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Old 02-17-2011, 07:32 AM
617 posts, read 1,105,735 times
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Hey all,

First post in this forum as I usually stick to my local area one, but I figured it was time to go for some anonymous advice. My wife and I need help putting our nine month old daughter to sleep at night. This is our first child.

Background, she slept in a small crib in our room for the first 3-4 months to make feedings easier, then we moved her into the nursery we set up for her. For the next 3-4 months, my wife or I would go in there to feed her/comfort her when she woke up and put her back to sleep, however long it took.

Well, around the eight month mark, we realized that something wasn't going quite right here, because she was consistently waking up every single hour, wasn't napping at daycare, and wasn't getting anywhere near the amount of "total sleep" infants are supposed to get, northwards of 12 hours or something. So we did some research and decided to try the Ferber method.

I don't want this to turn into an argument over the pros/cons of this method, whether it's cruel or not, it's what we decided to go with and it has worked to some degree. We set up a routine with her where bathtime starts at 8:00 p.m., a little soft music and a bottle, and she's usually in bed at 8:30. Of course, there was the requisite screaming for the first week or so, but following the Ferber method, We can put her to bed, still awake, without her making a peep.

She will consistently sleep for 3-4 hours, and her naps at daycare have started lasting well over an hour (they used to be 10-15 minutes).

The problem is, she always wakes up after 3-4 hours, usually around 12:30-1:00, at which point, my wife will feed her. After that, it's a crapshoot. Sometimes, she'll go back to sleep and sleep another 2-3 hours and wake up at 4, then again at 5. Sometimes, she wakes up every single hour for the rest of the night, at 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

The point is, she isn't sleeping through the night. I think it's happened twice in 9 months. I think my wife is starting to slowly go insane, she operates much worse than I do on less sleep.

So what do we do at this point? Do we stop feeding her at 12:30 - 1:00, and just keep Ferberizing her every time she wakes up until she gets the hint that it would be in her best interests to sleep? I think one of the mistakes we made was that we didn't even think of this until after she could already sit up, and now she can stand, so if she sits up in her crib, the chances of her lying back down and going to sleep are pretty slim.

Unrelated, when we do go into comfort her, she has this habit of doing some kind of back-arching - jerking thing which basically causes her to throw her whole body backwards, often resulting in her smacking her head against her crib. It would be comical if I wasn't worried about her giving herself brain damage. When she does that, I pick her up to comfort her, which is kind of going against the whole point of the Ferber thing, where you're supposed to comfort them while keeping them lying in the crib.

On a second unrelated note, close friends of ours just had their second daughter, who is sleeping through the night at 4 weeks. We hate them.

In all seriousness though, we need some kind of advice here because this has to end quickly. Nine months is plenty old enough to be sleeping through the night, but we messed up somewhere along the line and would like to correct the problem, especially so we can handle future kids better.

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Old 02-17-2011, 08:43 AM
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At nine months, babies have many reasons for waking up at night.

She may be going through a growth spurt and be waking up hungry. She may be teething. She may have some separation anxiety. Her sleep needs may be changing so that she needs a bit less sleep.

She might have learned some new skills and be excited about them, so she is wakeful. Babies often wake at night when they learn to crawl or stand up in the crib or walk. You may find that now is the time to establish a bedtime routine - even at 9 months - bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby and then down can help to establish your end of the day.

If her naps at daycare are too long, that may be affecting her nighttime sleep. I would talk to the daycare provider about shortening naps if that is the case.

If the problem is separation anxiety, it might help to sing to her in the next room so she knows you are there, but you are not going into the room.

If the problem is teething, try some teething gel or perhaps ibuprofen right before bedtime.

Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2011, 08:49 AM
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I have three kids and to be honest didn't really nail the sleeping thing right until the third one, lol. Though we never dealt with anything like what you are going through. One thing I will say is that I am not completely against the Ferber Method (we've used a modified version on our middle child), but I also don't think a 9 month old is old enough to use it. Not to make you feel bad, but the arching and jerking thing you are describing is evidence that she is in distress and getting very worked up. This is counter-intuitive to getting her to relax and go to sleep.

It's not unusual that she would wake up for a bottle at least once overnight, my now 15 month old still does from time to time. There may be a couple things going on here from my experience. The first question is, how much and what is your baby eating? She may be waking up because she is hungry. Have you started introducing solids along with formula/breastmilk? How much is she getting during these midnight feedings?

Also on the topic of food...A lot of kids, especially formula fed ones, (not being critical all my kids were formula fed after the first couple months) can develop acid reflux. The burning and pain gets a lot worse when they lie down, especially if they lie down immediately after eating. Your pediatrician could diagnose this. It may be as simple as keeping her sitting up for 30 minutes or so after eating, or she may need to take a medication to help. All three of my kids had this and all three ended up on medication for it. They definitely had far less sleep issues after starting the medication.

Are her diapers full when you go to check on her? Many babies are sensitive to having a full diaper and the sensation of being wet can wake them up. Are you positive you are using the right sized diaper for her size and weight? On the topic of diapers, how are her bowel movements? If she goes regularly and without issue, than it's not a problem, but if she is constipated it can cause issues.

Also, has she cut any teeth or shown signs of beginning to cut her teeth? Teething is painful and downright annoying for babies and can easily lead to sleep issues. She is at the prime age for starting to cut teeth and it may be as simple as needing a little motrin or tylenol before bed to help take the edge off the teething so she can sleep.

Does she use anything for security, like a pacifier or a favorite lullaby? These things can help her transition to falling asleep on her own and help her feel relaxed. Something like a mobile, a projector or a light/song machine attached to the crib can help soothe her to sleep and give her something to focus on.

Do you have any white noise in the room? We used a fan set on low with all of our kids to provide background noise to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. It is easy for common night time noises to wake babies and this helps block those sounds out. There has also been research done that a fan in the room promotes air circulation and can greatly reduce the chance of SIDS. Don't have the fan blow on her, just point it towards a wall in the room.

Well those are my off the top of my head ideas. I don't think you should be approaching this from the perspective of "training" her to go to sleep as much as you should be focusing on finding out what is causing her to not sleep and help setting the stage to make sleep a nice relaxing thing.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:01 AM
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I would try to stop the overnight bottle in the next month or so unless she has a weight issue and needs the extra calories. Feed her right before bed and then first thing in the morning - consider some cereal right before bed to help with sleep (I know grandmother kind of advice but it works!).

Also, I'm a big supporter of the comfort item if you can find one. My daughter has a stuffed rabbit that we always put with her when sleeping (we adopted her at 9mths so you can start late with this), at 6yrs old she still sleeps with the rabbit, its her "pavlov's dog" for sleeping. My son loved his pacifier and if you only use it for sleeping it becomes kind of signal to the baby that its time to go to sleep, wake up in the night hand her the pacifier and baby is back to sleep. By 2.5 he gave it up on his own.

I would also wonder if she has any kind of reflux or food allergy? Milk allergies can cause cramping which would wake her up. Maybe ask the ped?

Finally, not what you want to hear but my sister didn't consistently sleep through the night until Kindgergarten (!). As an adult she requires only a few hours of sleep a night and is a successful, functioning person. My mother has never quite forgiven her though
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:18 AM
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You are asking one of the classic questions that first time parents ask, in fact my daughter is having the "the big sleep" problem herself.Some times the grand daughter sleeps well, other times Not.Each child is different....I found that once my children were weaned, they slept more soundly.I hope you realize that you are not alone with your frustrations, and that "time" is the cure.....hang in there, and know, that almost every parent faces this situation, and comes through sane, and alive.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:09 AM
617 posts, read 1,105,735 times
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Good stuff so far, thanks. I should say, I'm getting off easy here relative to my wife. Even before we had the child, my sleep pattern has always been such that I woke up every few hours...i.e., I'd go to bed around 11, then wake up at 1:30, 3:00, 5:00, and than again when my alarm went off at 6:00. So while it is annoying being woken up even more, I've adjusted without too much difficulty. My wife on the other hand, slept like a log and would go for 10 hours straight if she could, so you can imagine.

Anyway, to answer questions.

Our daughter is combination breast fed/formula fed, and the middle of the night feeding is breast feeding, not a bottle, which is why my wife handles that wakeup.

She is also eating baby food, mostly a combination of Gerber 2nd and 3rd foods stuff. We have also started introducing finger foods in the past few weeks, the Puffs things, as well as peas and sweet potatos, and she's been enjoying trying to feed herself, even if the dog winds up with most of it.

She has three teeth currently, but they don't seem to bother her much; she doesn't really fuss much during the day, not the sort that can't be fixed relatively quickly. We have given her infant tylenol before in case her teeth were bothering her but it didn't affect her sleep pattern noticeably.

Her bowel movements are fine and she doesn't have them overnight. Not too sure about the morning diaper being wet, I'm practically out the door in the mornings before my wife (and sometimes the kid) are even awake, so I'd have to ask. She is wearing the right sized diaper; just had her 9-month checkup and she's in the correct weight range that we're using.

As far as white noise, after her bath, I mentioned that we give her a small bottle, which she drinks almost none of before pushing it away. We have a C.D. player playing nice music in the background while she drifts off, and when we put her to bed, we leave it on all night, with the volume turned much lower. There is an overhead fan in the room but we haven't turned it on, being winter and all.

She has a few stuffed animals but hasn't shown much interest in them. When she's frustrated in the middle of the night and I've tried to give her one, she just flings it. We do use a pacifier to calm her down in the middle of the night, but usually remove it when she's drifting off because we don't want it to fall out of her mouth, have her roll on it, and then wake up again.

I guess that's about it. Like I said, we've done some research on this and feel like we're following most of what's written. My wife has even said she doesn't mind the 12:30 - 1:00 feeding if she would just stay asleep for the entire second half of the night. That's what's the most frustrating, sleeping fine for 3-4 hours, but then having the rest of the night punctuated by bursts of yelling.

Oh, someone mentioned the jerking thing. She doesn't do that on her own. Usually when she starts in the middle of the night, she'll be sitting up, and bouncing in a frustrated manner. When we reach for her to lie her back down, she'll often do the back arch/lurching, which results in her smacking her head on the crib. We have to move really fast to get our hand between her skull and the crib to prevent this. She also does this back arching thing when we're changing her, when we're feeding her in her Bumbo chair and she wants out, etc., so it's not something unique to nighttime.

Anyway, thanks for all the comments so far, anything else would be appreciated.
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:15 PM
Location: Australia
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Great grandma (deceased) would say that you just need a touch of sherry in the babies bottle of milk at bed time.

(ps joke)
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Old 02-17-2011, 08:19 PM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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I would replace the 1:00 feed with a formula bottle...maybe with a little rice cereal in it since you already introduced solids...It will fill her up and last longer. Mybe your wife can BF at the 8ish feeding and then bottle feed (with formula and cereal) at the 1:00am...I have 3 children myself. My 3rd is 4 months...I have noticed the more calories they consume during the day, the less they need at night. We do put a tiny bit of cereal into our 4 month old's bedtime bottle...and she sleeps for 6-8 hours at a time...and I am happy with that at 4 months. If I can get her bed time bottle in at 10 or 11...that is a whole night of sleep for me...usually...

Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:04 PM
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The back arching is a classic sign of reflux. You may want to investigate that aspect further.

Babies who are teething are often fine during the day, because they are distracted from the discomfort. As all goes quiet they realise they are in pain.

You may also want to try the larger size diaper just for nighttime even if she is still in the weight range for the ones you're using now. You can't rely only on those ranges, if you look at the various boxes the ranges overlap hugely.

Other than that I can't offer much advice, since my own 9 month old only sleeps through the night once or twice a month. He usually wakes up hungry around 1am then wakes up for the day at 5.30am. His pediatrician suggested just not giving him a bottle at that time but the crying disturbs us more than him just waking. He gets too upset by crying to get back to sleep if we don't feed him.
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Old 02-18-2011, 05:15 AM
Location: somewhere
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Maybe she is just like Dad, you said that you wake up alot, if you cut the bfing at night since you are already awake then you could get up with her and let your wife sleep.
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