Hi, My daughter is 8.5 months and is a breastfed baby. She has never been a good sleeper, she goes to bed and then wakes up every 2 hours.
She was getting better, but now she her teeth are coming in. We moved her crib into our room, because it wasn’t working in her own room. She would rather sleep with me since I always nurse her lying down (at night anyways).
We tried letting her cry and she would fall asleep only to wake up again in 2 hours and repeat the crying, so I stopped doing it. I would rather her not cry.
She is very active, has been crawling for a month and can also pull herself up to standing. I thought that would tire her out. I don’t know what to do but I work and I am always tired..
Baby sleep issues can be among the most challenging things you face with your infant. I know I always have the hardest time coping when my babies are not sleeping well.
On an encouraging note, your baby will begin to sleep better. However, it may take some time to work up to that.
Since you’re working, it’s possible she’s waking frequently at night just to have more time to be with you. Many working moms comment that their babies nurse frequently throughout the night.
Are you able to sleep when she’s in bed with you? If you are this is probably the ideal solution for you at this time. Wait a few months and then look at having her in her own bed again. Or have her start the night in her crib and bring her into bed after her first waking.
If you’re not able to sleep with her in bed with you (and even if you are), here are a few more things to try:
Look at her daytime routine. Is she napping frequently through the day or in the evening? At 8 months a morning nap and a longer afternoon nap are reasonable. It’s probably best for her to have no evening nap if you can avoid it. If she’s napping more frequently you may want to encourage her care provider to try and keep her up more.(Hint: Would you like practical, no-nonsense, really-help-you-get-more sleep tips on handling nap time and bedtime with your little one? Check out the baby sleep crib sheet - no crib required - and get better sleep tonight. Get it here.)
What is her bedtime routine like? Do you have a set routine? This really helps babies (and small children).
Taking a bath and/or changing into pajamas, looking at a book together, and rocking her while you nurse her makes a nice routine. Or you might like to take a short, slow walk around the block with her in a baby carrier. Just keep things the same most nights, a routine that signals to her “it’s bedtime.”
Try to be sure this is not rushed, that she and you both have time to relax and enjoy.
What are you doing when she wakes at night? Do you just bring her into bed and nurse her? Are you turning on lights, or letting her get up and crawl around? Make sure you’re not doing anything that makes her think it’s time to be up and playing.
Keep the room dark and speak in low tones. Pick a phrase that means, without any exception, that it’s bedtime (such as “good night, sweetie” or “time for baby to sleep”) If she gets up to try and crawl, lay her back down. Repeat this as many times as you need.
I have found that while nursing lying down it helps my babies if I put my top leg across their legs. This is not forcefully holding them down. Just the weight of my leg on theirs seems to help calm the “restless baby leg” problem (my Galen is my biggest “kicker” and this doesn’t always work with him – but most of the time it does).
If her arms are waving around keeping her awake you might try wearing a necklace she can safely hold. Sometimes this helps babies.
Another option is swaddling, though it can be harder with an older baby. Two of my babies have liked being swaddled until they were 10-12 months.
In the end being gentle, but firm, will help the most. Take a look at her routine and make any adjustments you think will help. Then just be firm with her that nighttime is time for sleep – no crawling around, pulling up or playing. Keep laying her back down if she keeps getting up.
Teaching babies and toddlers to sleep better almost always takes time – generally a couple of weeks – but usually it works.
Would you like step-by-step sleep guidance based on your baby’s age and stage? I share proven, practical strategies to help get more sleep – and teach your little one lifelong good sleep habits in my baby and toddler sleep class. Click here to get more information on Go to Sleep! How to Help Your Baby and Toddler Sleep Well (so you can too)!