Once a bad sleeper...always a bad sleeper? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
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My DD just turned a year old.


Since day one, shes woken up to nurse every three hours through the night. I guess I just figured it would slowly improve as she got older.


Well......doesnt seem to be improving at ALL.


In fact, 3 hours is considered good. I'd happily get up with her every 3 hours! Lately its more like every 90 minutes, sometimes less.


I feel like Im losing my mind.




She used to take a pacifier to bed, but ditched it on her own accord a couple months ago.


We've had the same bedtime routine set in place forever, and usually its not a problem to get her to sleep....just transferring her to the crib, or keeping her asleep for any length of time in the crib.


Sleeping in a crib isnt new to her. Shes been there since the early months. The crib is in our room. I used to think that possibly us stirring in bed was waking her, but shes up multiple times before DH and I even get into bed.




I really think she just doesnt know how to soothe herself back to sleep without me or my breasts. And I cant seem to just let her cry to figure it out, either.


I guess Im just looking for advice, or words of support, or something.


On a bad night her and I get maybe a couple hours of totally broken sleep and I think we'd both fare better if we were sleeping more!

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#2 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 07:35 PM
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My 2 DDs were poor sleepers too, but we eventually saw improvement.  There is hope!!!!


At 2 and 4.5, our only problems are a very lengthy bedtime routine including being nearby as they fall to sleep, and 4.5yo always ending up in our room.  And if we stay over somewhere DD1 will get to bed 11-12pm and DD2 will get up the next morning before 6, so I still haven't figured out vacations.  But I'm sure you'd gladly accept that right now!


They will never be as good of sleepers as their baby cousins that sleep ALL THE TIME, but they have made great improvements. 


You could try Elizabeth Pantley's books on sleep.  They're gentle and encouraging. I didn't get remarkable results, but you might.  DD2 always made improvements when DH took her.  It seemed as though she would only accept milk from me and would take an hour even when she got it, but he could rub her back and be out of the room in 10 min.  It's worth a try.  When she got more verbal, I would tell her she could have milk in the morning, but she could lie down with me or in her bed right now.  She didn't like it, of course, but did eventually accept it. 


Would it work to co-sleep once in a while just to get a little more rest?  It doesn't really try to improve things, but sometimes you just need to sleep. 





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#3 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply.


On bad nights we do end up co-sleeping. Either accidentally because Ive fallen asleep in the glider with her, or because she wont sleep unlatched and we are in bed. Which is definitely preferable to sleep...but I dont get very good sleep.


Im hoping that things will get a little better when we move next month and she can have her own room. Its doubtful, but would be great!!


I kind of think that part of the problem is that im inconsistent. I could try telling her that "Milkies are sleeping" and rock her only. Or I could refuse to take her out of the crib, and pat her back instead. Neither of those methods seemed to work very well. And I would give in and just take her to the glider to nurse.



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#4 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 08:17 PM
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Been there Hun. Consistency is definitely key. And the younger you start the quicker it can be. The problem is, staying consistent! At 3 am all you want to do is get back to sleep ASAP. I am not telling you I was consistent, because I wasn't. I gave in and nursed back to sleep until the problem corrected itself and I got pregnant and weaned DS. Truthfully I had hoped it would happen that way so I wouldn't have to do as much work, lol. That said, if he most important thing at this point is for you to get more sleep, do whatever it takes and don't worry about fixing the problem right now, focus on getting more sleep. I wish I could tell you how to! Aside from cosleeping and nursig back to sleep, you could try taking chamomile or another mild herb to help you sleep more soundly when baby does wake to nurse, in hopes that you will sleep through it. I have been told by my midwife that valerian and melatonin are okay while nursing, but that would be up to you and your doc or midwife.

DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#5 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 08:22 PM
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It does get better. Ds never went longer than 2-3 hours until 15 months when I nightweaned him (we used the Jay Gordon method - a water bottle was key for us as it turns out he gets thirsty at night). He slept in our bed until 18 months when we switched him to his own room & bed but he continued to join us partway through the night until just a few months ago. Now at 3 he sleeps in his own bed all night most nights. A couple nights a week he wakes briefly & needs a little reassurance & goes back to sleep.

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#6 of 13 Old 01-17-2012, 08:48 PM
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She won't necessarily always be a bad sleeper. DS (17 months) and I cosleep and are fortunate enough to be able to sleep through nursing, but he nursed very frequently throughout the night until recently, and would wake to get me if I wasn't in bed. If he was a crib sleeper, I don't think I would have gotten hardly any sleep during his first year, especially since he's always had a high suck need, but never really took to a pacifier. Whenever I pulled a late night, it seemed like I was constantly running back to our room to help DS get back to sleep. Lately it has really tapered off, though. The past couple weeks I haven't been sleeping well so I haven't been heading to bed until pretty late, but I've noticed he has rarely been waking at all. He got up once around 2am about a week ago and fell back asleep within moments of me bringing him back to bed. Kind of surprised me when I looked at the clock. It was about 6 hours without needing Mama. A couple times he has also woke up while I was in the room, looked around briefly, and then went back to sleep, whereas he used to always need to nurse to get back to sleep.


Eventually, she will sleep without needing your help. DD (nearly 7) and I had our share of sleep troubles here and there (2-3 was horrific), but like most other challenges we face as parents, it passed. This will, too. Maybe even sooner than you think. Hang in there.

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#7 of 13 Old 01-18-2012, 12:44 AM
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I think 12 months is the hardest time for sleep. My first didn't sleep 2 hours straight until he was over 2 years old (allergies) but at 12 months, even after most allergens were removed, it got so bad I nearly lost my mind. I decided to side car a toddler bed and worked on each sleeping in our own space and it slowly got better. We never night weaned (until my second was born) but each of his wake ups were short so getting personal space was enough.


 My daughter was the most miraculously wonderful sleeper from the day she was born but somehow she started adding wake-ups around 9 months. She'd be teething and wake up extra, or have a cold. Right around her first birthday I realized she was waking over 10x a night. I think I had been too sleep deprived to realize. She started doing the incessant night nursing - won't sleep without being latched on but isn't really asleep so you can't sneak away sort of thing. She was cranky all through the day as neither of us were getting sleep so I did start to night wean her. I tolerated a lot more crying with her (never alone) because I knew her habits were making HER miserable as well.  Eventually the only thing that worked was playing dead in bed. When she woke up I would either nurse, offer water or both and then I would lay her back down next to me and 'sleep'. She crawled all over the bed crying and I would put a hand on her and pat her or bring her next to me to comfort her but did not nurse and did not get up and rock her (it was honestly too dangerous at that point I was so sleep deprived I was afraid to carry her at night). It did not take many nights at all for her to settle down and we have just worked on one small goal at a time from there.


It is really crummy but there is a good chance you are facing the worst of it, especially if you are willing to put in a little effort and find the solution that works for your family. 

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#8 of 13 Old 01-26-2012, 04:40 PM
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DS self-nightweaned after his molars came in--32-34mo for him.  He also started sleeping ten hours straight.  No naps, just that.  Fourteen hours ON ON ON, ten hours asleep. 


Up until he nightweaned, he nursed several times a night.  It's just what he needed, he wasn't a bad sleeper, it's just how his nights went.


At nearly 5y, he sleeps solidly all night long.  If he rouses to pee, he goes back to sleep.  He doesn't fear bedtime, never fights bedtime, just reads a book and cuddles next to one of us and drifts off.  I'm really glad that I put up with my own personal sleep deprivation to ensure he had the nighttime security he needed.  :)  And yes, there was a LOT of caffeine consumption on my part those first three years.  (He was only affected if I consumed it after 5pm--I tried cutting it completely for awhile, to no benefit.)


Chasing DS since April 2007 and pumping for DD March 2013.

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#9 of 13 Old 01-28-2012, 07:44 AM
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My 2yo is having a regression, and here's something I've figured out with her.  She will respond to "little bit".  If she thinks she needs out of the crib, it does me no good to fight her about it, but I can say just a little hug and back in bed, and she'll usually do fine with that.  She also expects me to sleep in her room on a specific pillow.  When she told me to lie down on the pillow, I moved it to the hallway and only had my feet in the room and inched completely out pretty quickly.  (This was before I went to bed.)  When she called for me, I talked to her from the doorway.  When she said "closer", I said, "but the pillows here".  I had to check in with her 3 times, but she was ok with it. 


Anyway, the point is, I have to work with and give her some of what she wants.  If I try to completely do what I feel like, it's a hopeless battle.  I don't know if yours is verbal enough for that, and I imagine some babies could interpret "little bit' more of a tease than a comfort, but it works for mine.  Also, we were able to practice this at bedtime when I was awake enough to deal with it.  Then when I took the pillow and left the room in the middle of the night, she was ok with it. 


Good luck!!

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#10 of 13 Old 01-28-2012, 12:09 PM
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Your baby is still very young! Personally, I can't imagine how a 1 y/o can fall asleep by herself. I've never seen a baby that young falling asleep without some kind of aid (and I know many babies). The only place where I've heard of such a thing was the internet :)


I would take her in bed with me; poor sleep is better than no sleep at all.


It will get better, I promise! but not at 1, for some not even at 2 y/o. My own 7 y/o sleeps 11-12 hours straight, goes to bed at 8 pm by himself, and has been doing so since he was 4 or 5.

My 2 y/o still sleeps with me and nurses on demand through the night. I'm thinking of letting her sleep by herself when she turns 3.


Good luck to you. I know it's hard.


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#11 of 13 Old 01-31-2012, 08:10 AM
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My 2.5 year old was the same way at that age, and now sleeps through the night! She slept in our bed for the first year, and I nursed her to sleep every night, and nursed on demand all night long. After she turned one we gradually transitioned her to a crib adjacent to our bed - this took about 6 months because she had a a hard time with this transition and we were not willing to do cio. Once she was consistently sleeping in the crib I night weaned her,  she was about 20 months. When she woke in the night I would only breast feed for about 5 minutes, then three minutes, until the time came when she would wake up and I would just pat her back, or sing to her etc. without nursing. Once she stopped nursing at night, she stopped waking up in the night (or at least I was not as aware of her wakings because she would just go back to sleep on her own). We have tried to do very gradual gentle sleep training with her, and I am very happy with how things are going now. When she turned two we started transitioning her to a bed in her own room, and now she happily goes to bed and sleeps through the night :o)

I would also add that my husband was instrumental in all of DD's sleep transitions - moving to the crib, night weaning, moving to her own room. Sometimes it was just easier for him to go to her in the night because she knew she could not get milk from him, so she would just go back to sleep.

I think it can be really tough when they are as little as your DD, but if you are consistent with your night time routine it will get better in time. If you are not familiar with Jay Gordan you might do a google search and try his method as a previous poster suggested. I think our night weaning routine was basically the Jay Gordan method.

Best of luck to you and your little one!

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#12 of 13 Old 01-31-2012, 12:10 PM
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Honestly, I don't consider every 3 hours to be a "bad sleeper."  And like the pp said, I wouldn't expect a 12 mo to be able to go to sleep on their own.  My almost 2.5 yo is just now getting to the point he can go down on his own sometimes.  Some nights he can't at all.


If her pattern is changing right now, look at reasons why.  Is she teething?  Is she having a growth spurt (either physical or cognitive)?  Have her naps shifted or changed?  Has anything else been going on to change her routine?  These things affect sleep. 


Maybe it's time to try a different sleeping arrangement?  Maybe take the front off her crib and turn it into a toddler bed with a side rail?  You'll have to teach her how to climb out of it, but most 1 yo can learn that pretty quickly.  Maybe put a mattress on the floor and see if that works better for transitioning.  Either of those are much easier for you to sit down next to her so you can rub/pat her back and reassure her you're still there so she can go back to sleep.  Leaning into a crib for that can be a pain. 


If you're ready to night-wean, accept that it's going to be a few weeks of horrid sleep and go for it.  But realize you really need to be consistent.  If you can't manage consistency, that may be your biggest stumbling block. 

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#13 of 13 Old 01-31-2012, 07:41 PM
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Every three hours at a year is ROUGH.  By that time, if you're like me, most people you know with babies the same age are sleeping through the night.  When you're still not, it's just hard.


My daughter didn't sleep reliably till she was 3.5 or so but since then, she's been a fantastic sleeper - she's down at seven with no fight and up 12 ours later.  We earned that!


Sleepless in America turned things around for us.  I thought we had a good bedtime thing going but for kids like mine, it just takes MORE.  We set aside two weeks to be really hardcore.  We never let her cry and the night wakings worked themselves out.  She was older so it wouldn't be exactly the same for a one year old but there are things you can start to do that will help - like getting up the same time every day, working towards more set "meals" and "snacks," having very predictable low-key evenings, etc. 

I am not one for CIO, my heart can't take it, but that doesn't mean you can's start scooting things in an easier direction.  Some people are fine waking every three hours and taking an hour to convince a child to sleep.  I was not.  You may not be.  CIO is not the only other option.


Good luck!

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