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Thread: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

  1. #1
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    Default Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    Hello, I have an 8-month-old little girl and have been browsing these forums for months now, they have been so hepful and reassuring! So I'm hoping for a bit of help myself...

    I have seen loads of posts about frequent wakings and needing to nurse to fall back asleep, so I know this is quite common and normal... But I am struggling so much with it. My little girl wakes every 30 - 90 minutes all night, about every hour on average. We have co-slept more or less from the beginning as she hated her cot. She has been exclusively bf for the first 6 months and is now slowly starting solids. We've had a lof of feeding problems with severe pain and tongue tie, but when she was smaller, up until about 4 months, sleep at least wasn't a problem, she would settle quickly and wake every 3 or 4 hours or so for a feed, then straight back to sleep. At about 3 months she started to add wakings/feeds, then one night at about 16 weeks she woke every 30-60 minutes all night and we haven't looked back since... She will have occasional better nights, perhaps doing a 3 or 4 hour stretch again, but most nights are terrible. I've tried very briefly not feeding her and just cuddling instead but within a few seconds she is hysterical. So, I take the easier way and just feed her every time - usually just a few sucks and she is asleep again.

    I have been trying a more consistent bedtime routine etc but it's difficult to stick to a set time - usually it's at least 9pm before we're in bed as she often has a nap around 5 or 6pm. I have been told that this is too late, her circadian rhythms are out of sync, she's overtired etc etc, and she should be in bed at 7:30pm. But that would mean I also would need to be in bed at 7:30pm, as she won't sleep long without me. And it would also mean I would need to put her on a strict nap routine to ensure she was ready for bed at the "right" time.

    She usually sleeps around 12 hours at night which I think is enough at her age. Naps are either with me feeding or in a carrier with me or her dad. She doesn't nap a lot, maybe 2 or 3 30-45 minutes naps each day whenever she seems tired. If she is getting enough sleep, then does it matter when she sleeps? Would it matter if she spent the first part of the night downstairs with me, or is this confusing to her bedtime routine? Has anyone had a similar issue and solved it??

    She does currently have a tooth coming through, but I don't think teething can have been the cause of her frequent waking for the last 4 months.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    I know this is quite common and normal... But I am struggling so much with it.
    Common and normal and downright AWFUL. Of course you are struggling!

    We've had a lof of feeding problems with severe pain and tongue tie
    How is her weight gain? Did the tongue tie get clipped or stretch out? Any reflux or allergy issues? (I'm asking because low weight, continued problems with a tongue tie, or reflux could mean that she really does NEED to feed often at night. Allergies or reflux might point to discomfort which you might be able to eliminate with medication or a change in diet.)

    when she was smaller, up until about 4 months, sleep at least wasn't a problem, she would settle quickly and wake every 3 or 4 hours or so for a feed, then straight back to sleep.
    This is good. It suggests that she has the capability to sleep better.

    I've tried very briefly not feeding her and just cuddling instead but within a few seconds she is hysterical. So, I take the easier way and just feed her every time - usually just a few sucks and she is asleep again.
    "Just cuddling" rarely works, when it's mom who is doing the cuddling. Babies just don't understand why mom would cuddle without nursing. They don't understand that they are wearing mom out!

    I have been trying a more consistent bedtime routine etc but it's difficult to stick to a set time - usually it's at least 9pm before we're in bed as she often has a nap around 5 or 6pm. I have been told that this is too late, her circadian rhythms are out of sync, she's overtired etc etc, and she should be in bed at 7:30pm.
    A consistent bedtime routine is great. But there's no reason to think that bedtime has to be at 7:30. Some babies do better with later naps and bedtimes, some with earlier ones. And while I do think that bedtime should be around the same time every night, it should also be flexible. Some days your baby- and later on your child- will be ready to go down early, sometimes late. Watching the baby or child's cues is more important than watching the clock.

    I know that a 5-6 pm nap would have meant a very late bedtime for my kids- when they napped in the evening I knew I was in for a late night! It might help to try to get baby down a little earlier- say 4-5 instead of 5-6- and seeing if anything changes.

    What does your bedtime routine consist of?

    She usually sleeps around 12 hours at night which I think is enough at her age.
    Does she wake up bright and cheerful? Is she generally pretty happy, or is she rubbing her eyes and frequently cranky? Bright and cheerful means enough sleep, whether that is 10 hours or 14. There's a lot of variability among babies.

    Naps are either with me feeding or in a carrier with me or her dad.She doesn't nap a lot, maybe 2 or 3 30-45 minutes naps each day whenever she seems tired.
    Does motion help her nap? If so, you might want to put her in a stroller or swing, and see if that makes for longer naps.

    If she is getting enough sleep, then does it matter when she sleeps?
    Nope, as long as she is happy with her sleep, it really doesn't matter when she sleeps. Except to you and your sleep needs!

    Would it matter if she spent the first part of the night downstairs with me, or is this confusing to her bedtime routine?
    If she was downstairs with you, what would the environment be like? Low light, low sound? Or TV on, lots of lights on, noise?

    Has anyone had a similar issue and solved it??
    Yes, my firstborn was like this. I tried the "No-Cry Sleep Solution" tips and they helped somewhat, getting us down to just 5-6 night-wakings. Finally, around 10.5 months, when I was at the end of my rope, I resorted to doing something similar to the Jay Gordon night-weaning method: http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html. Age recommends not trying it until 12 months, at a minimum, but I was literally desperate, to the point where I was afraid that I was going to shake my child due to sleep-deprivation induced rage.

    She does currently have a tooth coming through, but I don't think teething can have been the cause of her frequent waking for the last 4 months.
    Maybe, maybe not. There are a ton of different reasons why babies wake at night.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    I have been told that this is too late, her circadian rhythms are out of sync,
    Out of sync with what? Sleep habits and "bedtimes" are different all around the globe and throughout history, even among adults and older children who actually do tend to sleep long regular stretches.

    Of course if a child takes a longish nap at 5 PM they are not likely to be able to go to sleep again at 7:30. But I know of no science that supports the idea a baby needs to be asleep by 7:30 or any other specific time. My daughter (now 30 months) goes to sleep at around 9:30 because that is what works in our family at this time. My older kids went to sleep much earlier at her age. She actually tends to sleep better (as in, longer stretches) than my oldest did, who had an earlier "bedtime."


    But that would mean I also would need to be in bed at 7:30pm, as she won't sleep long without me. And it would also mean I would need to put her on a strict nap routine to ensure she was ready for bed at the "right" time.
    Why does your baby have to sleep in your bed or any bed? Why not on you, in your arms, or in a sling, or in a soft backpack, wherever you are, whatever you are doing? I watch TV and go on the computer while nursing and holding sleeping baby/toddler. It works well for us, and has with all three kids in baby hood and toddlerhood. And I am "that mom" who very strictly limits TV and computer to minute amounts- monthly, not daily amounts, for my kids. Some kids stare at the TV and cannot be settled in a room with a tv, but mine always could at those ages. Of course, I watch talky stuff mostly, not giant explosions and gunfire.

    Look, if you think your baby needs more sleep overall, then no reason to not look at possible issues or ideas for her to get more sleep. Consider medical issues that cause poor sleep. Consider darkening the room, white noise. If it helps you, there are ways to not have your child nap in the very late afternoon that do not involve a strict nap/sleep schedule. Also this late nap may go away anyway when your child transitions to one nap a day.

    Yes babies like everyone else need a certain amount of sleep overall. But it is not the same amount for each and every baby. Also, unless I am mistaken, there is no medical nor developmental reason to insist a normal healthy 8 month old baby sleep on any particular schedule or have a regular bedtime. There just isn't, and all these rules based on this false idea only serve to confuse and needlessly upset parents and cause strife and unhappiness between mom and baby by trying to make a baby do what is simply not natural for a baby.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; January 11th, 2015 at 12:15 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    good website with info on infant sleep https://www.isisonline.org.uk/how_ba...p_development/

    also I love this-
    So, I take the easier way and just feed her every time - usually just a few sucks and she is asleep again
    There are very good reasons nature gave us this 'easy' way to comfort our babies! This is part of your superpower as a nursing mom.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; January 11th, 2015 at 12:26 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    http://evolutionaryparenting.com/whe...p-isnt-normal/

    Was there any change in environment at four months? New pajamas, hygiene products, sheets washed in new laundry soap, solids introduction, room temperature? Early on my son's frequent waking was accompanied by extreme crying. That was caused by a dairy sensitivity. Later on though I found certain fabrics (polyester) bothered him immensely, wearing more than a shirt and diaper usually increased wakings, room temperature had to be very cool, and city noises like motorcycles/sirens woke him often. Dr Sears mentions hygiene products as potential irritants in his The Baby Sleep Book. It took a lot of experimenting for us to get the best sleep arrangement figured out for him. Eventually a ceiling fan on low directly over our bed blocked enough noise and kept the room cool enough. Teething and developmental milestones still made for bad weeks but not four straight months as you said.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    Thanks to everyone for the lovely helpful replies. It's given me a lot to think about.

    mommal, I should have said - the tongue tie was clipped when she was only a couple of weeks old, we still had problems latching for a long long time though, and lots of fussy feeding/screaming at the breast which was put down to reflux, but meds never helped and it was then decided that she had dairy intolerance, but I cut out dairy with no effect, etc etc. Her weight gain has always been good, she has pretty much followed 50th centile all her life.

    If she slept with me downstairs, we could make it dim lighting, no or low TV. I too believe it's more important to go with her cues than a strict routine. But because we're having issues with the frequent waking, it's been suggested to me (by a gentle sleep trainer - absolutely no CIO) that she is waking lots because of the late bedtime.

    She does nap in motion in the carrier/sling, but never for more than an hour. She will nap occasionally for more than an hour on me, but only be latching on and off constantly to stay asleep. She hates strollers! Though she did have a short phase of sleeping in one a few weeks ago, but again never for more than about 45 minutes. She's usually fairly cheerful, but I do sometimes think she's overtired, she's happy when she wakes in the morning but sometimes wakes crying after naps, which I think means she hasn't slept long enough.

    maddieb, to be honest I'd be happy for her to sleep on me downstairs for now, until I'm ready for bed. But again, I've been told that this could be disturbing her sleep overall... Which I don't really get - "upstairs" and "bed" are only very recent human inventions! If it wasn't for the frequent waking, I wouldn't really be concerned about what we're doing now at all.

    I can't think of anything that changed at 4 months but I will have a good think about that as well!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    maddieb, to be honest I'd be happy for her to sleep on me downstairs for now, until I'm ready for bed. But again, I've been told that this could be disturbing her sleep overall... Which I don't really get - "upstairs" and "bed" are only very recent human inventions! If it wasn't for the frequent waking, I wouldn't really be concerned about what we're doing now at all.
    I know screen media and bright lights and all that jazz PRIOR to bed is stimulating and can cause sleep issues. But I think that is different than what we are talking about.

    All I can tell you is what worked for me. My oldest was a terrible sleeper, way into toddlerhood, he woke every hour or two to nurse. Even when we nightweaned him at 18 months, a shortlived experiment as it was exhausting, he still woke up just as much. Otherwise he was healthy and doing great, he also napped every day right through kindergarten so I knew he was getting enough sleep overall.

    So in my house, we finally realized when my oldest was 18 months or so that we could drive ourselves nuts trying to make our son go to sleep at a certain time and stay asleep a certain amount of time, or we could just go with the flow. After much agonizing, we went with the flow, and he is now 11 years old and we have an 8 year old as well, and they have a regular bedtime and both sleep great, very very seldom waking at night, and have done this since they were about 4 and were able to sleep through without having to pee. We also have a 2.5 year old who lives in a homeschooling family with brothers who do a year round competitive sport daily practice schedule that keep us all up every night until 9 or so, so she naps at whatever time that particular day allows, goes to sleep after her brothers, gets brought to the living room where my husband and I are watching TV if she wakes before we go to bed, where she nurses and immediately falls asleep (usually she barely wakes.) Then we go to bed in the same bed, and she 'wakes' (really, stirs, again not true waking) several times a night to nurse. As we are homeschooling, we all (except my husband) can sleep pretty much until we naturally wake, usually around 7 or 7:30, so we all get enough sleep every night. Given my experience with her brothers I am not in the least bit worried that this night waking will be a problem later.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; January 11th, 2015 at 09:17 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    You've already had lots of great advice, but me and some fellow bf, baby wearing mamas were all talking last week and we got onto bedtimes... With a huge variation on how often we feed in the night, one thing was consistent all of us have babies who go to sleep somewhere between 8:30pm and 10:30pm and none of us have actually met a baby that sleeps 7:30-7:30 so I'm beginning to chalk that up as a some weird cultural myth that babies sleep that way!

    Doesn't resolve your issue but it may help you feel more normal

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    All humans, including babies past about 4 months of age, cycle through periods of light and deep sleep. Often, the light sleep will include an awakening. Adults know how to easily and quickly get themselves back to sleep and most often never even remember waking. Babies do not know how to get back to sleep on their own until you teach them.

    Your baby is waking at the end of each of her sleep cycles and does not know how to go back to sleep without your help. This is happening during the day for naps and throughout the night.

    The key to a change is to help her learn how to fall asleep without your help. All sleep experts agree on this. Where people disagree is how to teach that lesson.

    If you are absolutely against even a minute of crying, then Elizabeth Pantley's book, The No Cry Sleep Solution may be a good resource for you.

    For me, I was ok with a little bit of crying/fussing. Months upon months of sleep deprivation had left me a terrible and cranky mother to my older son, an irritable wife, a less than productive employee and , the worse, at risk of falling asleep while driving. Additionally, I was considering weaning her because I was so freaking tired and fed up with dealing with every single night waking.

    When my DD was 7-months I hit my breaking point. One night we did our usual nightly routine except that I didn't allow her to fall asleep while nursing. I kept a low light on (previously we'd been in near darkness) and kept the door open so the other sounds of the house kept her awake. When she was done nursing, I gave her a kiss and her pacifier and put her in her crib and walked out. She seemed a little surprised but was fine for a few minutes. And then she fussed/cried for 8 minutes. It was incredibly difficult to listen to but I knew, and still know, that allowing her to learn this lesson was so important. After 8 minutes she rolled over and went to sleep.

    Ever since, I have made sure to put her in her crib while awake and allowed her to fall asleep on her own (both naps and bedtime). She cried a for a couple of minutes for a couple of days and that's it. Now, she goes into her crib and loves it. She plays with her paci for a few minutes or babbles and then goes to sleep. Her sleep has improved DRAMATICALLY and so has mine.

    A good routine for a baby your age is bedtime between 6 and 8, wake roughly 10 - 12 hours later. First nap approximately 2 hours after wake up, next naps 2 - 3 hours after waking from the first nap. Once your baby learns to fall asleep on her own, you will find that her naps lengthen to 1 to 2 hours each and she wakes up happy. Right now, she wakes crying because she is still tired.

    My baby and many that I know fall into this routine. It is not a rigid schedule, but it is a routine that a baby will thrive on.

    Most people are on this forum because they've battled through some really difficult breastfeeding issues. I certainly have. When things get tough, the advice is never just to take the easy way out and give a bottle or whatever. I'd argue that sleep is also an arena in which the easy way out may not be the healthiest path for your child. Teaching your child to sleep on her own is an incredibly important lesson.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Co-sleeping - late bedtime issues and frequent waking

    Thanks bsua65 that's reassuring to hear! I think when co-sleeping it's harder to have an early bedtime if baby won't sleep alone! Part of my issue is I don't know anyone else parenting in the same way as me so it feels very lonely and all other people say is that I've brought all these sleep problems on myself and how amazing CIO is - and it's hard for me to argue against them seeing how much better their babies are sleeping...

    mamawin I would tolerate a bit of fussing I think, but even NCSS (which I have read) results in more than fussing at the moment - specifically the gentle removal/unlatching - my little one becomes very hysterical, very very quickly...

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