Night waking every hour 4 month old baby please help us
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Night waking every hour 4 month old baby please help us

by Monika

Question: Hi my son is 4months and so far his sleeping was 1-2wakings for feed sometimes he even made it through from 8-6am. But in the last month he is waking up nearly every hour and i am just so exhausted and even angry with myself what am I doing wrong? Before he would nap 3x a day 30-45min where he would fall asleep in my arms then I would put him into his cot. But now I am trying to teach him to fall asleep by himself in cot so will put him in drowsy-sometimes it works but sometimes he would scream and get into hysterics attacks so I have to calm him down then try again later. He has bedtime routine and sleeps from 8pm but wakes up every hour so I would just cuddle him and put him down drowsy but sometimes I would cuddle him to sleep as he gets too laud and we have 2 neighbours to worry about. I give him bottle once or twice depending on how awake he is. But usually just wants 5 min cuddle and he sleeps for another hour. This is getting really hard now and I just can't carry on like this but just don't know what to do. Shall I let him cry for few minutes how can I get him to sleep? Please HELP. Thank you in advance.

Heidi's Answer: Dear Monika,

A sleep regression as you describe is very common around 4 months old. It is a moment of important physical en psychological developments, combined with a growth spurt. This easily leads to temporary poorer sleep (more difficult to settle and waking up more frequently).

First of all please don't be angry with yourself, you are not doing anything wrong. On the contrary, the self soothing practice, the regular naps and the bedtime routine are really good.

Let us finetune that further and you will get your son's sleep back on track. Keeping good habits and reinforcing a regular schedule and his self soothing will be key.

To answer your final question first: if he wakes in the night, or after a short nap, yes it is a good idea to test what happens if you don't rush to him right away. He may not be fully awake but simply fuss/cry a little bit while tossing and turning and then go back to sleep by himself.

If that is what's happening, you may be waking him up fully by going to him, and then after that it's harder for him to sleep again.

So why not give it a try: wait a minute or two and see if he quiets down. If he gets upset and really cries, of course go to him to help him settle. Keep all awakenings short and boring, keep lights dim, stay in the bedroom with him, ...).

Ensure you keep 3 regular naps. Schedule those naps wisely, either in an eat-play-sleep pattern or a timed schedule. Nap times should be right at times when he is readily tired, meaning he is just about tired but far from over-tired.

--- Side note. We've just released the Nap in a Snap app for android as an addition to my “Nap in a Snap” book. The app is a convenient tool to help uncover the right nap routine based on a dedicated sleep log. ---


The right nap times (when readily tired) will make it easier to practice self soothing (over-tiredness is self soothing's worst enemy).

Use the gentle self soothing method to gradually wean from holding him to sleep to uptting down awake.

Go very steadily, meaning you put him down deeply asleep first, then slowly progress to a bit less deeply asleep, to even less deeply, to very very drowsy, ... and so on. That will avoid the hysteric attacks you mention and will give lasting results in the end.

If naps are consistently shorter than 45 minutes, consider taking him out in the sling or stroller for a long walk to have at least one (or two) long nap. This will help towards being less over-tired and helps him get used to longer naps. See the Baby Sling Trick.

Use the same self soothing techniques in the night. Again go gradually but in the end, his ability to self soothe from being awake will help him stay asleep (or rather, go back to sleep when half-waking up in the night).

All the while, what you can also try if he is on a clear schedule of waking up every hour each night is to go to him 5-10 minutes before he'll wake. By stroking his forehead, placing your hand on his shoulder or tummy, ..., you can help him stay asleep in stead of waking up.

It will be tough for you to do that all night long but use it as an additional technique to the above at the first awakenings of the night.

And finally I also suggest to shift his night bedtime to a bit earlier. 8pm is not extremely late and not necessarily the cause of his frequent awakenings, but having your bedtime routine and bedtime at 7pm can have a positive effect: an earlier, quieter onset of the night, when he is less tired is better for more restful sleep and longer stretches.

With a combination of all the above, taking your time and doing things consistently I am confident that you can improve your son's sleep a lot in the next couple of weeks.

I would love to hear how you get on.

Best of luck,
Kindly,
Heidi

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Thank you
by: Monika

Dear Heidi
Thank you so much for your advice. I will try to bring his bedtime earlier. We actually had to move him into a bed as it seemed he didnt like the cot. He now wakes up about 3x a night and everytime gets feed as u can't settle him back to sleep otherwise. Is this bad idea? I was hoping he be reassured and then he would go back to his cot.
Daytime I try to keep to eat-play-sleep regime but everyday seems different and falls asleep at different times and he now completely changed and only wants to be cuddled to sleep and if I put him down too soon he awakes almost immediately so I wait 20min for his deep sleep but of course he then only lasts asleep for 15-20min. I feel like am not getting anywhere any more and loosing all my confidence. As all I try to do doesnt work how it should. What am I doing wrong?
Thank you for your advice.
Monika

You are doing fine!
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Dear Monika,

Please don't feel bad, you're doing fine! Waking up 3 times a night is already much better than waking each hour.

The fact that he'll only settle after a feed during the night can indeed simply mean he's hungry (cfr the growth spurt). It is fine to give this to him for now, just remember to start weaning from those feeds in a couple of weeks (by gradually reducing how much you offer, for example by diluting the milk more and more each night).

Do read the pages about self soothing and the baby sling trick, the ones I mention and link to in my original answer, and use them as I suggest, they will help.

But please give yourself, and your son, some time. Don't believe nothing works, don't give up on any method too soon, it takes patience and determination to teach lasting and really good sleeping skills.

Allow yourself to relax now, you are not doing bad at all. Just go about the techniques with confidence, let them guide you and take the time to allow the results to grow.

Good luck!
Heidi

Getting worse
by: Monika

Dear Heidi
I have tried to take him for long walks but he still wakes up about 45min later. He is too heavy for me to carry in sling. He has also started to protest as soon as he realises is time for sleep as I try to do the routine close curtains, sing and cuddle but he starts arching and screaming sometimes after 30 min of this falls asleep but sometimes gets into hysterics again. He sleeps fine in car (with a little cry) but at home is a nightmare. The nights are again 5-10 wakings he is not hungry thou as a cuddle on shoulder makes him go down again for a bit. He gets the bottle around 5am. I have even tried to have him in bed with me so I could help him to fall asleep just before he wakes up but that didn't work either ad had to sit up and cuddle again. I am in tears today as he is so tired and grumpy and so am I. Its just not getting any better and I don't know what else to try.
All the best
Monika

Keep working, and keep courage
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Dear Monika,

I am sorry to hear and I feel your frustration, and tears.

From your original question and then update comment, I still do think that hunger may be playing at night. Yes he goes down 'for a bit' with just a cuddle, but could he be waking so soon again because he's actually hungry?

So if you haven't tried that, indulge with a bottle, say when it has been 3-4 hours or more sinced the last one.

At the same time, be very diligent and consistent with the gentle self soothing method (see link in my original answer): hold until deeply asleep, then put down earlier very (!) gradually. I know it is tough, especially if he wakes up soon again, but it simply takes time for his body to adjust. Given that it's just a good week since you started, I'm afraid we need more time.

(I will send you an excerpt from my No-Tears Self Soothing book separately by e-mail, with a detailed description of the Gentle Self Soothing Method to gradually put down earlier).

The test to have him in bed with you was a good idea, but it doesn't sound like it is going to work well, so better to keep the consistency of his bed. That consistency keeps him from being confused and will help with the continued self soothing practice.

Again a good week is really early to tell if the long walks or car drives fail to prolong his naps. I do encourage you to keep it up for a while longer, even if it's just for one of the naps.

On the other hand, the main thing is to have the naps in the regular pattern and to always start putting him down (or start the walk/drive) when 'readily tired' (= at the very first sleepy signs such as staring, eye rubbing and the first yawns).

Also, tough as this is, allow me to advise you to also take good care of yourself. Can you ask your partner, friend or family member to babysit every now and then?

An hour or two during the day where you can do something by yourself, something you enjoy (a walk, sports activity, listening to music, a nap, reading ...) anything you like can help you recharge your batteries and be better 'up' to the sleep work.

Best of luck!
Heidi

Thank you
by: Monika

Dear Heidi
Thank you so much for your advice. He just got cough and cold so I guess it must have been coming onto him in the past few days. He still eats well luckily. He is nearly 5 months old now do you recommend to have his night feeds watered down gradually as you mentioned before? Or should I start when he gets better ? Is ok to carry on with the sleep training now he is a bit cranky and not too well ? Thank you so much again.
Monika

Better wait
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Hi Monika,

Yes it's best to wait until he feels better again. Take this time to take good care of him (see the baby cold page in the "Sleep Disturbers" section for tips), just pay extra attention to the good sleep habits for now and then continue with the self soothing practice later on. Chances for success are higher when he feels all well, and also he'll be a bit older by then and that helps too.

Kindly,
Heidi

Update
by: Monika

Dear Heidi
My son is now over 7m old and I think we have been through it all now. He has learned to fall asleep by himself but only when he decides about 7 out of 10 he will actually do it. However daytime is still a battle as he is so busy exploring even when put in cot he keeps moving and sitting up so I have to make him very drowsy 1st then place in crib. But always after 30min he wakes and still tired but not enough to fall asleep by himself so sometimes we lay with him in bed and he can sleep for another 2h. Not sure if we can get him use to long naps this way or just confusing him but I feel he really needs a good long sleep every day.
Night time he goes to bed at 7 but sometimes takes longer to soothe (up to 1h). Then wakes up 2-6times we try not to take him out but sometimes he screams so bad we have to. Has bottle 1-2 a night if he can't soothe himself. I really thought by now we would be ok but as he is older he is more demanding and most of the time we have to leave him CIO but within limits only when he is stroppy as he can get worse when he sees us and we don't pick him up. He is on 3 meals a day and 2-3 bottles so am hoping it's not a feeding problem but am struggling to think what to do. Our neighbours are fed up with the noise as he is so much lauder. What do you think could be the problem? I don't think he's I'll or teething. But he is definitely a head strong character. Thank you so much in advance.

Keep following through
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Hello Monika,

I am sorry to hear not all is ideal yet, but I am pleased to read that self soothing has improved and works 7 out of 10 times.

I'd say that is not bad at all for a head strong 7 month all. Really, it is quite normal for it not to 'work' always. Just like an older child or us adults have more difficult days and nights at times, so does a 7 month old.

From what you write I do get the impression you are doing really well. What it takes right now is keeping it up and being clearly consistent.

Maybe it will help to go back to the very basics and the self soothing techniques. Just read over them again, it often helps to re-read and work with all details again.

Being consistent with the self soothing practice, the regularity and what you expect of him, will win over the CIO.

For the naps, yes don't hesitate to help him when necessary so that he sleeps at least an hour or so. Also here it may be necessary to go back to the basics of the gentle self soothing method (i.e. put him down asleep at first and then progress towards less and less asleep). Avoiding the over-tiredness is key, and will also help with the nights.

Best of luck!
Kindly,
Heidi

Struggle
by: Monika

Dear Heidi
Thank you so much for your help and I am so sorry to keep replying with more problems but with tears am just at the end.
He is so difficult and now he's crawling and sitting up by himself I didn't know how worse things can go. He is in high winging stage where we put him to cot in grow bag as he kept travelling around and keeping awake, he is drowsy but within few seconds will start winging and sitting up and rolling to sides hitting head and crying. And basically this is how he sometimes he falls asleep sitting up with head down but then falls to side. If I try to cuddle him he just refusing pushing me away and arching back doesn't even go asleep in my bed anymore. He has been waking up every hour and last night every 30min he is now so so tired but still can't seem to ti d position to sleep. Am so worried that he's not getting the sleep he needs which will create more problems. I keep going in and lay him down say its bedtime he will briefly close his eye suck on dummy and really try to sleep but within seconds he's up again. He is now trying for past hour and still no sleep but he can barely sit straight so falls down side and keeps crying. Please could you help us I don't know what else to do. Thank you in advance.

Physical discomfort?
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Dear Monika,

I am sorry to hear you are in tears … it's tough when you really get this little sleep.

From what you write, I get the feeling that he could have some physical discomfort which makes it difficult for him to lie down comfortably. This can have a physical cause (arching his back is typical when a bone or nerve got stuck, which can make it painful to lie down) or maybe his bed somehow does not 'fit' him well.

Have a look at http://www.baby-sleep-advice.com/cranial-osteopathy-therapy.html to see if you recognizie something and consult your doctor, and if you choose to a good osteopath, who may be able to help you well.

For the bed, try tilting the mattress, making it softer/harder, … (you could for example fold an extra blanket or down cover under the mattress protection sheet) The GroBag is a good idea but if you have the feeling it makes him uncomfortable, it may not work.

Good luck,
Kindly,
Heidi

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