My 12 week old baby wont sleep through the night

by Leah
(Fremont, California)

Question: My son is 12 weeks but will not be 3 months till the 20th. he is drinking 6-8 oz every 3-4 hrs during the day. i stopped the midnight feeding a few wks ago but resorted to a pacifier every night we have a bath around 8-8:15pm and then he eats and falls asleep around 9-930 however he has been on zantac for the past week due to gas reflux (he was having stop-breathing episodes so i must keep him upright for 30 min after a feeding. the meds have not helped him sleep any longer during the night. he will sleep anywhere from 3-4 hrs then wake up and cry for the pacifier as it will fall out and he will cry for up to 2 hrs before falling back asleep. he will then sleep for maybe 3 more hrs if im lucky. so he takes approx 3-4 naps but recently started sleeping in the early evening for about 2 hrs. last night i put a radio in his room for background noise...didnt help...i fed him and he ate 8 oz just to still wake up 3 hrs later i have tried swaddling, i have let him cry for 15 min. i have changed him, i have used the positioner, and i dont talk or turn on the lights. we have a schedule and i know he can fall asleep on his own because he does for his naps. i am afraid however he is gettin into the horrible habit of needing the pacifier to fall back asleep because i have to keep getting up every time it falls out. he has slept for 5-6 hrs in the past but seems to be less and less nowadays. he is my 2nd child and a very happy one at that! my first slept thru at 8 wks...i know they are all diff. however im puzzled.
Thank you

Heidi’s Answer: Hi Leah, I’m afraid the principal answer to your question is already in your post: they’re all different indeed … and as much as we would like it, your oldest sleeping through at 8 weeks is the exception, your youngest not sleeping through yet is so much more common. It reminds me very much of my own: my oldest slept through from 6 weeks, my second one was nearly 1 year old …

I’m sure this wasn’t the answer you were looking for but I do know that sleeping for 3-4 hours in a row, mostly regularly, is not all that bad at 3 months. Yes, also if he has slept up to 6 hours before. Baby sleep patterns keep changing constantly those first six months, and he also develops dramatically physically: it is absolutely normal to wake up more frequently from time to time or to seemingly start sleeping worse.

So: "sad but true and nothing we can do"? Luckily not, there are a few things we can do to keep his sleep at its best. The main thing right now is to stick to good habits. He may not sleep well right now (growth spurt, exciting changes in his life, digestive system developing, sleep patterns, …). But always offering him the best sleep environment and sticking to the basics, will have him go back to sleeping well as soon as he can. Keeping lights dim and not talk to him when waking as you do is very good. You may experiment with an earlier night time bedtime too. For a read-up on the basics check my free e-book here.

I’m a bit surprised you switched to the pacifier instead of a night feeding. The fact that he has a difficulty settling again in the next 2 hours would point to him simply being hungry. Most babies simply still need the night feedings at this age with 2 or 3 a good average (meaning it’s often 5 or more). So for now, I would advise you to keep that feeding. It will keep him fed as needed, and make your nights a whole lot easier overall.

In a month or two or three, you may indeed want to reduce night feedings anyway (but he’ll probably start skipping them naturally), you would start with reducing the amount you give and/or diluting the formula more. I describe these, and other weaning techniques, in full detail in No-Tears Sleeping Through the Night. The techniques are then carefully adapted to your baby's specific needs and situation which makes them very effective.

The fact that he can self soothe at naps is very very good of him and something to hold on to! Since he can do it at nap time, he will do it during the night when he can too.

Letting him cry will not make much sense right now, cry it out at this age is too early anyway, and even when older there are always alternatives.

Good luck, I think you’re well underway to have a good sleeper there, with just a bit patience he may not become the youngest baby sleeping through the night but will do well soon!


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Just a thought
by: Anonymous

I dont know how old this is but I had a thought. My son was sleeping pretty well through the night until all of a sudden he was up every few hours. He would cry. i would try everything and couldnt seem to calm him. Well I took him to the doctor and found out he had acid reflux. They put him on a special formula, alimentum made by Similac. Its expensive but well worth it. I had to stop breast feeding, not sure if something in my milk was upsetting him. They also put him on 10mg 1 time per day of Nexium. He was on the medication & formula for about 6 weeks. he has been off for about 3 weeks now and is doing beautifully. It was amazing to me the first day he took the medication I fed him at normal time, 9pm and he was out until 5:00am!

Ever since that night (he was 5 weeks) he has slept all night. He is starting to go till 6:30 almost 7:00am sometimes.He is now 12 weeks.

Every baby is different but since you mentioned the acid reflux I thought it was worth saying something. maybe you just to do a different treatment.

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