A New Sleep Low... I didn't think it was possible!!!
Question: We are frequent contributors to Baby Sleep Advice because we have a baby who is very active at night.
We go through nice periods when he decides to sleep for up to 8 hours (!!!!) at a stretch without waking, and then we go through periods of time when he is up every hour through the night. Our newest phase is that he wants to wake up and PLAY from 3:00-5:30am!!!!!! He is in our room in a toddler bed on the floor (and we don't have another room to put him into) so this activity is really disturbing. I thought things used to be bad when he was just waking to eat or be soothed every hour or two through the night, but we now add this to the mix and I feel like I am going to loose my mind.
R is 15 months. He usually takes one nap a day from around 11-1pm. He goes to bed between 6:45 and 7:15. I used to feel like we were in a good grove, but now everything is completely out of whack.
He learned to walk a long long time ago, so that isn't what is waking him up and I can attribute it to any other significant milestones.
He is breastfed and has a history of intolerences/allergies.... The most recent of which disturbed his sleep (of course) when we tried out egg yolk- this made him scream through most of the night BUT we haven't done any new foods for two weeks so I don't know what is going on. We give him a nice snack of sleep inducing avocado before bed and we make sure that he has gone pee before bed. When he fully wakes at 3:00am I try EVERYTHING to get him to go back to sleep but he is just fully awake.
Heidi's Answer: Hi Justine, Indeed quite a character you have there, isn't it. A good thing that he does give you good times of sleep too: so you know that he is capable of sleeping well, and that still is an important thing to have. Please do not feel like everything is lost now you retrograde (again). You still have the good routine and sleep habits going, so he will be able to go back there.
For his 'play time' at 3am this will be a good opportunity to work on 'rules' with him. Talk to him about it during the day, and tell him at night: night time is quiet time. If you are awake, that is fine, but you stay in the room, in your bed and you do no wake mommy and daddy. Remain gentle and determined but always tell him the same thing: this is night time, you need to stay in bed and be quiet. And do not pay attention to him, other than saying this. You might even pretend you are sleeping, everything to make this uninsteresting to him.
To help with this you can give him a little extra. Examples: Tell him he is a big boy now and is allowed to take his (sippy) cup when he wakes and drink a sip from it, all by himself, then go back to sleep.
Or prepare a sticker chart with him, and announce that he wil get a sticker after each good night (= not waking you at 3am play time).
Or think of something different, you know what might work best for him, something that is a treat. But in any case, stick to one thing only. And do not start promising more and more in the middle of the night, out of desperation. Agree on one thing before, during the day, and then stick to this (and do not change it before at least a full week).
PS: Similar and more techniques in No-Tears Sleeping Through the Night.