Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please help me sleep

I’m going to start with a little flattery here-

you guys have always been amazing in helping us get this whole parenting thing under control.

So, I’m reaching out once more.  And this time it’s serious.  Because I need my beauty sleep.

(Kerry and Peanut at Michael’s first birthday)

I’ll give you a little background first.

After the first couple of months, Peanut started sleeping through the night without any issues.  Around 7pm we bathed her, fed her, swaddled her, stuck a paci in her mouth and called it a night.  Usually within 10 minutes she was fast asleep and would stay that way until 5:30-7am.  It didn’t happen every single night, but it happened most nights.

Then about a month or two ago, everything changed.  Peanut discovered her hands and therefore how to unswaddle herself.  We tried almost everything, but she continued to either climb out or to put the whole thing over her face, scaring me.  And somehow we’ve found ourselves in this new schedule where Peanut does great during the day – taking 1-2 hour naps and smiling away.  She is also great at going to bed.  Around 6:30 pm we bath her, dress her in PJ’s, swaddle her, feed her and put her in bed.  Within 5 minutes she is asleep.

That is until 11.  She wakes up “yelling.”  We give her the paci and she falls back asleep.  Until 12:30am.  And again at 1, 2, 2:30, 3.  Around 3:30-4am she stops taking the paci and I end up feeding her.  Then she will either wake up another one-two times or sleep until 5:30-6 am.


I don’t know how much more of this I can take!


So I need your advice.  Please tell me what has worked for you.


I’ll give you background info you may need:

  • Peanut usually eats at 3:30am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3:30pm, and 7pm
  • She takes in about 4-6 oz per feeding at daycare and I’m guessing something similar in am and pm (breastfeeding is tough to measure)
  • She usually takes a 1-2 hour nap at 8, 11, 2, and sometimes 4 or 6

What I would love to hear about:

  • Do we have to take the paci away to avoid having to put it back in for her?  If this is so – how the HECK do we do THAT??? And what if she starts sucking her thumb (which she sometimes does anyways but doesn’t substitute it for the paci
    • On this note, she uses the paci mostly when she wants to go to sleep and almost never other than that
    • She sleeps for long stretches without needing it, so maybe it’s not a necessity to take it away?
  • Are we doing something wrong during the day to prevent her from sleeping at night?
  • When did you start any kind of sleep training?  What did you find successful?  Any advice in this area?


  1. Here is my (very opinionated) two cents about "sleep training". It's a crock. BUT! That doesn't mean you will never get to sleep during the night again. Here are some things to consider. Does she sleep better when you are holding her? I usually put the baby to sleep in their crib and when they woke up, they came in bed with me for the rest of the night. We have a king size bed so that works well for us. Also, maybe she is having a food sensitivity? My son had a sensitivity to dairy that he has since completely outgrown. But I think if I had given up dairy, we might have seen some better results. And the most important thing I have learned so far is that JUST when I start to get a good routine with my kids, something changes. Not just something little. Every month, our routines are different. Around 10 months, both of my kids started sleeping through the night on their own. Also, avoid the urge to feed her "solids" if you can. They say a full belly helps a baby sleep through the night, however babies are not meant to have a huge full meal of "solids." They are supposed to have breastmilk (or formula if that's what you are doing). Just keep doing what you are doing and before you know it, the routine will be completely different! Oh! And we used the miracle blanket and neither of my kids could get out of it completely when they were babies. When they were older, they could wriggle their hands out, but that's all! They both slept in it until 6 months! Good luck ;)

  2. Thank you! Your email was AMAZING

  3. Lauren- I'm thinking of putting the "dream feed" back in to see if that helps too.

  4. Marie- we have some sleep sacks that we use as well! The swaddlers actually go hand in hand with some sleep sacks which is awesome (HALO).

  5. We have sleep sacks too!

  6. Our son never liked swaddling. He'd wiggle his way out of it and then wake up cold. He never took a paci either so no tips there. He hasn't been a great sleeper from the start so I feel your pain.

    He did start sleeping through the night around 4 months. He did it for a couple weeks and then stopped. Turned out he had gotten a cold from daycare (which I knew about) and it caused an ear infection. I felt like a jerk for not realizing it but he was fine during the day and wasn't pulling at his ears.

    I had "sleep sacks" for him when he was little to keep him from getting cold. Then when he got to be maybe 5 months old we put a blanket in his crib but we would put it over him and then tuck the sides in so he would stay warm but couldn't wad it up over his face.

    Some people are lucky enough to get good sleepers from the beginning. I wasn't. He was getting me up during the night until after he turned one. It was rough, but like everyone else says it doesn't last forever. When I think back on it it doesn't seem so bad. Hang in there.

  7. I think when this happened with Joshua was when we started waking him before we went to bed, around 11pm, and feeding him one last time to kind of "top him off" before bed haha. Then he'd sleep through until 6am (still sleeps till 6am) but as he got older we were able to keep pushing back bedtime to 10, 9... etc. until eventually we got to 7pm, just taking his cues for hunger and sleep. She could be hitting a growth spurt, or about to cut some teeth too. Joshua always has a few horrible days/nights right before teeth are about to cut, then he is back to his normal self. But that's just our experience. Her teeth may be just starting to move around too which could be disturbing her sleep. With Joshua, generally, if it's teeth his is very hot and cold, he will be his normal laid back happy self one minutes, and screaming inconsolable another.

    It will get better, don't worry. No matter what you do, or what ends up working, little ones always go through phases, some not so fun, but luckily, they never last long!

    might i suggest chocolate covered espresso beans?

  8. Hi Kat, I've no real great advice, but I was thinking that if you tried stretching out her last feed of the evening a little longer? Or waking her up and getting her to feed before you yourself go to sleep?

    I was also wondering what the deal is with swaddling? It seems to be an American thing, because I've never really seen it done here in Ireland by anyone I know. I was half thinking that maybe she doesn't like being so tightly wrapped up? My favourite thing that I've seen for babies is these sleeping bags: (it's an Irish link, I don't know if you can get them in America but you can buy them on Amazon i think) but it's basically a sleeping bag for babies, and they don't need any other blankets. I've seen a few babies sleeping in these, in the daycare that I work in and children that I babysit, and I've never seen one of them wiggle down in the bag so that their face would get covered. And they come in different ages as well, like 0-6 months and 6-12 months and 12+ months.

  9. I feel your pain... and am also a bit jealous. My daughter didn't sleep through the night for the first time until she was 7 months old. That was a LONG 7 months. I'm due with our second baby today (no baby yet) and am PRAYING that she will be a better sleeper. That said, we went through the same thing that you are. Given that every baby, and every situation is different, what we ended up doing was taking away the paci and taking away the swaddle - one at a time. It didn't seem to matter to me at the time which one we did first, as each was going to be painful, but it really went better than I expected. It was a rough first few nights (but it had already been rough, so no change there), and then it started to get better. She quickly learned how to sleep without the swaddle, and then after she was comfortable with that, learned to use her thumb instead of the paci to self-sooth. I think this was around 4 months old. It was worth it to me - she still sucks her thumb at 2.5 years, but it's comforting to her and doesn't bother me. Everything I've read says that thumb sucking isn't a problem for children until they start to get their permanent teeth in at 4-5 years. The other thought I had when reading your plea is that she may be going through a growth spurt and may actually be hungry. It's hard to sleep if you're really hungry! So as another poster suggested, maybe try feeding her once during the night and see if it helps. I know the pain of sleep deprivation, how frustrating and overwhelming it is... the only other thing is to try to believe that it really will pass. She will grow bigger and all of a sudden, for seemingly no reason, will sleep well again. And you will thank your lucky stars. Until she is getting a tooth, or sick, or starts having nightmares and the no sleeping returns. It's a long cycle. While my daughter no sleeps well regularly now, I've read that many children don't reliably sleep through the night, most nights, until the age of 4 or so. But we can always hope! Best of luck to you.

  10. This is my first time reading your blog, and I am by no means an expert but here is what I know from my experience and the experiences of the mothers I know.

    -With my daughter, my 1st born, I was not willing to let her "cry it out", I was okay to get up with her at night and rock her to sleep. Until she was one and would not go to sleep for over an hour, then I had to let her cry herself to sleep.

    -it was sad, I felt bad, I had to bury my head in the pillows, but she figured it out.

    -My son was a pretty good sleeper, but when he neared 4 months he started waking up a lot. I knew that eventually I would have to let him cry if I wanted him to be a good sleeper. So one night I put him in bed and let him cry when he woke up. It was sad but he is fine and now he is one and sleeps 12 hours.

    -You have to do what feel right to you. There is no way I could have let my daughter cry to sleep when she was a baby, but with my son I knew it would work and that he would be okay.

    -At some time you are going to have to take the paci away, and there is no time like the present. If you are willing and ready to "sleep train" I vote do it all at once. You will have tow or three hard nights and then she will be done. She will sleep and will sooth herself without the paci.

    Okay, I said way too much, but if you want to know more please feel free to email me, I am full of opinions.



  11. Oh you poor dear! That sounds so rough. Hang in there!

  12. ...sorry one more thing. I would say maybe try feeding her when she wakes up at the 1 am time (or the start of waking every half hour) maybe a full tummy would help her get back to sleep for the last few hours of the morning. We went through a phase where Anne Margaret wanted a occassional random middle of the night feed.

  13. We do a loose version of baby wise. My girl did the same thing and we just kept her up a little later - then when she went to bed she crashed. So with your schedule if you can keep her up for a while after 7 and then put her down, it may help her sleep longer. Also, at around 3.5 months is when we started the cry it out thing. We would let her cry and try to self soothe for 10 minutes and then we would go and give her a paci, calm her down, rub her back, etc and restart the clock...10 more minutes and repeat. Sometimes if she was completely inconsolable we would pick her up but most times it would just take a time or two of her fussing and then she would just go straight to sleep. I heard that at 3 months or so they can begin to form habits, so see if she can self soothe (which you may already have done) so she doenst get dependent and expectant on you getting up to give her the paci. Good luck and keep us posted.

  14. Hi Kat! I got your comment over on my blog about this very question and I sent you a (rather lengthy) email. Hang in there-- it DOES get better :)

  15. I know they say not to but all 3 of my kiddos slept on thier stomach. It was the ONLY way they would stay asleep at night!

  16. Have you tried getting her to sleep without swaddling? My son sucks his thumb and never liked to be swaddled. My daughter on the other hand needed to be swaddled but when she got old enough sucked her fingers. So, I dont have much experience with pacifiers and how much you need to reinsert at night. Sorry. I hope you get your much needed sleep soon!
    Your peanut is ADORABLE :)

  17. I don't know if I would have called it "sleep training." We followed a lot of the advice in Babywise. (People who hate that book usually have not read it all, fyi) I was especially thankful for that method when all my friends were complaining about getting rid of the "bedtime bottle" because it wasn't an issue for us!

    I don't know if anything will get you past that hurdle of getting used to being unswaddled though. That was freaking ROUGH. It all passes though.

  18. Ok, so when my son was 3 months we were still co-sleeping, but here are some thoughts - is Peanut warm enough when she sleeps? If the paci is the only variable, then maybe you need to wait and see what she does after a few minutes of crying. Does she stop? Does she ramp up? Finally, and this may be controversial as well, (and my son slept on his side all of his infancy), but does she sleep better on her stomach? At some point she'll get old enough to put her own paci in - my cousin bought like, ten and dribbled them around her so when she reached out she'd hit one.

    Until then, I feel ya. It's hard, but just remember that these are the things that make you a mom. Getting up hour after hour to care for your little girl. =)

  19. Yep! Happens to everyone at about 4 months. I don't have any advice other than it doesn't last forever.

  20. We started 'sleep training' at about 10-12 weeks or so... I can't remember exactly now (Eli is 11 months). We read the Healthy Sleep Habits book by Dr. Weissbluth. We didn't follow it to a T or anything, but we used the basic ideas. When Eli woke up and we knew he wasn't hungry, we just left him be. If he was hysterically crying for more than 5-10 minutes, then we'd go give him his paci. It took a few days, but he has been a wonderful sleeper ever since. I think more than anything, consistency in what you want to achieve is key!

  21. My daughter was sleeping through the night starting around 3 months and then when she hit the growth spurt in the 4th month and I went back to work she decided that sleeping all through the night wasn't for her. After many sleepless nights and frustrations we tried a few things that seemed to work for us. We are not of the "cry-it out" crowd. We could just not handle letting our little one cry so we tried a few other different things. One was I stopped feeding her in the middle of the night. The first day after we tried this she waited for twenty minutes when she did get up in the morning so we figured she was not starving. :-) The other was we did not pick her up. We would go in and pat her on her back and talk to her, but nothing more. The first night she was mad and definitely let us know. We stuck to our plan and after about an hour of taking turns talking to her and patting her back she made a really dramatic sigh and turned on her side (one of the other reasons I think she is sleeping better) and fell asleep. At first she would test the theory, but now mostly sleeps through the night. She sometimes loses her pacifier and if you go in and give it back she falls right back asleep. We know she wakes up in the night because we can hear her "talk", etc. but she has learned how to deal with it mostly on her own. The only other time she has issues if we have a couple of days where her routines/schedules change. We went out of town for a week and she really had trouble sleeping through the night.

    Good luck! All babies are different and require different strategies. Do what works best for your family!


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