Are You Sleeping? Are You Sleeping?

29 Dec

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Are you the lucky mom and dad with a 3 month old that is sleeping through the night?

Are you the exhausted mom and dad walking through the world half in a daze because your 1 year old only give you 2-3 hour stretches at night?

Let me just start by saying that I am not trying to push this strategy upon anyone.  These are strategies that I have used with my children and my patients in order to help them achieve a goal.  I wrote this blog post in response to a request from a patient in our practice who wanted advice on the topic.  Families have lots of different ways they handle sleep from rigid scheduling to no scheduling at all.  I find this to be a gentle moderate plan that my families have liked.

No matter how bad your sleeping situation is, you are not alone.  Despite what you probably feel like you hear, only about 10% of 3 month olds are sleeping through the night.  The crazy thing is that people will lie about it also.  Studies have shown because of the pressure of wanting their child to sleep through the night about 25% of parents of 6 month olds will say they are sleeping through the night even when they aren’t.

However, there are a few things that you can do that can help make the transition easier.

1) I think that if your child has normal growth and development, they do not need to eat during the night after 4 months.  Getting rid of the night time feedings by providing other means of soothing during night time awakenings is one of the best ways to eliminate them.  You can do this by substituting a pacifier or even providing small amount of water to help them transition back to sleep during the night.

2) Another major thing that you need to work on is getting them to go to sleep on their own, in their crib.  If you rock them fully to sleep and then do the dance where you place them in bed and slide your arms out; tiptoeing quietly as if you are on broken glass to the door to avoid waking them, they will not know how to put themselves back to sleep during the night.  I recommend a bed time routine and placing them in bed when they are drowsy but awake.

3) After you have gotten rid of the feedings and have them falling to sleep alone, I recommend slowly decreasing the amount of support that is required to get them back to sleep.  At first, you can pick them up and rock them.  Second, comfort them in their bed.  Third, only talk to them from the door.  At some point they will become less reliant on your support for sleep and be able to make the transitions by themselves.

Here are some things that will absolutely make getting them to sleep through the night more difficult:

1) Put them to sleep in the living room watching TV with you and then transfer them to their bed.  Can you imagine if you fell asleep on your bed and woke up on the kitchen floor?  You’d probably be crying for your momma too.

2) Keep them sleeping in your room until they graduate high school.  Again, would you like to be sleeping in the room with your parents snoring and burping and all the other things that go along with being a loud adult?  Having them sleep in your room with you at night is a convenience for feeding purposes only.  They are not safer to be in your room with you than they will be down the hall.

3) Feed them every time they wake up at night because it is the easiest way to get them back down.  Adults who wake up every night for a midnight snack really do feel hungry during the night.  Your babies are feeling the same way when they wake up at night but continuing to feed them only makes this more likely to occur the next night.

Believe me, these steps are simple but they will involve some difficult nights, especially at the beginning.  But, look at it as an investment in your future sleep.  And besides, you probably didn’t read this far on my post unless you are up in the middle of the night rocking a fussy baby.


8 Responses to “Are You Sleeping? Are You Sleeping?”

  1. Angela Lebby September 19, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    My 3 month old still wakes up every night and lately it’s been every two hours for a feeding. (I think he’s just wanting to suck on something but doesn’t take a pacifier.) Do I continue to just go ahead and feed him every time he wakes up?

    • jrsmith120880 September 19, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      It’s totally up to you. It’s not uncommon for a 3 month to still be feeding at night….

      • Angela Lebby September 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

        Oh ok. I thought they should be sleeping already. (got a little spoiled with Jaycie since she was sleeping through the night at 3 weeks)

      • jrsmith120880 September 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

        Yep, definitely spoiled before! Good luck!

  2. Alexa B February 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    How about my two year old who can’t sleep in her room and only sleeps when she’s with me or my husband? I realize now I should have established better (healthier) sleep habits when she was younger but she’s my first and I was clueless. She hasn’t slept on her own since she was a baby. Help!!

    • jrsmith120880 March 3, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Setting up a routine and sticking to it is key! The routine should eventually end with her lying down by herself awake but you probably won’t be able to get there right away. Start making small steps like not sleeping next to her all night long even if she goes to sleep with you lying next to her. Then work your way up to a simple routine which ends in a goodnight kiss and you leaving the room for her to fall asleep by herself. Most of all, good luck!

  3. Bayley Seinford July 21, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Does the same routine apply to naps during the day and my son, currently 8 weeks, always falls asleep feeding and doesn’t always wake back up to burp. Does this mean he’s not really hungry or could it be that he’s hungry but also really sleepy?

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