Question: My 5 1/2 month old finally does not need to be fed throughout the night (I feed him before I go to bed around 10pm and he doesn't eat again until 5am) but he wakes up between 4 and 10 times a night crying. He falls back asleep as soon as I pat him but I want him to self soothe himself back to sleep!! Any ideas? Thanks so much!
Heidi's Answer: Hi Danielle,
Waking that often is a lot. The fact that he easily goes back to sleep with just a pat would indeed not suggest he's hungry.
But maybe he is hungry, but is so drowsy he easily goes back ... only to wake soon again.
Do these awakenings start shortly after 10pm? Or start only after midnight?
If they're only 3-4 hours after the feed at 10pm, have you tried giving a short feed? It could be all it takes to keep him really sleeping through, without the frequent awakenings.
But, I'll take it from your post that you are positive he doesn't need the feed anymore. So then let's look at the following:
- Can you find any reason why he is waking up: is he teething? Check also for hidden signs of teething. Does he always have a wet diaper?
Or maybe he gets cold, sometimes a well-adapted sleeping bag can work wonders.
- Have you tried just waiting a few moments longer before going in to pat? If the crying is light and he's not too upset straight away, it may be just some fussing in his sleep. By giving him a few moments extra, he may quiet down and go on sleeping by himself. It can also help to make a little bit of 'noise', e.g. your steps in the hallway, that is sometimes enough to reassure.
Of course, if he does get upset, do go to him for the simple pat.
- For the self soothing: does he self settle at bedtime? In that case, try to work it out that, when waking in the middle of the night, he finds his room much the same as when he first went down. That will help with the self soothing.