After Lewis’ epic middle-of-the-night 3+ hour party last night, I have made some plans for trying to change this sleep situation.
While Lewis was partying in his crib and I was hoping with my whole soul that he’d fall asleep instead of jump up and down and yell, I researched. Nothing says “classic parenthood” like googling “why is my 9 month old who used to sleep through the night not sleeping anymore?”
Well, Dr. Google has lots to say about this. The general message I got is that a lot of babies stop sleeping well between 8 and 10 months (hi, that’s Lewis), and it lasts anywhere from 3-6 weeks or more (Lewis is definitely in the “or more” category).
Cool. So this is normal. That helps right off the bat. But what do I DOOOOOO about it?
Well let’s look at the proposed “causes” and “solutions”
- Cause #1: Day sleep is disrupting night sleep. Potentially sleeping too much during the day? Last nap too close to bedtime? Not sleeping enough during the day and getting over-tired? Solution #1: figure out nap time. Make a routine. Why this isn’t our problem: Lewis recently settled into routine of one 2-3 hour nap per day (when he is home. daycare is another story entirely). It ends around 3pm, and he has enough energy to get through to bedtime without meltdowns, but ends up tired by bedtime.
- Cause #2: Your baby is just getting over an illness. Solution #2: Suck it up, mama. This too shall pass. Why I want to give this advice the finger: Lewis is constantly sick. This too shall NOT pass. But I refuse to accept that that means he can’t sleep well. Actual, real solution: Pull Lewis out of daycare. He will not get sick so much.
- Cause #3: Baby is not getting enough nutrition during the day and is hungry. Solution #3: make sure baby eats enough during the day so he’s not waking for calories at night. Why this one makes me angry: Lewis doesn’t get enough calories during the day when he is at daycare. This is a legitimate concern. But he also wakes like a crazy person when he’s been home with me and feeding like a champ (example: last night).
- Cause #3.5: You’ve convinced your baby that nighttime is a time for eating. Solution #3.5: There is no “nutritional need” for a baby this age to eat at night. So stop it. Why Lewis has a nutritional need: HE DOESN’T EAT AT DAYCARE.
- Cause #4: You make it too exciting when you come in at night, so baby wants you to come in so he can play with you. Solution #4: Don’t talk to baby, don’t turn on the lights, don’t change diapers unless absolutely necessary, don’t pick up your baby. Just go in, pat baby’s back, and shush them back to sleep. Why I have mixed feelings about this one: The only one of those things I do is pick Lewis up. And then I rock him and shush him and sing lullabies softly and feed him. I do not make it exciting. I don’t even make eye contact with him, lest that jazz him up too much! So I’m not following this advice to a T, but I’m certainly not showing him that it is play time!
- Cause #5: You have fostered an expectation that you will show up every time your child wakes. He loves you. This makes waking up appealing. Solution #5: Stop going in to your child. Let them fuss and cry. They’ll figure it out. Why I can’t get 100% on board with that: If Lewis is screaming, I will go in to him. Cry-it-out does not work for me. But it isn’t cut and dry… if he isn’t screaming, I can give him some time alone to try to sort through it.
- Cause #6: Babies just wake up at night. They make noise when they do so. You are going in too soon and they probably would have fallen back asleep on their own if you hadn’t jumped the gun. Solution #6: Don’t jump the gun. Let your kid do their normal waking routine, and let them also do their normal fall back asleep routine. They do not need your intervention, even if they’re good at convincing you they do. Why this one seems logical: Duh. I wake up too. And then I fall back asleep. But if something were to interrupt me, I’d have trouble falling back asleep too. Come on, Carolyn. You weren’t smart enough to figure this one out on your own?
- Cause #7: Your baby can’t fall asleep without you. When they wake up, you are their crutch. Solution #7: Never, ever put your baby down asleep. Always put them down drowsy, and let them fall asleep themselves. Why I can’t do this one: Lewis falls asleep nursing. I can’t stop him from doing that. He has his last meal of the day at bedtime, and falls asleep during it.
So there is a bunch of boo-hocky and a handful of useful things I’ve taken away from my research. Here is my plan:
- Reduce nursing at night. He still gets his last meal before bed. And I will feed him up to one more time during the night. I won’t eliminate night feedings entirely at this point, since he doesn’t get enough nutrition during the day when he is at daycare. But reducing them may be a good idea?
- Only go in when he is actually awake. I will stop jumping the gun. If he isn’t screaming, let it go. If he fully wakes up and I can hear him partying, or if he is screaming, go in.
- Pat and shush when he wakes up, instead of picking him up (unless it is a night feed exception).
- Put him down drowsy if he doesn’t fall asleep after his feedings. Then pat and shush. If he does fall asleep and I put him down asleep, feel no guilt. I am a good mom.
- Pull him out of daycare. I can’t actually do this. But I think it would help. He wouldn’t be constantly sick, he wouldn’t be skipping naps and then sleeping on the way home from daycare at 5pm in the car (too close to bed time!), and he’d be getting enough nutrition during the day to actually gain some weight, and hopefully to stop needing to eat at night. Wishful thinking. Will never happen.
So that’s where I’m starting. Hopefully something will work. I can’t be bawling in the middle of the night with my child laughing at my suffering anymore. That’s just ridiculous.