(Mountain Home, ID)
My baby is 4 months old. When she was around 8 weeks she would sleep most of the night (6 hours or so). My husband and I were in the middle of a military move for most of her early life… in and out of hotels and friends and relatives homes (driving cross country). I think this may have been when she developed her poor sleep habits.
Now I nurse her to sleep around 6:45pm and most times she wakes after only one hour and won't go back down unless I nurse her to sleep again. Then she'll sleep for a few hours… when I go to bed I pick her up and nurse her in her sleep to keep her going.
I'm afraid maybe that has given her the habit of waking every 2-3 hours and wanting to be nursed back to sleep. She is in a pack and play next to our bed. My husband has a very demanding Air Force job so I don't ever want to really let her cry a lot when she wakes up at night… I wait to see if she'll fall back asleep on her own but she seldom does.
Does this mean it's time for her to be in her own room where I can let her fuss and cry more at night? 🙁 I want her to sleep like she used to at only 8 weeks. What have I done? How can I get her back to that?
Thanks for your advise… once again.
You do want to develop good sleep habits for your baby. Just what this means varies between families but there are some basics.
Chances are she may need to fuss a little to stop the habit of waking up very soon after going to sleep. You need to decide how comfortable you are letting her fuss. I have always been ok letting my baby fuss a little to get to sleep, but I can't take too much screaming 😉
The first thing to do is to set up a bedtime routine. It's important that you keep this routine the same each evening.
And decide where your baby is going to sleep. It's hard because you want your baby close – but you know your husband needs his sleep.
Would it be possible at first for both of you to stay in her room while you teach her to sleep without waking so much? This way you would be near her. This would have to be something you and your hubby could agree on – but it could allow you to help her learn some better sleep habits while you're with her… and still let your husband get the rest he needs to do his work.
You could plan to move her back into your room once she's sleeping better – if this is the case I would keep her in the Pack N Play in her room. Or if you want to keep her in her own room, you can use the crib.
For a baby that's waking frequently and soon after falling asleep you can try a number of different things. First I would recommend you try swaddling her, because that can help keep her from waking herself up.
Another thing to try is to put her down while she's still awake – don't nurse her to sleep. This has always been a hard one for me because it's so easy to nurse to sleep! But you might try nursing earlier than usual so she doesn't fall asleep. Then get her dressed, read a board book to her and have a cuddle – then put her to bed.
This is the point you may want to be with her, to reassure her. But let her fuss a little if she needs to. If she's tired enough, she will drift off to sleep.
If she starts really crying you may want to pick her up, comfort her, and put her back down.
I would not leave the room – that's just me. You may not want her to cry at all. It comes down to what you feel comfortable with.
Having a consistent nighttime routine, and having her happy (and sleepy) when you put her to bed can help her learn that when she's put in the crib (or Pack N Play), it's time to sleep.
By learning to fall asleep on her own she may be more likely to fall back asleep on her own at night.
Make sure she's not sleeping too much during the day – or too late into the afternoon. These things can lead to a lot of night waking.
You decide if you want to let her fuss some at night, or if after some point in the night you're ok with her waking (for instance, I do not want my babies back up until I go to bed, but after I'm in bed I bring them to bed with me to nurse until I'm ready to night wean)
At her age it's pretty natural to need to nurse through the night, but you should be able to teach her to sleep for a bit of a longer stretch. There are also babies that sleep solidly through the night at her age, but it may be helpful to remember that they're the exception!
You may want to start keeping a sleep log/diary so you can see when (and how long) she's napping during the day. And you can see how often she's waking at night (and how long the stretches between wakings are). This can also help you see what's working and what's not.
A good book that covers these things is The No-Cry Sleep Solution – this book has been very helpful to me.
An audio on baby sleep is The Baby Sleep Solution – I have read this author's articles but I have not listened to his audio so I can't give a 100% recommendation. His articles are always very sensible, and he offers a sample of the audio 🙂