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13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Mon 15 Apr, 2013 9:56 am
by Ojames12
My son is 13 months old and only sleeps through the night if he is sleeping in bed with us. We took him on a holiday to the uk and had a terrible time getting him to sleep so when we came back we fell into the trap of having him sleep with us. We also have always rocked him to sleep.
Over the last few months i have managed to get him to sleep during the day by rocking for a few minutes to calm him down and then will put him in his cot on his tummy and put my hand on his back to let him know i am here. He may get up a few times and then walk over to the side of the cot (usually the side that i'm not on!) and bounce up and down. I must say sometimes i cant help myself and burst out laughing, but this only makes him think its a game......

On a "normal day" he wakes at 5am (thats with him in our bed), naps from 8:30-9.45 and then 1-2.30. He goes down for his sleep at night at 7pm, wakes briefly anywhere between 8 and 9pm to which one of us runs in and puts him back on his tummy again. We then go to bed at 9-9.30 Then during the night he can wake at 12, 2, 3.30 and then 5 and can be up each time anywhere between 15 minutes and and hour. I would like to try and get him to sleep longer at night and sleep through the night? He was sleeping through the night (for about 4 weeks, it was bliss :) ) before we went away to the uk - we were away for 5 weeks. Currently i am switching between having him sleep in our bed and doing the up 3 times a night settleing him.... Am i doing the right thing? I guess he's getting confused with me switching like that. He usually settles when i go in and put him back down and rub his back, but i cant be doing this 3 times a night, by the time i get myslef back to sleep again, he is up for the next round. Most of the time i get fed up and end up bringing him to bed with us

I also tried thismorning to get him to sleep in when he woke at 4:45am. I took him out of our bed and then put him in his cot, (dark room and i sat in his chair next to the cot) he screamed the house down for 30minutes until i couldn't handle it anymore and then took him into the living area. He wouldn't settle down though, he didn't even want to cuddle me or have his bottle which is unusual......

I also have been using a noise machine of the last couple of months, during the day i put the music on, and then at night it's the white noise.

Please any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would like to have more children, but would like to get some sleep before the new arrivals come along!! :)

Re: 13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Fri 19 Apr, 2013 8:15 pm
by NgalaOnline
Thanks for your post. It sounds as if you are really trying so hard and are very tired! It also sounds as if you have been trying for a few months to encourage your little one to settle in his own cot, with your help. Gradually stepping down the rocking in the day time is a really great option, although as you mention it can be tiring for you. As you also mention vacillating between two settling techniques will be more confusing for him and he will be less likely to fine tune his own settling skills in the cot. Certainly consistency is really important for him to learn these new skills.
If you do feel ready to try your day settling ideas at night, please try to remember that it is normal for your baby to protest particularly in the first few nights as he may be unsure how to manage the sensations of tiredness and resettling himself without being next to you in your bed. Remaining with him (or going out if he seems calm and then coming back if he gets distressed) shows him that you are there to support him, even if he is protesting. This helps him to cope with the change and support him through the transition. Reminding yourself that you are making the change for the benefit of the whole family can be helpful. If you need to do hands-on settling in the cot (such as patting or stroking) just try to do as little as is needed and start slowly drawing back on this and weaning these methods of settling after a few days so that your baby can learn to settle more independently. If he stands up repeatedly it is best to ignore this if you are able rather than repeatedly lying him down which can then become a game. Once your baby has adapted to being able to settle himself to sleep in his cot, you should then be able to take gradual steps to do less and less until, we hope, he is able to settle himself to sleep and resettle again throughout the night with minimum imput from you.
Perhaps have a talk with your partner and make a plan for a time where you can get some support though the night to enable you to focus on being consistent for a series of nights.
We really wish you well but if you would like to discuss this further please feel free to contact the Ngala Helpline.

Re: 13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Wed 24 Apr, 2013 9:26 am
by Ojames12
Hi Ngala
Thankyou very much for your reply. Some great new's, no rocking during the day!! or night actually :) sometimes it can take up to an hour or so to get him to sleep, as he just wants to play in his cot!!! But we have lost the rocking crutch which is great..... we have had one night of sleeping through now which was wonderful. My main question is now for during the night. When he wakes, straight away he get's up onto the side of the cot and is crying, it's almost like he cant get himself back down. I know he can though because he does it during the day? Maybe his room is too dark and he cant see? Is his still asleep? Sometimes he slips back down and hit's his head (i have a monitor) and then that wakes him up even more... on a usual night i will go in put him back down, put my hand on his back and he falls back to sleep within a couple of minutes. most nights it's 3 times a night. I'm realy not sure how much less i can do now? Will he learn to get himself back down? Should i leave him for 5 minutes to see what he does? Also he was teething last night so i had to sleep in his room with him, he just wanted to hold my hand all night.. is this okay? or too much contact? I'm a little confused on how little or much i should be doing? I dont want him to have to rely on me to put him back to sleep during the night? BUt then he did sleep through the night one night, so he can obviously do it? Do the settling techniques go out the window when he is sick or do i give him as much cuddles as possible? Is this getting him back into a bad habbit?
Please help, thankyou

Re: 13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 10:07 pm
by NgalaOnline
Hi Ojames12

Thank you for your post. Congratulations on the no rocking during the day or at night - that is a fantastic achievement. Well done! It is normal for babies to take a little bit of time to go to sleep when a sleep association has been changed, as they learn new ways of settling themselves and adjust to the change. Although it is frustrating for you, playing in his cot is actually a great sign that he is becoming familiar and content with his cot as a safe place that belongs to him.

Standing during sleep is a common issue for many babies, especially if standing is a relatively new milestone. It usually does resolve within a few days to weeks as the baby gets more and more used to standing and being able to put himself back down. It is unlikely to be due to the darkness of his room, but more so due to the fact that he is more drowsy or asleep and therefore less coordinated or able to plan his actions. If he is waking very frequently and expecting you to get him back down, then this can become a bit of a sleep association. When possible it is best to leave him for a short while (at least some of the time, such as if there are times of the night when you feel he is more able to put himself back down and go back to sleep easily). Even if you do need to go into him eventually it is often helpful to have a little delay in doing so (as long as he is not distressed) so he can learn that it is not essential to have you appear as soon as he wakes up every time. If you do go into him, taking his hands and helping him to feel his way down the bars and back into a sitting position may help him to learn to do this himself. If you can get him to resettle by simply laying him down but without needing to remain with your hand on him this may also help him to settle more independently. It does sound, however, as though he has made a significant amount of change to his sleep and settling recently and as though he is well on his way to fantastic sleep and settling. By continuing to put him down awake and keeping your night time resettling efforts to a minimum where possible it is very likely that this phase of standing up will naturally pass and he will begin to sleep for longer periods.

With regards to illness and teething, at these times it is normal for children to need extra comforting and for some settling regression to occur. It is best to keep the comforting methods to a minimum where possible, but to still provide the comforting necessary to soothe your child. For instance, you may find that you are able to hold your child’s hand for a while but then put it down as he becomes drowsy before he drifts off. If you do need to do things that you wouldn’t usually do (such as holding or rocking to sleep) then this is ok, but it is helpful to be aware that within about 3 nights this can begin to become a sleep association. It is therefore helpful to begin scaling back and working towards your usual settling methods again at your first opportunity when your child begins to be well. If a child is unwell and requiring extra comforting for a number of days it can sometimes be necessary for a parent to go through the previous steps of supporting the child whilst teaching the child to settle themselves.

I hope that this information is helpful and that your child continues to go from strength to strength with his settling.

Re: 13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Wed 01 May, 2013 7:48 pm
by Ojames12
Hi and Thanks again Ngala.
Since my last post things have changed significantly. Now my boy wakes only once in the night but takes 2hrs to get him back to sleep...... and he SCREAMS and is totally inconsolable. As soon as i pick him up he stops instantly, i hold him for a few minutes and then try to put him back down again, but he starts screaming again and holds on to me for dear life... I have resorted to putting a mattress in his room next to his cot, but that is not even working now... could he have separation anxiety? Nothing has changed in his schedule. His morning sleep is fine......... his afternoon sleep has become hard work again. I have heard if a certain settling technique does not working within two weeks to try something else? My partner and i have discussed it and am thinking about bringing him back to bed with us? at least we will all get a good nights sleep and then reevalute? If it is separation anxiety, I dont know what else to do.......... today he only slept 1hour in the morning and screamed the whole time i was trying to put him down for his afternoon sleep even when i was holding him calm him down he found it really hard to settle down.... so after 1.5 hours i took him out of his room and let him play in the lounge room and he was happy as anything.
please help

Re: 13months not sleeping through the night and waking early

PostPosted: Fri 03 May, 2013 10:04 am
by NgalaOnline
Hi Ojames12

Thank you for your post. The way that you choose to handle your baby's continued night waking is an individual choice that depends on what feels right for you and your family. Cosleeping is something that does work well for many families if both parents feel happy with this plan. Research shows that babies and toddlers who cosleep typically do wake more frequently during the night than babies who sleep in their own beds, but parents also report that the child usually returns to sleep faster than when they are own bed so for many parents this is an acceptable trade-off. Parents do report that it often becomes more difficult to change a toddler from sleeping in the parental bed into sleeping in their own cot as the toddler gets older, so this is something to consider. Many parents find that around age 4 many children will willingly move to their own bed without any protest, and for some families they are happy to cosleep until this stage is reached. If you are cosleeping it is important to ensure that the environment is safe for your child. This means not having the child sleeping next to any animals or other children, not having any adult who is a smoker or affected by alcohol or sedating drugs in the bed, and not having any gaps between the bed and the wall that the child could fall between. For babies under a year old it is important to use blankets rather than doonas, and to ensure that the child can not slip down or become covered under heavy bedding or pillows. It is also important for babies under a year to make sure that the bed is firm, and not to cosleep on a surface such as a water bed, bean bag, recliner or sofa (which is the cause of most sudden infant deaths involving a child and adult sleeping together). When these safety precautions are followed, cosleeping is generally safe for babies and children but it can be helpful to speak to the SIDS and KIDs Foundation if you have any questions.

The fact that your boy is only waking up once a night now is positive. The fact that he is crying even when you are remaining in the room makes it sound as though he is not experiencing separation anxiety, but rather is protesting at the changes that are being made with regards to his place of sleep and his sleep and settling routines. Whilst it is true that if a new method of settling has not brought any effects within a few weeks it is worthwhile changing it, it is also important to look at how consistent you have been able to be with the new method of settling in that time period. Parents often find it difficult to remain consistent with an approach, particularly if their child is protesting, and may find that they move between a few different methods of settling in a period of a week or two weeks. In this case it can be difficult for the child to adapt and adjust to the changes. In order to evaluate whether a new method is proving effective it is helpful to try to remain consistent for a period of at least a week. Bringing a mattress next to his cot does sound like a good method of easing the transition for your baby. Whilst having your baby awake for 2 hours in the night sounds exhausting and frustrating, it is not a sign that you are doing anything wrong or that you are harming him. Your methods of settling do sound appropriate, responsive and supportive. It is very normal for babies to protest and be awake for lengthy periods in the initial week or so when parents are making settling changes. It is helpful to remember that loud volume of crying does not necessarily equal distress, and that if you are remaining with him and offering soothing (even if you are not offering the method of settling he would like) then you are supporting him and reducing his stress whilst you try to teach him something new that will benefit him in the longer term. Whether you pick him up or not is an individual choice, but it is best to look at whether it is helping to calm him down or not. Some parents find that picking their toddler up for a cuddle and then putting them down awake can be helpful in calming their child down. Other parents find that it actually exacerbates the protesting as the child will cry more when he is put back down. This can result in confusion for these children about what the parent is trying to do, and can result in a longer protesting period. If you feel that your child is unsettled after being picked up rather than calmed down, it may be best to continue calmly persisting with keeping him in his cot and providing in cot methods of soothing such as patting, stroking and ssshhing.

I hope this information is helpful. As you are finding the difficulties with your little boy have been ongoing for a while it does sound as though you would benefit from some further support from Ngala. Ringing the helpline may be a good idea as it can be helpful to have a 2 way conversation where both you and the practitioner can ask questions of one another. You may also like to consider booking a consult where you can sit down with a practitioner and have a longer chat, making a plan together and then receiving some ongoing phone followup by the same practitioner. I hope that you get some more sleep in the coming weeks.