for a few minutes before going back to sleep between sleep cycles - she repeatedly falls asleep and then wakes again 5, 10, 20, 30, 45 minutes later, repeating this cycle for hours.  She thrashes around a lot, and makes a lot of fussing noise, for extended periods of the night.  And it's not a 7.5 month developmental stage, b/c it has remained fundamentally unchanged for 4.5 months.  (It cannot possibly get any worse at 9m, because then she just wouldn't sleep at all.)  Even though she does not obviously seem to be suffering from sleep deprivation during the day, no one can convince me that it is good for her to have such fitful sleep.  And I cannot go on without sleep - I have to find something to make this more workable - I cannot muster enough brainpower to do my job (and if I lose it we cannot pay our bills) and my health is deteriorating (in addition to my mood, which keeps sinking into a depression from the sleep deprivation). 

 

I've looked at as much scientific analysis as I can, and as far as I can tell, sleep disturbances of this kind are "normal" if they go on for temporary periods especially during teething or major milestones (which she isn't currently going through), or if the wakings are less frequent and severe (say only 3 times per night) - but being stuck in this repeated cycle for 4.5 months at this age when she should have some improved sleep maturity (compared to the newborn phase) is not normal.  And even if this can be common for some kids, I am not convinced that it cannot be improved. 

 

We've worked very hard using a variety of techniques and we have managed to successfully get her to fall asleep on her own consistently without her having to do any CIO - this has taken months of hard work, but it has been something we have been able to improve gradually.  I don't see why we can't find gradual solutions for repeated night waking. 

 

When BFing was excruciatingly painful for the first 3 months, most experts said that was normal, too, but it wasn't - our daughter had posterior tongue-tie, which, when corrected, reversed her slow weight gain, dramatically shrunk her feeding times, and drastically improved my pain (although it didn't do away with it completely - it still hurts to feed her, but at least now it is manageable).  I'm hoping for the same kind of progress on the night waking front.  I don't need it to be completely "cured" into some magical 12 hour straight sleep stretch - I just need her to do something "manageable," like sleeping 9h at night with 3 or fewer major wakings on a normal night (occasional lousy nights aside), for example. 

 

Thanks again in advance for anyone taking the time to read my posts, and to any of you who take the time to post a reply!

 

 


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#5 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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It sounds like most of the time she's settling herself back to sleep?  I thought waking every 45 minutes was 'normal' and it's the needing to nurse to go back to sleep that was considered 'abnormal'. If her waking is bothering you maybe put her in a crib?

 

Nursing 3x night sounds normal for sure.  

 

 

My son woke ALL.THE.TIME and nursed every time.  Once I cut out the nursing he started sleeping but it sounds like that is not your issue.

 

Her bedtime is kind of late?  I have heard that complaint about ferber.  That is total hours sleep are too short.  Weisbluth is supposed to be better at that, IDK.  At that age mine were sleeping 12 hours a night and 3 hours of naps, give or take.  

 

2..3...4

 

Wake @ 7am

First nap 2 hours after waking (9-10:30/11am)

Second nap 3 hours after waking from that (1pm - 2:30/3))

Bedtime 4 hours after waking from 2nd nap (7pm)

 

Some people (child and adults) are just not 'good' cosleepers.  My DD sleeps better by herself, for example but my son is still great to sleep with.  Maybe your or your DD (or both) would do better by yourselves!  I think cosleeping only works if you can sleep through the wakings.  I saw it here before listed as 'the no clock sleep solution'.  You seem VERY aware of everything she does at night.  That'll drive you mad.


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#6 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 12:06 PM
 
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This probably isn't the direction you want to go, but have you tried nursing her every time she wakes up, instead of waiting to see if she'll go back to sleep on her own?  Since she is putting herself back to sleep a lot, I can see why you might hesitate to do anything to mess that up.  But what if there are times when she's sleepy enough to fall back to sleep but also hungry enough that she doesn't sleep very soundly or for very long?  Maybe if you nursed at the first waking she wouldn't keep waking after that.  Does she seem to stay asleep longer after the times you do nurse her?   (If not, you can probably forget this idea.)

 

I wouldn't be too quick to assume her fitful sleep is bad for her or means there is some problem.  As a baby, my DD was a horrible sleeper who rarely slept more than 2 hours at a stretch and often woke every hour.  I remember seeing an awful lot of posts from other people with babies about the same age who were waking just as often.  (DD is 8 now, and still not a great sleeper, but she's a healthy, happy kid.)  But as you say, even if it's common, there could be some way to improve it.  I didn't bother to try to fix my DD's sleep when she was a baby, because I was getting adequate sleep even with the nightwakings.  But just before she turned 2 I nightweaned her, and that made a big difference.  She didn't start sleeping through the night all the time right away, but she did start sleeping through the night sometimes, and waking less often.  I nightweaned DS at about the same age and he immediately started sleeping through the night every night.  I don't know about nightweaning at 7 months, but it does sound like she's already going to sleep without nursing often enough that it might be feasible.  What's the longest you've let her fuss before nursing her?  You could try extending that time just a bit to see if she eventually settles down.

 

But maybe you should just focus on figuring out how you can get more sleep.  What if your DD slept in a crib, or in a different bed with your partner, so you wouldn't be woken during the times she was stirring around but was able to put herself back to sleep?  What if you went to bed earlier while your partner stayed up with the baby, or slept in later while your partner got up with the baby?  (You could take turns doing this, so you both got a chance to sleep well.)  What if there were nights when your partner took care of night wakings by giving her breastmilk from a bottle?

 

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#7 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies!

 

D_McG, It was my understanding that everyone wakes a little between sleep cycles, but that when there are no problems, this should be some more minor movement for a short period and then sleep again, without ever really fully coming awake.  I think a newborn's sleep cycle is 50 min long, and an adults is 90 min, so I'm not sure how quickly it lengthens to that amount, but maybe at 7-8 months is around an hour long?  For example, last night when she woke at 4am, it took her until after 4:45am to stop thrashing around and making fussy noises (and she had just eaten at 3am, so she can't have been hungry). 

 

I did try putting her to bed earlier at least half a dozen times in August, and it was always an exhausting, draining, negative experience - if she goes down around 9pm, she goes to sleep pretty quickly - anytime before that, and she will fuss and scream and cry and fight the bedtime for up to an hour and a half.  I could probably move her bedtime to 8:30pm (but I don't know if that would move her waking time).  She already gets up a bit early in my opinion - 7am at best, but often also at 6am (like today), and occasionally 5am. 

 

She used to take 3 naps, and then her nap schedule was similar to what you describe except that nap #2 was sooner than for your kids, but about a week or two ago she gave it up and went to a long late morning nap and a short late afternoon nap.  We have always just looked for her tired signs and put her down then.  She starts to rub her eyes and look sleepy about 30-60 min before she will actually go to sleep - we have to wait for her to get cranky, then walk/carry her around for about half an hour, and then she will go to sleep. 

 

I've definitely alternated between keeping track of her nighttime wakings and not keeping track - it's nicer not to track things too much, but impossible for me to feel like there is anything we can do if I go that way.  In terms of sleeping through her wakings, they are so loud and movement-heavy that I couldn't sleep through them no matter where she slept, unless we put her in a separate room without a monitor, which I would not be comfortable about - I want to hear her if she really gets unhappy. Maybe we should try the crib - I hate to do it unless there's really a good chance it would make a difference, but maybe we've reached that point?  We don't even own a crib.  I'd really like to continue cosleeping, but we'll see - I may reconsider if it seems like the only thing that might help.  I've even tried sleeping with just her and me in a king sized bed, so she has plenty of room to thrash around, but I just find that once she's made any noise, I can't stay asleep - I'm always worried that the noise will escalate into real crying, and then I'll need to be aware enough to do something to comfort her. 

 

 

 

Daffodil, I have tried that nursing approach.  It can help her sleep more sometimes, but not necessarily.  When I get really exhausted and fed up, I just feed her every time she wakes up, and then that helps some because she goes back to sleep more quickly.  If I wait to feed her until she really isn't settling down after a certain period of time, then it is more likely to result in a 2h chunk of sleep after the feed, but it doesn't always work.  I've been trying to avoid that since we got her to fall asleep on her own, since I'm scared of undoing all the hard work involved in getting her to sleep without eating every time, but maybe it is all irrelevant.  

 

We have tried some trading off, but it's difficult b/c I don't sleep that well when she's not in the room (it was funny reading Ferber's description of sleep associations, b/c I think I have exactly that - if I sleep in another room without the baby, I suddenly wake up repeatedly and don't know where I am or where the baby is, and then I have to wake up fully to remember).  DH also has trouble going back to sleep when he's woken, whereas I can generally go right back to sleep.  We can try this a bit more (DH owes me a few nights anyway, since I've had her alone for the last 3 nights b/c of his big work stuff), so I can try sleeping in another room and letting him bring her to me just to BF.  I just hate having us all sleep in different rooms and shuffling around!  When we've tried it, I never felt like I got much better sleep!  I know that's stupid, since I should just be able to seize on any opportunity to sleep when I can, but I find it hard anyway.  

 

Thanks again for your replies!  I'm going to keep thinking about your suggestions and try to see if any of them would make sense as a next step. 

And if anyone else has further suggestions (or wants to second those already mentioned) - I'd love to hear more. :)


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#8 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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Oh my, I feel for you!!!  I say trust your Mama instincts, I can't say if your situation is "abnormal" or within the realm of "normal", but if you think there is more to it then I would trust that--you know your babe best, so don't give up searching (her feeding issues are a great example of the payoff!).  I wish I had some answers to offer you but I'm afraid we are in a similar boat (although my DS' nightwaking's seem to be related to his digestive issues) but have yet to come up with any concrete answers.  I've written more detail about our situation here, although I hope you don't find it discouraging to read.  All I can say is that I feel for you and understand how difficult it is to get by on such little, fragmented sleep--leading to exhaustion, poor immune function, depression, irritability and just plain not being the Mama one hopes to be.  You seem very smart and in tune with your LO, you are also stronger than you could ever imagine--our bodies are amazing at adapting and this season won't last forever, I never would have thought I could last this long under such conditions.  I commend you for establishing such great sleep habits despite your challenging situation, my DS has ZERO self-soothing capabilities and relies on nursing to sleep...still at 15 months, so at some point once his symptoms get better we've got our work cut out for us!  

 

I will keep you posted if we find anything out that might help you as well.  You are a a very patient, loving and wise Mama!

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#9 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 07:25 PM
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry.... You must be unbelievably exhausted.  Mine weren't good sleepers, but better than that.

 

It sounds like you've already done everything I was going to suggest:

a regression from learning to pull-up, crawl, or cruise

an earlier bedtime

taking a break from tracking the night-wakes

moving her to a crib or different room

letting DH take over as much as possible.

 

Our biggest issues seemed to be temperament (she didn't want to miss a thing) with my first, and milk with my 2nd. 

 

The thing that worked best with my 2nd was to have DH take over.  He could pat her back and be out of there in 10 minutes.  It'd take me an hour, nursing or not.  She first started sleeping through the night at 16 months when DH started putting her to bed. 

 

I found my kids (the 2nd mostly) to do a little better as newborns because they were easy to get back to sleep.  Once the 4 month sleep regression hit, I found it harder to deal with. 

 

Hah, I've read most of those books too!  They've mostly just grown into better sleep, but I agree that your situation is barely liveable at this point.  Good for you on Weissbluth!   I know there is supposed to be some good info, but honestly, I found it digusting.  *I* couldn't sleep after reading it, and there wasn't much that could keep me awake at that point!

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#10 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 08:12 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by cww View Post

 

I've even tried sleeping with just her and me in a king sized bed, so she has plenty of room to thrash around, but I just find that once she's made any noise, I can't stay asleep - I'm always worried that the noise will escalate into real crying, and then I'll need to be aware enough to do something to comfort her. 

 

Daffodil, I have tried that nursing approach.  It can help her sleep more sometimes, but not necessarily.  When I get really exhausted and fed up, I just feed her every time she wakes up, and then that helps some because she goes back to sleep more quickly.  If I wait to feed her until she really isn't settling down after a certain period of time, then it is more likely to result in a 2h chunk of sleep after the feed, but it doesn't always work.  I've been trying to avoid that since we got her to fall asleep on her own, since I'm scared of undoing all the hard work involved in getting her to sleep without eating every time, but maybe it is all irrelevant.  

 

We have tried some trading off, but it's difficult b/c I don't sleep that well when she's not in the room (it was funny reading Ferber's description of sleep associations, b/c I think I have exactly that - if I sleep in another room without the baby, I suddenly wake up repeatedly and don't know where I am or where the baby is, and then I have to wake up fully to remember). 


Based on the bolded comments above, it sounds like the way for you to get the most sleep in the short term would be to keep sleeping with her, but give up watching the clock or trying to change anything and just nurse her immediately whenever she wakes up.  That way you could fall asleep again right away each time.  Maybe if you keep working on encouraging her to fall asleep without nursing as much as possible, it will lead to better sleep eventually.  But right now, it's making your life harder - and you can't be sure all the hard work will really lead to a payoff soon enough to make it worthwhile.  If I were you, I think I'd give up on trying for the future payoff in favor of doing what would give me the most sleep now.

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#11 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 08:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post




Based on the bolded comments above, it sounds like the way for you to get the most sleep in the short term would be to keep sleeping with her, but give up watching the clock or trying to change anything and just nurse her immediately whenever she wakes up.  That way you could fall asleep again right away each time.  Maybe if you keep working on encouraging her to fall asleep without nursing as much as possible, it will lead to better sleep eventually.  But right now, it's making your life harder - and you can't be sure all the hard work will really lead to a payoff soon enough to make it worthwhile.  If I were you, I think I'd give up on trying for the future payoff in favor of doing what would give me the most sleep now.

 

I agree with this.  I have 3 kids and with my first I did what you're doing.  Worked so hard at the stupid sleep associations and it just didn't make a difference at that age.  What 'worked' was basically latching him on every time he stirred and we'd both go back to sleep.  Eventually I barely woke up.  Then there comes a point where you can nightwean and they settle down.
 

My baby now falls asleep by herself no problem (likely won't last but anyway) but i still nurse her anywhere from 1 to 6 times overnight.  The next day I either feel 'kinda tired' or 'really tired'.  That's my gauge as to how well she slept.  I don't count at all.  If I am really tired I go to bed at like 9pm the next night.  Just one night of that catches me up.

 

Now I'm not for a second minimizing sleep deprivation and am the first here to shout "go to a hotel!!' when someone is really tired.  I'm just pointing out that kind of 'surrendering' to the wake/nurse cycle at this age might be the sanity saver.  

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#12 of 36 Old 09-08-2011, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again for the replies everyone!

 

Last night was actually not too bad - I think she only woke about 4 times before 6am?  (It all starts to blend together so I can't remember exactly - but last night was definitely one of the better nights.)  Yesterday was a nap anomaly, so I'm starting to wonder if messing with her nap schedule would help (or it could just be chance).  My MIL who takes her during the day had a visitor, and so DD was too excited to take her nap until noon, and then she slept for 3h and skipped her afternoon nap, so she actually went to sleep at 7:30pm (which she has never done before).  This makes me wonder if we should try gradually adjusting her naps to earlier in the day so that she isn't napping after 3pm, to see if that makes her go to sleep earlier and sleep through better?  (Or will it make no difference and/or make her start waking for the day at 4:30am?)  We may try this to test whether or not it was a fluke that she slept better after the earlier naptime/bedtime.  I'll report back if it helps.  If anyone else out there has had nighttime sleep improvement from adjusted naptimes, please let me know and share your tips!

 

Thanks for the encouragement, A.Jewell - it's really nice to hear.  I'm sorry to hear about the issues you've been having - that sounds really rough, and it sounds like you've really been working hard to help your LO.  I really hope you find a solution soon.  I'm going to try to post on your post now...

 

llwr, I should probably try letting DH do more at night again (I just figure that if I'm not sleeping well in another room, why should both of us sleep badly?) - maybe I can learn to sleep better if we just trade nights for long enough that I would just get used to it?  Did you find that letting DH do the soothing for a few days or a week improved the wakings at all after that, or did DH have to keep doing the soothing himself for the improvement to stay?  As for the books, I figured out months ago that I just could not read baby sleep books before bed - it would just make me feel stressed when I was trying to fall asleep - even the "encouraging" books! :)

 

Daffodil, you make a good point.  It's tough, since I don't know how long it might take to see improvement with the self-soothing (or if it will help at all).  It so goes against my nature to pick short term relief over long term solutions, but I agree that there comes a point where one can't keep suffering for the hope of some distant payoff.  I guess also I don't know how much better I sleep when she just nurses (the joys of sleep deprivation include the fact that I just can't remember much about how I slept last week or last month - it's all a blur).  I think it probably helps just to nurse her and go back to sleep, but even then it's still rough being woken in such short increments. 

 

D_McG, thanks again for your post - I don't know whether it makes me feel better to hear that breaking sleep associations didn't help much with your first (since it means that it's not just us!) or worse (since it means it might never help!).  I hear you about going to bed at 9pm.  We can't do this every night (work schedules), but I do often go to bed by 9:30 or 10pm.  (I think what I really need is a 2-3h nap every afternoon, but alas, that doesn't really jive with my work schedule...)  I'm definitely considering going back to nursing at every waking at the moment. 

 

 

 


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#13 of 36 Old 09-08-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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cww- I empathize with you and I give you huge kudos for reading all the books and working so hard at this. I have a 9 month old whose sleep habits sound very similar. I am also working full-time, so I totally get how you feel. I can't even figure out where you found time to read the books! I started down the path of breaking sleep associations, but alas, I am too spent to do it. I have resorted/reverted to just nursing her down and nursing her back to sleep. It's the best I can do right now. I just wanted to give you huge props for all that you are doing to figure this situation out while also working on little to no sleep.

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#14 of 36 Old 09-08-2011, 02:42 PM
 
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My 7 month old wakes at least 4 or 5 times a night to nurse.  Sometimes more.  Luckily, he goes back to sleep pretty easily afterwards.  Sometimes I look at the clock and it's been less than two hours.  Since I am a SAHM, I just go with it and nap with him during the day if I need to.


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#15 of 36 Old 09-08-2011, 04:52 PM
 
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It so goes against my nature to pick short term relief over long term solutions, but I agree that there comes a point where one can't keep suffering for the hope of some distant payoff. nt. 

 

 

 


I would think of it less like that and more about having age appropriate responses to her. Putting her in diapers now won't make it impossible to potty train her later, yk?  It's all age appropriate, IME. My big 2 kids (5 and almost 3) fall asleep alone in their own beds and stay there all night.  It'll change, really!

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#16 of 36 Old 09-09-2011, 09:40 AM
 
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My son had very restless nights when he napped too much at that age or when he didn't have enough stimulation during the day.  So we went out a lot and just explored our town.  That made a difference (woke to nurse every 2-5 hours instead of every 45 min), but frequent nightwaking is normal for kids this age.  

 

Edit:  do you work outside the home?  Is she attempting to reverse cycle, perhaps?


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#17 of 36 Old 09-09-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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llwr, I should probably try letting DH do more at night again (I just figure that if I'm not sleeping well in another room, why should both of us sleep badly?) - maybe I can learn to sleep better if we just trade nights for long enough that I would just get used to it?  Did you find that letting DH do the soothing for a few days or a week improved the wakings at all after that, or did DH have to keep doing the soothing himself for the improvement to stay?  As for the books, I figured out months ago that I just could not read baby sleep books before bed - it would just make me feel stressed when I was trying to fall asleep - even the "encouraging" books! :)


With DD2, at about 9 months he started dealing with the NWs before about 11pm.  The main reason was because she would settle for him and not me, but it did reduce the NWs overall and more or less stuck.  Although it reduced NWs, she still expected milk and didn't settle well for me if I was the one getting her.  At 16 months he started putting her to bed after I nursed her and that's also about the time she started to STTN.  It didn't really make a difference with DD1.  But just the break is nice even if you don't actually get improvement.

 

I second the idea of just trying to maximize your sleep for a while.  You can always come back to the problem when you're a little more rested. 

 

With DD1 we saw slight improvement when taking away the paci at 4.5 mos.  I definately tried harder with her, but I'm not sure if it was worth it or not.  It'd be nice to know what outcome you'd actually get before putting in the effort!

 

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#18 of 36 Old 09-10-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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OP - I agree with some of the PP's advice about short term relief. For a short while, I just had DD (also 7.5) sleep in her crib. She slept MUCH better - only waking 2 or 3 times per night. And I slept like a ROCK - no hearing the thrashings, moanings, and everything else. When she actually woke and started to fuss, DH was in charge of bringing her to me. She  slept, I slept. It lasted a few weeks and it was amazing.

 

A few weeks ago she started crawling, pulling to stand, got her 2nd tooth, etc. She started waking again - like, constantly. And I put her back in bed with me. And every time she starts to thrash/wake/whatever, I just nurse her. No keeping track (though my memory guesses at 8-10 wakings per night), no worrying, no talking, no extra anything.  I just give her the breast and go back to sleep. She does too, sometimes without really even eating at all, just wants the comfort. We're getting sleep.

 

I guess what I'm saying is keep your mind open to the idea that there is no solution - or at least not right at this age/moment in time - and to do whatever works best THAT night. When your LO wakes for the first time, ask yourself what will help her and you sleep the best til the next waking, and then again at that waking, until you find that you can wake up in the morning and feel you spent more of your night sleeping than awake. I really HAD to do this because my DH gets up for work at 4 am & leaves at 5 - and the kids hear him. They never sleep past 530, and trust me, that comes early. Then I'm responsible for you know,  EVERYTHING, they need all day. How am I going to take care of them if I'm not rested enough to move?

 

hug2.gif

 

 

Btw... my personal theory about this type of night waking (thrashing, uncomfortable & settling self back to sleep), like my kids have done, is related to gut issues. Gut immaturity, digestion poor or slow, bubbly type gas, new foods or irritating foods, that baby eats or in your milk, etc. DS (3 yo) has leaky gut and as we've been working to improve it, he's started making entire nights without waking for the first time in like, ever.  But - just a personal theory.


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#19 of 36 Old 09-10-2011, 09:20 PM
 
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I can't say that our sleep issues with our 1st DS were as extreme as what you are experiencing, however (and I know this is unusual) he did go to 1 nap a day around 6m and then at 2yo completely cut out all naps.  Also, after about 12m we found that he could not nap past 2:30-3 pm in order to go to bed by 8.  He is incredibly active and I would classify him as hyper-active, however when in pre-school he can settle down and concentrate like the other children (how does that work).  Also, I did not night wean him until he was 2 and he was a very restless sleeper until that point in time.  Unfortunately it took about 3 months of "very sad" nights before he could go to sleep with DH and without nursing before he was OK with the whole idea of not seeing mommy until the morning.  Now almost 2 years later he is a great night time sleeper, but still needs a parental pressence when going to sleep.  I wished I had night weaned him at around 18m however I was pregnant with 2nd DS and was just too tired to deal with it.  I'm not sure that night weaning will improve your situation since your LO is only 7.5m but moving nap time earlier should help.  When 1st DS was still taking afternoon naps, he would sleep until 4 or so and then I would have a HUGE battle at bedtime.  I think one day we had a fluke like you did and decided to try having a nap time cutoff and that worked wonders.  Bedtime was much better after that point (but he was still restless). 

 

You had mentioned having separate sleep space but did not own a crib.  Have you thought about just getting a mattress (like a twin) and putting it in your bedroom on the floor?  (Might be less expensive than going the crib route.) I have not tried this but have friends who have and it has worked well for them.  My problem is when I am with 1st DS at bedtime (which is rare) I can fall asleep no problem, however if I am with 2nd DS I cannot fall asleep without nursing him... so who needs to be night weaned?? HA!  Sleep associations are a funny thing.

 

You are a real trooper and keep plugging away at it, you will get this problem worked out!

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#20 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 06:46 AM
 
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I agree with picketma,  my DD had consistent mild gas for which I was constantly bicycling her legs and 'folding her over' and massaging her belly to help her release.  She was just uncomfortable...but after releasing the gas always slept much better and for longer time periods usually falling right back to sleep.  The good thing is that it went away after about 8 months or so..

 

I have her on a crib mattress with a bedrail attached on the floor next to our mattress on the floor.  Feels like a king bed and I don't have to worry about her falling while rolling around in the middle of the night!

 

We are considering moving her into her sister's room for night weaning in a month or two so I can finally get some continuous sleep with DH helping to resettle her (she still wakes at 11, 2 and 5am consistently), but right now we have too much other stuff going on!

 

Good luck and keep on keepin' on!


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#21 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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Sorry, I meant I agree with anjsmama about the gut issues....and picketma about the sleeping arrangements...thumb.gif


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#22 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again to everyone for their continued responses!  We have some improvement over the last several nights.  For about 3 nights in a row she has been sleeping for 3h stretches, which is so much better!  Now if I can just figure out why, to make sure that it lasts...  (She's slept better in the past for several days and then suddenly regressed again.)  I don't know if the fact that she can fall asleep on her own just took several weeks before it would help her resettle in the middle of the night, or if it is just a fluke, or if there is some other rational explanation. 

 

Cassaba, thanks for the encouragement!  It's taken me 4 months to get through all the books - mostly on the kindle app on my iphone in bits and pieces - on the subway, while nursing (one book I read entirely on an overseas flight, in between distracting the LO).  I agree it's really tough to find time to read them (or try to think through how to act on them) - there were definitely large swaths of time during which I didn't read anything....

 

gemasita, thanks for the post - it's good to hear from you again. :) 

 

D_McG, you have a good point about age-appropriate responses.  What I find hard is knowing exactly what age-appropriate responses are for her exactly!  She seems able to sleep longer sometimes at this age, so theoretically she is capable of it, but it's just so unclear how we could help her do it more often! :)

 

jocelyndale, it's a great point about enough stimulation and activity.  I don't think this is a problem in our case, in that she does get lots of stimulation (sometimes too much here in NYC), although she doesn't crawl around a ton - she seems to prefer to practice standing rather than to move back and forth crawling on the floor.  I think she probably does often nap too much often, but I'm not exactly sure how to limit it.  I've been thinking about this all week - that maybe we should keep her from napping until at least 10am, and then try to not let her nap after 4pm (but this is HARD when she is really cranky at 5-6pm!).  I do work FT, so she is with her grandma during the day, so she could be trying to reverse cycle a little bit, but we had just as bad sleeping habits during the summer when I was working at home and we were all (me, DH, LO and grandma) in the same house and spending most of our time together.  I have several hours with her in the morning (grandma only takes her at 9am and she is up before dawn!) and in the evening, so I hope that helps her not needing to feel like she needs to wake up in the middle of the night?

 

llwr, thanks for sharing about your results with using DH to manage wakings.  I know I need to let DH try this more, but I find it so hard to listen to the crying, and she definitely settles much more quickly if I just feed her.  We also took the pacifier away (about a month to a month and a half ago maybe?) and didn't really notice much improvement (although I guess it did help her to resettle herself on her own after she practiced falling asleep w/o the pacifier a bunch of times). 

 

anjsmama, thanks for sharing your experience.  I thought your theory about the gut issues was really interesting - when DD did this night waking and thrashing as a newborn, she often would pass gas afterward and then settle down again, so I thought that she was having painful gas then, but the pediatrician didn't think this could be an issue.  She doesn't do the pulling up of the legs that she did as a newborn anymore, and I don't hear her pass gas that often nowadays, but maybe there is still some relationship?  There are definitely times when she just seems to thrash around so much that I think something must be making her uncomfortable...

 

picketma, thanks for the encouragement. :)  I know what you mean about which of us needs to be nightweaned - I'm already sad at the idea of her not sleeping next to me (even if that day doesn't come for a while), but I think she would do fine sleeping in her own bed (she sleeps fine on her own in the stroller or the carseat during naps...).  I guess I have thought about putting a mattress on the floor, but since she is such a little explorer, I'm worried about her crawling off when I am not sleeping and getting into outlets, etc (I'm never totally confident that she won't outsmart the baby-proofing stuff!).  We did do this during the summer (different house, where we had a mattress on the floor ourselves), but I started to get worried once she could crawl.  What do you guys do in order to feel confident that they won't get into something dangerous?

 

binga, thanks also for sharing what you've done.  It's interesting that you've found bicycling her legs helped.  I used to do that all the time with our daughter, but I haven't tried it again in months. 

 

 

We are super, super happy with the (hopefully not temporary?) improvement to her night waking that we've had the last several nights (I never thought 6.5h of sleep with 3 interruptions would be something I would celebrate as a "good" night's sleep, but it's soooo much more functional than repeated night wakings!).  Thanks again for everyone's suggestions!  (I bet we will continue to use them, especially when the next repeated waking spree starts.)

 

We are still struggling with getting a good naptime schedule, though.  The biggest issue right now seems to be that she is just REALLY irregular with her sleeping times and that she sleeps relatively little overnight and gets up super early.  I'm nervous about messing with anything right now since we've finally gotten somewhat decent sleep the last few nights, but if it keeps up, I think we do have to do something to get her to sleep more at night. 

 

I've been tracking her sleep times, and they range from 10 to 15.5 total hours per day, with naps ranging from 3 to 5.5h long, and nighttime sleep ranging from 7 to 10.5h long.  The only time of day she has not slept is 9-10am and 7-7:30pm - otherwise her naps and bedtime are all over the map!  The last 3 nights she has only slept about 7-8h at night - last night she was super tired and cranky but would not go to sleep until 9:30pm (in the carriage - I gave up with trying to get her to put herself to sleep since she would really start to cry every time), and then she was up at 5am (she's been up before dawn for a solid week now - she used to sleep until 7am, at least half the time).  It's clear that she's not sleeping enough at night, but once she is up, there is no getting her back to bed (or even playing quietly in bed - she will wrestle with me if I try to stay in bed...).  I guess we need to cut down her nap times and try to time them better, but I'm a little nervous about that destabilizing her nighttime sleep again - anyone have any advice on this front?


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#23 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 10:21 AM
 
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Frequent night wakings are both HEALTY and NORMAL:

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html
http://www.drjen4kids.com/soap%20box/sleep%20stuff.htm

 

Honestly this sounds like a case where you may be over analyzing her sleep patterns, when really you just need to listen to her cues and find better ways for YOU to cope with night wakings until she has reached the developmental stage where she can sleep better. Nighttime parenting is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting and I've always found that a healthier mindset is to focus on internal health/coping rather than what one may be doing wrong or what may be wrong with ones child if they don't meet (often arbitrary, unrealistic and purely cultural) expectations. 

Something to consider is that maternal attitude/mental state WILL reflect through the child so your anxiety about her sleep patterns may actually be causing them to begin with. Try doing yoga, meditating and/or taking some melatonin, magnesium, chamomile tea or motherwort before bed (if you are comfortable taking while nursing) to help you relax and stay at a calmer place when she stirs. 

You can also try having DH tire her out/burn up some of that physical energy with a brisk walk in a carrier or some light wrestling/tickling/chasing before bed. I recently read that an important part of juvenile mammalian rhythms is rough play at wake up and bedtime with a dominant but kindly caregiver (ie father, older sibling) and have always found that to be true in our home. DH and DS
Another thing you can try is having DH get up with her in the AM if you need to catch up on sleep. We do this in our home and it usually results in coffee or even breakfast in bed which is never a bad thing orngbiggrin.gif

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#24 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 11:17 AM
 
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Great to see you've been getting results by asking for help and trying new things! I haven't read every word, but the post just before mine (vacaisle) is more along the lines of my advice.... there is a saying in a country not ours, can't remember which one, that goes "when a child cries, treat the mother". Our personal mental and emotional energy directly affects our children, I've watched it countless times! So my advice would be this. Stop thinking about sleep, and think about something new! We are all vibrating atoms. Sound, light, air, rocks, our bodies, it is all vibrating. We can gooey up the vibration though, so sing, dance, jiggle, wiggle, growl, be silly and goofy and fun! Feel every atom in your body get jiggled! And when you are feeling lighter and free-er, it automatically is shared with your baby. If I get tied up about anything, and start goofy growling to get the energy released, my lil man starts laughing! Then I laugh more! And IF I LET IT, we are just happy and laughing and in the present moment. Nothing else matters. Over time, we are both healthier, and overall the issues are less and the flow is more. So, get back to the basics: get out of our heads, get into our bodies, get into the heart and joy of life. The rest will be freed up to fall into place. The knowledge that you've gained and stored away in your brain can then come to you effortlessly, like a tool being handed to you out of your own toolbelt. It will just "plop" be right there in front of you. Follow it. Appreciate it. Repeat. Even if it's just a little here, a little there at first. Keep it up. The more this is practiced, the more layers can be released. It takes effort at first, but then it'll be easier to remember. And it's a thousand times more fun than the hours you've spent trying to figure it all out. I know!! I was, and can still be, just like you :-)  and believe me, this is the most powerful way through. Like, do you want to pick out every rock by hand, or just dump the sandbox sand through a sieve, jiggle it, and wha-la! Fresh fine sand! Perhaps this seems too simple, too good to be true. It's not. :-) Oh, and after a while of ignoring the books, I dive back in for more knowledge in a new subject as needed, add more tools to the toolbelt, but be sure to have fun throughout. Best to you all!

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#25 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 11:33 AM
 
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For the having the mattresses on the floor, I definitely cleared out the bedroom of dangers to the best of my ability.  Most of the time by the time I hear her and get to the door, she has crawled toward the door across our mattress, but at 11mo, she is savvy about the edge of the mattress and can crawl down no problem.  There have been a few times when I hear her roll off the edge of the mattress in the dark before I get there, but with strategically placed pillows, this isn't dangerous.  And it is really just an issue at around 11pm when her first wakeful period happens (her 'bedtime' is in the backpack or with DH around 8:30-9pm) and if I am not in bed yet by 11 (which is rare!).

 

I just got use a crib mattress that I will use later and put a few sturdy blankets underneath to prop it up to our mattress level, then connected the bedrail with the anchor underneath both of our mattresses.

 

I can't tell you how many times she has stirred and swung out a hand just to make sure I'm there, then settles back down. We did not have this arrangement with my older DD and I ended up sleeping on a futon mattress with her in another room for quite some time to get the same effect.  I do think my two needed room to squirm and roll around or else they wake from feeling 'confined' or by banging into something.

 

I just want to express my feeling of compassion for all the breastfeeding moms out there waking up every few hours at night and having to work or be 'functional' during the day, It ain't easy!  But rest assured, the alternative may be even harder!


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#26 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 11:33 AM
 
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You can also try having DH tire her out/burn up some of that physical energy with a brisk walk in a carrier or some light wrestling/tickling/chasing before bed. I recently read that an important part of juvenile mammalian rhythms is rough play at wake up and bedtime with a dominant but kindly caregiver (ie father, older sibling) and have always found that to be true in our home.


 

This is exactly along the same lines.... the vibration of walking and light wrestling/tickling... and that thing where you blow blubbery noises on their belly! It all helps disperse the excess energetic congestion. Raspberries? Zerbits? We call them Grrrrsss :-) and lil man will grrrrr at us when he wants them!

 

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#27 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 12:24 PM
 
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It sounds like you have been given some great advise.  My son (who is now 5) had trouble sleeping from day 1, but being my first child, I didn't realize his sleeping patterns weren't normal.  Last winter he had recurring strep throat, so we began seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.  We ended up needing to have his tonsils removed.  They didn't remove the tonsils only because of the strep throat, more so because the specialist asked how he slept and after I explained his sleeping habits, he did more testing to find he had sleep apnea due to extremely large tonsils.  Turns out he was choking on his tinsils in his sleep which caused him to wake randomly throughout the night since day 1.  I must say I REALLY lost faith in his pediatrician at that point for never putting two and two together, but since his tonsils were removed in March of this year, he no longer wakes in the middle of the night and for the first time in 5 years I too am sleeping through the night. 

 

There is obvisously a slim chance that your daughter is waking for the same reason my son was, but you can't rule it out.  I wouldn't hesitate to see a specialist to determine if she may be experiencing sleep apnea for some reason.  They will probably test her and worst case they will rule it out and you can keep trying other options.  I wish you the best of luck!!

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Just wanted to say hang in there - I am having similar problems with my 8 month old DD and it's hard to keep it together with the no sleep. At 7 months when we were experimenting with Elimination Communication I tried doing it at night to see if that might help with the constant waking. I realized at night that her cloth diapers were dry through most of the night wakings for long periods of time. What I discovered was that she wanted to keep nursing because her bladder was full and the only way she could relax enough to release it was to keep nursing, but then she would fall asleep without releasing it, and wake up uncomfortable, and start all over with more nursing, which made her have to pee even more! Right now she does wake frequently, probably due to teething and development issues, every 2-3 hours and sometimes more, but when she was waking up 10 or 15 minutes after I had just put her down, it was generally because of a full bladder and so I'd do EC with her to relieve that. I am not sure if you mentioned this already so forgive me if I'm covering old ground. Just wanted to throw it out there. It hasn't solved all of our problems but I have a better idea now of when she's waking because of her bladder,

 

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#29 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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This is really interesting.  I have done EC with our 9-month old DD since she was just a few weeks old.  She too wakes up many times during the night.  I think you're right about needing to relax enough in order to release her bladder.  With our son and doing EC w/ him, I tried taking him to the potty at night when he was a baby, but he wasn't happy about it all.  However, his sister may be a different story.  I'll try EC w/ her one night on her first waking and see how it goes.

 

I consider it a good night if she has a stretch of 3+ hours.  She starts off in the crib, asleep btw 8-9pm after nursing - sometimes she falls asleep while nursing and if not, she falls asleep while I'm standing above her.  If my husband or I have the energy, we will pat her down when she wakes up the first time (~11:30pm).  I'll nurse her in our bed for the 2nd waking (~1-2am).  She nurses again btw 4-5am and she's up for the day around 6:30-7am.  If I have enough energy, I'll get up and put her back in the crib.  So a minimum of 3 times/night but sometimes it's more - up every 2 hours.  

 

You are not alone!  Hang in there.

 

 

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Originally Posted by mamabatty View Post

Just wanted to say hang in there - I am having similar problems with my 8 month old DD and it's hard to keep it together with the no sleep. At 7 months when we were experimenting with Elimination Communication I tried doing it at night to see if that might help with the constant waking. I realized at night that her cloth diapers were dry through most of the night wakings for long periods of time. What I discovered was that she wanted to keep nursing because her bladder was full and the only way she could relax enough to release it was to keep nursing, but then she would fall asleep without releasing it, and wake up uncomfortable, and start all over with more nursing, which made her have to pee even more! Right now she does wake frequently, probably due to teething and development issues, every 2-3 hours and sometimes more, but when she was waking up 10 or 15 minutes after I had just put her down, it was generally because of a full bladder and so I'd do EC with her to relieve that. I am not sure if you mentioned this already so forgive me if I'm covering old ground. Just wanted to throw it out there. It hasn't solved all of our problems but I have a better idea now of when she's waking because of her bladder,

 



 


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#30 of 36 Old 09-14-2011, 02:10 AM
 
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I think you've gotten some excellent advice here, but I just want to say that with my son I found 7mo-11mo to be a very difficult, unpredictable period on top of his being a not-so-great sleeper from Day 1. I know a lot of parents find this time hard. There's so much going on: separation anxiety starts, solids are introduced (and may cause tummy problems), milestones like crawling and cruising, and just a huge amount of mental stuff going on (check out: The Wonder Weeks).

 

It wasn't entirely awful for 4 whole months -- there were nights when I swear he slept for 6 hours straight (or I just didn't remember nursing him back to sleep, which to me is just as good). But definitely, 7 months was really bad with separation anxiety and restlessness.

 

My son just turned 1, and I think I will start gentle nightweaning/breaking associations after he's 18mo. There's a sleep regression around 13 months and 15-16 months (Wonder Weeks related), so I just want to wait until he settles down a bit and until he can understand more of what we say to him.

 

I understand overanalyzing because I did it too -- until 7mo, that is, and then I just got so tired that I had to think more about myself and less about my baby. That meant throwing out the glow-in-the-dark alarm clock, going to bed earlier with a cup of dill tea and a relaxing massage from hubby, finding a comfortable way to fall back asleep with baby latched, and just going with the flow.


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