15mo old waking 20+ times a night!!! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 08-01-2013, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a high-needs (almost) 15mo daugher who is my light and joy but I am dying from sleep deprivation!!! I am fully AP and she co-sleeps with us and nurses on demand but that seems to be problem. I think she has become so acustomed to breastfeeding to sleep (initially) and breastfeeding back to sleep everytime she wakes up that it has just blown out of proportion and I'm pretty sure she just cannot fall back asleep on her own. Now that would be fine it was a few times a night but for the past 3 weeks it has been more than 20-25 times a night!! And its not that she's just hiting a developmental milestone or transition or teething either bc over the past 4 months she had been doing 10-20 wakings a night several times a week but she would alternate with nights when she woke less than 10 times so I could somewhat manage and thought she would just grow out of it.
She's never been a great sleeper and most of her life she breastfed to sleep but had stages where she also liked to be walked to sleep. She has never in her life slept through the night but I would consider a *good* night when she only wakes 3-5 times a night. She usually takes two naps a day and I experimented with her having less sleep or more sleep during the day and neither one helped her sleep more at night. I've also been trying to fill her up as much as possible on solids and breastmilk during the day to ensure that she's not hungry. Usually only only one of the twenty night wakings results in an actual feeding.
Anyway, I know this Is a problem as I can't function to be the best mom for her during the day and so my dh and I are trying to figure out what would be the best route to take. (It should go without saying CIO is not even an option). Oh I should also mention that we thought maybe she needed more space so we got a crib and sidecar-ed that to our bed. So that is our family bed situation right now. Dh is willing to do whatever it takes. The problem is that whenever I or he tries to help her fall back asleep any other way than nursing (just pat her, sing, ect) she gets more and more upset and then screams and then hysterical and she becomes more wawake and its harder to put her back to sleep, ya know.
My dh is willing to walk her around back to sleep but even if that works, I don't want to replace one bad habit with another KWIM? We've also discussed that I could sleep in the other room and dad and dd sleep in bed (ive read here that this works for some) but again, would that just be setting us up for another bad situation?
I definitely didnt want it to come to this point. Ive tried to just give her what she wanted/needed and endure the sleepless nights but its really hit the breaking point. greensad.gif I hate the idea of refusing her "nursie" (our word) at anytime and especially to start doing at night when she is going to become highly distressed. greensad.gif but I know it will be better for all of us because waking every 20 mins all night long is not good for any of us.

Anyway Mamas, any and all help and advice you could give me I would GREATLY appreciate!!! We want to start doing things differently asap but we dont eant to transition her into something unless it is the right thing, so im just trying to figure this all out with you guys. Thanks in advance!
(Btw I typed this on my phone so sorry for all the typos!)

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#2 of 14 Old 08-02-2013, 08:24 PM
 
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Oh my!!!! That sounds so so hard!!!!! I can't say I've ever had that with one of mine. I guess I might not have the answer since I haven't been through that but it makes me wonder if there is some key problem you haven't addressed. Why don't the nursings end in feedings? Could it be should wants milk and wakes till she gets a good feeding?? Or a teething issue? My 16mo old ds isn't high needs but his wakings have doubled this past month and resulted in 8 new teeth!!! Needless to say we've had our share of rough nights.
Well good luck!!! Maybe someone else will have more ideas. Wish I knew the answer.
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#3 of 14 Old 08-02-2013, 08:35 PM
 
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My DD (now 4) was pretty high needs, slept like crap, and nursed to sleep.  Once asleep she would wake frequently to nurse, although more like hourly than 25+ times a night.  She was ~19 months when I hit my breaking point (I was pregnant) and at that point we night weaned.  Every time she woke I told her boobies were sleeping and that we should snuggie instead.  The first night was hard, but surprisingly it was considerably better the second night (like 3 or 4 wakings, and less crying), and by the third night she slept straight through.  She was older so it might have been a bit easier for her to grasp the sleeping boobies part, but it was the only thing that worked for us.  Good luck....you must be exhausted!!
 


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#4 of 14 Old 08-02-2013, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks mamas! Camk82- In regards to a nursing not actually producing a feeding... my girl is a frequent frequent nurser and there is a term (I think it's called twiddling) that refers to the times when the baby just wants to suck--for comfort, pleasure, ect-- but they aren't actually drinking/eating anything. My dd would sleep attached to my breast ALL night long and I have her let do that on nights when it doesnt severely disturb my sleep. But usually I cant get in a comfortable position and I really try to be as self-less and accommodating as I can be, but no sleep for mama means Im not as good as I can be to take care of her during the day KWIM?

Crayfishgirl- so nice to hear from somone who has a high-needs dd! That would be easier if my dd could understand. I wasn't ready to night-wean and def didn't want to force it on her but like I said it has just gotten out of hand! and I waited several months to see if it was just something that would pass or if there was an underlying issue (food allergy, nightmares, reflux, growth spurt, life-changes or transitions ect ect ect) but it really is that she just gcomes out of a short sleep cycle and wants to nurse right back to sleep. She doesnt even open her eyes and doesnt even cry (unless I take too long). But like I said it keeps me constantly awake. I feel like I pulled all-nighter! [Ok sorry for writing so much but I'm externally processing this whole thing so it really helps to talk it through! And feel like somone may understand!]

I do have hope now though!
I actually found out about dr. Jay Gordon and so I'm going to try his approach to night weaning tonight. It doesnt completely make her stop nursing at night. Wish me luck! but I am still very open to hearing ideas from anyone else, esp other mamas who have high-need toddlers and may have experienced this! Thanks! smile.gif

Wife to dh_malesling.GIF ; Mama to A (M/C at 16wks 2011) angel1.gif and love-of-my-life DD M (BORN May 2012) luxlove.gif and S (M/C at 7wks June 2013) angel1.gif and rainbow1284.gif Rainbow Baby due in April 2014 3rdtri.gifjoy.gif
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#5 of 14 Old 08-02-2013, 10:12 PM
 
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I also have a high needs toddler who wakes at night and nurses to sleep. What sticks out to me about your situation is the number of wakings. It seems like she has a reason beyond dependence on nursing. Have you tried any physiological approaches like elimination diets or osteopathy or chiro? I am usually ok with my toddler's sleep, but if she somehow gets more than a sip of coconut milk or eats more than one banana on a given day, she will wake as often as your daughter does. She doesn't react to those foods with any other symptoms, just the continual night waking. Many moms on these boards have stories of sleepless nights after dairy or gluten, but it could be anything. Every child is different. :-)
You must be so exhausted! I hope you find a workable solution soon! Hang in there; you have done such wonderful things for your daughter!

ETA: I wrote this before seeing your latest post. I am sorry for asking questions you already have answered and for making suggestions that might not be useful to you. I do wish you and your daughter the best.

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#6 of 14 Old 08-03-2013, 01:42 PM
 
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I was going to suggest Dr. Gordon's method too. I tried it with my baby at 17 mos and unfortunately it wasn't a magic solution but it still resulted in some improvement. He sleeps 5-7 hr stretches about half the time now, 5 mos later, but will quickly slide back to nursing all night if I am not strict about not nursing him til, in our case, 4am. The other half of the time he wakes around 2am and I just lay him on my chest or cuddle with him until he falls back asleep...but then he will just doze and wake when I put him down or move, until I finally nurse him at 4am. So I have 2 hrs of laying there awake which I just LOATHE. Because it makes me a stupid zombie the next day and I am just OVER feeling like that at this point. Anyway, the most positive change I have seen is that from bedtime til that first waking, he does sleep very deeply. This is new and very encouraging. Also we have taken to taking a good length walk after dinner and I noticed that he sleeps better on those nights....
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#7 of 14 Old 08-07-2013, 05:30 AM
 
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Hi- I could have written your post months ago! (and just about did, if you look back at my posts lol) It was a nightmare. The sweetest, most fun baby, but just would not sleep. She woke every 45 minutes, on the dot, all night, every nap. By the time she'd fall asleep, and I was able to fall asleep(couldn't sleep while she was nursing), she'd wake up again. Now she is 22 months old and does NOT wake that often. She is down to two or three times a night, which is heaven compared to 15 months old lol. Once, she slept all night until 5am!!! My actual high needs baby didn't sleep all night until she was 16 months, I remember that hell very clearly, between the sleep deprivation and the high needs it was a good 8 years before I felt brave enough to have another baby lol. I just keep telling myself, at least my 22 month old is not high needs!

 

I truely do not have any advice, or methods, because nothing worked for me...no boobs= hysterical to the point of throwing up. So dh couldn't help. The most he can do for me at this point is sleep in another room so his snoring doesn't keep me awake even more.

 

I have decided, if by some miracle I had another baby, I would definately start out in the beginning having dh get her to sleep in the night. This has caused so much negativity bc I resent dh getting to sleep all night and him not having to deal with a crying baby. I would never do it again myself. My problem is that I can not stand the crying


drowning in hormones with 4 daughters and an understanding, loving hubby. also some dogs. my life is crazy and we are always learning.

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#8 of 14 Old 08-07-2013, 05:41 AM
 
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Those sleep cycles is what got us, too, both with my high needs baby and this toddler. I never did figure out how to help them learn to sleep through the cycles, and nobody ever seemed to understand what I was talking about. I was just doing it "wrong", it was all my fault :oP With my high needs baby, when she was 16 months old, one night I had a Buttery Nipple (which is a yummy alcholic beverage), and later nursed her to sleep as usual, and that night she slept all night. She slept all night every night afterwards, also, without me having drinks. I don't know if that first night was a coincidence, but I clearly remember it, and remember running to her bed to make sure she was alive the next morning!

 

Still waiting on my 22 month old as I said previously, but it has gotten so much better.


drowning in hormones with 4 daughters and an understanding, loving hubby. also some dogs. my life is crazy and we are always learning.

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#9 of 14 Old 08-08-2013, 02:36 PM
 
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I am in a similar boat with a high-needs, nurse to sleep girl. My 14mo wakes at 45 mins during her "long" afternoon nap and I got the good advice to get to her before 45mins and "shhhh" her back. I have never gotten her to take an unassisted two hour nap. Night time has always been a little easier...

  I thought we were in the clear a few weeks ago when she would go to sleep around 9pm and not want milk again until 4am or so...but then it was constant wake/nurse until 7am. But we are back to the every hour or so and last night was awful. The worse is once she falls asleep it is hard for me to settle as I am ready for it to just happen all again shortly.

So I am interested in how the Dr. Gordon thing plays out. I am figuring we have to wait it out until she can understand "night-night milk" better.

I also have not enlisted DH to help and am getting a little resentful of his ability to just ignore the whole thing...He just doesn't feel like he can help.

 

So...that wasn't really helpful, but thanks for the posting and I'll be following to see how its going

 

I appreciate hearing from moms who nursed to sleep and then eventually were able to stop, easily. The general consensus out there seems to be that nursing to sleep is this terrible habit I should never have started. But it works so well!

 

good luck and hope you get a nap!

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#10 of 14 Old 08-08-2013, 09:09 PM
 
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Edensmom I can totally relate to your thoughts on nursing to sleep. My first two started sleeping through the night when I night weaned them with the Gordon method at 21 and 23 months. They did great but it was a LOT of night waking prior to that. With my third I swore I would do it differently to see if I could create 'better sleep habits' but no dice. None of my babies would sleep in the carseat, in the swing, in the rocking chair, etc and although I was was willing to walk/bounce them if they couldn't fall asleep nursing I didn't want this to be a crutch for them either. Sigh. Yes, it is so easy to just nurse them to sleep but those night wakings are killer. I just cannot do CIO and felt my choice was between the two as all my babies would cry if I laid them down drowsy. I have friends with babies who fall asleep so easily and can get into a routine of eating after sleeping rather than before but I was just not able to figure that one out......
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#11 of 14 Old 08-09-2013, 01:11 PM
 
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Just offering hug2.gif to all the mamas out there struggling with this.  I am one of the lucky mamas who only wakes up 4-6 times a night to nurse wink1.gif.  It was this way and worse with DS1, who at 4, still only sleeps through the night about once a week.  I'm not nursing the 4 year old at night but I can't remember when we night-weaned.  It was a gradual process and coincided with moving him out of our bed and me being pregnant with DS2.  The 14 mo old has a nice 4 hour chunk of sleep in the beginning of the night but it's a free-for-all after that.  If I was smart, I'd go to bed with him and get a 4 hour chunk of sleep (what a luxury!) but then I would have zero time to myself/with DH ever.  While it may not be helpful to hear, because I've been sleep-deprived for about 4 years now, I'm kind of used to it and I don't notice anything the next day if I have a wakeful night with DS2.

 

The only thing that works about one waking a week for DS2 is that if I position us side-lying with his hand on the breast that he's nursing, I can sometimes unlatch him and stick his thumb in his mouth when he roots around for the nipple.  He'll suck it for about 30 seconds or so before realizing its not the nipple but that 30 seconds sometimes is enough that he just drifts back to sleep.  This only works if we've been nursing for 10 minutes or so and the wake-up before the nursing isn't an actual eyes open wake-up.  He's not a thumbsucker and would never suck anything (pacifier, my finger, his finger, anything) while awake but this thumb trick seems to work every once and awhile.   


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#12 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:05 PM
 
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That sounds exactly like our high needs daughter, although waking more like 12-15 times per night, nursing at every wake-up and often for hours on end.  Beginning very early, she would also scream absolute bloody murder at every wake-up...but this slowly got better over time. 

 

From about 13-18 months, I (Dad) took over bedtime, which gave my wife 2 hours or so until the next screamy wake-up, at which point there was no substitute for mom/nursing.  I actually really enjoyed being able to do something to help, and enjoyed spending the time with my kid, while mom left the house or relaxed in another part of the house. Still, this didn't stop the constant night-waking. Typically, after that first waking, there was a wake-up every hour, all night long. There were about 2-3 good attempts at night-weaning vis-a-vis Jay Gordon around this period, but they were just not successful (still, I think it's worth trying).

 

At 21 months, my wife, deciding that nursing in general was no longer a "mutually agreeable" experience (she'd been feeling like that for a long time, and was getting kind of resentful about breastfeeding), decided to completely wean in a "traditional" (i.e., non-AP) manner, with the help of her mom. It was rough for a couple of days, but not as traumatic as I'd made it out to be in my mind. Pretty much instantly, my daughter started sleeping in 4 hour chunks and longer.  At two years old, she still co-sleeps with us, but is fully weaned, and usually wakes up only once or twice a night, and is (usually) pretty easy to soothe back to sleep. We finally feel rested, most of the time. For my wife, stopping breastfeeding also helped her feel better mentally; I'm not totally sure why this was, and I realize this definitely doesn't apply to others, who may really have no problem with breastfeeding.

 

I'm NOT suggesting weaning unless that's something you're ready to do anyway. Just wanted to share our experience. I definitely know what it's like to be severely sleep-deprived as a parent, and it's awful. One way or another, you'll figure it out, and it will get better!

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#13 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:26 PM
 
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Considering that this is a 15 month old child, it might be a good idea not to second guess the reasoning for this behavior but rather seek the opinion of your daughter's pediatrician.  There very well could be a medical situation that could be contributing to this behavior.  This needs to be ruled out before you implement any other strategy or intervention.

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#14 of 14 Old 08-19-2013, 01:52 PM
 
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Hi Philothea, you are not alone. Wishing you much luck. I'll be very interested to read how you progress. Best wishes!
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