But, 30-45 minutes after that (on average) he wakes up hysterical (though hardly awake- eyes usually shut tight), and that's with me not hardly having moved a muscle and him laying in my lap, just where he fell asleep! Sometimes he'll quickly fall back asleep if I pop a boob in his mouth, other times he's inconsolable (and refuses to even nurse) for what seems like ages, maybe 30min. He then proceeds to wake up about every 15 minutes until 11pm or so, when he might actually sleep peacefully for a couple hours. The last 2 nights it has gotten even worse because he's been hysterical at his middle of the night wake-ups too., when he wakes up snuggled up to me. It's exhausting and heartbreaking.
Tonight I tried the only new thing I could think of. When he fell asleep nursing I just left him there, nipple in mouth. No dice. He still woke up whaling after 45 minutes, then again after 5 minutes, then again after about 5 minutes (both times having fallen asleep on the boob). No telling how the rest of the night will go.
Any ideas about what to do? A couple points: 1) he rarely wakes up from naps, which he usually takes in a swing (sometimes in a wrap), upset, 2) he's always held until he falls asleep, 3) he's typically awake for less than 2 hours before bedtime (really never awake for more than that at a time- 2.5hours MAX), and 4) the one thing that will typically console him is if we snap him out of it by standing him up, turning on lights, or something closer to playtime (not bedtime) activity, but then he's awake for a long while - this eats into his overall sleep since his morning wake up time is pretty consistent no matter and he's a crappy napper.
Sorry, didn't mean to post this twice!
Keep a food-sleep diary. Write what you both eat each day (if he eats anything besides breastmilk), and how he sleeps (when he wakes crying, how long he cries, etc). See if there is any connection between food and the waking. It's been a long time since I had a baby. Maybe someone else will have better suggestions.
I really appreciate your input! But...I'm pretty confident it's not physical pain. When I snap him out of it his mood changes completely. For instance, when I took him for a diaper change two nights ago when he was crying, he immediately perked up on the changing table and was all smiles (at 4am).
He's exclusively breastfed still (though we'll be introducing oatmeal cereal very soon), I have not introduced anything new to my diet, and this is a nightly issue now but was not occurring a couple weeks ago.
One last thing: He also only does this at night. He has his fussy moments during the day, but no unexplained hysteria like after he falls asleep at bedtime.
No real advice, but wanted to say that my daughter did that for months (I think from about 4 months to about 8 months?), not every night but close to it, and from posting myself various places, I think it's pretty common. She used to wake after 45 minutes on the dot, and it was absolutely maddening--we never had time to ourselves. Gradually it turned into waking less, and to waking after longer periods. I think it was sleep cycle related because she still wakes after fairly predictable intervals at 21 months, only now it's rarer and it's more like after 3 hours, and most of the time she goes back to sleep on her own--she doesn't even cry, we just hear her moving around.
I'm trying to think what worked. Having her dad go in sometimes, maybe? Trying not to nurse her? I'm sorry I can't offer more concrete advice, but he will grow out of it. I am sure.
Hang in there!
Fiction writer by training, writer/editor of anything anyone will hire me for by trade. Me + D=my girls E (4/2011) and little N, 1/2014.
Well, like all things baby-sleep related, it worked itself out eventually. He's 16 months now and sleeps pretty well.
In hindsight I think it was one of two things: 1) teething (though I kinda doubt it) 2) too early of a bedtime. I think he may have been treating that first sleep cycle as a nap. I think if I'd have just gotten him up and started to play (or whatever), then put him to bed an hour later, that might have worked.
There are other people reporting a similar issue with their little ones lately here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/110938335454541252244?cfem=1
Be warned, cry it out is a commonly endorsed strategy on this site, so if that offends you.....