6.5 month old suddenly waking frequently
(The Dalles, Oregon)
Question: My 6.5 month daughter started sleeping long stretches early on. I remember that on her 2 month birthday she slept 7 hours straight! My son was never such a good sleeper no matter what I did, so I was thrilled that she just naturally slept well.
At around 6 months she seemed to wake more often, which I attributed to teething and a growth spurt around the same time. I assumed she'd go back to sleeping longer stretches. But she has not.
I have tried offering rice cereal during the day at various times but she is only mildly interested. It seems she'd rather just wake me up to nurse whenever she's hungry.
Is this common, for a good sleeper to begin waking frequently around 6 months? And advice on how to help her settle down for at least one good long stretch? Or is it just a matter of time?
Heidi's Answer: Hi Maija, Yes many babies who sleep good nights early on, step back a bit at either around 4 months, or around 6 months. The good news is that in most cases, things go back to normal (or even better) after a couple of weeks.
It usually has to do with crucial developmental steps: learning new motor skills, big steps in the digestive system and major steps in baby sleep patterns.
But indeed, teething is a good chance too: are you sure she's all through with that? Because for some, it can take quite a while before the discomfort goes and they can sleep weel again. Maybe the next one is already on its way?
Have you noticed any change during the day? Any signs of baby separation anxiety? Any change in her naps?
Or has anyhting changed in her room? Has it become colder (then an extra blanket, or sleeping bag can help). More or less light? Noises from neighbours?
Or, has anything changed in your situation? Any change ahead or stress that she could be picking up?
All of this just to help you find out what could be causing it.
In any case, the main thing to do is to stick to all sleep habits you had before. Keep the bedtime routine you had, and do not change her sleep schedule. This gives the best framework for her to easily go back to normal sleeping as soon as she can again.
As for feeding: what you can also try, if you want to give some extra, is to add an extra nursing session in late evening, or say in between her two last feedings before going down for the night.
Then at night, if you do not mind, you can go for an extra feeding, but I would be careful not to make it a habit of nursing each time. Pick one, or two if you will, awakenings where you agree to nurse. At the other awakenings, do help her settle when necessary, but in other ways than with nursing.
You do not mention how she goes down, but working on lasting self soothing skills can be very helpful too.
Good luck, let me know,