Hysterical before sleep

Moderator: NgalaOnline

Forum rules
These forums are being moderated by Ngala Online. Questions posted will be answered by a Ngala parenting professional. They are open for use to all residents of Australia.

Hysterical before sleep

Postby CarynJ » Wed 27 Feb, 2013 10:28 am

My almost 7 month old (next week) is a hysterical screamer before sleep on almost every occassion. At about 3 months of age he was diagnosed with silent reflux which is when I believe he learnt to scream. It really is a cry which demands attention. On the rare occassion he has put himself to sleep with no crying at all, however 95% of the time getting to sleep is a very noisy affair. If I didn't know any better, I would say he has developed a fear of sleep!

My 7 month old does not apeear to have gained a set sleep routine during the day or night either. My friends with babies will often ask, when does he have his first sleep or what is his sleeping routine and I have no idea. During the day I have begun to try and put him down for his first sleep around 8am. He will sleep for anywhere between 45mins and 2 hours. He will then be up for between 1.5 - 3 hours and then go for another sleep for about 1 hour. He will then need another sleep in the late afternoon anywhere between 2pm & 4.30pm. We try to give him his solids at 5pm, bath about 6pm, feed about 6.15pm and then is in bed between 6.30pm and 7pm. Unfortunately he falls asleep during the burping process so putting him down at night awake is rare.

His first wake period at night can be anywhere between 9.30pm and 12.30am, his next can be anywhere between 1am & 3am and then he will sleep until between 5am and 6am on a good night. Last night he woke at 10.30pm, 12.30pm and 3.30am. I fed him at the first two wake times and then settled him in his cot for the last which took 45 minutes.

He recently cut his two bottom teeth and I feel that has contributed to more waking at night however it seems as though he is in pain from teething again already (2 weeks since the last tooth) and he has regressed to shorter day sleeps and waking 3 or 4 times at night rather than his usual 2. What I can only put down to teething also is he does not seem to want his milk during the day. We have changed fomula to see if this would make any difference but it hasn't. He is having 3 solid meals a day being cereal in the morning, fruit for lunch and vegetables at dinner time. I am offering him milk in between these feeds however he is not drinking too much during the day which I feel his waking up for at night.

Its the screaming which is really a concern for me and I don't know if control comforting is the best approach. Along with the screaming he is very mobile in the cot and is getting stuck in the corners. I try not to take him out of the cot but how long should we leave him to scream (I use the term scream as there is no other way to describe his most heard cry) and go to sleep before we remove him and start all over again? How long should you wait to start the process again?
We can't rock him to sleep, he just gets more hysterical. If we're in the room with him, he seems to stay hysterical for longer and I'm not sure how long our eardrums can sustain the pitch! When he wakes at night, it doesn't take long for him to begin to scream and it seems the bottle is needed to relax him for him to go back to sleep. Most of the time he is only awake for about 15 mins but occassionally, when I try to avoid the feed, we can be up from 45 mins to 1.5 hours.

Is re-settling at night something babies can learn on their own? He has resettled himself on the odd occassion so he can do it, it just isn't happening reguarly. If we continue to do what we are doing will he just drop the midnight feeds on his own or do we need to enforce some kind of stratergy? What can we do about the screaming? As I've mentioned, I try to settle him in the cot but with what seems to be his cry (so distressing) should I be removing him sooner and try the whole sleeping process again later on?

Look forward to hearing from you,
Myearsbleedmum! :lol:
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed 27 Feb, 2013 8:45 am

Re: Hysterical before sleep

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 28 Feb, 2013 5:09 pm

Hi CarynJ

Thank you for your post. As you have experienced, it is common for babies with reflux to develop a high volume and high pitched cry in response to their pain. Some parents do find that this type of cry persists with their baby even once the baby's reflux pain has settled down.

Regarding the fact that your baby has not developed a set timed routine, this is something that parents frequently worry about but which is not a cause for concern. You are doing the best thing for your baby by watching him for his tired signs and putting him to bed in response to these. It is common for babies this age to still have some variability in their length of sleeps, and to have catnaps. This will in turn affect how long they are able to stay happily awake for. Trying to get a baby to stay awake to a timed routine can actually backfire for some parents, as if the baby has had a short sleep and becomes tired sooner than their usual routine, keeping the baby up can result in the baby becoming overtired and more difficult to settle. Many parents find that their baby does become more predictable as he gets older, particularly when he drops the third day sleep and then the second. For more babies this increased predictability will naturally occur with time but it is still best to watch your baby for tired signs and respond accordingly. Ideally it is best to try to put your baby to bed awake for the night if possible. You might find this is able to be achieved by adjusting his bedtime pattern to bring his night time feed forward, such as before his bath time. Alternatively you might find that feeding him in a slightly more stimulating environment such as in the family room rather than in his room for instance might help him to remain awake during the feeding and burping process.

At seven months of age his milk intake is more important for his nutrition than solids are. Food at this age is more about beginning to learn to accept tastes and textures and beginning to build a repertoire of foods that he will tolerate, rather than being about nutrition. It is common for babies who are very keen on solids and who progress onto several large meals quite quickly to sometimes begin to resist their milk intake. If the baby is under about eight months of age or the milk intake is being impacted significantly it is often necessary to reduce the amount of solids or the number of meals that the baby is being offered in order to encourage his milk intake. Until around eight months of age it is best to offer milk intake before solids, and some parents find that they need to persist with this pattern past the age of eight or so months if their baby becomes particularly resistant to their milk feeds. Adding his milk into his foods such as his cereals is also a good plan.

It is common for things such as teething, illness, travel and new developmental milestones to disrupt sleep. If he is currently in pain from teething it is best to wait until that has passed before trying to make changes to his sleep. If he is currently working on motor skill development that is also likely to be impacting on his sleep as his brain will be trying to process these new skills and he will be performing them in his light sleep. It is common for sleep to regress for several weeks as babies learn to roll, crawl, sit and stand and particularly during the phase that a baby can get into one position but not get out of it. Time practicing these skills in their play time can help.

The sleep and wake times your baby is showing do sound reasonable for his age. He is showing that he is able to move between sleep cycles some of the time as he is able to have some day sleeps that are longer than a single infant sleep cycle (which is typically around 40 minutes long) and having some sleep blocks of several hours during the night. At seven months of age it is normal for babies to need one or two night time milk feeds. Resettling without feeding for some of the night waking if he wakes more frequently than once or twice is a good plan. It can be frustrating when this takes a long time, but persistence usually does help the baby to begin to develop longer blocks of sleep at night. It seems that your baby has a sleep association where he feels that he needs to suck on a bottle in order to calm and relax into a state of sleep. Resettling without the feed, although it may take some time at first and be frustrating, can help your baby to change his associations about sleeping and learn that he can put himself back to sleep without the need for the bottle. Decreasing daytime solids to increase milk intake in the day may help him to not wake as frequently at night for milk feeds. It is a good idea to offer some water in a sippy cup if you are trying to resettle without a feed at night incase the baby is thirsty, particularly in hot weather or if daytime milk intake is reduced. It is common for parents to find that their baby will refuse daytime milk intake if they are having a lot of bottles overnight, so reducing the night time feeds to a maximum of two may improve his daytime milk intake without you needing to adjust his solids intake.

With the screaming to settle, it is helpful to remember that loud volume does not necessarily indicate distress. It is helpful to listen to how the baby sounds other than the volume of his noises. If he is pausing during his cry to listen for a response this often indicates that the baby is not distressed. If he is crying without pauses and in a monotonous type of cry this often does indicate that the baby is getting distressed and needs someone to attend him to offer some reassurance. Ngala does not advocate leaving a baby for timed periods of crying, but rather Ngala suggests that it is best to listen to how your baby sounds, leaving him for as long as you feel he is not distressed but attending to provide reassurance if you feel the baby is becoming distressed.

Some babies do learn to resettle on their own at night, however, the most common experience for parents when their baby has developed a sleep association that they can’t perform for themselves (such as being rocked or fed to sleep) is that the night waking often continues until the baby is helped to learn that this sleep association is not needed for them to fall asleep and that they can develop a sleep association that they can perform for themselves. In terms of how long to continue with trying to settle your baby without a feed, it is best to try to do this for as long as you feel you and your baby are coping, then stop and try again next time. Many parents find that if they are able to be consistent for a period of a week or so changes can be made. Often the first 3-4 days are the most challenging and then the baby begins to settle easier.

You may find it helpful to attend the Ngala Parenting Workshop "And So to Sleep" which covers baby sleep and settling from 7 months - 2 years, or to attend a Ngala Day Stay. Please ring the Ngala helpline if you would like some more help and support.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
User avatar
Posts: 530
Joined: Tue 07 Dec, 2010 8:42 am

Return to Newborns

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests