15 Week Old is suddenly waking every hour at night!

by Danielle
(Glenfield, NY, USA)

Heidi's Tip: For more advice on sleeping through in a period of all too frequent waking at night, browse the dedicated section for help with hourly wakings.

Question: My 15 week old daughter was sleeping very well at night, up until a week ago. She has been on a very good schedule since she was 4 weeks old. She is strictly breastfed. She was waking at 7am, feed, nap from 8:30-10am, feed, play, nap from 11:30-1pm, feed, play, nap from 2:30-4pm, feed, play, cat nap at 5 for about a half hour, relaxing activities like reading, then 6:30pm is bath, pjs, cuddle, and feed at 7pm. Then I hold her with no rocking and play lullabies. When she starts getting drowsy I place her swaddled in her crib and she would fall asleep on her own. I would give her a dream feed at 11pm. Then she would normally sleep until sometime between 3 & 4am, I would feed her and she would go right back to sleep until 7am and we start the day again.

I have stuck to this schedule strictly. She has never co-slept. Last week she would sleep from 7:30pm until her dream feed, then after that she would start waking every hour ALL night until 7am. The past few nights she won't even stay asleep during the first stretch. She started rolling from her front to back at 8 weeks, and loves to suck on her hands. I'm not sure if she is getting frustrated from her swaddle, but when I try to let her sleep without it she is constantly pulling her pacifier out. When she does wake at night as soon as I walk to her and put her pacifier in she drifts back to sleep, only to wake an hour later. Which I'm guessing is the length of her sleep cycle. I've tried letting her drift back to sleep on her own, and a few times she will, other times she will keep crying, and I don't like to let her "cry it out" so I always go to her after just a few minutes if it starts to escalate.

Any advice on how to get her to sleep better? is it just a phase since she is developing and growing so much right now (i.e. getting ready to sit up) Thank you, Danielle, mother of Sienna Grace

Heidi's Answer: Dear Danielle, What a lovely routine you had set up and what a good sleeper Sienna Grace has been so far, well done! Yes, the biggest chance is that this is 'just a phase' but that does not help you much right now does it. But around 4 months is such a typical age for good sleepers to sleep poorly for a while. Exactly because so many developments are going on.

The most important thing is not to drop any of the good habits you had. Stick to all you did before (schedule, routine, lullabies, putting down, ...): that gives your baby girl the best surroundings to quickly go back to sleeping as before.

Please check this post: My 4 month old has started waking up every hour. This mom's question is very very similar to yours so I'd like to refer you to the info and tips there. Don't miss the follow-up comments about feeding and teething ...

But let me add this too: very good idea of you to not let her cry it out but listen for a few minutes to see if it escalates or not.

The one hour, after which she often wakes, indeed is about the length of her sleep cycle right now. If things do not get better soon, you can work with this.

Then you would go to her 5-10 minutes before she will wake (so after 50-55 minutes of sleep) and very gently stroke her forehead, pat her belly, or simply place your hands around her arms, or put her pacifier in.

The idea is to keep her from waking and keep her asleep into the next sleep cycle. If you manage to do this a couple of times, she will get used to sleeping for longer stretches again.

But, I wouldn't recommend it straight away. You still have the chance that things will go back to normal in a few days. But if it doesn't, then this technique is worth the while and pretty efficient.

I describe this and other effective keeping asleep techniques in full detail in No-Tears Sleeping Through the Night.

Good luck, take care,

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