Eleven month old baby awake most of night and doesn't sleep well in day

by Paula Coyle
(Loughoborough )

Question: I have an 11 month old baby boy, and we are having problems with sleep! He has never slept through the night since being born. He has three older siblings, 17 years, 15 years and 4.5 years (two girls and boy in that order).

he's an active baby and eats well. he does suffer from eczema but is under control with Aqueous cream. he's a bright child and is at the stage where he is climbing furniture and attempting to let go and walk. He likes singing and dancing and playing with his older siblings.

he shares our room in his cot however he won't go to sleep in his cot, i usually put him in his puschair to go off and then move him. i have tried to put him into his cot at bedtime but he just stands up and screams and crys until i go in, i have tried going in laying him down and sitting in the room ignoring him but so he can see me, he still cries, he does not settle all night if he wakes it can take two or three hours to settle him, he dosen't seem to be happy unless i am in close contact with him.

last night i got him to sleep finally at 9.15 and put him into bed. he woke at 11.40 am and finaly went back to sleep at 5.00 am !. the only daytime naps he had yesterday were from 10.30 to 11.45 and from 2.30pm to 2.45. it's almost like he's too tired and when he does go to sleep he doesn't seem to go "properly" off into a deep good sleep.

Please help.

Heidi's Answer: Hi Paula, Congratulations with your lively son, he sounds like a smart, fun and playful baby!
His sleeping habits have probably set in gradually, starting with difficulties settling, then sleeping less, being tired, being overtired, sleeping less again, ...

The key starting points will be to get him to sleep at regular times - and to sleep as much as possible so I suggest we concentrate on that first - and then work on more and more independent sleep after that.

But first of all: are you absolutely sure the eczema is under control? Even if it is visibly, could it still be bothering him in a way? Besides, is there anything else that could be bothering him? Teething, an illness (or onset of one), does he show signs of separation anxiety during the day? I'm sure you have thought such things over, but even the tiniest thing (that seems less important at first sight) can make all other efforts useless so it's good to have an extra check.

Then, we want him to sleep as much as possible, to get out of this cycle of being too tired to sleep ... One thing I suspect happening is that you feel uneasy helping him to fall asleep and are therefore only half-helping. Please don't take this badly, I am not criticising, only trying to understand - I know you are doing all with the best intentions. But for now, to break the cycle, I suggest you do help him 100%.

You mention that he needs being in close contact with you. By simply giving in to that need for now, it just might become much easier to settle him to sleep, whether it is for naps or at night, or to re-settle him when he wakes at night.

So, whenever he has difficulties settling: hold him. If that works, leave him down in the cot, and keep your arms half around him or your hands on his shoulders, sing a lullaby, ... If that does not work, hold and rock or walk around with him - lullabies are always good too - to help him sleep. Do it without feeling guilty, but wholeheartedly.

If the night time routine with the push chair works well, then continue that. Do the holding at other moments when the push chair doesn't work.

You may find a baby sling helpful to keep your hands free (and to save your back!). Especially for naps, carrying him in a sling can be great: it will help you choose the naptime, choose how long he sleeps and keep your hands free for other things.

While doing this, you want him to have a regular schedule. I don't know if the naps you mentioned are at the same time each day. In any case, have 2 naps each day, at very much the same time every day. 9.15pm is late for night time bed time - but I understand that may be because he is difficult to settle.

In any case aim for a regular, early bedtime, say around 7-7.30pm. Even if it sounds surprising, an early bedtime gives more chances for a better night than a late bedtime. Being less tired makes it easier to settle, and a good relaxed onset to the night gives better and longer stretches of sleep.

Do pay attention to having a consistent bedtime routine - it's a simple basic, but it is very powerful.

Do this - helping him sleep 100% & the regular schedule - for a week or two, and keep a sleep log in these weeks: note down all his sleep and wake times. Let me know how it goes, and send me the log, we can then take it from there to adjust where necessary. Once he will no longer be overtired, and be used to regular sleep again, we can then work on self soothing etc.

You may also find my No-Tears Sleeping Through the Night guide helpful.

Good luck,

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