10 month old girl keeps me up all night

by Nina (Maryland) - Answer by Heidi Holvoet, PhD


Hi, I am a mother of a 10 month old baby girl who just won't sleep through the night. She wakes up 4 or 5 times during the night to nurse and if I don't nurse her she cries and screams until it becomes impossible for us to ignore her.

She sleeps in the bed with us because she would wake up and stand in the crib and we were scared she might hurt herself.

Please tell me how I can solve this problem and make my baby sleep better. She's cranky and tired throughout the day because she doesn't get her nighttime sleep.

We are also having trouble with her eating habits. She seems to hate eating solid foods and wants to nurse all the time plus she doesn't drink bottle milk at all!

Please I need serious help! I am very close to a breakdown, I don't know what I am doing wrong. HELP!

Heidi's Answer:

Hello Nina,

I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. Let me start with a few tips and some questions to you so that I can get more specific.

First off, since you mention being close to a breakdown, do take good care of yourself. It may not be easy but do find a way to get some more rest yourself. That can be your partner, a family member, friend or any other babysitter who stays with your daughter even if it is for a few hours during the day.

Then take that time all to yourself, to rest, sleep if you can or just relax doing something that you like. This is something that we easily forget or think it is not necessary or not 'allowed' but it is very (!) important to keep yourself going.

It is very normal for a 10 month old to still wake up at night, but 5 times a night is making it tough on you, and she does not need to feed 5 times a night.

Some tips to start with:

- Ensure regular naps during the day and a regular bedtime, and stick to that.

- Make sure the room is not pitch dark but have a dim night light.

- Decide for yourselves where you want her to sleep. If you are ok with having her in your bed then that is fine but if you’d rather have her in the crib then you can work on that too. Is she comfortable in your bed, do you think your own movements may wake her? Did she wake up as often when she was in the crib?

- Reducing the night time feedings will be the first thing to do. This will not be all in one go. Start with going from 5 to 3. Choose three ‘fixed’ times where you will feed and decide that at let's say the second and fourth awakening you will not feed her.

At these no-feeding times, have your partner tend to her. This is a bit easier if she’s not in the bed with you, but you can just rollover to the other side, even ‘hide’ under the covers, or leave the room. And/or he can pick her up, carry her around until she calms down, even give her a sip of water. Be consistent. See how that goes.

With some more info from you, I can get a better picture and give more specific help. I have emailed you a set of questions. (Simply leave a comment below if you haven't received those or to give more info here if you like.)

It’s usually not very obvious of course what the cause can be, but if you list as many things as you notice then we can discover something and set up a plan.

Alternatively, consult my book No-Tears Sleeping Through the Night for a full roundup of must-have basics and wake up causes. It also gives you the proven techniques to improve.

If you worry, you may want to go for a doctor’s visit for a check up to see if nothing is bothering her.

Regarding eating, she may need more time to adjust to the solids (when have you started). Keep offering different things, with different structure.

No worries about the bottle milk, as long as you can breastfeed that is fine. Do offer her water from a normal cup (breastfeeding babies very often skip the bottle and are quick at learning to drink from a normal cup), or a sippy cup if that works better.


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