Menu

Why Night Weaning Isn’t Working

November 30, 2012 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months
night weaning - why baby eats all night

Is your ongoing project to night-wean your baby a huge and utter failure? Does the idea of sleeping, without interruption, seem as unattainable as travel by jetpack? Starting to feel a little stabby?

Don’t feel bad, you’re in good company. Getting your baby to consume all their calories during civilized hours can be a tricky project beset by illness, teething, and a seemingly endless stream of growth spurts. But it can be done. And it helps to start by figuring out why things aren’t quite working out as planned.

Any night-weaning project needs to start with putting baby down awake. If you are still nursing/feeding/using the pacifier to get baby to sleep (and let’s face it, most of us are) you need to START with putting baby down awake AT bedtime. You cannot skip this step. No cheating. Put baby down awake.

But what if you ARE putting baby down awake and you’re still not having any success at night? Below I’ve listed the 8 most common reasons night weaning isn’t working in order from the MOST likely (#1) to the LEAST likely (#8).

Why Weaning Isn’t Working

1

They’re too young.

Some babies aren’t ready to fast for 12 hours until they are 6-8 months old. If your 10 month old is still eating all night long, you’ve probably got other issues. But when your baby is 4, 5, or even 6 months old, they may be simply not ready to go that long without a meal. So if your 6 month old still resolutely eats 1-2X a night, it may simply be a “wait it out” type of issue.

2

Eat = Sleep

Even if you are putting baby down awake, she could still have a STRONG eat=sleep association that will stymie your efforts to night wean. Night weaning STARTS at bedtime. If you’re nursing/feeding just PRIOR to bedtime, your baby can maintain a food=sleep association and insist on being fed throughout the night. You’re going to have to put your night-weaning project on hold and focus on separating the eat=sleep association AT bedtime. Try mixing up your bedtime routine so that there is minimally a 20 minute gap between food and sleep.

3

Not Enough Soothing

Sometimes babies are nursing all night because they need the soothing to help them navigate sleep cycles. So you rush in there, nurse for 3 seconds, and they happily fall back to sleep for another 2 hours, rinse, repeat. You look at your partner with frustration who responds calmly, “Well what do you want ME to do about it?” In 95% of cases the root issue here is the same as #2 – you are nursing/feeding to sleep and/or too close to bedtime. However 5% of the time the issue is simply that baby isn’t getting enough soothing and needs a little extra during the night. If your baby is under 6 months and needs more soothing, I would strongly suggest you consider swaddling and loud white noise. Even if you thought you were “done” with the swaddle, it’s a far preferable solution to the “needs more soothing” issue than serving a human pacifier, no?

4

Distracted Eater

As babies get older and more interested in the world they can’t be bothered to stop staring at the Christmas lights long enough to eat. So despite your best efforts baby may eat just enough to get by during the day, choosing instead to tank up at night when it’s dark and boring out. Or….

5

Preferred Source

Many working Moms find that their baby barely consumes 10oz a day at daycare, far less than they are pumping, but then is ravenous all night long. Often your baby previously had one small snack at night but now is clamoring for huge nursing sessions throughout the night. Why? Because they would much prefer to get their milk fresh from the breasturant and, given that the breasturant is only open at night, they wait to eat at night. The solution to distracted eaters and “only the boob will do” babies really deserves it’s own post. But clearly the answer is to get more calories in during the day and to make food less available/appealing at night. Because if baby is fasting during the day for whatever reason, night-weaning will continue to be an uphill slog.

6

Too Much Solid Food

Feeding babies solids is super fun and especially for nursing Moms, can be a well-earned reprieved from being the sole source for on-demand feedings. But baby food is calorically light. 4 oz of breastmilk = 80 calories. 4 oz of gerber carrots = 15 calories. It’s like high-fiber diet food. So don’t let your well-intentioned enthusiasm to offer solid meals interfere with liquid calories during the day.

7

Nursing Issues

PLEASE DON’T PANIC AS THIS IS VERY RARELY THE ISSUE. No…I can see you are panicking. Please stop. Really. In very RARE cases there might be a small nursing issue that is tripping you up. Sometimes baby is thriving, growing, and producing wet diapers but supply is just a tiny bit low so baby is constantly hungry and eats hourly all day long. Or maybe oversupply or fast letdown means that baby is filling up on watery foremilk but not getting enough of the fatty hindmilk, and thus need to eat constantly because each meal is really more of a snack. I’m not a nursing expert and there are probably 5 other small nursing challenges that might lead to an older baby who needs to eat constantly. But I DO know that they’re a) rare and b) fixable. If you suspect this is the root problem it’s time to find a reputable, local IBCLC to work with.

8

Self Sabotage

Maybe you’re a working mom who feels guilty about not having enough cuddle time during the day. Maybe you still see your hearty 25 lb baby as the 5 lb preemie he was 10 months ago. For many reasons sometimes parents aren’t quite ready to night wean and that tiny voice inside tells them to run into baby’s room every time they here a coo in the night. And that’s totally OK. Take some quiet time and ask yourself, “Am I really ready for this? Do I feel some inner conflict about it?” If you aren’t ready, take weaning off the table until you are. It’s OK. You’ll get there.

Anybody struggling with night weaning? Any success stories from the trenches? Anything else I should add to my list?

Add subtitle text (1)

Please Subscribe to My Newsletter!

It's free, full of insider tips that don't make it to the blog, and each time you do it's like giving me a little hug. And I love hugs!

Awesome! Keep an eye out for a confirmation email in your inbox.


187 Comments


  1. I’ve been considering my options on this recently, thanks for the advice. My 9 month old son sleeps like a stone at night but wakes around 4:30am and seems genuinely hungry. He has slept through a handful of times but will usually wake at 5:30am instead of 6:15am when he does. He breastfeeds & eats well through the day & I load him up with good high cal food as he’s only a little bub.

    • Hi Kat,
      I think my son and yours might be twins! My 9 month old does the exact same thing. He goes to bed awake between 6:30 and 6:45 after breastfeeding. I have a timer (left over from his newborn days) and he consistently wakes up between 4 and 5 am, after 11 to 11.5 hours since his last meal. I have tried to ignore him but it doesn’t work. He will sit or stand and look at the door, then after he realizes I am not coming, he will lay down and doze for 5-10 minutes before waking up and doing it all again. I’ve let this go on for an hour before. He will not go back to sleep without eating. If I go in and feed him, some mornings he will go back to sleep right away. Sometimes he stays up and plays in his crib before falling back asleep. Other mornings, he never goes back to sleep, but I leave him in his crib until 6:30. I do wish he would stop, but I figure that that is close enough to the “12 hour fast” that he probably is hungry.
      As Alexis said somewhere else, he’s had enough sleep to fight my attempt at cry it out.
      I know this probably isn’t helpful, but I just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain (or should I say sleepiness!).

      PS-I laughed out loud when I read “breasturant”

      • Knowing other mums are in it with you is always helpful Jennifer, thanks! I’m trying to wean him off this feed as per Alexis’ advice of reducing his feed time gradually, fingers crossed. Unfortunately this week he’s thought 4:45am is actually time to get up for the day not just snack time. Good luck!

        • If it helps – remember back to the early days of “feeding every 1-2 hours all night long”. From that view – sleeping from 7:00 PM – 4:30AM is actually a luxury. Not quite as good as the 4 Seasons luxury, but there are plenty of other readers who would happily trade with you :)

          If a 4:30 feeding buys you an additional 1-3 hours of sleep, it’s probably a good idea. Will baby take a bottle? I’m a big fan of bottles at 4:30 AM so that the early dark duty can be shared equally 😛

      • Coming to this three years late (I trust you’re all getting some more sleep now!) – but on the offchance that other new mums are on here wondering how to tackle frequent night wakings, I just wanted to say that I’m a full-grown adult woman and I don’t think I can go twelve hours without a snack!

    • Most babies will do this. They’ve gotten enough sleep so that they won’t just roll over and fall BACK asleep. So your choice is:
      a) Start the day at 4:30 (simply uncivilized) or
      b) Feed/soothe them back to sleep for another ~2 hours

      As always the choice is yours but honestly I’ll do just about ANYTHING to not start the day at 4:30 so I vote for b).

      • Hi Alexis, I also have this problem and have opted for option b for the last couple of months. However my boy is now nearly one, are they likely to stop this themselves?

      • There is also option c which is play some white noise. Works a treat when my monsterous angel decides it’s wakey wakey time. Goes back to sleep for another 2-3 hours!

  2. Great timing on this piece… we are currently right in the middle of the night weaning battles. Cam isn’t a great sleeper but he was doing alright. At 5 months he woke up twice a night to eat. I would nurse him and he would immediately go back to sleep, no problem. My hubby would go in, to check on his, so he wouldn’t smell the buffet, and this worked – if he woke up other times, a paci was enough. And he wasn’t waking up that often anymore.
    Then we had to pack up and move to a different state, and spend a few weeks with my in laws in the meantime. And this completely and utterly messed everything up… He had started waking up every 2 hours again, wanting nothing to do with the paci. He would only go back asleep if I nursed him, and he would not even nurse that long most of the time. A few weeks ago (he is now almost 7 months), when he started waking up every hour and a half, we decided enough is enough.
    I have stopped nursing at night, and now at night we only give bottles. We are trying to get some sort of schedule going, so he isn’t waking up at random throughout the night anymore. We now dreamfeed when we go to bed at 10, and again at 12.30, 3am and 5.30 (the idea of my husband was that, if we feed him before he starts crying for it, he will learn that he doesn’t need to cry in the middle of the night for a bottle – I’m probably not explaining it properly because I’m a tad sleepy). We have started to give less and less in the 12.30 bottle, and tonight we will be done with that one. Then it is on to the 3am one. I really hope that in a few weeks, we will be able to say we actually slept for 4, or even more (gasp) hours in a row, but let’s wait and see…
    This night weaning makes sleep training a lot more complicated, imo. Because my son goes to sleep fine, when we put him down awake. He just wakes up a ton throughout the night and wants food. I don’t want him to be hungry. But I also don’t want anymore of these nights, where he seems to eat more at night, than during the day :-/

    • Dont know if this helps but I would focus on night training ( teaching him to sleep on his own) more than night weaning. If sleep trained ur son will go back to sleep all on his own after waking up in the middle of the night except for when he is hungry. Dr. W mentions in his book that it’s normal for kids to wake up once or twice to feed untill 9 months, and he’s the guy who invented the extension method. Sleep training doesnt mean or equal night weaning. Our daughter was sleep trained at 6 months she’s 10 now and we still wake up once to feed her, if she wakes up after 4/5 hrs we give her 5 min and 99% of the time she goes back to sleep. We will start the weaning process once we are emotionally ready, it’s funny but we enjoy those peaceful moments at night.

    • Lots of smart things going on:
      – feeding him BEFORE he cries
      – put down awake
      – offer less food
      – make night food less appealing (bottle vs. breast)

      RF is right too though – you say you’re sleep training which is why I think we’re both a little confused? If you’re putting him down awake, have you also separated food FROM bedtime? He could still have a really strong food=sleep association if you’re feeding AT bedtime, even if you then put down awake.

      And yes he could very WELL be eating more at night. It’s a common problem (see points 4, 5, and 6 above). So good luck with coaxing him to get those calories in during the day!

      • I think you’re right, and that he probably has a eat-sleep association still going on. I’m going to focus on that at naptime as well. Giving him reflux meds in the morning (with the waiting periods before and after), kinda messes up the whole wake up/eat/play/sleep routine, but maybe making sure he doesn’t eat right before napping, will already do the trick.

        I had it in my head (after reading another baby sleep book), that you can’t sleep train until baby is night weaned, but I guess I was mistaken. We have in the meantime cut out the midnight feeding, and he’s doing pretty good. If he wakes up less than 3 hrs after the previous feeding, we now let him fuss a bit, if that doesn’t help we go in and give a paci, and if that doesn’t help we let him cry for a few minutes. So far he has responded to it well, we have only had to go in twice, and then he fell back asleep for a bit. So we are hopefully very slowly making progress…
        Thanks to you both for the replies!

        • You definitely don’t have to night wean before you sleep train. Some babies are waking up hourly at 6 months so a bit of sleep training is all but required. Yet they may not be quite ready for a 12 hour fast right? And often night weaning works far better once they’re falling asleep solo at bedtime.

          Can you wean a baby who is still nursed to sleep? Eh….probably. For a few people. But most babies will fight you on night weaning if they still have that strong nurse=sleep association because of what is happening at bedtime. Start with bedtime and everything just flows better. So good luck!

          • Hi there! I stumbled upon your website and can’t stop reading it! I too, am sleep deprived, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to actually have time (or energy) to post something, but would love your input re: a few sleep habit things we have going on here. My almost 8 month old son who is a big boy (born weighing11 lbs 5 oz and now at least 20 lbs) had a terrible time of waking a LOT around Christmastime and I nursed him in the night each time thinking I would solve these issues after the holidays. So, after Christmas, I decided I couldn’t cut out all feedings at once (I had been doing a dream feed at 10:15 and then he would wake at 1 am, and 3,4 Too much, etc.) so I decided that I would allow one feeding in the night and drop the dream feed so we let him sleep as long as he could and then wake for one feeding and after that we would let him CIO until 5 am. After a few nights (wasn’t as bad as I feared), he got into the swing of what is becoming his current “schedule.”
            He goes to bed around 7 (tonight I actually switched the order from bath, nurse, book to nurse, bath and then book after reading your site). I did this because many nights he would fall asleep during nursing or be very sleepy and barely be able to look at the book so he probably had some strong associations with nursing to bed. He did well tonight (knock on wood) and didn’t fuss. He usually wakes at 11 and I feed and change him and put him back to bed. Then, he wakes somewhere in the 3,4 OR 5 am range. My rule to myself is that I won’t feed him until 5 so some mornings at 4 I will let him cry and go in and out checking on him until 5 when I finally throw in the towel and get up with him for the day and nurse him. Today, I nursed him downstairs on the couch at 5 am and he fell asleep in my arms. Adorable, but also not sustainable due to the lack of sleep.

            Would love your advice as to what I should do about that 11 pm feeding? Do you think it is something I should wean (how?), see if he’ll drop it on his own eventually, or CIO? Is it likely he’ll just shift it to a later time (i.e. 1 am) ?

            Also, his dinnertime schedule is still confusing to me. Tonight I nursed at 5pm, fed baby food at 6 and then nursed him as much as he’d take (not much) at 6:30 before his bath (see above for order). He was in bed at 7 pm. Does this seem like too much/too little?

            Lastly, am I creating bad habits if when he wakes at 4 or 5 am I feed and then put back to sleep in crib? What time should I wake him up to begin the day?

            Any advice you can provide would be appreciated. I don’t want to have to CIO again if we don’t have to, but will do it if you think necessary. Thanks!

    • Can this have any effect on sleeping habits? My once ahhhh-mazing napper/sleeper (now 7 month old baby boy) has suddently started waking up like clockwork around 3 am – 4 am and he always gets out his growly cry like he is starving (FYI – last feeding – food and bottle at 7:30, bedtime around 8:15). We went though this around 6 months for a little over a week and wrote it off as a growth spurt. However, now, the only thing I can think of is that he is finishing up a round of antibiotics from a double ear infection that obviously also have an effect on his potty habits …. meaning his typical once a day BM has turned into 4-5 a day. So, my theory (albeit with no medical backing) is that this is causing him to get hungry more often. Am I nuts in thinking this? I am hoping there is AN explanation because it is hard to believe that my little angel who started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks has waited until halfway through his first year to become a night owl.

      • Well I would guess if I were pooping like a rabbit I might eat like one too.

        But the other thing – and this is key for all you parents of easy babies – is that babies DO have growth spurts and DO need more food at different times! So being “done” with night feedings may not really mean you’re DONE. Until they turn ~1 and then generally don’t go back to night feeding.

        So I think yeah – the fact that he’s not feeling great may leave him a little hungry at night. But it could also be the 6 month growth spurt that just isn’t DONE yet. Hint: You may see this again at 9 months too. Sorry about that ;(

  3. Please help! Up until about 10 days ago, my now six month old baby was addicted to her pacifier and was getting up every 45 minutes just to have it reinserted. We successfully got her to go to sleep without it and the night waking are much better.
    She used to very rarely need a bottle in the middle of the night (less than once a week). My current issue is that ever since we dropped the paci, she has been waking up once or twice and won’t go back to sleep without a bottle. I don’t think she’s really that hungry since up till 2 weeks ago she was doing OK without night feeding.

    But then again, she got her first two teeth this week and started solids consistently two weeks ago (before that, I was giving her solids a couple of times a week or so). She turned 6 months 3 days ago.

    I don’t mind feeding her if that’s what she needs, but I really really don’t want to replace one bad habit without another one.

    Any idea what is going on here?

    • I should maybe mention that I still give her the pacifier for naps.

      Can I give it to her when she wakes at night (not at bedtime) or will it make her regress?

      • Maybe I can help some. My son had the exact same issues with the pacifier at night. What we transitioned him to was a little lovie blankie. It’s really small and breathable fabric so no worries of suffocation. He can easily pull it off his face and he’s 5 and a half months. We started giving him this before bedtime while I sing to him during his bedtime routine. He will chew on this and it helped him learn to suck his thumb. At night he cuddles with it and sucks on its ear to soothe himself. It’s large enough for him to find in his sleep when he needs comforting. We did eventually wean him off his pacifier all the time though and this has helped a lot but it wasn’t easy and I know he misses it. Now he only wakes up once or twice a night and I don’t take him out of the crib, just go in, talk to him and rub his tummy and he usually falls right back to sleep. I do dream Feed him at 10pm every night too.

        • Yeah, I really recommend a little comforter too. I gave a little square of safe fabric to our son with a few drops of breastmilk on it, or wore it stuffed down my top for a few hours in the day so it would smell like me (in the beginning). Now he loves his little fluffy and turns and snuggles into it to go to sleep. Really helps to have a sleep-help that isn’t dependent on the parent (like dummies). On occasion I’ve had to go in and put it near his face if he work up at a weird time, but mostly he keeps it well.

          • She already has a favorite comforter that she loves to snuggle. For some reason, it’s still not doing the trick for night wakings… I started slowly diluting her bottles and am trying to get her drink more during the day. Hopefully the transition won’t be too difficult

            • My son has a comforter that he self settles with too. Good advice I got was buy a few of them & rotate with clean ones so he gets used to it early!

  4. Great TIming on this article, as this morning I said to myself ” I am going to do some research on how to cut out his night feed”

    My 8 month old goes to bed awake at 7pm after a full bottle, and wakes up every single night at the same time between 3-4am. Then will sleep from 430 to 6 am.

    I have a video monitor so I watch him when I hear him crying.

    He will pull himself up in his crib and cry while staring at his bedroom door waiting for me to go in and pick him up, he will cry for about 10-15min , he will then lay back down when he realizes I am not coming to him, and falls back to sleep for about 5-10min, but then wakes up and starts crying again, waits for a few min then lays back down. He will continue this until I go in and pick him up. His cries just get louder and louder. I go and pick him after about half hour – 45min this. I just keep telling myself “this time he will stay asleep” but nope he just wakes up again.

    He is like an alarm clock. He wakes up at night and in the morning at exactly the same time every single day. It doesnt matter how much he eats, or sleeps during the day.

    Any advice? Should I be letting him cry it out to drop the 3am feed?

    • Have you tried scheduled awakenings? He’s got a lot of practice doing this behaviour, so it’s a hard habit to break. However, you can shake things up a little by setting your alarm a little before he usually wakes up. Go in, nudge him a little, and then help him fall asleep again if necessary.

      This is called a “scheduled awakening” and it tricks baby into restarting his sleep cycle so that he doesn’t wake himself up at the usual time. It’s a no-cry solution I didn’t hear anything about, after being torn between attachment and CIO camps for eight months.

    • Have you done this yet?:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-3/

      Sounds to me like he’s HUNGRY at that hour, and isn’t going to go back to sleep easily until you’ve reduced his calorie consumption gradually. Hungry babies are very persistent! Once he’s used to not eating much at that time, he’ll probably stop waking.

      • Ive tried the CIO for night weaning, but eventually picked him up after an hour of crying.

        I have recently stopped breastfeeding, and now give him a bottle for his 3am feed.
        I will try what the article suggests about offering less and less of formula. Hopefully that works for him !
        thanks!!!!

    • Hey Theresa,
      I would give what Amelia is suggesting a try. It MAY work. Unless he’s legitimately hungry in which case I would feed him and work to gradually reduce that feeding a la the post Kate suggested.

      I’ve said this lots in other comments but it comes up a ton. So here’s the deal – when babies have had a bunch of sleep (7:00 PM – 4:00 AM) they’ve gotten enough so that CIO doesn’t work well. What you end up with is babies crying from 4:00 AM – 6:00 AM and everybody is pretty unhappy about that.

      So give the scheduled awakenings thing a try for a few days, see what happens. If it doesn’t make a difference I would try possibly setting an alarm for JUST before he wakes up and feeding him. See if that doesn’t then tide him over till morning. If it DOES, keep doing it but gradually reduce the amount of time (see Kate’s link) until hopefully he no longer needs it and will sleep through. Good luck!

  5. Perfect Timing…. I find myself really really unsure as to whether our 5 month old is genuinely hungry or needing extra soothing at night. She has always been a really hungry baby, and as a result a very large one. I have been very resolute in not nursing her to sleep at bedtime because for a few months we coslept and need to break her of this association. However, she still wakes up an hour after falling asleep, wanting to comfort nurse. She is a very distracted daytime muncher- for example, yesterday she only ate three or four times, no matter how much I tried to encourage her, so when she woke up after an hour at bedtime, I thought I should feed her because she was probably trying to make up the extra calories…. however, she fell asleep within a few minutes!!!

    a) is is possible she is hungry but too tired to stay awake to eat enough?

    b) why does she still need to comfort nurse throughout the night despite the fact she doesn’t initially fall asleep at the breast, has a tight swaddle, loud white noise (from TWO sources…) and STILL gets the varsity swing technique treatment? (it’s been three weeks and we still can’t get her to sleep without jiggling the swing).

    c) is it possible she is simply too young at 5 months to do without maximum soothing at night, OR could she already be growing out of the soothing techniques and finding it more difficult to settle no matter what we do?

    by the way, breastaurant… LOVE IT :)

    • Hey Kirsten,
      This is a toughie but here’s my best guess…

      You are still in the process of getting her used to not sleeping with you and having unlimited access to your breasturant yes? Three weeks is still kinda new.

      I know you’re SUPER tired, but I think for the moment, you have bigger fish to fry. And that is – getting her to fall asleep in the swing WITHOUT the jiggling. I think what is happening is that she’s falling asleep WITH you there/jiggling/etc. and when she wakes up 1 hour later to, “comfort nurse” it’s not about the comfort or the nursing, it’s about the fact that the scene she was experiencing AT bedtime (you there, jiggling, etc.) has CHANGED. And thus she’s startled, upset, etc. and needs extra soothing (in this case comfort nursing) to get over it.

      So you go in and nurse her to sleep and thus -> from HER PERSPECTIVE you are STILL nursing to sleep. Does that make sense?

      So your night weaning isn’t working because if you look at things a little differently – you’re still nursing to sleep.

      So really the whole problem is still with what is happening at bedtime. The solution? Less varsity/jiggling, no more comfort nursing to sleep. I know none of this is easy stuff and I don’t mean to pass it off like it is. But the root cause is the bedtime stuff and none of the “through the night” stuff is going to get better until you get that sorted out.

      Getting her out of your bed was HUGE. But, sadly, you aren’t quite done.
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-i/

      • Thanks so much, it does make sense.

        I have found that for naps, the more tired she is, the more likely it is she won’t fall asleep without jiggling, so sometimes in the morning she will fall asleep really easily with no jiggling at all, but as the day goes on she becomes more ratty…. so we KNOW it’s possible, just a bit unpredictable….

        We abolished the nurse->nap association a couple of months ago very successfully so I’m sure we can do the same for night time. She has been in the swing for naps for over three weeks, but has only actually slept in there for the whole night for around a week. I suppose I’m just a little impatient!!

        I am happy to say that it is getting better already. Rather than waking between 7-10 times per night, she wakes between 3 and 5 times. MUCH better! Now when I feed her at night I know she is hungry and not just looking for soothing, and I think she is becoming more confident about being alone in the swing also…

        I can’t thank you enough for your help and guidance. As soon as I possibly can I will be donating to help keep this site up and running.

  6. I’m in the same boat as Katrien. Our 9-month-old daughter wakes at least every 2 hours and wants to nurse to go back to sleep. The other night, I tried an experiment with bottles (formula, though – she nurses a ton during the day, too, so it’s hard to pump). She refused the bottle at least once, so I know the nursing is at least sometimes for comfort.

    I separate nursing from bed by at least 30 minutes. I nurse her every 3 hours during the day – sometimes it goes 4 hours, depending on her nap length. I don’t nurse to sleep ever. She does use the paci, but it’s attached to a tiny tether (not enough to strangle herself with) and can put it back in.

    We had been co-sleeping, but that meant she wanted to be on the breast ALL NIGHT. I do work (though am allowed to telecommute from home, so I can nurse on demand) and need to have some functioning brain cells, so this is getting to be a serious problem. (Not to say SAHMs don’t need functioning brain cells – they need them in spades.) She is now in a crib right next to the bed – I can touch her from where I sleep. But this has only helped a little.

    Anyhow, I do have a forceful letdown and it, along with oversupply, was a big problem in the beginning. The supply has worked out, but I wonder if that is some of our problem. She is a distracted eater, but I try to get her on each breast twice during a feeding session so I know she’s getting at least some hindmilk.

    I don’t even know if this comment is coherent, but I am wondering if (a) I should replace the night feeds w/ bottle feeds so I can gradually reduce them. This means formula, though; (b) If letdown is something worth exploring; and/or (c) despite the fact she doesn’t nurse to sleep, months of nursing on demand throughout the night have led to a very difficult to break nurse-sleep association. Thanks!

    • I have been there. Very much so. Personally I don’t think you need to use formula to night wean, although if it makes sense to you go for it. Here is what we did:

      1. Set a firm “no feeding before 3 hours” rule. My husband would go in to rock, soothe, tell him no milk if he woke before the designated time. We had to do this for 3-4 days but then he started sleeping until that first feeding time, like 10:30. At that stage he would go longer between other wakings as well and I was only feeding him 3 times instead of 1 million (approx. 10:30, 2, and 5).

      2. Once we had 3 predictable times, I weaned the middle feeding according to Alexis’s method of reducing by one minute per night (the first link in this post above). This took a long time and we got stuck a few times because my son was not eating enough during the day. But eventually we got there.

      Now I feed him twice (11 and 4) and actually without me doing anything he’s stopping waking for the 11:00 feeding at least half the time. Which is amazing.

      Maybe you could try something similar? I didn’t know how to start weaning one feeding at a time when we had so MANY, but this worked. Good luck!

    • Kasey,
      My gut (which is also hungry right now so may I’m getting my signals crossed) tells me that it’s all about nurse=sleep, habit, etc.

      For starters it’s all but impossible for me to believe that a healthy 9 month old baby, regardless of how distracted she is or how firehosey your letdown is, isn’t getting enough calories in during the day to not be able to make it more than TWO HOURS at night.

      There are 6 lb newborns who can make it for longer stretches than that.

      So while sussing out the “how much is hunger vs. habit” thing isn’t easy I’m going to say that 80% of her night “feeding” is all about habit/sleep association.

      Also I think the paci is working against you. Sure she’s capable of putting it back in but clearly she’s choosing to call for YOU instead. YOU are the preferable human paci in this situation and since you’re a) right there b) available to her every 2 hours, the paci is effectively a jaunty accessory.

      Also it’s feeding into the suck=sleep problem which is fundamentally, why you are trapped.

      What Kate says is totally right. But also ditch the paci because basically at this point any sucking is working against you.

  7. Hi Alexis,

    My daughter is 4 months old, and except for a few weeks of crappy, growth-spurty nights, she sleeps like a champ: 10pm bedtime, 1 night feed at around 4-5am, then sleep again until 9am. My question is, sometimes she still falls asleep while nursing. I try to wake her and she opens her eyes for about 10 seconds and falls back asleep. This doesn’t happen all the time; some nights she’s wide awake and falls asleep 10 minutes after I leave. Am I setting myself up for failure once I start to wean her off the swaddle and white noise (she’s weaned off the swing but still sleeps in it because of reflux)? She is also really good at getting herself back to sleep if she wakes up and isn’t hungry, fussing for only 5-10 minutes. Should I start trying to separate the nursing at bedtime? Or wait until she’s a bit older since she still needs the 1 nighttime feed anyways? I would hate to lose the “nursing until drowsy” tool right now since she’ll be heading into 4 month regression hell pretty soon…

    Thanks for your time!

    • Grrr….my comment just disappeared! Who runs this crappy thing?!?! Oh. I do. Damnit.

      Anyhoo my now abbreviated answer:
      1) Don’t sweat white noise. Keep it up till min=1 year.
      2) Don’t sweat the swaddle. Refluxing kids are swaddled (generally) a lot longer.
      3) Keep working on put down awake (it sounds like you’re all but there already). THAT is the key. Some babies have no problem weaning off night feeds when put down awake even if nursed just prior. IF yours has a problem in the future, putting a gap in there is generally not a big deal. The big deal is put down awake.
      4) And you’re right – you’ll likely have a big regressiony growth spurt coming up so you may fall back into some bad habits then. It’s OK – we all do that. You’ll get it all sorted out after :)

      Good luck!

  8. I have a 5mo. girl who goes to sleep like a champ swaddled, white noise in her own bed (in our room) but wakes up a LOT. She used to get 5+ hours, then through the 4 mo. sleep regression she was up every 1-1.5. Now she wakes every 2 or so. Transitioning to no paci didn’t seem to have much effect on night waking and she falls asleep without it, she only complained a little bit. She could be hungry (she is slender but tall), but she doesn’t eat much (maybe 5 mins) before falling asleep so the stepping down minutes on a breast wont work. It seems like a comfort thing. How do I:

    * Determine if she is actually hungry without using a paci? (or do I use it for night waking as Lara suggested, I do not want her sucking her thumb/fingers as she gags herself causing vomiting, besides she is swaddled). Though even when I used the paci she would sometimes fall asleep with it only to wake in about an hour.

    * Get her to eat more at one time in the middle of the night if she is hungry or go back to sleep if she isn’t. If she is falling asleep on her own is rocking to sleep ok for night waking? My thought was to try to soothe her to sleep the first time she wakes then feed her every 4 hours or does this create an intermittent reinforcement problem?

    I only work one day a week so she has very little bottle experience. She is a bit of a distracted eater. We have not started solids. This could help if I am careful to use high calorie density foods?

    • One more thing. I haven’t weaned the paci at naps (only weaned at night for 4-5 days). She will fall asleep without it but wakes after 45 minutes for it. She seems to want to play and refuses to eat during the day until she is tired then wanting to eat but is too tired to eat enough as well. Sometimes I even feed her in the middle of a nap and she’ll go back down.

      I realize it is a suck=sleep but how to break it? How to get her to eat before bedtime before she is tired and not wake just to soothe suck but only when hungry? Some crazy super attachment mom told me HER baby woke every 2 hours until 2 years old and that I should do that or she will be unloved. GRRR…

    • Hey Zandra,

      I think she’s comfort sucking, suck=sleep feeding. Because every 2 hours for only 5 minutes tells me she’s not really starving. Check out Kate’s response above – I think therin lies the answer. Make sure her last nursing is 20 minutes prior to bedtime (so maybe your routine is nurse, bath, book, bed). Then start with a minimal 3 hour gap. If she wakes at 2 hours test the waters a little. Give her 15-20 minutes. What happens? If you want to go to her, try to keep the soothing as noninvasive as possible (read: don’t pick her up and no nursing or pacis). So maybe some back patting, shooshing, etc. Try to LEAVE before she falls back asleep.

      If you CAN keep from feeding her before YOUR bedtime (this is a great goal – I don’t think she’s actually starving) – offer a dream feed just as YOU go to bed. Let her nurse as long as she is actually eating. Then restart the 3 hour rule. This may get you down to 2-3 feedings which would be a vast improvement over every 2 hours yes?

      Also I doubt the calorie dense food thing during the day will help. What are you thinking about? Avocado? That’s all I can think of. And I doubt you’ll get enough into her to make a difference. Start by making food less available during the night, see if that doesn’t help spark a bit more interest during the day :)

      • Thanks for the great advice seems to be working. I have been meaning to reply about the food. We mix coconut cream in with fruit and just plain. We give her lots of meat and tofu, she seems to really like liver sausage. We give her egg yolk with mayo. We also mix peanut butter and tahini into things (GASP…I know but doc says no problem). She likes spicy food (thai green curry, chili, peanut stirfry, garlic hummus) and seems to want anything that is off my plate. She will NOT eat baby food. I think we are lucky with her tastes but she doesn’t eat enough to have it really make much difference. You were correct with the suggestion to have a longer separation between bed and nursing.

  9. Hi Alexis,
    Your post is VERY timely. My daughter will be 7 months old next week and we are really struggling with night wakings and eating. She is small for her age–just about 14 lbs, which puts her in the 10th percentile. Until she was 6 months old, our ped said I had to feed her whenever she woke up at night, since she didn’t weigh very much for her age (though, she has always been on the same growth curve). Until a few weeks ago, she was getting up 4 times a night (10, 12, 2, and 4, ugh!).

    She now goes to bed around 7pm and she puts herself to sleep in her own crib, in her own room. (Though we do only have about 10 minutes between boob and bed, so that could definitely be an issue.) I am dreamfeeding her ~10:30 and would like her to make it 6 hours before getting up to eat again. We weaned the 12am and 2am feedings as you suggested in your sleep through the night post, stopping them entirely when she would nurse for 2 mins. The problem is that now she generally wakes up around 3 or 3:30 and doesn’t go back to sleep very easily.

    At our pediatrician’s urging, we have been trying extinction CIO at that wake up to get her to go back to sleep. This will be the tenth night since we started the CIO. Even after 9 nights of it, she cries for a LONG time. Like, last night she was up from 3:30-5. She finally feel asleep at 5, and then woke up again at 5:30 (at which time I fed her, since it had been 7 hours since her dreamfeed). I feel like I’m actually getting less sleep than I was before, since she’s up and crying for so long in the middle of the night!

    My husband and I are at a loss of what to do. Here are our questions:
    1. By feeding her at some/any point during the night after the dream feed, are we providing intermittent reinforcement of night wakings? Our goal is for her to make it 6 hours between feedings. But, she can’t read time…how does she know that if she wakes up at 3:30 she won’t get fed, but she will get fed at 4:30?
    2. Per the question above, would it be better to just try to CIO until the morning? Would that avoid sending her mixed messages?
    3. Should we just give up the sleep training and try again in a month? our ped urged us to try now, before she gets separation anxiety and she says it will be harder then.
    4. Any other reasons why she might be crying for so long, even after 9 nights of CIO?

    I know I’ve made it 7 months without sleeping more than 3 hours at a stretch, but I am really at my wits end. I think my husband just wants me to go back to feeding her whenever she wakes up, but its so easy for him to say that, since he isn’t the one getting up at night with her. As a side note, she isn’t great with the bottle, she’ll take it at daycare, but doesn’t take it very well from him.

    Thanks for any help you can provide!

    • Ooof – that sounds like no fun at all. My sympathies :(

      Listen – I get that she’s at 10% and it’s natural to feel she’s super small and thus must fed CONSTANTLY. However, the growth curve is supposed to represent the full range of healthy weights for children and is REALLY (from what my beloved pediatrician says) to track that they’re staying at the SAME growth curve. Thus it is totally OK to be at the 2% or 99% curve as long as you’re generally tracking on the same curve. You get concerned when you see a kid go from 10% to dropping OFF the map, or going from 99% to 40%, etc.

      So my first question is – is your baby growing and thriving and perfectly OK but just HAPPENS to be at the 10% mark? Or is there an underlying concern that suggests that she needs extra feedings for some reason? Because if you’re being told to feed constantly that suggests the latter? And my advice would change depending on that issue.

      However I DO know why she’s crying all morning. All babies tend to wake up super early (most make it till 4/5 AM but yours happens to be doing this at 3:00 AM). At this point they’ve gotten ENOUGH sleep so that crying tends to be INeffectual. So trying to use CIO to get out of this early AM schtick, as you’ve noticed, doesn’t work so well. I guess it CAN work if you stick with it for ages but it’s often not a really great experience.

      So where does that leave you? Well my general advice for the “dear God I dont’ want to start the day at 3:00 AM” issue is – more soothing. I would feed her JUST before this feeding (say 2:30?) and do one or both of the following:
      1) Gradually reduce this feeding as you did with the earlier feedings till you get to nothing. Hopefully this will help her body get USED to a longer stretch without the big crying jag.
      2) More soothing at that time. Swaddle, white noise, swing are all possible (perhaps all three?). You basically want her falling back asleep as she cycles through sleep WITHOUT crying OR having to feed her. More soothing will help her do this.

      She’s a tad old for the swing but certainly still fits (see? it’s actually HELPFUL that she’s petite!). And that might be a way to gradually get her used to consuming MORE during the day and get used to NOT eating at night. If this works (and I’m hopeful it will) once she is sleeping through the night sans food IN the swing, you could transition her back into the crib.

      Again I totally get you may not be keen on moving backwards so feel free to try working without the swing first. But consider it as a backup plan that:
      a) involves no tears and
      b) won’t make your husband guilt trip you about actually wanting to sleep for more than 5 minutes at a time 😉

      Does that help?

  10. thanks so much for this! my LO, 9 months old has never once slept through the night. i don’t mind feeding once or twice, but now she is waking up about 4 times a night. she can get into a sitting position and pull herself up on bars of the crib and can’t seem to get back down to fall back asleep. i usually have to settle her twice because of this, but sometimes she won’t settle without the boob. same thing with naps in the day, she fights it so much because she can get up. i don’t let her stay awake for too long, i don’t feed her to sleep (unless she has been crying for a long time) and i try to have the same routine for naps and bedtime. HELP!

    • Few thoughts:
      a) are you putting her down awake? I can’t quite tell but that is CRITICAL.
      b) sounds like a boob=sleep issue. TIme to separate boob from sleep time.
      c) This is also a peak time for separation anxiety. This could simply be her way of getting you to come spend time with her. Is she really nursing or just diddling around?
      d) Give TONS of floor time to give her practice at sitting back down. During the day, prop her on the couch (standing) and give her lots of opportunities to figure out how to get back down from that position. Babies figure it out pretty quickly if you give them enough chances.

      Good luck!

  11. I’ve been reading faithfully for quite sometime and I am posting here for the first time. At 7 months I have finally gotten my big 22 pound son to fall asleep on his own, and until two nights ago was pretty much sleeping through the night until 6 AM. Previously he was waking up every 2 hours to eat. now he goes to bed at 7:30 and I do a dream feed around 9:30. For the past few nights he has been waking up at 4:30 and though not screaming, he cries for a little bit off and on until I get him. Should I just suck it up and feed him at 4:30 and then put him back down or should I just ignore him and hope he goes back to his old schedule eventually?

    • Hmmm…I might be inclined to dream feed him at 4:00 and see if you can get him to NOT wake up at 4:30. If that works (I hope) then you gradually reduce the amount of time he nurses at the 4:00 AM dream feed.

      I don’t know why he’s waking up at 4:30 but maybe we can wean off it and go back to NOT having it?

  12. Like so many others here… great timing with this article! I am completely stymied by my little guy at the moment. I have one of those “was a great sleeper” kids. Until about 3 months he could pull 10+ hours. At three months.. big regression! It all fell apart. We were slowly digging our way out and 4 months… bam! Big regression. Now at 5 months he is up 3-4 times a night and will not go back down without nursing. I am totally happy to do whatever it is I am supposed to be doing but feel like I’m doing all the “right stuff” and it just isn’t working.

    The baby goes down 20+ minutes after last feeding 100% awake. Got rid of the paci for good 2 weeks ago. He falls asleep within 5 minutes with no or very light crying. Early bedtime of 6-7 PM. GREAT! Except that he is up sporadically throughout the night. It is hard to try night weaning because the wakeups are so random. Sometimes he can stay down 6-7 hours before the first wake up. But often just 4 hours. I tried making a no feeding unless it has been at least 3 hours rule but he just stays up until it has been 3 hours. Sometimes I can rock him back to sleep but he is usually up again within 20 minutes. So, I am stuck in a pattern of just feeding him because I am VERY TIRED and have NO IDEA WHAT ELSE TO DO! He is a big baby (20 pounds) and breastfeeds well at least every 3 hours all day. He cannot nap more than 45 minutes so I think he just has a terrible time with sleep transitions. Oh yes, tight swaddle, dark room, LOUD white noise. I know you aren’t able to perform baby telepathy but anything I could possibly be missing other than holding out on feeding him longer? If there isn’t anything to do but wait this out I will happily do so but I’d love to find that “silver bullet” answer to our problem before that happens. :)

    • Well I don’t have a silver bullet and if I DID I would keep it because you never know when werewolves will attack. Unless they’re the sexy kind like Alcide from True Blood which would be awesome.

      People think “big baby is TOTALLY well fed and thus doesn’t need so much food!” Where I go “big babies are big because, generally, they demand tons of food ALL THE TIME!”

      I’m guessing that he’s just a big eater. Which doesn’t mean you have to suck it up till he goes to college. But usually the “wakes up 20 minutes later” thing really does mean he’s hungry.

      What about trying to shorten the feeds? Does this result in him simply waking up SOONER after that one? My ideal scenario would be to put him down at 6ish and then NOT feed him till you go to bed. If he DEMANDS food prior to say 10:00 PM, keep it as SHORT as possible. Then offer a dream feed at YOUR bedtime – ideally tanking him up.

      So let’s say he then sleeps from 10:00 PM – 2:00 AM- you feed him. Then he sleeps another 4 hour stretch till 6:00 AM.

      Does that seem workable? Normally the first stretch of the night is the longest (sadly we’re generally awake and miss out on the sleep this affords).

      Another survival tip is to give him a bottle (rephrase that – have DAD give a bottle). I know I know we’re supposed to be all “breast is best” but a little formula or expressed milk is fine now and then 😉

  13. Hi from Boulder :)

    I’ve got a question about reducing night feeds, not yet weaning, but somewhat the same category. My little guy is 15 weeks (14 gestational) and is up like clockwork every 2 hours, 24 hours/day. He used to do a nice long stretch from 8-1,2 or 3, but a vacation combined with a bad cold took care of that a few weeks ago. For awhile he was super congested and needed more frequent feedings, but now he seems to just be in the habit of waking up every 2 hours (especially since he wakes up on the dot!). He’s definitely still a little guy (probably about 12 lbs), but I think he should be able to go a little bit longer!

    Here’s what sleep looks like now:

    Bedtime routine around 6:30 – 7:00, down around 7:00 – 7:30 with white noise, dark room, swing, nursing to sleep (another bad habit picked up with the trip/sickness combo). We have been letting him fuss it out and usually he’ll squawk for 1-3 minutes, then fall asleep. Like clockwork – up again 45 minutes later. Again we try to let him fuss it out (usually more like 5-10 minutes here) – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight I jiggled the swing and got him back to sleep, up again 10 minutes later so I nursed him (usually he’s just up once). From then on out he’s on a 2 hour schedule – generally something like 10, 12, 2, 4, 6, 8.

    Naps during the day aren’t great either – 45 min to 1.5 hours with a few longer ones – and he usually seems tired after at least one nap/day, but with all the soothing + nursing, won’t go back down or stay down. We do fuss it out here as well – again mixed results – it seems like it will work well for a few days and then not again. Though overall he is definitely improving on his ability to go down awake.

    I had been hoping to wean him off the swing, but now I think my two priorities should be cutting out the nursing to sleep and stretching out the night feeds to get 1 or 2 three hour stretches. Do you have any advice on stretching out his night sleep? I think I know what to do for getting rid of the nursing to sleep – but its hard to stay dedicated to that when there’s so much night disturbance. Maybe this is still normal for a 3.5 month old? Or the crappier side of normal? I’m not sure!

    Thanks for your help, love the site!

    • Crappier side of normal for sure. But that doesn’t make it easy. If it makes you feel better at this age, my son would not go to sleep unless I nursed him while at the same time doing deep knee bends in a circle around the bedroom. :-) SUPER FUN. So I don’t think you’re doing too bad.

      Keep working with that swing to get him falling asleep without nursing. Stay dedicated! I strongly suspect that once he’s falling asleep in the swing without boob, his wakings will decrease dramatically and you will get those 3 hour stretches or even more. Let us know!

    • Hey Katie from Boulder,
      As an ex-Denverite I can say that baby needs to get his sleep on because Mommy can’t get her ski on with all these night schenanegins going on 😉

      I’m wondering if the base issue isn’t that you ARE nursing to sleep. He basically takes a mini-nap and then you nurse him to sleep. Thus the boob=sleep thing is in full effect. Admittedly he’s getting TONS of soothing, most babies would find that to be enough to fall back to sleep sans boob. But for whatever reason, for your baby, only the boob will do.

      So I would go back to getting REALLY dedicated about not nursing to sleep. Not AT bedtime and not when he wakes 45 minutes later.

      This isn’t awesome for 3.5 month old. Another option would be to talk to a good IBLCL (given the hippie vibe in Boulder there are probably 50 good ones floating around ;). Make sure he’s REALLY tanking up because it sounds like he’s a bit of a snacker. Maybe he’s not getting enough hind milk, etc. (all the stuff I mentioned before). This is not a major concern but sometimes a small logistical nursing thing can result in an almost 4 month old who is nursing 12+ times a day.

      But definitely start with bedtime. If you can separate boob from bedtime and NOTHING improves, give the IBCLC a call (sometimes they take insurance!)

  14. Maybe someone can help me. My son Gabe is 10 months old. I started the whole night weaning/cry it out last Thursday night. I put him down at 830 and he slept until 920. He woke up and screamed until 10. He fell asleep until 320 and started the whole process over again.He did fall back asleep only for me to wake him up at 6 for daycare.
    He slept through the night Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Monday night he woke up at 12 and screamed for an hour! Is it “normal” for a child to relapse in the cry it out cycle?

    Last night (Tuesday night) he did wake up around 2. He fussed a little then went back to sleep with no crying. Can I expect this to continue or will he eventually have another Monday night?

  15. Hey Nicole,

    Check the article linked below – I think it will answer your question.
    Alexis

    • Just read the article. I am of course choosing option number 1! I dont have an option. I am a full time working mom and my husband is deployed. So mommy needs sleep! I just really, REALLY, hope to have him sleep through the night continously sometime soon. Thanks!

  16. HELP! I don’t know if night weaning is our problem…but we definitely have a problem! Up until the last three weeks our boy (8 mos) was a great sleeper. We had all the boxes checked: put down awake, weaned from swaddle, no night feedings, slept from 8pm to 6 or 7am with the odd bad night.

    Now he is a nightmare! For the last three weeks he has been waking up 2-3 times a night and taking a long time to go back to sleep. Naps are also a cryi g struggle. I can toss out a few potential problems, but could you help pinpoint anything?

    1) Eating in crib before sleeping (formula) was a habit we formed when he started teething, since he refused to eat very much otherwise. So now we sometimes give the bottle when he’s grumping it up in the middle of the night…sigh.

    2) He’s learned to roll around and does this a lot – I have had to go in and get him back on his back since he seems to get stuck on tummy and then cry, cry, cry. So, maybe without the swaddle and with new agility (and a preference to sleep on his side and then tip over? Is this is the issue?

    3) He started wearing a helmet for a flat spot – from being such a good sleeper flat on his back when swaddled! He seemed fine the first two weeks into it…so I’m not sure this is an issue.

    4) Teething – he has his bottom two so we’re just waiting for the top two to come in. He dealt with the first two okay…

    Argh!! He has been crying from 12am-2am now, with multiple soothings and flipping him back overs and, yes, sips from the bottle and paci replacing from me. (Oh, the paci has never been an issue, he spits it out and is fine.)

    Thanks for any help and sorry this is so long!!

    • Hey Jan,

      I think you probably have a few things going on which largely you can’t fix. Sorry for that.

      The rolling over and getting stuck thing is really common. And they DO get stuck. The solution is to give them TONS of floor time to practice during the day. Once they’ve mastered flipping in both directions AND standing up and getting back down unassisted you’re out of trouble. So practice practice practice.

      The other thing that is likely going on is separation anxiety which peaks around 8 months. So he’s fighting sleep to stay WITH you. And the soothing stuff isn’t really working because the underlying issue is that he doesn’t want to LEAVE you.

      There isn’t a ton you can do about this. Practice separating during the day “Mommy will be back in 1 minute” then return with smiles and hugs. Be mindful of how you respond to baby’s need for you. You don’t want to let him cry for hours at night (not fun or productive for anybody) but at the same time if you come spend 2 hours with him every time he wakes up, he’ll keep himself awake forever to enjoy your fine company. It’s a fine balancing act.

      Also – the desperate separation anxiety passes. So you do the best you can for now and have faith that it isn’t permanent :(

    • Hi Jan,

      You poor thing, I thought to give my 2c worth as my little one was not a great sleeper (we had to go to sleep school) and it seems the slightest change in his environment and routine sets him back :( are you aware that there is a sleep regression at 8mths? it seems your little one has gone through that, but it should only last a few days, a couple of weeks tops….unless you re-enforce his behaviour which it seems you have done :( by feeding him during the night or if you’re picking him up etc.

      My munchkin did the same post a holiday, he went from 8pm-7:30am and then went back to waking 2-3 times (I had to be tough, no pick ups) I would roll him on his side and do a gentle rock (like you’re rolling a rolling pin) and pats on the bottom and a “shhh, it’s time for sleep (he would settle as soon as I touched him and sometimes even giggle, the cheeky thing, so I knew there was nothing wrong, i.e. teething pain, hunger etc, but as soon as I removed my hands out came the screams, don’t stay more than 5-10 min) I did this for a couple of days (and yes at first, I would walk out with him still crying, but come back every 10 mins or so) but a few days latter I would just do a shhh through the monitor and he started to quieten down in about 5-10 mins. Every now and again he complains a little but puts himself back to sleep without any interference from me :)

      Sorry its long and a bit detailed but I hope it helps!

  17. Hey, Alexis – I just left you a question on the “Cry it Out – Bedtime Edition” post. I had a more detailed question about night weaning here.

    You mention that one of the common reasons babies wake up at night is that they’re not getting enough to eat during the day.

    I exclusively breastfeed at the following (approximate) times:

    (1) 8 am nurse (after waking up for the morning)
    *9 am solids*
    (2) 11 am nurse
    (3) 2 pm nurse
    (4) 5 pm nurse
    *6 pm solids*
    (5) 7 pm nurse (goes to sleep about 30-45 min later)
    (6) 10 pm nurse (down to 8 min)
    (7) 1 am nurse (down to 8 min)
    (8) 5:00 nurse

    To increase caloric intake during the day, what would you suggest I do differently?

    • Sorry – forgot to mention that she has been sleep trained to fall asleep by herself.

    • Hey Sweta,
      Thank you for your kind mentions of me on your blog :)

      As for night weaning, I actually suggest that “not enough day food” is one of the least common issues so I wouldn’t think that is your problem unless YOU do. Also it is impossible for me to look at your feeding schedule and go, “Ah ha! Only 382 calories during the day!” Each baby is so different. I can’t tell how much your baby is consuming, if it’s enough, etc. If you’re worried the only real way to know would be to find a good local IBCLC who could bring a medical-grade infant scale to your house and start taking some before/after feed measurements.

      I’m not suggesting you need to do this! Only that it’s really the only way to know what’s really going on with your child and intake. So I’m going to default to the idea that “not enough food” is rarely the issue, so what else IS going on?

      If your baby is older (I’m assuming) and still nursing 2X a night (I don’t count the 5 am because likely that isn’t going away anytime soon), I would start working FIRST on the 1:00 AM simply as this is the least convenient to you right? If you go to bed at 10:00 PM you nurse at bedtime and then could hypothetically sleep for a solid 7 hours.

      So I wouldn’t worry about the 10:00 PM for now, and focus on weaning off the 1:00 AM.

      Also if your baby is 8+ months old, I’m wondering if the 6:00 PM solids isn’t working against you. Your baby should be more than capable of going more than 3 hours without a feed. Is the 7:00 PM feed a really solid feed? Or is baby still full of banana from “dinner” and just snacking at 7:00 PM? If the latter, then maybe you move dinner to another time so that baby is seriously tanking up at 7:00 PM.

      Good luck dropping the 1:00 AM feed. Personally that’s where I would focus my efforts, just because of the potential sleep benefit for you guys :)

  18. My 10 month old son is still waking up every~ 2hours at night…if I’m lucky he would have a 3-4 hour stretch which is very rare…he still nurses to sleep and I think that’s mostly the reason. Failed in doing the putting down awake technique and not able to do CIO due to family circumstances. I’m a working mom with long working hours so this is killing me…i’m at my wit’s end.

    • Hey Omlette,

      We’ll your not really at your wit’s end because you’re wits are working just fine. You KNOW the issue – it’s nursing to sleep. That’s 100% the reason.

      What happens AT bedtime is setting you up for the “up all night” pattern which is leaving both of you overtired (trust me- this isn’t great for him either). I don’t know what your family circumstances are, nor am I saying that CIO is the only option.

      But something dramatically needs to change. If you’re worried about CIO because it’ll wake up other family members, have faith that they can deal with it for a few days. Honest. And if the outcome of a few rough days for the whole family is that you and baby break out of an unhappy unhealthy habit then I think it’s well worth considering, no?

  19. Hi Alexis,

    Thanks to your helpful night weaning technique, I have managed to wean my 9.5 month old’s first overnight feeding (was anywhere from 11p-1a). It did take Little Miss Persistent a few weeks to stop waking and crying (up to 45 min) at that time, though. :( She goes down awake 20 min after nursing, nurses ~8 times during the day without distraction, etc…over the past several months we have nailed down all that good stuff you mention in this post. She is even awake when I put her down after the overnight feedings.

    So we still have 2 night feedings left (2-3ish and 5ish). As we are decreasing the length of the 2/3am feeding, sometimes she wakes hungry again between around 4. I’m fine with feeding her then if that means that she makes it until waking up for the day … but the majority of the time she wakes for a 3rd feeding (around 5:30-6) & goes back down before getting up for the day around 7. What do you suggest in this scenario, since she has had enough sleep to cry or otherwise be awake for a while? Thanks!

    • Hmm….that is a toughie. So if you feed her at 3 AM, she then wakes up at 4 AM and then again around 5:30. Three feedings in ~3 hours is pretty brutal. I don’t have an easy answer. Two guesses (and these are really guesses so don’t panic!) are…

      1) She’s had enough sleep and isn’t easily transitioning through early morning sleep cycles. So these feedings aren’t really about food, they’re about soothing. Although sadly at almost 10 months you don’t have much left to work with other than co-sleeping and white noise.

      2) She’s actually hungry. Sometimes (especially when we’re exhausted) our milk can be a tad low at night. This is pretty rare and I hate to suggest this as people freak out about the concept. But it could be that your exhausted, it’s winter, you’re dehydrated, etc. And she’s a big healthy baby. So when she wakes up at 2, 3, 4 AM she’s just snacking which leaves her hungry later.

      Otherwise I don’t have any great answers for you :(

      • I have a similar situation with my 11month old (yikes!).

        I started weaning him and currently only breastfeed at night. I thought that while my milk supply naturally decreases he will also move his calorie intake to daytime gradually. But he just started waking up more frequently at night asking for food. And if i dont feed him he just continues moaning and tossing for 1-2 hours so loud i can hear him from our bedroom, until i give up and feed him.

        I don’t want to give him a bottle at night as my purpose is to stop feeing him at night. But also i cant continue getting up every two hours.

        I feel cornered and cheated! It was supposed to be getting easier at 11 months but my baby is sleeping no better than at 3 months. He has never slept more than 3 hours without waking up and waking me up.

        By the way i am doing everything by the book, feeding separated from bedtime by 30 min, bedtime at 7pm, tried gradual weaning but it only made his wakings more frequent.

        I am also leaving for a biz trip in 2 weeks and need to wean completely by then. Dont know what to do, should i give him bottle at night or not?? I am so afraid to create new bad habits..

  20. Would you be able to do a post about getting babies to sleep on their own/in their own crib if you missed the ideal stretch of time due to medical problems? In our case, our baby wasn’t gaining enough weight because I wasn’t producing enough and so was waking every few hours to eat until about 7 months. Bedsharing was practically the only way I would be able to get more than a wink of sleep. She’s currently 8.5 months and doing much better, but her bedtime is still all over the place in terms of time (sometimes 7:30 and down till 3-4, sometimes only down till 11 and then asleep again until 4-5) and she’s hit or miss when it comes to actually getting to sleep on her own. She’s invariably up between 3 and 5, and even 5 is far too early for me to have anything to do with getting out of bed. Usually I can nurse her and get her to sleep again until 6:45-7, but I would love to be able to get her to sleep all the way from 10 or 11 until then. Heck, I just want to get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis. :-)

    Oh, and she’s usually in a cosleeper for the beginning of the night. I’ll bring her into bed with me when she yells in the super early AM, but we’re working on getting her used to not being in bed with us so when we move her to the crib it isn’t as much of a shock.

    • Dorothy,
      Don’t you know that you must do everything perfectly from birth on or you are DOOMED! DOOMED I TELL YOU!

      😉

      Well this doesn’t really address your issue but everything flows from what happens at bedtime. It is how it is. I don’t make the rules, I just blog about them.

      So I think the best step you could make to wean off the night feedings is to embrace consistency. Consistency at bedtime. Manage naps so that you CAN have a consistent bedtime. Seriously – there are a ton of chemical processes that regulate sleep that will work WITH you. If you can nail down a consistent early bedtime.

      Also? Put down awake is also key. I know I know it’s hard – SUPER hard. But I think you’ll see a lot more 7:30 – 3:00 AM nights if you can climb that hill.

      So I think that those two changes will definitely make a significant positive change in your night weaning efforts.

  21. This is where we are, too. Our daughter is 10-1/2 months old. We put her to bed awake and she goes to sleep on our own easily for naps and at bed time. She’s been going to bed awake since about 5 months. We do a bottle, then books, then into bed. Some naps she doesn’t get a bottle. Lately she’s been napping well during the day – getting about 2-1/2 hours in two naps – and she goes to bed around 7 p.m.

    The problem is during the night. She has dabbled in sleeping through the night, but for the past month or two, she has been waking up at random times – never the same time each night – and takes forever to go back to sleep. She used to eat and then go right back to sleep. Now we usually end up rocking her or rubbing her back to get her to go back to sleep.

    We’re creating a bad habit and I want to find a way out of it, but have read you shouldn’t cry it out during the night. But I’m not sure at this point what else to do.

    • Well you GENERALLY shouldn’t do CIO at night. However as with most baby things there are exceptions.

      Sometimes (and I suspect this is your thing) babies have separation anxiety and they don’t want to be apart from you. Ever. And they figure out that keeping themselves awake for a mini-night party is a great way to have quality time with Mom and Dad.

      What your describing sounds to me like this is the scene. She takes forever to go back to sleep because she doesn’t WANT to go back to sleep. And your presence rewards her desire to party with you at night.

      If I’m right (you’re there, I’m not) you may want to wean off your night party. Use your words, tell her it’s time to sleep, nurse if you think she’s really hungry. Then leave. So there might be some crying involved.

      But hopefully she’ll quickly realize that the party is over and she’ll stop waking up at night. Good luck!

      • I’m a little confused… we aren’t using the CIO method (at least, not currently, still hoping we won’t end up there) but I don’t understand what you mean when you say you generally shouldn’t do CIO at night…. when should you do it? I thought you couldn’t do it for naps?

        We are about to return to Europe for Christmas holidays so really looking forward to our near six-month old’s sleep routine falling apart completely!! (-_-)

        • Sorry – to clarify what I meant was early morning/middle of the night CIO can be rough. Basically if you try CIO at 4:00 AM you often are left with a baby that will just cry till “wakeup” time. But lots of people get tripped up on this. Or they don’t deal with whatever is happening AT bedtime but THEN try to do CIO throughout the night (as in post-bedtime) and that also goes poorly.

          Because both of those cases come up so frequently I’m always a bit shy when people talk about “night CIO” hence my (vague) comment. Hope that clarifies!

  22. Hi Alexis, I’m a new mum my 3 week old DD. I just want to know how long should she stay on the boob in order for her to get the hindmilk. How can
    I be sure she’s getting it??

    • Hey Elle,
      I can’t really answer your question. Some babies are amazingly efficient and will literally suck you dry in just a few minutes. Others are slow and steady and will take their time, spending 15-20 minutes on each side.

      All I can REALLY say is that if you’re worried, this is a great time to check in with a local IBCLC if only to give you some encouragement and make sure you have confidence that things are going well (and they almost always are).

      If it helps at all, in my experience most babies will nurse ~10 minutes on each side at each nursing session (so a full nursing session takes about 20 minutes). Of course not every feeding is a full nursing session so your baby my snack now and then too.

  23. I think I’m dealing with distracted feeding/breasturant preference for sure with an added dose of constipation issues and separation anxiety just to keep things interesting. My baby (9 months) falls asleep relatively easily at 7 on her own but then will be up every 2-4 hours. She hates the bottle – usually only drinks 10 oz or so while I’m at work (though that can vary anywhere from 7 to 14 oz) – and gets very distracted nursing unless she’s sleepy (ie at night). I try and limit the distractions, but my house is small – the sound of my husband walking by will cause her to de-latch.

    Her night wakings are hugely erratic. Sometimes she sleeps until 9:30, sometimes 11:30. Sometimes she’s up every 2 hours, sometimes 1 or 4. A couple of times this past week, if she ate an hour ago, she’ll fall asleep in our bed without nursing – but not her crib.

    To top things off, she has chronic constipation. We’ve been trying everything – prune juice, flax seed oil, avoiding bananas, more water, etc. but nothing has helped much. She still only poops every 8 days, and painfully at that. We’re trying to limit the use of suppositories, but have used them twice.

    So, am I doomed? Will she grow out of this once her tummy issues resolve? What do I try and solve first?

    • Chronic constipation is definitely not a party. But do you think it’s contributing to the up all night issue? That would be a good question for your pediatrician. My gut says no.

      So if we work from that assumption then the issue really is that she’s not eating enough during the day and the night feeding is preferable to her because it meets two needs: to be with you and to eat when she’s not missing out on the fun. Plus the whole brestaurant issue.

      I don’t have a huge solution for the separation anxiety thing. Babies strongly prefer to be with their parents at this age. There is a whole evolutionary psychology reason that makes this totally reasonable and rational. And it’s not something you can really “fix.” This is also why she’ll fall asleep in your bed without nursing. Which is totally fine if you’re OK with her in your bed. Not so great if that isn’t OK.

      At the same time it sounds like your nights are a bit of a mess. You all must be exhausted. And you’re working on top of all of this so maybe it’s time to switch it up a little.

      How would you feel about pumping & offering the bottle at night? (You would have to pump some, I’m guessing, if she’s really eating so much even if you offered formula you would likely wake up bloated and leaking). If she doesn’t like the bottle that would be one way to meet her need for food while also making it far less attractive. Your short term goal would be to discourage the waking and then use the bottle (by gradually decreasing amount and/or watering it down) to wean her off night feeding fullstop.

      It’s a pretty unappealing short-term strategy but if you’re working towards a longer-term no-feed goal it might be something to consider?

  24. Hi Alexis,

    Due to your sleeping advice, we are on the road to FINALLY sleeping through the night. We’ve definitely had some set backs with illness, traveling, etc. but we are getting there. However, my 11-month-old still has one wake up at anywhere from 2:30 – 4:00 am. She wakes up screaming. Her last feeding of the night is at 6:00 pm (followed by solids at 6:30). I’ve used your techniques to try to eliminate that very last early morning feeding and we got down to 3 minutes of breastfeeding. I ONLY do 3 minutes and then put her back in her crib and she is OUT for another 3 hours. The problem is that I can’t seem to get rid of that last feeding. If I try to go below 3 minutes or not feed at all, she will literally scream for an hour or more. But if I take the 3 minutes to feed her, she’s OUT. So it’s 3 mins of waking up versus listening to an hour or more of screaming. I should be grateful that she only has one feeding but that hour is brutal. Is is possible for me to eliminate this last feeding? If so, how? And if I do manage to eliminate it, does that mean that she’s going to wake up at an ungodly hour (5:00 am) to feeding instead? How long do you think she can go without eating at night at her age? She’s a good eater during the day. Please advise!

    • Just to clarify… here’s her nightly routine:

      6:00 BF
      6:30 Solids
      7:30 In bed, awake
      2:30 – 4:00 ish, wake and bf for 3 minutes
      6:30 – 7:00, wake for the day

      Also, one last question – she does not wake up at the same time each morning. Perhaps it’s because she’s waking for that last feeding at different times every night. Should I try to wake her at the same time every morning? How important is it to be consistent with her morning wake time and does that affect her sleeping at night? Thanks!

      • Is there any way to shift the food slightly closer to bedtime so that it’s more like 6:30 BF, 7:00 solids, 7:30 in bed?

        I don’t think it’s making a huge deal but if she’s “fasting” from roughly 6:00 – 4:00 AM that’s a 10 hour stretch. Pretty good no? Sure 12 hours would be better but there it is.

        However I wonder about the hunger. Nursing for 3 minutes doesn’t sound like what starving babies do. Unless she’s just a super efficient eater. OR….is it just about the soothing. What if you offered her a paci at 4:00 AM? Yes pacis cause their own issues. But at almost 1 year she could be old enough to be shown where they are in the crib and find her own when needed. Just an option to consider – I’m not 100% sold on the plan myself.

        The 3 min BF is rough but I don’t have a quick or easy answer for it. Maybe you wait a month or so and then try again to go cold turkey. Maybe you try the paci strategy, see if that floats.

        I’m not super concerned that her wake-up varies by ~30 minutes. That’s no big deal and shouldn’t vastly shift her day by so much. Plus it’s not something you can fix – it just is.

        Good luck getting out of the 3:00 AM shuffle. I’m hopeful that it’ll be one of those things that fixes itself given a little time!

  25. Alexis –

    I have a question about traveling through time zones and sleep routines. We will be traveling for the holidays to a time zone that is an hour behind ours. How should we adjust our bedtime and naptime routine for the time zone?

    • Hi Brooke and Alexis,
      I have the exact same question! I was thinking yes, we would adjust to keep LO on the “same time”. We are only going for 4 days. It seems like no big deal, but the week after we set our clocks back was so hard! On the other hand, he will be ready for bed at 5:30, and that might not work so well.
      What do you think?

    • Hey Guys,

      Well my general advice is to just go with whatever the current time is. Plus you’ll find that things are generally off anyway because travel will shake up your schedule.

      Although I guess this is not a hard and fast rule – so if you feel the transition will be to hard you could try sticking to “home” time. But putting baby to bed at 5:00 AM is likely going to get you a baby who is ready to start the day at 4:00 AM or even earlier (babies often wake up super early when sleeping in a strange location). So that doesn’t sound like such a great option either.

      Fundamentally most babies don’t sleep all that well given travel, time change, and a strange location. So while getting to go visit family is a wonderful thing, you generally have to accept that to some degree you’re going to take a sleep hit. And that hit is going to continue for a few days after you get home (you’ll probably both have quite the slept debt to catch up on).

      But here’s the good news – you’ll have lots of people to pass your fussy overtired baby off to while you’re visiting. And when you get home, sure it’ll be a little rough. But you know what? You can TOTALLY handle it. It’s not forever. You’ll all recover.

      So without really answering your questions, that’s my answer 😉

  26. Sorry Alexus, am reposting my question as I guess i posted it wrong as a reply to another post. I would really love your thoughts on my situation.

    I started weaning my 11mo and currently only breastfeed at night. I thought that while my milk supply naturally decreases he will also move his calorie intake to daytime gradually. I feel that i have less and less milk, but he just started waking up more frequently at night asking for food. And if i dont feed him he just continues moaning and tossing for 1-2 hours so loud i can hear him from our bedroom, until i give up and feed him.

    I don’t want to give him a bottle at night as my purpose is to stop feeing him at night. But also i cant continue getting up every two hours.

    I feel cornered and cheated! It was supposed to be getting easier at 11 months but my baby is sleeping no better than at 3 months. He has never slept more than 3 hours without waking up and waking me up.

    By the way i am doing everything by the book, feeding separated from bedtime by 30 min, bedtime at 7pm, putting him to crib fully awake, tried gradual weaning but it only made his wakings more frequent.

    I am also leaving for a biz trip in 2 weeks and need to wean completely by then. Dont know what to do, should i give him bottle at night or not?? I am so afraid to create new bad habits..

    • Sorry for misspelling your name Alexis, when i write from my iphone it always comes out like some sort of secret code that noone can decipher…

    • Hey Mel,
      I don’t know why he’s continuing to demand milk at night. I’m guessing that a few of the things I mention here (distracted nurser, prefers the breast over bottle, etc.) are figuring in there somewhere. I gather you are working? Lots of babies don’t want to eat from a bottle and prefer to get it straight from the source.

      If it were me, and I were feeling super ground down about it, I would first run it by the pediatrician JUST to rule out any medical issue (ear infection, etc.). Then I might consider going cold turkey. He’s almost 1. He’s MORE than capable of not eating every 2 hours. You’ve tried to gently wean off night feedings and for whatever reason, it’s not working. You’re feeling stressed and resentful. What other options are left to you?

      Will it be rough? Yep. For a few days nobody will sleep much. But it might be worth considering?

  27. I have a nearly 7 month old daughter and i have tried the cio in the day and it works, but at night it takes longer for her to sleep roughly half an hour or more. When she does sleep she sleeps for 3 and a half hours they gets up again and doesnt want to sleep she crys alot wen i leave her…i go back to her and try and tap her, i do this for two hours then she falls asleep on the breast ( wen she wakes first i do giv her some milk) im not sure why she does this, she wakes up at random times and is awake for two hours everynite..not sure wat to do i am struggling im only getting 3hours plus another 3 hours= 6 hours asleep through the nite sometimes less…wat can i do to over come this problem? she has two naps during day and sleeps total of 3 hours …

    • Hey Jaz,

      To be honest I’m a bit fuzzy on exactly what is going on. But here is my best guess – she is really protesting at night a lot. Usually babies don’t protest for 30-45 minutes at bedtime all the time. (Yes it does occasionally happen but the vast majority of the time this is a temporary thing and then the crying stops entirely or is minimal.) But for whatever reason your baby is really upset at bedtime. Then 3 hours later she wakes up and is awake for HOURS. Apparently this happens at least once (or is it twice?) every night without fail?

      I strongly suspect that this is really about separation anxiety and her desire to be WITH you ALL the time. I suspect this is also why she protests so lustily at bedtime. You go in and try to tap her and end up nursing her but it doesn’t work for the whole two hours because she’s fighting sleep. Why? To enjoy your company! So you spending time tapping, nursing, whatever is actually feeding into why she is awake in the first place? Does that make sense? It’s a HUGE thing to wrap your head around.

      What would I do? Nothing. Literally. Maybe I would go to her, check on her, make sure she hasn’t leaked or some other valid reason to need your help at night. But I would really consider NOT going in to tap, nurse, etc. her at night for 2 hours because I suspect your presence is feeding the problem.

      Will she cry? She sure will. It’ll be rough for a few days. But being awake for 2+ hours at night is rough for everybody. She’s also got to be vastly sleep deprived from this because she’s missing out on at least 15-20% of her night sleep.

      Anyhoo….commit to 4 days. See what happens. OK?

  28. Hi Alexis,

    I cannot thank you enough for EVERYTHING on your site. Your information and advice has taken us from being on the brink of post natal depression with a screaming baby who would take three 20 minute naps a day max!!, to a new lease on life and happy happy parents of an 8 week old that sleeps on his own from 7-2/3 and 3-5/6 am. Daytime naps are ok too, but sadly last one 35 minute sleep cycle only, am working on that though!
    So thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Just one question now though, baby is 9 weeks old, he’s waking up around 5ish every morning despite last feeding as late as 3. So am guessing its not hunger thats getting him up. I often try to put in his paci and settle him for more sleep, but this works till about 6 am max only at which time I figure its his bodys preferred time to wake and get him up, feed, play/change for the usual day time 1.5 hrs until see tired signs and put back to bed. He falls asleep happily and will sleep 1.5-2 hrs.

    Question is – should I ‘start his day’ when he wakes up at 5/6 or should I treat it as a night waking and do a quick feed and back to bed? It would be better for me to go back to bed most days and get up for the day 8/9 instead but all the books (!) seem to advocate a 7 am wake time.

    I’d really appreciate the advice.

    • Leah,
      Like you, I also would like to sleep til 8/9 am. Sadly babies are not like this.

      You can read all the books you want that tell you YOUR baby should be sleeping till 7:00 AM. But good luck making it happen. I mean some babies are “late” sleepers and DO sleep till 7:00 or even 8:00 AM. Am I jealous of those mommies? I SURE AM!

      But most, and I mean MOST babies, are wired to get up early. So while you can do what you can to encourage your baby to “sleep in” for the most part, your efforts will fail. If your baby is waking up at 5/6 I think this is typical and normal. You are more than welcome to try to nurse or soothe your baby back to sleep at 6:00 AM to see if you can achieve the coveted 7:00 AM wakeup. And who knows, maybe you can?

      But it’s doubtful. So if it doesn’t work – that’s TOTALLY OK. Don’t sweat it. Your baby is 9 weeks old. It is what it is, right?

  29. Hi Alexis. I am the mother of a 15 year old stepdaughter, a 7 year old daughter and my newest (and last!) addition – a 4 month old baby girl. My four month old has reflux and also started teething at just past 3 months. So I’m having a great time.

    She actually slept pretty well up until about 3 months and it just keeps going downhill. About two weeks ago, I hit my breaking point when she was up 7 times in her 12 hour night and taking four 30 minute naps/day. I can totally relate to that picture of you with the sling and the hair dryer. We started the process of swing/swaddle/static about 10 days ago. Things are better. Naps are way better – we have a somewhat consistent schedule of up for two hours, nap for an hour. I nurse when she gets up from naps and then again about 30-45 minutes before bedtime.

    I put her down awake. She complains while I swaddle her and put her in the swing but 90% of the time she’ll fall asleep within about 5 min of crying. I don’t let her go beyond that because then she won’t calm herself down and will start throwing up on herself. We’ve had to resort to varsity swinging a couple of times.

    The problem is at night. Let me preface this by saying my husband works long days and she absolutely refuses a paci or a bottle (we’ve tried EVERYTHING) so I’m pretty much on my own. She goes down 7-7:30PM. She’s then up between 9:30-11PM which sucks because I’m usually in bed myself (I am NOT a night owl). If I settle her down at this time, she’ll wake up again within the hour. Then she is up between 12:30-1AM, 3AM, 5AM and for the day at 7:30-8AM. I actually don’t mind the 1AM. But I do mind the constant wake ups in the 3-6AM range. On a bad night, it’s every 30 minutes. I don’t nurse everytime. Only the 11, 1 and 5. I make sure she’s back awake when I put her back in the swing after night feedings. When she does wake up and fuss, I leave her be until she really starts to get going (sometimes she’ll settle herself but most of the time not).

    Before 3 months, she used to sleep 7-1, 1-4, 4-8. I’m so tired, I can hardly think straight. Naps for me are out of the question. Any suggestions?

    • Hope Alexis has some help for you–sadly I don’t have much to offer except sympathy and reassurance that this is *probably* the worst time you will have. 4 months is a rough age for baby sleep, it seems.

      The only other thing I will add (gently) is that your husband’s excuse for not helping at all at night is absurd. Ok that wasn’t very gentle but this topic irritates me. It seems that no matter who “works long days” (don’t you also??), it’s ALWAYS MOM who has to deal with all this night waking. At our house *I* am the one who works long days in an office, my husband stays home, and yet he never ever helps at night either. Which has worked out ok for us mostly because I’m better at falling asleep quickly (plus hate extra pumping), but it sounds to me like it’s not working for you, at least not right now.

      Can you get him to help you get at least one uninterrupted stretch of sleep? If a bottle is really totally out of the question, maybe you could go to bed at 9 and he could bring her to you for the 11 pm feeding in your bed, then put her back down afterwards before he goes to bed?

      Just a thought, maybe a short term approach to get you a longer stretch of rest until she starts stretching out those night sleep sessions a bit. Which she will, I think. You are doing good work with the swing.

      Good luck! :/

    • Ditto on getting dad to share some of the load.

      Dit. To.

      I’m thinking two things. One? The 4 month sleep regression/growth spurt. Everything you describe sounds pretty classic. It’s brutal and temporary.

      Two? How well is the reflux managed? You often don’t see symptoms till ~3 months because it takes a while for the level of irritation to get to the point where you actually SEE the change in behavior. So I’m not surprised that you had no issues for a while and then WHAMMO.

      So whenever you have reflux you need to look at how it’s being managed (lifestyle management, medication, dosage) and wonder – is this still working? Has she outgrown it? Developed a tolerance to it so it’s no longer effective?

      • Oh man. So things got even more interesting. She developed a rash all over her body. And then started to vomit whenever she was in the car or swing for more than a half hour or so. Finally, yesterday, I’d had enough and took her to the urgent care clinic. The two things are not related. She has excema so her rash was stinging and hurting her and most likely motion sickness. The only thing I can do for the motion sickness is Benadryl but not until she’s older. And we now have to abandon the swing.

        It was difficult last night. She was so unhappy, she cried for about three hours. I was so exhausted from the day, I sat down and cried with her. I finally was able to nurse her to sleep, swaddled in her cotton one (fleece one had to go because of skin) and put her down in her Rock n Play. She slept pretty well without the motion last night. I was able to put her down awake in it this morning (I just jiggled it like I would have the swing until she got that faraway look on her face). So it will be a more difficult road, but I think I got enough practice of drowsy but awake over the past two weeks that she knows the routine. I really, really hope.

        She has slept in the RnP most of her little life when she would not sleep in the bassinet or pack n play. That thing is so awesome. I think I’ll probably keep her there for a few more months because I think it really does help with the reflux. It’s hard to tell for sure if the reflux is managed since she has pain cries for teething and now excema. But she doesn’t seem in pain when she spits up and she doesn’t pull off my breast crying, relatch and repeat anymore. Or scream for hours with the exception of last night.

        Hubby does help on the weekends. He gets her during the non-nursing wake ups. But he’ll be in bed, snoring away while she cries. It’s me that wakes up (of course) and then has to wake him up. So I’m already awake and don’t go back to sleep until way past when she’s back down and hubby is back to snoring. What is it about dudes that they can sleep through that? I never used to be a light sleeper until I had my first baby.

        Thanks for all your advice. If you have any suggestions in the newest situation, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, hopefully she’ll just start stretching out her wake up times. I know she still has a very strong Boob = Sleep association and I’m trying to work on that too.

        • I totally get you with the snoring hubby thing. My husband is great with the kids during the day, but he can literally sleep with both kids (toddler and 6 month old) screaming and kicking him. He’s so hard to wake up that I get less sleep when I wake him up to help. Plus even when I do get him up, he asks me what to do the whole time (even if I told him earlier). And I can’t sleep if the baby is crying anyway, so I figure I might as well just get up. Ugh.

  30. Hi, you’ve helped me a couple times through this first year with twins and now I have a new problem. The girls are now 11.5 months and no longer breastfeeding. They have 3 4oz bottles of half milk/half formula a day. The problem is that one of my twins refuses to drink her bottle anywhere but in her crib when she’s sleepy. She gets too distracted everywhere else, but of course this is bad for her food/sleep association and for her teeth too. She’s a tiny baby (only 15lbs at almost a year) and so I don’t want to get rid of the bottle completely because she can use those extra calories. She eats plenty of solids during the day, by the way. My dr belives her tiny figure is partialy genetic and partially that hes a very active baby. What do I do?

    I recently got rid of her 3/4am bottle by slowly watering it down like you suggest, but she still wakes around 5am and I still give her a bottle then. I really haven’t had much luck with sippy cups or straws. She’ll sip a bit of water or milk, but less than an ounce unlike the 4oz she’ll drink from a bottle. Also twin B DOESN’T need the extra calories but is very jealous when her sister gets a 5am bottle, so I give them both one.

    Please help! It’s been so long that I’ve slept all night long!

    • Hey Amanda,

      Listen, I know it’s been a slog. But honestly – you are IN THE HOME STRETCH! Honest!

      So she wakes up at 5:00 AM for a bottle. I totally know how much you want to sleep all night long. But honey – you sort of are! Lots of kids start the day at 5:00 AM. Yours need a bottle to sleep for an extra hour or two. OK – you have twins and twins are 5X as hard as just one. But that IS the night! 7:00 PM – 5:00 AM.

      In a few months they’ll probably be eating an entire cheeseburger at dinner and you’ll be able to successfully water down the 5:00 AM bottle and get out of it. But really this is the homestretch!

  31. Hello Alexis (and other helpful mums!),

    I am an avid reader of this site and not sure if this issue has been covered already in the comments somewhere (sorry if so).

    I have an almost 6 month old baby. We have worked very hard on “put down awake” and definitely getting there… about 75% of the time he does it by himself, the other 25% needs a loud shush, maybe a pat, or to be given back his comforter to go down at night. So I know we aren’t quite there yet…

    …he then feeds 2am ish (+/- 30 mins) and 5am ish. The occasional night he skips the 2am. I have been trying to night wean that 2am one because when I read your instructions out to my husband I realised I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying it! We are down to 4 mins total (from 10, but he is a fast feeder so I am delighted with 10mins in the day!).

    HOWEVER, 2 of the past 3 nights when I have gone in to feed him at 2am he has been WIDE awake. Beam at mummy, squeal in delight WIDE awake. I have fed him although it has been more like a day feed – latch, unlatch etc etc. He hasn’t seemed that interested. In the end his dad has spent about an hour settling him – one night eventually in the swing, and last night with the pacifier (which is the first time he has EVER had a pacifier at night time, he doesn’t or has not ever had it at bed time).

    My hunch is this is unrelated to the night weaning, and my feeling is I could probably try not feeding him at all at 2am now and it wouldn’t make much difference.

    Anyone know what is going on with the wide awake thing? He prob stays happy for 20mins maybe, then starts crying, settle when he sees us / we pat him etc, cries when we leave…..

    ..What should we do? I can’t sleep even when he is babbling happily so I am pretty much going to be awake as long as he is.

    Thanks for any advice, and sorry if this has been covered before.

    • Oh, don’t worry – I googled “troublesome tots” and “wide awake” and found a comment where you talked about this… it seemed like quite a similar situation and you thought that the baby was seeking their parents company, and it should be just a phase. In that case, you advocated the short term use of the pacifier during the crazy wide awake wake ups only in order to minimise interaction and encourage going back to sleep.

      So, unless you have widly changed your mind, you can rub this comment off one you need to respond to!

      Baby went to sleep on his own tonight, hurray! [aah he actually just woke in the time it has taken me to write this 😉 ]

      I am very thankful for my son. He is healthy and happy and wonderfully contrary. I am also very grateful for your website which makes me feel like he is a normal baby, and we are muddling along just fine.

      • That and/or habit-waking. He’s no longer hungry because you did such a great job weaning but his body is still waking up at that time! Regardless of the root issue the plan is roughly the same.

        He IS a normal baby and you are not just muddling along just fine – you’re definitely ahead of the curve. Congrats!

  32. Thank you so much for writing these posts Alexis. I can’t even tell you how many times I have referred back to this blog for help and how many other Mom’s I have sent here when they express their desparation.

    I believe my baby has a food/sleep association that we are now working to break. I started a bedtime routine and putting him down awake instead of nursing to sleep after reading your blog when he was 6 – 7 months. For some reason it didn’t click with me that I needed to space out the nursing from the sleeping and it wasn’t enough that he needed to just be awake when he went in his crib.

    He is now 1 year and still waking up approximately every 2 hours through the night. Needless to say I am fried. (I am also a single mom, who happens to be self employed. I NEED this child to start sleeping)

    I have cut back on the feedings, but he still wakes up regardless around the three hour mark after being put down and then every 2 after that.

    I go in, I tell him to go back to sleep, lay him back down and leave.

    At the 5 hour mark he INSISTS that I feed him. If I don’t he gets up and then is up for at least 2 – 3 hours.

    No pacifier, bedtime routine is now nurse, bath, jammies, book, bed. His crib is in my room (no other option) and he usually ends up in bed with me at some point.

    Any insight on how long it usually takes to break the food/sleep association? (I have stopped nursing before naps as well) Anything I am missing?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Am,
      My heart bleeds for your single parenting plus up EVERY TWO HOURS FOR A YEAR. Ugh….I’m getting sympathy fatigue just thinking about it.

      I think he’s used to getting a TON of his calories at night. He’s absolutely capable of going longer, so I think much of this is habit. Also the fact that you’re right there makes it harder because he can see/smell you all the time. It’s like he’s sleeping in the doughnut shop and wakes up and sees a doughnut on the counter and thinks, “That looks swell!”

      I’m wondering if it might help if you slept on the couch a few nights? Or invested in a soji screen so that he couldn’t see you right next to him?

      I’m also thinking that maybe (if he’s INSISTING on nursing so often) you offer him decreasing amounts of time at these night feedings. I mean come on – he’s ONE! So over the course of a week or so you let him feed when he REALLY demands it, but you offer less time (10, 9, 8 minutes, etc.). Also make sure you’re using LOUD white noise whenever he sleeps.

      Also make sure he IS getting enough food during the day. Remember things like fruit and whatnot are filling but calorically light. Some babies at 1 are really chowing on high-calorie stuff (avocado, nut butters, meat, etc.). Also make sure he has ample opportunities to nurse and/or get a bottle during the day.

      My heart goes out to you. Best of luck!

  33. Hahaha Breasturant. Love it

  34. Hi Alexis —

    Longtime reader, first time poster. Sorry in advance; this is long.

    My big boy is 22 pounds at 7.5 months. He was EBF until 6 months, and now has added some solids (mostly fruits, veggies, and grains). Sleep has been inconsistent: we started getting 6 – 7 hour stretches when he was about 4 months; then that disappeared. (It’s gotten worse recently – more on that later.) He started in co-sleeper for nights, crib for naps; exclusively in the crib in his own room from about 4 months on.

    We’ve been putting down awake about %95 of the time (grandma has a hard time with even 5 minutes of fussing) since about 5 months. In general, he now goes down awake with only a few minutes or zero fussing. (Hallelujah. This was hard work.) Bedtime is app. 7 – 7:30; last feed is separated from sleep by 30 minutes; wake time is 7 – 7:30 a.m. Daytime naps are mixed: he’s still solidly a 3-nap-a-day guy (is this bad? okay? neither?), and they range from 30 mins to 2 hours, but mostly they’re 45 minutes or an hour and 20 minutes or so. Waketime is app. 2 – 3 hours between naps, and he usually goes down as easily as at nighttime: alone, in his crib, awake, little to no fussing. We try to be consistent about a 9 a.m. nap in the morning and last nap no later than 4 (it’s usually an hour or less, and he really struggles if he’s kept awake from 4 p.m. to 7 — I tried this for awhile and he woke up shortly after going down – overtired, it seemed).

    His night wakings have increased within the last couple of weeks. He’s cutting his first teeth, which I’m sure could be contributing, as could his new enthusiasm for solids — he cries or yells if anyone is eating in his presence and he’s not partaking! My supply is pretty solid, I think; he’s drinking app. 15 ounces of EBM between 11 and 6 when I’m at work, always offered before a few ounces of solids, and nursing in the morning (multiple times) and after I come home (once). Maybe this still isn’t enough, looking at your advice to others on this site; I know I am sensitive to stress, as my supply tanked when I went back to work, and life has been less than peaceful recently.

    However, I sure hope he’s not just waking more so that he can make up the number of minutes he’s nursing overall throughout the night! (This guy is a champion nurser, as evidenced by how many grams he took in as a newborn, weighed before and after a feed at the doctor’s office — as much in 10 or 15 minutes as some babies took in all day! He completely dries me up within 10 – 12 minutes, suck-swallow-suck-swallow, both sides, during the day, and I’m able to get 4 – 5 ounces of milk per pumping. So, I wonder if he’s still getting a decent amount of milk in 3 minutes.)

    The formerly long stretches at the beginning of the night are pretty much gone — we’re lucky to make it past midnight, and sometimes the first waking is as early as 10 or 11. Last night, he went from 7:20 to 11:30, then 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30. Sigh. I’m not seeing any signs of separation anxiety/object permanence in other areas of his development; our pediatrician has suggested that we try to get this done (sleep training), if we want to do it, before separation anxiety hits.

    This little man has not responded well to attempts to wean the swaddle (one hand out results in lots of crying and no sleeping), so we gave up in favor of attempting to nightwean. He’s not rolling over yet (strange, as he’s practically crawling). Do you agree with this choice? I feel ridiculous wrapping this toddler-sized baby up (securely), and it’s obviously not providing solid sleep. But… After a bumpy start, nightweaning improved… SLOWLY, perhaps too slowly. Over the course of a month, I’ve gotten him down from over 10 minutes total to app. 3 minutes total (for each waking). Sometimes he cries slightly after going down, but settles quickly: often kind of a groaning, self-soothe for the last few nights.

    However, the one night I tried to take him below 3 minutes was NOT happy and dad’s attempts to soothe were unsuccessful. (Yes, unfortunately, I nursed him again, to my chagrin.) I’m confused about what to do when reducing night time nursing minutes if baby does NOT accept the reduction. I’ve read so many straightforward “reduce by x number of minutes until you’re done” pieces of advice. What do we do next if he won’t tolerate 2 minutes? I remember that Jodi Mindell describes 2 minutes of nursing as a “tease”, and numerous other resources have counseled that at this point, the baby isn’t getting much and you should just go cold turkey and CIO. If he’s upset, do you recommend leaving in the crib and following a CIO procedure, or more gentle stay-and-soothe? This seems really challenging!

    Before we began nightweaning, he was being put back down awake after a night feed and put himself to sleep with little to no fuss — this was consistent since birth. Of course, I never tried to deal with his nightwakings any other way than nursing, but I did wait 10 – 15 minutes to see if he’d settle, with no success. (I’m sorry to say I didn’t try other methods, but my otherwise awesome breastfeeding education wasn’t really of help to me here: at what point do you stop interpreting the wakings as necessary feed wakings? Anyone? Anyone?) There has never seemed to be any other source of waking: no partying, no inexplicable fussiness that couldn’t be solved with a feed, and, until he was about 5 months, almost no actual “waking” — his eyes would never open as he sucked down his milk, then stopped on his own and returned to dreamland.

    I have not slept for more than 4 or 5 hours in a row in 7 months, and the last few months it’s been more like 2 in a row. I’m open to the possibility that my guy just may not be ready, but I. AM. TIRED. and don’t want to wait so long that we actually made it harder. I hate, with every fiber of my being, hearing him cry, but I am ready to give more energy to my work, my marriage, and my time with him during the day.

    I have read an insane number of sleep books, including the classics.

    What do you think? Thanks for your awesome sense of humor and great summation of advice.

    • Hey Lillian,

      Yay to keep swaddling! MOST people are weaning babies off the swaddle too early. Kudos to you for recognizing that your giant baby still enjoys it. Lots of babies are swaddled till 10 months or even a year. The key is recognizing that it is working. Sure he’s capable of flipping over. My 3 YO is more than capable of getting out of his crib. But he doesn’t. So it works. Awesomeness all around.

      Why is he eating all night? I’m not sure. It really sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Although it’s hard because as you said – you’re supply is really stress-related so you could be stuck in a vicious cycle where work+no sleep=stress = slightly lower supply = hungry baby.

      And as you’re baby is GINORMOUS he clearly NEEDS a huge amount of food so even a 1-2oz drop here and there could lead to night feeding.

      I guess my BEST advice would be to try to work on a dream feed strategy – feed him BEFORE he wakes up for a few nights (this sucks but hopefully is a path to a better night for everybody). If he’s waking at 11:00, go feed him at 10:30 while he’s still semi-asleep. Start there and see if that doesn’t get you out of the 1:30 feed. Even THAT would be huge improvement because you would feed him when YOU to go bed and then again at say 3:30.

      Or maybe for whatever reason trying to gradually wean all feeds simultaneously isn’t working for you. So maybe you dream feed at 10:30 (definitely try this regardless of if you take the rest of my advice). This is a FULL FEED – 10-12 minutes. Then if he wakes up before 4 hours he gets a 2 minute snack (try anyway). Then at say 3:00 AM you offer him a FULL FEED.

      If that worked you would feed him when YOU go to bed and one other FULL feed during the night. From your perspective this would mean getting up 1X a night which would be a huge improvement over where you are. All other feeds are snacks with the goal of getting OUT of them possibly by sending Dad in.

      Does that make sense?

      • Alexis,

        HUGE thanks for your quick reply. And will try to keep it a quick update.

        Followed your advice for the last several days. Bed at 7:30. Dream feed; quick snack at next waking (which is always less than 4 hours). Unfortunately, hasn’t dropped the 1:30 (ish) feed; a couple times it’s been as late as 2, but once it was actually earlier (more like 12:30 after a 10:30 dream feed). Last night, I was up late working and gave him an 11:00 dream feed; he woke at 2, 3 minute feed (not pleased but grumbled and then slept); then at 3:45 (longer feed); then at 6 (longer feed, figured this was breakfast); still seemed tired, so put him back to sleep (this is common — a 5 or 6 am wakeup then back to sleep), up at 7:30. 2x getting up is better for me, but still not great.

        So…
        1) Continue with the same plan? Or is he getting even MORE calories at night now? How to pursue the scheduled awakenings if he’s unpredictable about when the first waking occurs?
        2) If I move to the strategy of eliminating one feed at a time: when he’s angry after a 2-minute or 1-minute feed — let him cry? send dad in? how long to let cry? The one time we tried this (and then gave up), cried for about half an hour. Do we just need to be ready to hold out and see what happens?
        3) Part of the problem could be — I always pump right before bed, as I desperately need this pumping to keep up with the next day’s needs. (I’ve never been able to get “ahead” of him enough, as he refused the bottle ’til right before I returned to work.) So, he’s only getting one side at the dream feed. Still should be about 2 – 3 ounces, after 3 – 4 hours since the final nurse, but… Should I give up and pump when he wakes in the night instead (UGH)?
        4) His naps are pretty good (2-3 naps, usually at least one an hour+). Is he getting too much daytime sleep? Should I wake him up consistently at 6 or 7?

        Considering trying to save up some breastmilk (a serious sacrifice — wish I could pump more than 4-5 ounces between 11 and 6 on a workday) for the weekend so dad can take over and actually see how many ounces he’s getting, and then take the ounces down more quickly than I tried to with nursing. I don’t want to be brutal, and I’m concerned about mixing CIO with weaning, but after more than a month of trying to cut down these nighttime feeds and seemingly heading in the opposite direction, I’m feeling discouraged. At first, I was afraid stopping any feeds at night would make my supply really crash, and hurt my goal to keep nursing ’til he’s 12 months; now I wonder if it’s actually part of the problem.

        Thanks again.

        p.s. Will place my vote for you keeping some free advice going by making a donation. Those of us who can afford to express our appreciation should keep the free stuff going for those who can’t.

  35. Hello Alexis and fellow night-weaners!
    (let’s form a secret club and our costume will be black footie jammies with a cape and when anyone needs us we will light up a dummy on the night sky Batman-style).

    So, I’m thinking of trying to night-wean the little one (just one feed) but am not sure if it isn’t too early and which session to tackle.
    He is almost 5 months and nurses every 3 hours day/night. It isn’t bad but when he was about 2-3 months there was a wonderful period of time when he could go a 5-6 hour stretch at night. Ah, good times. Then came the 4-month regression/growth spurt/mayhem and he started to wake up a lot (on a bad night every.single.hour). Now he wakes up every 3 hours to nurse (sometimes sooner but I refuse to nurse earlier and put a paci in his mouth and if he can fall asleep I don’t nurse). So I was thinking if he could actually go for 5 hours when he was 3 months old he could do that now that he is 5, right? Or not? Is it too early?
    If it’s not too early which feed do I tackle – the 10pm one or the 1am one? I guess the 1am makes more sense since at 10pm I am still awake and could make it a dreamfeed, right?
    His bedtime is around 7pm, goes to crib drowsy but awake with a paci and I try to put at least 15 mins between his last feed and bed, no swaddle anymore, white noise on though it doesn’t make difference, it’s more for me so that I don’t wake up with his every breath :)

    And Alexis, you have my email, if you want that box of Belgian pralines send me your address 😀

    • Forgot one more thing. A friend night-weaned her girls by giving them a bottle of tea (special for babies) at night and apparently they figured out it wasn’t worth it to wake up for that. Anyone has any experience with that? I was thinking of maybe sending daddy in with a bottle of tea/formula/expressed milk for one of those feeds but have no clue if it’s a good idea.

    • let’s form a secret club and our costume will be black footie jammies with a cape and when anyone needs us we will light up a dummy on the night sky Batman-style.

      Yes. Yeeeeessss!

      The fact that he could go X hours at 3 months doesn’t guarantee that he can go X hours now. HOWEVER at 5 months he can go longer than 3 so….

      Katka – you are setting yourself up for all night feeding with the paci at bedtime. I really need to post about this issue because it’s tripping up lots and lots of smart cool Moms (seriously it’s not just you). But he’s sucking to sleep at night so he’s not really “going down awake.” He’s falling asleep WITH the paci and thus the paci maintains this HUGE suck=sleep association. Usually this manifests with baby waking up hourly so you can trot in and reinsert the paci (see post below). Your little guy is probably ~1 month away from this. So we should do something with the paci now because it’s not going to get better.

      But it does reinforce the suck=sleep association which is probably working against your efforts to night wean. Because he’s likely not starving but demanding that you recreate his suck=sleep association which is why the gentle weaning plan isn’t working.

      Everything flows from what happens at bedtime. If he’s sucking to sleep AT bedtime, he’ll expect to do so throughout the night. Sorry to not have easier fix for you but there it is. The paci must go.

      Then yeah – dream feed at 10:00 PM and work on ditching the 1:00 AM. Then you could potentially sleep from 10-4 (which is a great start no?).

      As for the tea – it’s not something that most US pediatricians would recommend. But we probably don’t have cool Belgian tea so who am I to judge?

      I’m all for sending Dad in with some formula or expressed milk for one of those feeds ONLY to give you a break. So maybe every other 4:00 AM feed is Dad’s job. This is a GREAT strategy irregardless of the night weaning stuff. Big fan of babies getting a bottle here and there so that Mom isn’t the sole shuffler during the night.

      Anyhoo good luck ditching the paci. And I WOULD email you my address but I know how much it costs to ship packages from Europe (French grandma sends lovely chocolates) and it wouldn’t be right to ask it of you. But thanks for offering.

      But I WILL wear black footie pajamas with you. I would totally join that club :)

  36. Two (hopefully) quick questions. 5 Month old.
    1) Baby sleeps in her crib, down at 7PM, white noise, sleep sack. We’ve gotten our night wakings down to 2A and 5A. I’m ok with this – a week ago I was getting up every 2-3 hours so this is a lovely change. But about half the time, she’ll wake up again at 6:30AM. I am just in loathe to get up that early and if I bring her into bed with me, I can usually sleep another hour with her attached to me. I worked so hard to get her out of my bed, is this hour in the morning going to blow up in my face?
    2) Baby just learned to roll on to her tummy and is now quite mobile in her crib. Twice this morning, she got herself on her belly and stuck in the corner. She was very unhappy. I know she’ll figure it out soon enough, but do you have any ideas on how I can help her out?

    • I don’t have a huge problem with her being attached to you in the AM. Generally this doesn’t blow up. If the 6:30 AM waking starts to creep up on you then you might need to stop.

      But I DO have to point out that sleeping from 7 PM – 6:30 AM is an awesome 11.5 hour night. And that may just be her night. My guess is that the 1 hour nursing thing in the am is just her drowsing with you (not really sleep). So her normal morning probably IS 6:30. Which is REALLY REALLY typical. I don’t like getting up early either (understatement I HATE IT) but this is life with kids.

      All you can do is give her tons of tummy/floor time during the day to practice rolling back over. Hopefully she gets it sooner than later. Practice helps but that’s really all you can do :(

      • I just wanted to agree with Alexis about #1. I was bringing my son to my bed and nursing him while he slept to delay morning wake up for a long time. Eventually it stopped working most days. Now it’s a mix of him waking up earlier, him waking up but nursing/snoozing for a while and him sleeping later. It just depends on the day but it hasn’t cause any problems as far as increased night wakings etc.

        • I have a very similar experience to Ashley regarding #1 and would love any thoughts/advice anyone has. My daughter is almost 9 months old. We have been taking her back to our bed for the dreaded early morning feed since she was about three months old. (She otherwise sleeps through the night and doesn’t eat). Back then, it was about 4:30 am. She nursed and we all went back to sleep until 7 on weekdays, 7:30 (or 8!) on weekends. But, gradually the time of that first feeding began to extend. First it was 5, then 5:30, etc. Now it is generally 6 am. So, what is the problem? Basically, now, once she has eaten at 6, she is UP. There is no going back to sleep for anyone. Leaving aside our selfish desire to sleep longer, this concerns me because she doesn’t go to sleep until 7:30 most nights, and sometimes it can even be closer to 8. So, I’m concerned she’s not getting enough night-time sleep. However, I’m loathe to move bedtime earlier because I work full time and can’t get home before 6:30. I cherish my time with her at night. So, I think the questions are:
          1. Is it time to concede defeat and just get her up at 6 rather than bringing her back to our bed? If so, does bed-time need to be earlier? (please say no!)
          2. If 6 am does become the time to start the day, then what happens if that time creeps earlier on certain days? I cannot see starting the day at 5:15 if she happens to wake earlier. But, am worried about inconsistent reinforcement if we bring her back to our bed those times. Or, I have friends who set a “I don’t go in until 6” rule.
          3. Finally, we are in the process of weaning. The last nursing session left is the early morning one. So, I wonder if this is feeding into this issue in any way (no pun intended). Any thoughts on whether to wean first, then tackle this, or to deal with both at once?

          Thanks so much to anyone with advice to share!

  37. I gave up with the battle of sleep. My daughter is 18 weeks and I have try everything to soothe her to sleep and have a routine. Nothing seems to work. I wake her up at 7 am to eat every 3 hours and in between to have a nap. She can go without a nap for long hours, we rock her every time for 3 or more hours and finally when we put her in the crib, she wakes up screaming and we try one more time. Last night she went to sleep at 3 in the morning. She barely sleep 8 hours a day. I am desperate. I carry her all day long. Recently I can not leave her not alone for a minute because she will cry a lot. My pediatrician suggest to let her cry maximum for 5 minute, but that makes the process more difficult. She is very sensitive and will make my night and following day more miserable. She is breastfeed and now she is learning to sleep on my breast all the time. She doesn’t take pacifier, I have try all the models available, and to make the things worst she does not tolerate the swaddling from the day she was born. As of right now she is sleeping for an hour at 2pm and another nap at 4pm for 3 hours and going to sleep at 3 am to 7am. I understand these naps are quite late but I am accepting them because I am exhausted and I am happy in that moment that she finally sleep. Please suggest me some routine appropriate for her age to sleep and eat. I am very concerned about her growth.
    I have read all the suggestions for better sleep but I don’t know any more where to start to improve.

  38. I don’t know if it’s too late to post on this thread, but, Alexis, I love your site. You are sooooo helpful!
    I have a 6 1/2 month old beautiful, funny baby girl. She naps twice a day, short 40 minute naps. About a month ago we took away her soother which she fell asleep with. We did this using the CIO method and it was painful, but successful. She still fights sleep, but it’s so much better for naps and bedtime. We used to do bath, change, story, boob, bedtime; but since last week are doing bottle, bath, change, story, bedtime to try to rid of any residual associations (and hopefully get her to consolidate her sleep at night). I also dream-feed at 10pm just to give myself a headstart (I dreaded falling asleep just to have her wake for her first feed around 11pm). She still wakes 2-4 times a night, either 2-3 hours apart, like clockwork. I know that she eats heartily once of those 2-4 feedings, but the others she seems to just need to fall asleep with. If we leave her, which we’ve tried, she’ll scream for hours, for sure. I’ve removed associations, I’ve shortened her night-feeds whenever I can (if I pull off too soon, she’ll just wake up and cry for more rather than going back in the crib asleep). I don’t know what to do differently???
    Help?
    Also – how the heck do I lengthen her naps??? Is 80 minutes a day of naptime enough for a 6 month old? She wakes up happy usually, but is super cranky around 5/5:30pm :(
    I want to do what I can for her, but I just see too many conflicting ideas/plans and nothing seems right for her.

  39. Hello,
    Gosh I am so glad I found your blog. If only I had found you while trying to sleep train my first baby! You are a gem! Thanks so much for the effort you have put into this. I have read all of the sleep books, but no author has explained sleep nearly as well (and with as much humor) as you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And the point you make about treating CIO and night weaning as two completely separate issues is genius!! I never knew that! And like I said, I have read all of the sleep books and still had NO CLUE. Anyway, I have been pouring through the comments all morning, trying to find if anyone has had a similar issue as mine, but alas haven’t found it, so I hope you don’t mind if I post my question.
    I have a 7 month old, exclusively breastfed. We have been doing “the lay him down to sleep awake” since 2 months old, so he is great at falling asleep on his own. He goes down at 7pm and “typically” sleeps until 4am. I will feed him at 4am then he sleeps until 7am. Which sounds amazing, right? I say “typically”, because we have a “time creep” issue and it usually goes something like this:
    First night he sleeps until 4am, next night wakes at 3:30am, the next night 2:45 am, then the fourth night 2am. The fourth night I usually let him cry until 3:30 am or so, because if I feed him at 2am he will wake up again 2-3 hours later for another feeding, thus introducing yet another feeding into the mix. Then the fifth night we are back to waking up at 4am (likely due to CIO the previous night), and it continues like that on and on. I know babies don’t wear watches and can’t tell time. But it just seems like if one night he is able to sleep until 4am, shouldn’t he be able to sleep until then most of the time (or at least in the vicinity of 4am)?
    Am I doing the right thing by letting him cry until 3:30-4am? I know he is hungry, but we have started night weaning, so that 2am-4am feed has gone down from 10 mins to now 5 mins. I fear that if I let it continue (w/o CIO), the time creep will go from 2am, to 1am, to midnight, etc. I am hopeful that soon we will be done with this feeding, but the timing keeps creeping, which worries me. I feed him every 3 hours during the day, and he is doing pretty well with solids. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  40. Hi –

    I love your blog, it really lays it out in an easy to comprehend manner.

    I am currently struggling with my 6 1/2 month old and night waking.

    We have been doing CIO with him for the last week and he has no problem putting himself to sleep by 7 pm.

    It is the night waking that I am not sure where to start.

    He usually wakes up the first time between 11-12:30, then 2, 3, and then a blur after that.

    My husband works late and his home around 12, so I am sensitive to him sleeping when my son wakes up.

    I have either been feeding or rocking, pacifying breaking out the swaddle to put him in it.

    But all of that doesn’t seem to stop from the other wakings that will follow the 2 am. I should also mention he usually has a wet diaper around 2 am. So should I plan on changing him when he cries at that time and put him down awake or do I nurse him back to sleep?

    Should I have him cry it out in the middle of the night? I feel just awful, but I am super tired too.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.

  41. Hello!

    About 4-5 months ago, we successfully solved our son’s downward spiral of waking every 2 hours with a little nudge from CIO. He took to it at bed time fairly easily (less than 10 minutes of anger), and there were a couple crappy hours in the middle of the night misjudging actual hunger for a need to sooth, but overall it wasn’t too horrible and the results have been great. We even employed the same method, starting a few weeks ago, with naps, by moving the nursing or bottle BEFORE the rest of the nap routine and letting him complain some til he fell asleep. Most naps now he is out in less than 10 minutes, and sleeps for a LONG time. YES!!

    The next endeavor was then to night wean, which I started in earnest maybe 2 months ago using the “reduce boob time by a minute every few nights” method. This worked great for feeding #1, around midnight-1am. Now I’ve been working on eliminating his last feeding, around 3-4am, but am stuck. He used to sleep happily after his 3-4am feeding until about 6:30-7am. However, ever since we’ve gotten down to under 3 minutes per boob he has started waking up earlier and earlier. I assume because he has been getting less food and so is actually hungry earlier. I experimented once or twice to test this theory, and when I do give him more for the 3-4am feeding he goes back to his later wake up time.

    He’s a few weeks shy of his 1 year birthday now, pounding solid food like it’s nobody’s business, still nursing and taking a bottle 4-5 times per day but has been slowing drinking less since his solid food intake has gone up. His 2 naps per day now are AWESOME, usually at least 1hr15 each and sometimes longer. He goes right to sleep at 7pm but is still getting up for that pesky 3-4am snack. We are now down to literally 1.5 minutes per boob, but he has started waking up at 5:30 now which is not cute. I don’t think he’s getting quiiiite enough night sleep because of this, because sometimes his day naps are so epic (2+ hours) that we actually have to wake him up to prevent screwing up bed time.

    Any suggestions for how to kick this last feeding and get him to stay in bed longer? Do I just give in and go back to feeding him more at 3-4am so we can all get more sleep? I hate to give up now, since we’re already down to so little time per boob, so should I just stick out the 5:30am wakings a little longer to see what happens when we get down to no boob time? Do we consider a later bed time? We’re so close!!

  42. We made very good progress with my 6.5m old when it comes to CIO. We have a solid bedtime routine and he wakes once in the middle of the night to eat, then again after 4am (at which time I’d nurse and bring him into our bed and we all rise after 8:30). BUT, now we’re visiting family and he wakes 3-4 times!! The quality of his naps are compromised a TAD, as we are out of our element. But we still do a solid bedtime routine w/ him going down awake. The only thing I can think of that has changes drastically is that my ped had me introducing solids and feeding him only once a day to get him use to eating (we’ve done avocado and butternut squash so far). But my mother in law insists on feeding him baby cereal 3x a day saying “he’ll sleep SO good” (I know that’s balogne). He still seems to nurse the same. But I’m wondering if perhaps this fricking cereal is robbing him of his breastmilk calories, causing him to wake. Or is he waking out of habit in search of soothing? It’s so hard to tell. Any thoughts?

    • I just realized this: could it be the 6m growth spurt? It’s been going on for 4-5 day. And one more thing, when grandma feeds him 3x a day he acts like he’s starved and she can’t feed him fast enough as he thoroughly enjoys eating.

  43. Night weaning is not working!!?!?! I’m going crazy. I’m so tired. He’s 8 months old and still waking every 2 hours all.night.long. I have 2 older boys (4 and 5) so naps are out of the question for me. We took away his pacifier so he goes down totally on his own. We moved back nursing away from naps and bedtime to break the eat to sleep association. Last night he went down at 6:30 and was up at 9, 11, 1, 3, 4:30, and 5:30 for the day. I don’t know why he keeps waking and can’t get down without nursing. I know he’s not genuinely hungry that often, but he’s also a snacker and not a big nurser during the day. What do I do?

  44. My guy (6.5 months) is SO inconsistent. Lately he’s been up every 2-3 hours. Even though in the past he’s gone much longer stretches. I’m at my wit’s end. Admittedly, I’m a terrible sleep trainer. My husband won’t even discuss our baby’s sleep with me anymore because he’s tired of “Trying things” and me getting frustrated. I’m so inconsistent. I took the paci away, then recently gave in and it’s back. Not good. We’ve dabbled in CIO but it practically gave me panic attacks.. to hear him SCREAM like that. I’ve tried just decreasing the feedings by sending husband in to soothe, but it doesn’t work, especially without the paci. IF he does actually succeed in soothing baby back to sleep, he’s up again in an hour. Lately, even when I go in to nurse him because that’s what he wants, the second I lay him back down he screams unless I pop the paci in immediately. Then he’s fine for a couple hours.. rinse, repeat.

    Naps are fine. He has no nap-nurse association. He goes to sleep awake, naps for a good while and wakes up happy. Night time is horrible though. At night when he wakes it’s never just awake and making noises.. it’s full-blown crying. 0 to level 10 crying in like a second upon waking.

    He eats 4 times every 3 hours (4th feeding at 4pm), but then if I wait another 3 hours for the bedtime feeding it’s too late and he’s exhausted. I’ve been feeding him just before bed (bad I know!). Should I try doing the 4 pm feeding, then feed him again at 6pm, then do bath, pjs, book, bed? That’s going to be SO hard because nursing calms him down so much.. Laying him down without nursing or a paci will result in terrible screams.. *sigh* And if I feed him at 6 before he’s really hungry.. and then he wakes in a couple hours should I feed? So confused when to feed and when not to.

    And when I don’t want to feed every waking, I don’t know how to calm him down. He completely melts down. Shssh pat doesn’t work at all. Picking him up works pretty well but then he resumes screaming upon laying back down. The only thing that’s ever actually worked is CIO.. which breaks my heart. Sometimes he screams for like 20 minutes before settling back down, and then he’s still up an hour or two later. That’s why many times I just give in and feed him because I know it will be quick and (temporarily) effective.

    When you’re SO tired it’s so hard to stick to something! Help???

  45. If an eight-month-old baby wakes up for only one night feeding, do you think the problem would likely be a food/sleep association?

    I just tried to cut out that last night feeding for a week and it was a failure. I do nurse my son just before bed, but I put him down awake 80-90 percent of the time (if he happens to fall asleep and stay asleep as I carry him to bed, I don’t wake him). I am loathe to nurse him earlier in the bedtime routine because he has this tendency to completely FLIP OUT after his bath when we are putting on his pajamas. Nursing calms him, and he goes down quietly most nights. I would hate to start depositing a screaming exhausted baby into his crib at night because I had already nursed him before his bath.

  46. Alexis,
    Would it make any difference if I started to give my 6 month old a bottle of breast milk rather than from me during the night feedings? Or even maybe 1/2 formula 1/2 breast milk? I wonder if that would discourage the amount of time he wakes up and wants to nurse. I can still feed him the “good stuff” {breastmilk from the real thing} during the day but at night… leftovers in a bottle. Who wants that, unless he is truly hungry. Thoughts????

    Ps. Thanks for all that you do… you are a Saint.

  47. Waaaw!!!! You guys don’t even know how lucky you are!!!!!!! My 1year old slept ONCE(probably by accident) for 8hours when she was 9weeks. Ever since I am up all night long every single night about 4/5/6 times…our record was 9times!!!! She never falls asleep, let alone stays laying down, when she’s awake…. I tried everything, I used to nursed her to sleep, my success is now that I manage to rock her to sleep 99% of the times without breast.. But when she wakes up in the night, there is NO WAY she would fal back asleep without nursing… She goes ballistic!!!! I tried Cry it out once and will never ever do it again, since she is so persistent and stubborn that she stopped breathing and when I thought she fell asleep, she was already turning blue!!!!!!! So NEVER EVER… And I’m exhausted… Funny enough, it is never like this at nap time(s)… Now she naps either 11am and 3pm for 1hour or only 1.30pm for 2hours( dropping morning nap).;. Otherwise, she’s an amazing happy playful little almost toddler, laughs most of the time, cries only when in real distress or pain… Maybe I just have to wait…maybe we aren’t ready yet…

  48. Oh, did I mentione I’m a single mum with no family close enough to help ? So it’s me all the time… No job atm so little money… and can’t afford any carer for my LO… But, sorry, it sounds all so depressing.. It is not, indeed, I’m enjoying being a mum and I think these problems come with it… And kids are this small for such short part of life, that it really isn’t THAT bad… Just veeeery tiring… Love to all of you!!! For those in UK, Happy mother’s day!! 😉

  49. Dear Alexis,
    YES! I have a night weaning success story, thanks to you and your fantastic site! Hopefully it will give other Mommies some inspiration because let me tell you, I dreaded this process, worried to death that it would be(to steal your words) a “CIO nightmare”.

    That’s because my now 7-month old son was an absolute nightmare to sleep train. He cried (albeit less and less, but still cried) for OVER TWO MONTHS when I stopped nursing/rocking him to sleep (at 4.5 months). And because we were FINALLY at a place where the crying had stopped, I was so scared to do anything that would cause more crying.

    He was going to sleep at 7pm and waking at 7am, with 2 night feedings along the way (11pm and 3am). However, I’d noticed that he didn’t seem particularly hungry at either of those feedings recently. I felt confident weaning him off one of the feedings.

    I used your method of reducing the time on each breast by 1 minute every 1-2 nights. I stopped going in to his room when we reached 3 minutes per side. The first night I didn’t go in, he cried for 40 minutes. But by the 4th night, he didn’t cry at all– he slept right through the 11pm feeding. He now wakes once a night (at 2am), nurses for approx 15 minutes, then goes back to sleep until his usual 7am wakeup time.
    It’s the best sleep I’ve gotten in over 6 months!
    I feel like a new woman!

    Thank you again for the invaluable advice!

    • This is great – thanks for sharing. We are getting ready to night wean our 9 month old, and this has inspired me. Is it still going well?

  50. This article is EXACTLY what I need right now, and your comments totally help too. I feel so frustrated right now.Here’s the situation:

    After a few nights of CIO, baby was sleeping MUCH better. He was only waking up twice a night most night! Yay! Major improvement from 4-6 times. And he was really good at putting himself back to sleep, with minimal crying.

    Then, suddenly, he woke up 3 times in the night. Then 4. I came up with a plan based on Ferber. Since he was waking every 3 hours, I would go up to 3.5, then 4, then 4.5 etc, until he was all weaned. This worked for the first few nights, and then he was back to waking up every 2.5 and crying and crying. In the middle of the night, and with his crib in our bedroom, this is hardly bearable.

    Next plan, based on what I’ve read here. I would only feed him every 3 hours, and I will initiate the feedings. If he wakes up before that, he can figure out how to go back to sleep. After this is established I will decrease feeding time on one feed and go from there.

    Night 1 of this. He was supposed to feed at 10:30. Woke up at 9:50 and cried until 10:30. Fed him. RIght back to sleep. Next, he’s supposed to be fed at 1:30. He wakes up at 12:45 and cries till 1:30. I feed him. He cries some more for a while but falls asleep. Next feeding should be 4:30. He wakes up at 3. I can no longer handle another bout of crying. I feed him. He goes right back to sleep. Then I wake him up at 4:30, feed him, back to sleep. He wakes up at 5:30. I feed him, and bring him into bed and he sleeps till 6:45.

    Phew! I thought this plan would be easy! I feel very comfortable letting him go 3 hours between feeds! He goes longer than that during the day! He can fall asleep on his own! Why is he waking so often? Aaaaarghhh.

    Is it that he’s still associating sleep with feeding? I’m sure that’s part of it. I’ve been trying to space feedings further and further from sleep time, but he still falls asleep on the boob. Then I wake up before putting him down which sometimes works. He usually goes down easily for bed time (7:30) and naps. Just wakes up all.the.damn.time. And won’t go back to sleep without a feed.

    His feeds at night are about 5-10 minutes.

    Any help greatly appreciated! Is my plan a good one and i just need to stick to it?

  51. Oh yeah I should mention he’s 6.5 months old, and breast fed. We’ve started solids but based on what I read here I’m only feeding him high calorie foods like potato and avocado now, and only once a day. The rest of the day, I’m trying to feed him as much as I can.

    Any help super appreciated! Thank you!

    • hi everyone my baby is 6 months old and from about 6-14 weeks she slept at least 8 hours at night then out of the blue she wakes every 3 hours at night and the only way i can settle her is boob. she naps well goes down with a dummy and comforter easy peasy. same for first going to bed. BUT when she wakes she refuses dummy and gets really cross till i feed her. feeds for about 5 mins and i pop her off shove the dummy in and she goes off on her own fine. i didnt think she could be that hungry but im always worried if i try not to feed her im depriving my hungry baby! she feeds every 3 -4 hours in the day and just started baby led weaning so shes not eating much solids yet. any tips??

    • Hi all. Am trying to wean my 9 month old. She use to be a good sleeper waking once at late at night (4.30 am) for a small feed. Then she turned 8 months and regressesed to waking up several times. She now wakes up twice and still requires a feed at least once.
      Her bedtime routine starts at 5.45 pm and she is in bed awake by 6.45 pm. From what read perhaps I feed her and don’t leave enough of a gap before putting her down.

  52. I have read all the info I can find on your wonderful sight about night weaning! My 7 month old has been going to sleep happy and independently for naps and bedtimes for almost 3 months. However, she continues to wake between 2-4 times a night for boob. I have been tracking them and they vary pretty widely…how do I know which feed to reduce/illimate first? And at the end of the reduction of nursing time, do I go in at all when she wakes crying or do I just leave her cry til she falls asleep? And if she wakes an hour later? Do I feed her then and then start reducing that amount? I am just so confused! I thought that once she learned to self sooth, it would be clear sailing as it was with my other limitless one, but no such luck!

    • Leigh,
      This is completely my situation too! Totally inconsistent wake ups but 3-5 of them. I also thought after he became an independent sleeper it would be smooth sailing and I’m very frustrated. I’m trying to go no less than 3 hours between feedings but finding that I cannot handle the crying at night. I’m just too tired, so I go in and feed him for 5 minutes and we’re all asleep…until an hour or 2 later. What to do!? I’m confused too!

      • Hi! I just wanted to chime in on this in case you get any advice because I am in a similar situation! CIO worked great for bedtime and naps, but the night wakings are still so random…. Usually 3 a night tho. I tried weaning off the first feeding, but my daughter just started waking up an hour later wanting more food. I feel so lost in the middle of the night, never knowing exactly what to do. Would love some advice on what to do during random night wakings after the baby has just been fed!

        • Hi- I am in this position too. 8 month old will fall asleep on her own for the most part for all naps and night sleep, however will wake about 2+ times per night to eat, and really eats (not just sucking and falling back asleep.) We have a 30 min bedtime routine and separate bed from feeding by 15+ minutes. Am trying to shorten the 2am feeding but she just wakes up again later hungry.

          Did you have any luck with your little one? Any words of advice?

          • Hi Ladies,

            I’m going through this exact thing with my almost 8-month-old son right now. Puts himself to sleep happily for all naps and bedtime, but wakes 3-4 times/night to nurse. We’ve been reducing the time of feedings for the last 10 days but I’m nervous about what happens when we get below 3 min each…if he will actually decide he doesn’t need to feed…if he will be upset…if I will need to send my husband in…if that will work…

            What wound up working for you?

            Grateful for any feedback!

  53. I have been going through the same thing. We’ve been struggling with sleep for months now but I have finally gotten little Gannon to the point where he’ll fall asleep on his own for bedtime and naps. I’ve completely separated nursing from sleep and our bedtime routine is solid. So what’s with him waking, eating, then after I put him down not 30 minutes later he’s wailing! For the past week he’s been gradually getting up earlier and earlier to eat and more often. I’m not sure how to go about it. I used to be able to just wait it out and he’d conk out again after 10 minutes of fussing but now I don’t know what to do!

    • Well…it sounds like we are all in good company at least :) I have tried leaving her in the night for 15-20 minutes…she doesn’t really cry…more just calling for me…at which point, I am tired and just go feed her quickly and then I can get back to bed. I guess one night maybe on the week-end I can try waiting longer…like an hour? it just sucks to lose the hour of sleep, when I know I can put her back to sleep in minutes!! LOL! But maybe short term pain for long term gain? Perhaps I will start with the early waking which is usually sometime between 10-12…and see if I can get her to sleep until the early morning hours…like 2 or 3 and then work on stretching it out until 5 or 6? I really wish a tailored baby sleep plan came out after the baby instead of the placenta! HA! Here’s hoping for some progress ladies…

      • In case this is helpful for waiting out any night wakings, I actually put in earplugs on several occasions or slept in another room. It felt weird but it helped me from instantly jumping up to nurse my son in the middle of the night and helped me get through the crying if I had decided not to nurse him.

    • Oh my! I have never met anyone else who had named their son Gannon! :)

  54. I am so glad to find I am in good company. I don’t know how to get my 10 month old to drink more during the day. He barely finishes about 10 oz a day at daycare and wants to nurse 1-3 times a night still. How do I get him to drink more during the day?? Should I back off on solids? He LOVES to eat his solids. He’s such a good eater, but his teacher pretty much has to force a bottle of breastmilk on him three times a day while I am at work. It’s so frustrating!

  55. I need some ideas, mamas! We have been putting DD down awake since 8 months old, and she barely fusses about it and goes right to sleep. DH does it most nights. I have also gotten her down to one feeding a night (around 3-4am). The problem is, she ALWAYS wakes up 2 hours after that feeding and won’t go back to sleep. That means she is ready to start the day at 5:30 most days. Is this normal? Is there anything I can try to get her to sleep longer after that feeding? Taking her to bed with me doesn’t work, since hubs wakes her up when he gets up if she’s in the bed.

    Also, since the time change happened (spring forward, aka “the devil”) we moved her bedtime from 7 to 8, because it’s not even close to dark out at 7pm and baby is still wired. My days feel so much longer now that she’s up so early and down so much later. Sunset is going to only get later, so what to you moms do about this? Do you keep pushing your baby’s bedtime back with the Sun, or do they just go to bed even when it’s still bright as day out there?

    • i should add that she’s 10 months old now.

    • Hey Janelle,
      I feel you with the long day thing. But also jealous that your little lady only wakes up once a night and consistently. Recently we purchased a very dark pair of curtains for the room that baby sleeps in. This means you can make it night time any time you want, and so you might be able to push her bed time to 7 again. Who knows, maybe this would help her sleep past 5:30 too! From everything I’ve read, I think it’s normal for babies to wake up this early, and mine, no matter when his bed time is, will wake up around the same time too.

      • Thanks Claudia. I know I should be more thankful that she only wakes up once (most nights.) It’s good to know that the early wake time is pretty normal and not a result of something I am doing wrong. We do have blackout curtains in her room already, but in my head I’m thinking since we aren’t in her bedroom hours before bedtime (we’re usually outside or in brighter parts of the house) her body isn’t getting the “it’s getting close to bedtime” cue that it used to get. I guess if we spent the last hour before bedtime in her room where it is darker I could get her back to sleep earlier, but thats not really practical for us most nights. I guess I will just start going to bed earlier myself and try to get used to the early mornings!

        • i think i jinxed myself yesterday. my little lady was up every 2 hours last night! lots of coffee was consumed today. fingers crossed for some good zzz’s tonight :)

    • I wouldn’t push bed time later and later. We live in sweden and as it gets closer to midsummer the days get incredibly long i.e. still day light at 10 p.m and morning at 4 a.m. my advice is to use blackout curtains

  56. Well, my little monkey is on more of a routine at night, but it’s pretty much back to how it was before sleep training. And I’m almost positive it’s that he still has a sleep-eat association. I have tried separating eating from sleeping but he is such a distracted eater, that he will only have a good feed when he’s tired and sleepy! So it’s a very strong association. Yesterday I put him down asleep for every nap and bedtime. Tried to keep him awake but it wouldn’t work. Any advice or suggestions?

    • Claudia – Could you try the EASY routine instead? So that the feeding is right when the baby wakes up instead of before naps and bed. E = East, A= Activity and S=Sleep…the Y is supposed to be ‘you’ but I have yet to master this part! For me, I nurse my dd right after she wakes up, then we play a while…then she has her solids, a bit more play then I put her down for a nap. That way there is no chance for her to fall asleep at the boob…because she just woke up. It might be an adjustment, but that might help break the eat/sleep association?

  57. Thanks Leigh! I have actually been trying to transition to this. It’s slow going because I have no other way to soothe him or help him get sleepy before a nap. I try rocking, walking, jiggling, shushing, singing, but he just won’t settle down until he has that boob in his mouth. Improvements have been made though. Since I’m also feeding him after the nap, I’m not afraid he won’t get enough to eat so I pull him off RIGHT when he is at a 7 of sleepiness and not asleep yet. He might make a few noises but goes right to sleep. My other thought is that I end up feeding him so often because of the before and after nap feeding (plus a few more in between to be honest.) Do you have any thoughts about how that might impact the night? Like he’s used to eating so often during the day, maybe he can’t go very long at night because of that?

  58. hi, my 4 mo. old self-soothes to sleep by sucking his thumb. he still wakes up a lot during night. do you think this can be reason for his wakings? should be able to fall to sleep without the thumb or is this ok?

  59. I can’t believe I didn’t see this post earlier. I’m desperate for advice! My 5 and a half month old goes to sleep on his own for naps and night and definitely doesn’t have an eat = sleep association, but he still wakes up 4 to 6 times every night, screaming. We started CIO nine days ago and let him cry through the first wake up, which could be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes after he goes to bed, but now, nine days later, things haven’t really improved. He cries a bit less, but he’s still waking up all night and I don’t know when to feed him and when to let him cry. And his wake up times are totally inconsistent, which also makes it tough. I know I shouldn’t be feeding him all night long, but I’m super confused. Ideas?

    • Hi Jen,

      I could have written your post myself. My daughter just hit 6months and has exactly the same “schedule.” At first I thought it could be a sleep regression/growth spurt but honestly, she has been like this since birth. I don’t believe it’s a 6month long growth spurt. We have a bedtime routine and did CIO which worked beautifully for getting her to fall asleep on her own. Staying asleep is an entirely different story. After two weeks of trying CIO during the night (with one feed at 2-4ish) we kind of gave up and now I feed her whenever she wakes up. I’m not sure if that was the right thing or not, but we were desperate to end the crying all night. So, I basically want to commiserate and hope that we can get some advice on this.

      Just one thought that worked for extending her first wake-up. I nurse her and then give her a bottle for her last feed (which is 30 minutes before actual bedtime). It helps to tank her up a bit and she usually doesn’t wake up for about 4 hours. My supply seems to dip pretty low at night and I think she was genuinely hungry when she woke up an hour or so later. As for the 2-4 additional wake-ups…I have no idea. Do I feed her, let her cry? Hopefully we can both get some advice and some sleep!

      Emily

      • Hi Emily,

        I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to hear that you’re in the same boat :). We’re on day two of no pacifier, which I’m hoping might help with the night waking. Last night he woke up for about a minute or two about 90 minutes after falling asleep and then slept until 12:30 – five and a half hours from bed time – before I fed him. He then fussed a bit at 3:30, but I had told myself I wouldn’t go in again before 4, and he put himself back to sleep without really crying too much. At 4 he woke up again and I fed him, and then again around 5:30 because I didn’t want him to wake up for the day. Sigh. Sad to say this is actually a bit of an improvement.

        I think I will try feeding him a bit extra in the last feeding. It’s so tough the the BF to know exactly how much he’s getting, right? I don’t think I have any supply issues, but who knows? And, like your daughter, he’s kind of been doing this all along, so I don’t think it’s a growth spurt or anything.

        Some ideas – Ferber suggests spacing feedings out by a half hour more each night as a way to night wean. But this only works if you can stand the crying in between… Weissbluth says it’s normal for babies to eat up to twice at night until they’re nine months old, but he seems to propose CIO for the feedings you’re eliminating. So you’re stuck with crying again. The tough part for me with all of this is that my son is so inconsistent with his wake up times, so it’s hard to have a consistent plan. I do know that I have to have a plan in mind before I go to bed or I will just keep getting up all night. I hate the crying, but I really want him to learn to sleep better so he gets some consolidated sleep (and I do too!).

        Good luck and let me know how it’s going!

        Jen

        • Jen or Emily, I know y’all commented over a year ago… but did either of y’all ever figure out a solution? Or what finally worked? I’m in the same boat with my 6mo right now!!! Thanks ladies!

  60. Glad to know we’re not alone here…

    My exclusively breastfed 6.5 month old boy has started waking like clockwork at 9:30pm (bedtime = 7/7:30pm), then again around 11:30pm and at 4am.

    We are fine with the 11:30pm and 4am feedings, but are confused about how to drop the 9:30pm feeding. He also has a really hard time taking the bottle (i.e. refuses!), so we are unsure about leaving him with a babysitter to go out during that 9:30pm wake-up.

    He does know how to fall asleep on his own, sucks his thumb and uses a lovey, so I guess this waking is about a nursing/sleeping association? I nurse and sing to him just before I put him in the crib. I guess I should break that up…

    We don’t feel ready to completely night wean, but we wanted to know if there was a way to get him to stop waking up at the 9:30pm mark, or if we have to night wean in order to do that.

    Also, is night weaning best in the 6-9 month range?

  61. Our 10 month old girl is sleeping badly at the moment. She’s always been a bad sleeper, though she does at least put herself to sleep without a fuss since we did CIO at 6 months. Everything after the initial falling asleep is a disaster. She still has no teeth at all which confuses me very much because I swear she’s been teething since she was 3 months old…. recently she just stopped drooling completely after 7 months of completely soaking her dribble bibs. She is exclusively breastfed, and is still totally attached to the idea that all her food should come from my boobs. She hardly eats any solid food, most of it just ends up on the floor, and she is now lighter than she was at 6 months because she doesn’t eat much and is CONSTANTLY moving. She is very easily distracted, can’t sit still and whenever I start to feed her solid food she just points at my chest and gets upset. I don’t want to force feed her of course, but I’m concerned that the less she eats during the day, the more she wakes at night to make up for it. My breastmilk hasn’t been sustaining her for a about a month so I know she needs more, though I still nurse her on demand. She refuses a bottle and doesn’t take more than a few sips from a sippy cup per day so supplements will be difficult. I am worried I’m not doing enough to encourage her to eat, and not sure how to gradually transition her out of nighttime feeds if she doesn’t get enough during the day….. anyone have any suggestions/experience/reassurance??! :(

  62. Kirsten I am curious as to how things worked out with you. My situation is so similar! My baby is almost 9 months, and refuses most solids. i am pretty sure I don’t produce enough milk to be completely filling her needs, and she’s a very low-weight baby. So when she wakes up twice a night I still nurse her because 1) those are her best feedings, and 2) I don’t want to continue the milk supply decrease. I do know that a couple of months ago she only woke once a night so she used to go longer but she isn’t anymore.
    Anyway in case things haven’t yet resolved on the food front …. I think you don’t really need to “worry” about solids until 1 year old, at which point you can start giving cow or other milk in a sippy cup. Mine refuses all baby food but I’ve found I can get her to eat some finger foods if she’s in the mood (cheerios, bites of bread, bites of cheese, etc), and nut butters (sunflower seed or almond are fine at less than 1 year). Try high-calorie foods. (aside: babies stop drooling because at some age they can swallow their drool; yours is probably still/constantly teething!!)

  63. Hi Alexis.

    Firstly thanks for your awesome site. I’ve got a 9 month old boy who still wakes once a night for a breastfeed, and I think it’s really time for him to sleep through the night! I’m thinking that the reason night weaning isn’t working in our household is a combination of 2. Eat = Sleep, 4. Distracted Eater and 6. Too Much Solid Food.

    The reason I’m thinking Eat = Sleep is that at most *night feeds* bub will fall asleep at the breast, and now refuses to go back to sleep himself without it, even though he is happily settling himself at all nap and bedtimes. I’m finding it hard to control the amount of time bub is on the breast because if I take him off prematurely then he will cry and cry just as if I hadn’t fed him at all. In this case I’m not sure whether to rock/pat him back to sleep (which could take an hour) or let him CIO

    Distracted Eater and Too Much Solid Food kind of goes hand in hand because the less breast milk he has, the more solid food he has. I will aim to give him more milk during the day so hopefully he doesn’t need it at night.

    I know of course you are a very busy woman but if you have any advice I would love to hear it.

    Your faithful reader,
    Allissa

  64. Hi Alexis,

    So glad a friend told me about your website! Anyways, my son is 6 months old and he’s terrible napper (only down for 1 hour nap each time he naps) unless someone is holding him (he could nap for 2 hours if someone is holding him). He was sleeping trough the night (from 10-3) at around 3 months and woke up only once a night to eat. Around 5 months, he started waking up to eat a LOT more, we’re talking 3 to 4 times a night. Around this time, he also started to refuse taking bottle and my mom (who takes care of him during the day while I am at work) is lucky if she can get him to drink 8 oz of pumped breast milk. I still breast-feed him when I am home and at nights. He takes solid no problem during the day, he eats 2-3 solid every day, we just started the third solid recently after his pediatrician told me that. Anyways, I think the problem is that he preferred to drink from me (#5 here) and therefore he ‘fasts’ during the day while I am at work. I am so tired and exhausted … My husband tried to help out by taking him aside and feed bottle to him but my baby cried and screamed until I give him boobs. We wanted to do some sleep training too soon and this will not help if he is still hungry all the time at night. Any suggestion?

  65. HELP! My 8 month old eats 3 meals a day plus some snacks and a few bottles during the day and still wakes up 2-3 sometimes 4 times a night for a bottle.. Idk what To do anymore!! We are all miserable because none of us are getting the sleep we need.. Hubby helps but most of the time he wants mommy and I have insomnia as it is so it makes it harder for me!! Someone please help!!

    • This I exactly my situation only my boy is 9 and a half months…..he eats 3 large meals a day plus 3 to 4 bottles and still wakes 3 times during the night….the first wake which is usually between 11 & 12 he won’t settle without a bottle….the next wake is around 1.30 I can usually get him back to sleep with no bottle and the wake is around 4/4.30 he will another bottle…..he never leaves a drop in either of these bottles…..he was sleeping through from about 3 and a half months and that’s lasted for a couple of months

  66. Feel like I’m back I square one, we did the night weaning via cry it out, not wise I since read but we’d cracked it or so I thought! Then my 10month old gets a cold and I’m back to doing feeds twice a night. I’m so exhausted I have no idea how I used to get up 8 times a night! But I think it’s that I haven’t slept a full night in 10 months even the very rare nights when he has slept through I still wake up myself! It’s getting to the point that I’m so tearful in the day, I am supposed to be studying but trying to do that while he naps is killing me, I miss sleeping while h sleeps! When he wakes in he night it takes 5 mins to feed him or 3 hours of hysterics if I refuse the breast or send my other half in. I really wish my partner would try harder to comfort him but he just gets peed off by all the head throwing and just puts him back in his cot screaming, I find it unbearable to hear & I have forced myself to do it but ten no sooner have we ‘fixed’ his sleep its broken again. My partner works and I don’t so he gets annoyed about doing anything in the night, he does bath & bed after I’ve fed lo so it’s not an eat=sleep situation, I think it’s the needs more soothing thing but how do I soothe my 10 month old when only the boob will do day or night? :( x

    • Oh my gosh, How are things now? I love this site and have used the advice successfully to get my 12 month to go to sleep on his own at bed-time and naps. I think the eat=sleep may be our problem, too. But things have gotten so bad, last night for the 1st time in 2 months, we totally gave up putting him back in the crib only for him to scream again in 2 hrs and put him in bed with us. I’ve gotten the length of feedings down tremendously. I actually don’t even think he’s hungry. I think its a comfort thing. Sometimes he’s only on my breast for a couple minutes then goes right back to sleep. Yet he still wakes up screaming and refuses to be comforted by dad. Well, the longest I can take hearing dad trying is 20 minutes at 2, 3, 4am.

  67. Suggestions, please! Night weaning is not working. Baby is 9.5 months. I gradually reduced the night feeding to 4 minutes (wonderful), but the 3-minute mark was a disaster. Bedtime is super easy, she doesn’t nurse to sleep or even within 30 minutes of bedtime, eliminated the comfort snuggles at bedtime as that was one waking issue, she eats plenty of milk at daycare & with me, is great with solids and even table foods, no binky at night. I’m confident she is not actually hungry, it’s just habit & comfort. Now she’s even started waking around midnight (which she hasn’t done in months) AND 2:30ish. Does this mean we have to CIO in the middle of the night to fix the problem?

  68. We have had a pretty horrendous month or so with a 3 week virus, followed by two top teeth & then he carried on waking out of habit, i also think it could be developmental and a growth spurt as he is taking his first steps & has suddenly got taller! This week on mon night I really had had enough so did a feed at 1:15 when he first woke up but he was still wide awake, he just seems to want me to hold him all night so I just but him in his cot & went in at increased intervals with no further boob offerings! He eventually let me rock him til he stopped crying and was drowsy (this is the first I have ever managed this without boob!!) I put him back in his cot awake & he slept til 7am (a kid who normally gets up 6:30 at the latest!) tues he slept from 8pm-4:40am 1 feed then another 7am get up, wed 7:30ish- 4am 1 feed & slept til nearly 7! Then last night 8-1:50 1 feed then up 6:40ish. I get the feeling already it’s slowly slipping back to more wakings. I just keep telling myself this will pass & at least it’s been a much better week. The last month he’s been waking up at least 4 times a night!! Good luck everyone xx

  69. My almost 11 month old is in the same boat. I made mistakes when he was younger and gave him milk when he was tired and fed him to sleep for months as I really didn’t know what I was doing (still don’t really.) As he is approaching 1, I am keen to give up breastfeeding. I have been giving him a bottle of formula as his bedtime feed for a few weeks, but he doesnt take much – about 3 ounces, and thats when I repeatedly offer it again and again. He wakes up on average 4 times a night. I’m not keen on letting him cry, and for my husband it is a complete no no, so we are not going to be able to use controlled crying to teach him to self sooth. I just cant see any other way at the moment? For the past 3 nights I have had baby in bed with me, and cuddled/sang each time he woke up instead of offering milk. I am thinking this is progress, but maybe I am being naive – I was hoping if he learned he wasnt going to get milk he wouldnt wake up so frequently, and that the cuddle would be a more sensitive way to manage it. Any advice?!!

    • The method you describe (cuddling and singing instead of feeding). This is a legitimate no cry method called trading down sleep associations. It takes much longer than CIO usually but you get to gently replace extremely strong associations like feeding with lighter ones like patting on he back. You can check out the Isis parenting sleep section for more info. They have webinars. Just Google Isis parenting. Good luck!

  70. hi everyone my baby is 6 months old and from about 6-14 weeks she slept at least 8 hours at night then out of the blue she wakes every 3 hours at night and the only way i can settle her is boob. she naps well goes down with a dummy and comforter easy peasy. same for first going to bed. BUT when she wakes she refuses dummy and gets really cross till i feed her. feeds for about 5 mins and i pop her off shove the dummy in and she goes off on her own fine. i didnt think she could be that hungry but im always worried if i try not to feed her im depriving my hungry baby! she feeds every 3 -4 hours in the day and just started baby led weaning so shes not eating much solids yet. any tips??

  71. My son is 9 months old and from 4 months on we have never recovered from the so called “sleep-regression”. He was wakin up between 5-10 times a night and in the past two weeks or so I have gotten him down to one night waking. However, this week he is back waking at least 4 times a night! Help! He doesn’t want to nurse everytime and I know he can go longer than 4 hours at night because he has gone up to 7 hours before. I have heard giving him a sippy full of water will deter him, but I am not wanting to emotionally scar him. Please help! Any advice? He does go down awake for naps and bedtime he is not fed to sleep. He is nursed, has a bath, a story and I sing him his favorite song and he will reach down for his crib, rollover and fall asleep. I had him over the hump of not waking for about 6 hours after falling asleep but now he is back to waking up 3-4 hours after falling asleep at 7. CIO has been a huge failure he will cry for hours.

  72. This post is a lifesaver! Thank you! Got 9 hrs of straight sleep last night thanks to separating the pre bedtime feeding a few more minutes from getting my 7 month old ready for bed. Thank you a thousand times. I was getting desperate!

  73. Alexis –

    My almost-7-month-old is finally going to bed on his own thanks to your advice. We moved nursing to the beginning of the bedtime routine and thus he goes down awake. We started w/ the Ferber method and eventually moved on to Weissbluth when we realized our checks only made things worse. So, goal accomplished, baby falls to sleep *usually w/in 20 minutes now. Naps are also getting longer and more predictable. Whoop!

    The problem is the night wakings. I asked his doc about it and she has given us the go-ahead to feed him just once a night, if that (he was a preemie). Lately he’s been waking every 2-3 hours to nurse but only nurses for a couple minutes and then falls back to sleep. I know he’s not hungry but instead just wants soothing, etc. I am part of the problem, however, because I know if I nurse him we’ll both be able to fall right back to sleep, whereas if I try to soothe instead of nurse we’ll both be up for a while trying to get him back to sleep. His crib is in our bedroom so CIO is a lot harder in the middle of the night than at bedtime!

    What would you do in this situation? Let him cry?Pat/reassure him first? Give him a hug and then put him back down? And if he gets hysterical?

    It doesn’t help that I feel like he’s growing up too fast and soon enough he won’t need me in the middle of the night, and that makes me a little sad. But I know getting up every 2-3 hours isn’t healthy for either of us, and I need to do something to help him get better sleep.

    THANKS for your blog. I’ve incorporated so much and you have been more helpful than you know!

  74. I just started night weaning my 10.5 month old daughter. It’s only been three nights, and so far it’s been wildly unsuccessful :) She gets up about 3 times a night, and for two of those she’s been up for about an hour crying or playing or a combination. Last night I think we had other issues, possibly teething or gas. I agree that it’s important for the parents to be ready. It’s so easy to give in when you’re unsure if you really should be doing this. But this time I’m resolved, so it’s easier to deal with the crying in the middle of the night. I’m hoping she’ll be sleeping better by the time my parents come to visit us next week. Wish me luck!

  75. I have gotten great advice from this site, thank you!

    My almost 10 month old daughter is finally sleeping fairly well. Two good naps around 9am and 1pm and bedtime around 7 (last nursing around 6:30).

    She still cries pretty much every time we put her down. Usually just a few minutes, but sometimes (especially naps) it can last much longer. We don’t do checks because that was only making things worse and prolonging her falling asleep. Is this normal? Will she ever stop crying and go down peacefully?

    Also can’t seem to get over the 4:30am wake up. We have let her cry (up to an hour, yikes) and I’ve also snuck in and nursed her. At this age she shouldn’t need the feeding, right? Is letting her cry the best option? I feel bad since it has been a while since she last ate. I know consistency is so important (love that post) so I should probably either commit to nursing and pop her off earlier and earlier each time, or let her cry…. right?

    Thanks.

  76. Hi, I was wondering, how close is too close when feeding your baby before sleep? I generally feed her before sleep because a) it is the only time she will eat b) it is relaxing and c) it works. I know it takes her 20/30 mins to fall asleep when I put her down after the feeding. Is this too close? She will be 6 months at the end of the month.

  77. I used this site to reduce the night feeds, and successfully went from 2 feeds, to 1, to water, but after the water she screamed and screamed… So I popped a paci in her mouth and it worked a treat…. Last night she woke at the same time (4.30am) so I just grabbed a paci (she doesn’t use one for bed) but i did introduce it for naps as they are hit and miss…

    So, my question is do I keep giving the paci and hope she stops waking, or not and hope she CIO… The screaming is screaming… Not fussing.

    I don’t mind giving her it, but don’t want to create a sleep problem as a result…. Ant answers much appreciated.

    Mimi

  78. My 8 month baby girl is very inconsistent with her night waking. Just when I decide that I don’t mind getting up twice a night to nurse her, we have a really bad night where she either wakes up multiple times, wakes up too early, or has trouble settling down in the middle of the night. We probably have one of the above issues about 3-4 times a week. She falls asleep at bedtime without nursing. I’m so confused about where to start with night weening. I just wish I could be prepared for what is going to happen. I don’t even care if she still wants to nurse around 4 or 5 am. She honestly hasn’t improved with the number of night waking a in months. We use white noise, we use the merlin, we sleep trained her at bedtime with about 20 minutes between feeding and sleeping. I’m willing to do anything sand and humane to get her to be a tad more predictable.

  79. Hi Alexis – I have a question that’s really for my husband. I work 2 nights/week so my husband is with our almost-8 month old daughter. I’m ready to start night-weaning her (!!) and suggested that he gradually decrease the oz. of milk he feeds her at night as well. But he reports that when she cries for him at night, she’ll drink 1-2 oz maximum, then wants to look at him and chew on the nipple, etc, while relaxing. When he puts her down, she starts screaming again and he repeats the cycle, giving her just a small amount of milk before she wants to interact with him. I know CIO isn’t ideal for post-bedtime sleep, but what else can he do to night-wean with the bottle? Thanks!

  80. My nearly 8 month old daughter ( Elizabeth ) wakes up faithfully at around 3 am every morning and I know she is used to being given a bottle from the routine of it and i really dont know how to wean her from this. I’ve tried a couple of nights and every night is an epic fail. I am worried that this will never change. I am currently pregnant again due two weeks after her birthday so this has grown into this huge stress of not know what it will be having two little one up tthroughout the night. Any suggestions are well appreciated!

  81. I think night weaning is causing early wakeup problems for me. My almost 8 month old usually goes 7-9 hours from 6pm without nursing at night (she falls asleep around 7 – a big gap I know, but bedtime routine takes 30 minutes and she always takes 30 minutes to fall asleep, no matter when we put her down). I’ve been trying to night wean her from her one feeding, successfully getting down to about 3 1/2 minutes, and she falls right back asleep, but then wakes up 2 or so hours later ready for a full feeding. I’m totally fine with feeding her then, but because it’s usually after 9 or 10 hours of sleep she has trouble falling back asleep and can end up rolling around for an hour trying. Sometimes she just gives up and cries to get up at 5am and it throws our day off. When she was having a fuller feeding in the night she sleeps 11 1/2 to 12 hours and wakes up happier.

    Thoughts? Should I just suck it up because one night waking is great, even at 8 months? She dropped all her other feedings right around the times when “the books” say it happens, so maybe I just keep my fingers crossed that she drops this one soon?

  82. Hi. My LO is 10mo old, I went back to work full time when he was 3mo old. He was strictly breastfed until he started on solids as 4 1/2 mo. He hated taking bottles and only drank a minimal amount to hold him over until I got home from work. He will not take a pacifier. He now eats 3 meals a day and occasionally will drink BM from a sippie once a day if I can’t make it home to feed him in the middle of the day. He also feeds around 6 or 7am and when I get home around 4 or 5pm. Then he feeds before bed and then is up every 2-3 hrs to feed at night. Sometimes only for a few minutes then it’s back to sleep. If I don’t breastfeed him to sleep he screams bloody murder, I can’t put him down drowsy bc he also cries out ear piercing screams. Every time he wakes in middle of night it is screaming at the top of his lungs. The only thing that calms him is breastfeeding. If we do get him down without breastfeeding he is up again in 15 min. My husband tried taking him in middle of the night for 2 nights in a row recently and was up and down with him for 2 hrs. I am so tired, I don’t know what to do. I wish I could put him down drowsy, I wish he could self soothe or find comfort in something other than my boob. I feel like this will never end! I need help, something new to try. Thanks!

    • It sounds like you need to teach your baby to fall asleep unassisted at the beginning of the night. This means shuffling the bedtime routine so that breastfeeding is not the final step (ex. boob, bath, book, bed), and putting baby in bed fully awake.

      Unfortunately, this will result in crying. It is up to you how you respond. You could stay quietly in the room with baby, avoiding interaction until he falls asleep. Or you could do timed checks, making the interval between checks longer each time (ex. 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes) until he is asleep. Or you could (my personal choice), close the door and not return until baby is asleep.

      There are some great posts on here about what to expect when doing cry-it-out. I suggest you check them out. Leaving baby to cry is difficult, and you have to be 100% committed for it to work.

      Personally, I knew it was time for my baby after keeping track of his sleep for two weeks. I learned that although we were spending 12 hours in his room at night, with all the fighting sleep and ups and downs he was only getting 7ish hours of sleep a night (yikes!). I knew that this was not enough, and this convinced me that cry-it-out was the best thing for him.

      Cry-it-out was not a miracle solution or anything, but it did make things much better. It took him 10 days before falling asleep without any hard crying (typically this happens quicker!!!), but already by day 3 he was sleeping 10.5 hours per night, and only waking 3 times to eat. Also his wake-up times became consistent, making night-weaning a possibility. Now, at 8 months old (two months after CIO), he typically sleeps 11.5 hours a night, waking twice to eat.

      Anyways, I just wanted to share a little about my experience in hopes it helps you out. Whatever you decide, remember that you are doing great :) Night time parenting is super difficult, and I can’t even image balancing the challenges of a not-sleeping baby with full time work!!!!!

  83. Hello Alexis,

    First off, thanks so much for writing such a great, comprehensive website. It’s been a huge help! I know this is an older post but I figured I’d try posting. I have some questions on my second son’s night time sleep schedules and getting him to sleep through the night. First some background, we do the eat, awake, sleep routine during the day and it works great. Finn is a bit over 7 months old and is a solid napper. He goes to sleep fully awake for all naps/bedtime and goes down with out any fussing. I sing him a song, lay him down and he goes to sleep. It’s great. He slept through the night (from 7 p.m.-5 am.) from 3 to 5 months old all on his own. It was glorious. From about 5 months until now, he’s been waking once at night (anywhere from 12:30-3:30 a.m.) to feed. He nurses fully each time and goes right back to sleep until about 6 or 7 a.m. I always have him up by 7:15 a.m. If he does wake up earlier (say 5:30 or 6), I try to do an early morning feed to get him to go back to sleep until 7 and most times it works.

    My questions is this: what are the right steps to take to get him to sleep through the night? I don’t think he’s waking from habit due to the fluctuation in times. I’m in the middle of trying to night wean from that one feeding and for the last 2 weeks I’ve been slowly decreasing the time. Tonight will be the last night I feed him at all (about 30 seconds per side) and then I’ll be done. But now he’s started waking up twice at night, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s not getting the normal milk amount and is therefore hungry. So now I’m confused if I should feed him at all for the second feeding or just let him CIO. Last night he nursed at 7 p.m. for bed, woke at 12:30 to eat (which I nursed him 1 min per side) and woke again at 3:30. I let him cry for about 20 minutes to see if he’d go back to sleep to no avail. I’m at my wit’s end and am willing to do cry it out (I’ve done it before with my first son) but I don’t know if that’s the best solution. Thoughts? Thank you!

  84. Hi,
    My son woke up 3x a night for 9 months straight. I tried every single thing, pacifier, no pacifier, i did cry it out, I always put him down awake without a pacifier, and he would fall asleep in minutes and he still woke up at least three times at night. At 7 months I started weaning him off of nursing by not pumping at work and giving him 3 formula bottles a day and he still woke up. At 9 months i stopped nursing completely and 3 days later he slept from 6 to 7 without waking up once. He has not woke up at night since then.

  85. Alexis,

    I love you and I tell all my friends about you. I used your site for my eldest and now my little one. She’s 6 months and goes to sleep alone, for naps and at bedtime. Bedtime milk is between 5 and 20 minutes from sleep time, it depends on when she starts screaming from exhaustion because her last nap is hit or miss, sometimes she wants to go down at 5:30pm! Obviously I have a 2.5 year old too so this isn’t always practical.

    Anyway. We use white noise, she came out of the swaddle two months ago. Out of the Co sleeper, into her own room two weeks ago. I was an evil witch and used cc to wean her off the comfort feeds. I had success doing this with my eldest too. It was great! She went from waking at 10pm, 1am, 3am, 3:30, 4, 5, 5:20, 5:40, 6 (you get the idea) to waking between 1 and 4 for a quick (but full) feed, and back down until 6. She slept 12 hours TWICE! I rejoiced the sleep Gods. I did a happy dance. Then it all went to crap.

    I swear I didn’t change a thing. No nursing to sleep. No rocking. White noise is still on. She is not teething. We haven’t started solids yet because she’s not ready. Suddenly she started waking between 10 and 11. I would do cc and she would go back to sleep until 1ish, when I would feed her. She then wakes at about 3 and will cry in and off until morning, I tried cc with her, last night it was 2 hours, for her to fall asleep for 5 minutes and wake again so I fed her because I thought I was going to die.

    Please please tell me what happened and how the heck do I fix it?! How did she go from sleeping 6-8 hours (or even 12!) and the next night start waking again after 3-4 hours?

    My rule is no milk before midnight then four hourly thereafter.

    Please help. Last night I got 4 hours broken sleep between the baby and the toddler. Thank you

Leave a Reply