Help A Reader Out: 5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions


davidsarah311 said…

I’ve been reading your blog since my little one was born. (I think she is about the same age as McKenna-my little girl was born April 2nd.) Anyway, I’ve read everything I could find about 6 month sleep problems. I was just hoping to get your help…

My little girl seems to go through 2 or 3 week cycles. She has a bad night when she wakes up many times-she was awake off & on from 1-5:30 this morning-and then we will deal with a couple of weeks of frequent night wakings. She takes an 8oz. bottle at around 6:30 and gets a 2oz. dreamfeed at 9. I was trying to cut out the dreamfeed, but should I be upping it instead? or is the dreamfeed interfering with night sleep? I don’t know how to tell the difference…I’m not feeding her at night when she wakes. I tried to comfort her with the paci last night to make sure that it wasn’t hunger. She was soothed, but wanted to play, so I put her back in bed. I do not usually use the paci at night & don’t replace it during naps.

Her naps are inconsistent at best-a lot of 45 minute ones with an occasional hour and 15 minutes.

Do you have any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

We have started rice cereal about a week ago, but she doesn’t really care for it… 🙂
October 5, 2009 12:40 PM
Plowmanators said…

davidsarah311, I would wonder if she wakes because of a growth spurt? That is about how often growth spurts are supposed to happen (3-4 weeks). When she does it, I would try feeding her more in the daytime.

I would make sure she isn’t cold or something with the weather changing. Brayden and McKenna are both very sensitive to temperature in the room while sleeping.
November 2, 2009 11:24 AM

davidsarah311 said…

Thank you for your ideas. It might have been a growth spurt. I’m dealing with the same thing again right now. I tried to give her extra in her bottle yesterday (she takes 6 oz-3 times & an 8oz. before bed), but she wasn’t willing. She was up for 1 1/2 hours last night-I checked her once and she was fine. I eventually went in there to hold her because I wasn’t sure what was wrong. I sat in her rocker with her, but she just wanted to play. During the couple of hours that I was holding her, she did drift off a few times but then jerked back awake. Eventually, at 1am, I put her back in bed, she was awake, and I didn’t hear a peep out of her until 7am. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I do know that it’s a problem to go in and get her after letting her cry for a while, I just trained her to cry that long, but I don’t want to leave her if something is wrong. I guess it could be separation anxiety-she stops crying as soon as I come in the room. She is very clingy throughout the day too. I really wish I could get this right! She puts herself to sleep for naps-she has them at 8:30 & 12:30, about 1:15 a piece. (Lately the morning nap is sometimes 2 hours.) I dropped the late afternoon nap several weeks ago since she started getting up at night again & we thought she might be getting too much sleep. (This is a baby that used to cry in her swing when she was sleepy.)

I need some advice-what am I doing wrong?

It would be helpful if I had my husband’s support too, he told me that he was going in her room last night if I didn’t. 🙁 I felt like such a bad mom!
December 2, 2009 11:48 AM

Plowmanators said…

davidsarah311, Does she have gas? Is there something that is bothering her that she eats? Does she need a bigger diaper on at night? Have you looked at the nighttime sleep problems post and the Naps: Troubleshooting post? Those both have lots of ideas.
December 15, 2009 11:19 AM

davidsarah311 said…
Yes, I’ve looked through the nap troubleshoots & I wish I could figure out what it was. She hasn’t gotten up again in about a week & a half. I switched her to fleece pajamas, so maybe she was cold! I feel a little silly if that’s what it was….we’ll see. Thanks for your help!
December 15, 2009 12:46 PM

Plowmanators said…
You might be surprised. Brayden and McKenna are both (still) that sensitive to temperature.

If it doensn’t work out, let me know and I will post your question as a “help a reader out” post.
December 17, 2009 3:50 PM

davidsarah311 said…
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. She was in a pair of fleece pajamas and a cotton wrap-she didn’t feel cold to me, but she was up again last night. I went in to check on her & held her for an hour, but she just wanted to play. I eventually put her back in bed and she went to sleep after another 20 minutes of crying.

She has never really had a gas problem. I’m still introducing foods one a week. She wears the extra protection diapers at night & they don’t leak through-I smother her behind in butt paste & vaseline before bed.

I feel so discouraged. We’re going out of town for Christmas and I know that it will make things even worse when we get back….
December 17, 2009 6:47 PM

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15 thoughts on “Help A Reader Out: 5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions”

  1. I would try to extend her waketime to 2 hours to help with the naps. I bet she's overtired and it's messing up her nighttime sleep. When you get home from traveling, I would be really consistent. I bet she got away with a lot and her schedule was messed up from being with family. Set the 4 hour schedule and stick with it. If you are really consistent for 4-5 days, she should adjust to the schedule and learn that crying isn't going to get her out of bed to play at night. It'll stink for you until she gets it down, but her nighttimes should get better. If you haven't already, I would take the paci away completely. Once we did that around the same age, our nights got a lot better. She just needs to relearn all the rules and how to self-sooth. Around that time we also started feeding our daughter a lot more solids. She was a lot hungrier and I would give her food until she refused it to make sure she wasn't hungry at night.

  2. My William is the same age (born April 1) and we are having a similar problem. Since about 7 1/2 months he started waking in the middle of the night again. However I could just hold him a moment and he would go back to sleep. Then he began waking twice-once at around 8:00 and then again between 1-3 am. I am still nursing and figured my milk supply was getting low. I tried a bottle and he took it a few times but mostly he wasn't interested. He then got a horrible cold which made things even worse. He is going through a bit of a seperation thing right now and someone had mentioned to me that that could be it. He has also started crawling and pulling up and cruising. I think that you mention these milestones and cause sleep disruptions. Last night he woke up around 1:30, he cried for about 10 minutes and then fell back asleep. Of course yesterday being Christmas we were way off schedule so I expected a hard night. He is also a chronic 45 minute napper. Before the sleep disruptions at night he had started taking 1 1/2 hour naps but just twice a day. This made for an extended wake-time at the end of the day (although he goes to bed around 6 so we made it work) Until today the 45 minute naps were back. As I am typing this he has been sleeping almost 2 hours!! My plan is to continue to let him cry it out at night. We did this once before and it worked after 2 nights so hopefully we will have the same luck this time around!

  3. I have a DS who is 2.5 and a DH who is 15 months. With my ds we were very consistent and strict with his schedule and also with his short napping and EWing after a while becasue we just realized that was what he needed. If he EW in the am and I went to him (to see what was wrong) he would for sure EW the next morning. So, I would let him CIO on that 2nd morning, which was horrible for me-he would just cry until I went to get him at 7am-but that would fix it. No more EW. Same with naps. However, we did make sure to adjust his scheudle as well as he got older to help fix the problem.When my DH came around I was a lot more lax with her schedule and wake ups. A big part of this was that my kids share a room and so when she woke at night I was so worried about it messing with my sons sleep that I would always go into her and try to get her back to sleep. Because of this I have come to realize that she has become worse at self soothing through my interference. I've learned with my DH (as well as with my DS) that my interference only encourages the EWing to continue. My DH still has times where she has bad nights and I''ll have to move her to my room to sleep for a few nights to use CIO to get her back. Also, as with my son, I have to make frequent changes in her routine to help with night sleep.If I go into her she just wants to get up and play,typically at 4am!This is just my experence with my two, but I HTH.

  4. Have you tried just leaving her alone when she wakes in the night? How long would she stay awake for? Does she just wake up and fuss for a minute? Or does she wake up and cry for 10 minutes? Sometimes our girl (11 months) wakes in the night but she goes right back to sleep so we don't go and check on her. I just wonder if yours is transitioning in her sleep and just needs a minute to settle again. I'm sure you have already considered this, just thought I would mention it. Hope you can get some help!

  5. If you are worried that something might be wrong you could always go in at the 15mins mark. This is what I did when my son started waking again at night. I went in at 15 mins. would check everything, lie him down, then leave. I wouldn't go back in for another 15-20 mins. & kept getting longer. He took longer to fall back asleep this way (rather that not going in at all), but he was learning to stand & get back down so it was more for my peace of mind. We also struggled with the paci. At first he could go back to sleep easily if he lost it, but then it became an issue (and as he got older he was more adimant about getting it back). I would think at 6 months the dreamfeed is no longer needed. I dont know if you are still doing that. Those are my tips. Just be consistent with CIO or maybe it's not for you. which is okay. I do think it is okay to go & check on them though, like I said earlier. I would just set it at intervals & try not to pick her up. I hug my son & put him back down.

  6. What is your daughter's schedule? You mentioned her nap times at 8:30 and 12:30, I believe. Is 12:30 her latest nap? She only naps for, at most, 1.5 hours? What is her bedtime? Like the first poster, I am thinking that she may be overtired.Another thing to look at is her solid intake. She may be hungry. I believe it was around this age that our Pediatrician advised us to SWITCH the order of feeding, to feed solids BEFORE milk. We also started solids at 4 months, my SIL started around 6 months and they had sleep distruptions.I also agree with getting extremely consistent after the Christmas holiday. Get your husband on board, it will help with a united front.Blessings! Hope this helped some!

  7. my son is ten montsh (born 24 feb) and up until two weeks ago we were struggling with nighttime waking, too. he slept through the night (8-5:30) at three months until he got a horrid diaper rash at six months. he also had excema, so it took two months and many dermatology visits to clear it up. during this time, he started waking one or two times in the night, and i would just nurse him and put him back to bed – the quickest solution, and i felt bad because he was in pain. when the rash cleared, he ended up with an ear infection, an antibiotic that didn't work, a severe allergic reaction to the second antibiotic, and since we stopped the treatment per our doc's recommendation, a few weeks later he developed a double ear infection and ruptured ear drum. so, of course he continued waking at night. when all of this cleared up (two weeks ago he had a re-check and had clear ears), we let him cry it out. he cried for nearly two hours the first night, close to that the second, and since then has only woken for maybe twenty minutes a couple times. the fifth night i had to get him up and rock him (i did not nurse, though) to settle him down. i'm not sure what the problem was. now he has been sleeping through the night and is growing and seems much more pleasant! he gets up at 5:30 to nurse and goes back to sleep till 7, naps from 9-10:30, naps again from 1-3 and goes to bed at 7. maybe you should try to hold off on the pm nap a little like someone mentioned. we don't start solids till around eight months or so when they can eat finger/table foods, but that didn't seem to make a difference with his sleeping anyway. i think these little ones are just much smarter and more cunning than we understand! if she wants to play in the night, who cares – she doesn't have to get up and take care of other things in the morning!!!she may just be a strong willed child, like my son (although he is in disguise) and need to know that you are not going to give in, which teaches them to respect you. it's so tough, though! i'll say a prayer for you!

  8. Gotta preface this by saying we are much bigger fans of Baby Whisperer and Healthy Sleep Habits than Babywise and do not let baby girl CIO (unless it's just that I'm-too-tired whimper that lasts about 2 minutes). She's just past 7.5 months.From our experience–starting solids means it's way past time to drop the dream feed.she needs her sleep more than she needs to "grow up" and be a 7-mo-old w/o a pacifier or a swaddle, so she sleeps with a paci. She doesn't go to sleep in the swaddle unless we're traveling but if she wakes and doesn't go back to sleep with the paci, she gets swaddled and sleeps a lot better. The large kiddopotomus fits her.have you tried a white noise machine? the waterfall setting on the Homedics one has been so helpful for us.she doesn't need to leave her crib unless something is genuinely wrong. We giver her the paci, swaddle, shush-pat, turn on the mobile, but we do not take her out of the crib. My husband will talk a little, but I don't even say a word to her. I'm only there to help her figure out how to get back to sleep, and she needs to know I'm not there to play or talk to her. In the morning I make a bit deal out of greeting and smiling at her to make a distinction between the two types of said she just takes 2 naps and the last one is 12:30 to 1:45? That seems like very little napping to me and I can't believe she's up from 1:45 til bedtime, but that could be just because our baby can't make it longer than 2 hours of waketime without getting terribly fussy. She's up at 7, down at 9, up at 10:30, down at 11:45, up at 1:30, down at 4, up at 5:30 and I don't let her sleep later than 6:30 even if the schedule gets altered. On days I don't work, it's a very predictable up 2-down 2 four-hour schedule.I think Babywise has a lot of good principles but one of the ones that drives me nuts is the one that assumes a little baby needs to be independent and self-sufficient and learn how to do everything himself by 8 months. If she needs your help to get back to sleep at 5-8 months old, this is not a baby waiting to turn into a demanding dependent brat of a teenager. She's just a baby who needs you.Good luck and I hope this gets a lot better for you soon, and everyone is getting more sleep soon!

  9. We have been having the same problems lately. I know it's so frustrating to not know what is upsetting your baby. My little guy just cut a tooth and the other is on the way. I'm hoping things will improve soon. My advice would be to use baby orajel, give Tylenol if necessary, check room temp, & diaper and then let her CIO. I have to turn the fan on in our room so I can't hear him crying. It usually takes 2 nights, but then the problem is solved and he starts sleeping great again. Good luck!!

  10. I would definitely try dropping the dreamfeed if you are still doing that. It may not be the case for your DD, but doing the DF made my DS wake up a few times during the night. When we dropped it, he started sleeping through much better.Please do not feel like a bad mom! You are working hard to figure out the right answer for your little one, and to teach her how to sleep through. You are trying everything that makes sense, but you haven't been rewarded quite yet. It will come. Good work, Mama.If she is over 6 months old, and if she doesn't take to the rice cereal in another week or two, you might try another food. Both my DSs didn't take very well to cereals but loved sweet potatoes and carrots and other foods. If you feel worried about the iron, you can get the infant vitamin drops with iron and add them in to foods she likes.

  11. I've done Babywise with both of my kids who had reflux, feeding aversions, etc., etc. and we just worked with our issues but still maintained a very good schedule.Because of our kids issues, we always made sure to rule out any physical causes for the disruptions. After ruling out any physical causes (teething, sickness, tummy issues, temperature, etc., etc.) and determining that day time sleep was sufficient, we kind of realized we had to sometimes "re-train" our kids to fall back to sleep on their own around this age. With our first, we adopted a 10-15 minute rule. We would let her fuss for that amount of time, check on her, pat or even rock her for a bit, and let her try to fall asleep. This happened a few times in the first year and even into the second (before she moved into a toddler bed). Most times it was only a night or two. Sometimes, it lasted a few nights and then she would sleep through the night without interruption for a period of months. With our second, when we intervene, it usually is more disruptive to her self soothing attempts. Thus, I'm really careful about going in if I hear her up in the night. Usually, she will fuss for 3-5 minutes and go right back down. She's been up much less frequently at night than our first, also. Last night, she was up for an hour solid (she's a year old now). I have no reason to suspect anything was bothering her; I think she was up and couldn't fall back asleep and was frustrated. After doing all of the steps to make sure she was ok, I finally let her cry. She did for 20 minutes. Then, she slept solid – even past her normal wake time. I assume tonight, I"ll have no problems because I let her figure it out.It's tough thing to diagnose what might be going on, but sometimes, they just need to re-learn how to fall back to sleep again. I also think they can be woken up by something and are fussy because they are tired and just need to fall back to sleep. Again, this happens easier on some nights than others. I know it's like that for me, too! The first year is full of growth and changes so just as you get your schedule down, it seems like it's changing again. Good luck!

  12. That was happening with my LO, who was born a few days after yours (April 5th)…she was waking every night and wasn't hungry. It took me two months to figure out that she was REALLY cold. I put her in a onsie, and two fleece footies and a blanket on top of it. And now that the weather is even colder, we put a small heater in her room…and now she sleeps just fine! When she is off schedule and we give her the paci more, she seems to wake at night again. I know it is because of the paci…and it takes her a few days to learn to put herself back to sleep without it. Trust your instincts, and good luck!

  13. I agree that the night wakings are probably overtired…especially when you stated she dozes off and wakes up….that's a classic sign.Also the dreamfeed could definitely be disturbing her nightsleep. It was with my DD and we dropped it cold turkey and she was fine that first night.And I agree to maybe evaluate how to handle the night wakings. Do you have a video monitor? You could see what is going on. Otherwise you could quickly rule out anything (such as leaky diaper, stuck in crib,etc) and then tell her "night, night" and leave. I'm sure there will be some protesting but it might be just because she is really tired and wants to sleep! I did that with my DD around 4 months and it clicked real quick. She was so happy then and that was the best thing in the long run for her. I personally think as they get older it often gets harder so just be real consistent with whatever you decide. If you rearrange her schedule so she's not overtired, you might eliminate the night wakings anyways! She definitely needs more daytime sleep or move her bedtime WAY UP earlier and see what that does to eliminate it. If you post her routine that might help us get a bigger picture. But my 2nd DD is really sensitive to OT and we have had bedtime BEFORE 6 PM many times. I know it sounds crazy but that would do the trick. I am a big fan of HSHC by Weissbluth and he is a huge advocate of early bedtimes and I will swear by them with both mine to eliminate overtired. Otherwise, maybe you can get her 2 naps to lengthen out and not have quite as early bedtime. But I do think an early bedtime is the best solution for short/inconsistent nappers.Good luck!

  14. I appreciate everyone's help. You've given me some things to think about. I'll post our schedule as several people have requested to see if it brings any more ideas.6:30-up & play7:30-breakfast-solids & formula8:30-nap10:00-play11:30-lunch-solids & formula12:30-12:45-nap2:00-play3:30-solids & formula5:45/6-start bedtime routine6:30-asleepWe used to have her in bed by 7:30, but we moved her bedtime up when I dropped the last nap.I know our schedule looks a little funny because she plays after getting up before eating, but that's because I want her waketime to eventually be 7 or 7:30 & I don't want her to wake up hungry. She eats solids before having her formula and eats 6 or 7 oz. at every feeding except at bedtime she eats 8oz.She is now almost 9 months old & hasn't had a dreamfeed since 6 months.I give her a paci while I read her a book & then hold her for a few minutes, but then take her paci out and hold her for a few more minutes before I put her in bed for her nap. She isn't asleep, but very sleepy. She does not get a paci at night.We got back from our lovely Christmas vacation and all of us have a cold, but she has been doing well at night. Of course, not while we were traveling-she was up many times and I just tried to comfort her since she was in a strange place….I dread vacations now!


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