Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

How can I get my 10-month-old to sleep later than 5am?

My son has been a very contented baby. From 6 weeks he has slept through the night from 7pm until 6.30. For the last couple of months he has started waking about 5am and is fully awake. I have been leaving him until 6.15am, at which time it becomes unbearable. He is on 3 balanced meals a day, 3 bottles of 7oz and a bedtime bottle of about 8/9 oz. I just can’t seem to get him to sleep longer. He is sleeping 1 hr in the morning at about 8.30am, as he has been awake since 5am, and 2 hrs at 1.30pm. Please help as I am now so tired after getting used to sleep again. I work three mornings and need some help.

There may be several reasons why your son has started to wake at 5am. As he is waking so early and needs a long morning nap, he has pushed his midday nap later. Cut back his morning nap to 45 minutes, waking him at 9.15am and see if your son is ready for his lunchtime nap by 1pm. You may need to cut back his nap time by 5 minutes every few days until he is coping with a shorter sleep. Wake him after two hours at the lunchtime nap. If this begins to have the effect of him sleeping longer in the early morning, then gradually push his morning nap forward to 9am and be prepared to cut it back to 1/2 hr. Some babies are ready to drop their morning nap by a year old.

Another reason for early mornings can be a baby going down exhausted at 7pm and dropping into a deep sleep, rather than chatting to themselves for a while and settling down slowly. As your son is sleeping to 3.30pm, it would seem this is not happening to him unless he is very active by crawling and pulling himself up. To prevent this, he needs time to rest by day with some time spent in his pram in the afternoon. If on the other hand, he is still not crawling much, nor pulling himself up and cruising around the furniture, he will not be using up so much energy and waking up so early when he has had enough sleep.

It may take a few days for any effect to be noticed once you begin to adjust his daytime sleeping times. Getting the times right for his stage of development, giving him plenty of floor time and time outside if he is still not moving much, should all help him get through later in the morning.

Have you also checked he is not cold in the morning, the room is not letting in chinks of light and that the house heating or water systems are not coming on about 5am and disturbing him? These could also be possible reasons for his early morning waking.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

Why is my 10-month-old son waking early since we have returned from holiday?

My 10-month-old son has been waking early – about 5.30am – since back from our holidays over 2 weeks ago. He was unwell when we returned from holiday, with a high temperature and off his food, then that got better after a week. He stopped being interested in his 2.30pm feed before we went but whilst we were out there he wanted it again, so I started giving it to him again. When we came back he had the 2.30pm feed on the days that he was off his food. Once his appetite come back I would still offer it to him, and he could take it or leave it. Yesterday he had 4oz.

He wakes at 5.30am and seems hungry – taking 8-9oz milk – and sometimes goes back to sleep until about 6.30am, or plays in cot till 6; gets bored and then calls for me. He has breakfast – he has only started getting interested again lately – then goes for his morning nap (9-9-15am) and seems to want an hour. He is grumpy for the rest of the morning if has less.

Lunch is about 11.30-11.45 – usually ok – and has water, then plays until his afternoon nap anywhere from 12.30-1pm, depending on when woke up (if he had less than 1 hour, the nap will be about 12.30); he usually has 1-1.5 hours at this nap and normally stays happy till his 5pm tea (I sometimes give it at 4.30pm if he had a 11.30am lunch and didn’t take any milk at 2.30-3 feed) .Bedtime is at 7pm.

This 5.30 am waking as seems to be a habit now – despite one day having an ideal “Gina”-day of 30 minutes in the morning and 2 hrs from 12.30 (although he woke after 45mins, I could shush back to sleep) and I thought this might have made a difference, but he still woke at 5.30am next day.

I’ve tried increasing food but can’t force it ! What else can I do?

It can be difficult to break your baby from a habit such as early morning waking once it is established. A vicious circle occurs as your son is awake early so needs to go down by 9am as he is tired. This means a longer sleep than the usual 30-45 minutes and then he cuts back at lunchtime and so falls asleep exhausted at 7pm – which will often result in early waking

To get him out of this habit, very slowly begin to cut back the amount of time he spends asleep at the morning nap by 5-10 minutes every few days. At the same time try to push this nap on later by 5 minutes or so every few days until he is going down nearer to 9.30am and is asleep for 30-45 minutes. This will help him push on with his lunchtime nap and be going down for that between 12.30 and 1pm. With a shorter morning nap he may well sleep nearer to 2 hours. At this age a lot of babies are beginning to be mobile and active. They fight sleep as they want to carry on exploring the world, but as a result become overtired and unable to settle to sleep in the day. By moving his naps slowly forward in the day, he will be less tired by 7pm. You may have to make his bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes if he still does not sleep for longer than 1.5 hrs at lunchtime.

Keep offering the 2.30pm feed – even though your son may only take a smallish feed at this time. If he begins to cut back on the amount he eats at tea or is not so interested in his bedtime bottle then begin to cut it back and drop it. As he is hungry when he wakes in the morning he still needs to have a third feed in the day. You could begin to offer it in a beaker along with a small snack such as a piece of fruit or rice cake.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

At 10.5-months-old our son wakes too early in the morning so is tired at lunchtime

My son wakes in the morning between 5.30 and 6.00 am, which is too early.

I leave him until 6.45. He has no morning nap, as he has been waking from his midday nap after 1 hour since he was around 9-months-old. He is very tired around lunch time and has started to fall asleep during his meal. He always falls straight to sleep after finishing his bottle at 7 pm. He refuses his bottle if he is held by myself or his nanny. He therefore lies in his bed, when he drinks it. He is very active during the day. How do I get my son to sleep nearer 7am?

As your son has such an early start to his day, and his nap at lunchtime begins at 12.15pm, bring his bath and bedtime forward by 15- 20 minutes so he is more likely to settle down gradually into sleep about 6.45pm. Falling straight to sleep when exhausted is a common cause of early waking. Giving him a slightly earlier tea and a quiet bath time should help him wind down without becoming overtired. Using these earlier timings, may help your son be more acceptable of taking his bottle whilst being held.

During the morning try to give him short rest periods, as an active baby will often not stop unless tempted by something like a snack and a drink. Spend five to ten minutes looking at a book with him or take him for a short walk in his pram to help have rest times in between his periods of activity. This may help him be less sleepy at lunchtime. If his sleepiness means he is not eating so much, move his lunch to 11.30am to help him enjoy it more. Once he is sleeping better in the mornings you can gradually move it back to a slightly later time.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

My 11-month-old daughter falls asleep exhausted at 7pm and wakes at 5am

My 11-month-old daughter settles well at 7pm. She goes down awake but is deeply asleep within seconds. She has now started waking up at 5am. She does not go back to sleep although I leave her in her cot until 7am. She will cry a little and talk a bit. She has a light projector that plays music and shines on the ceiling; this sometimes get her back to sleep but more than anything it keeps her quiet. She has a dummy (or 5) which she has always lost in the morning and wants to find it.

She is always really really hungry in the morning and once she is taken downstairs she cries until she gets her milk. She can stay awake from 5 till around 9.30 but then has a big sleep of around 2 hours. That will then be her only sleep for the day, however some days she is tired after 2 hours, has a 1 hour sleep then another 30 minutes in the afternoon. I have to wake her up after each nap so that she will go down at 7pm. She eats 3 meals a day and has around 18oz of milk. For breakfast she will eat 1/4 weetabix and 1/2 slice of toast. Lunch is a homemade main meal with a portion size about the same as a 4 month jar followed by yoghurt. Tea is a lighter meal such as vegetable pasta or cauliflower cheese with a yoghurt or fruit puree. She takes a 7oz bottle at 7am and 6.45pm and 6ozs at 2.30pm.

As your daughter is waking so early in the morning she has got into the habit of having her longer nap in the morning and so a vicious cycle of falling asleep exhausted at 7pm and waking early has begun. A baby of this age is very active by day and you need to be aware of her need for a longer sleep in the middle of the day rather than earlier.

Begin by putting her to bed earlier in the evening. Have her settled by 6.30/6.45pm and see if she is more able to chat herself to sleep after 15-20mins. This may begin to help her get through a little later in the morning. It will take time and persistence to change her sleep cycles, especially those of early morning waking. You may not notice any real change for over a week but keep trying and also altering her daytime sleep to help her.

If she continues to wake early and need a nap by 9am you will have to begin to cut back on this so to push her onto a longer lunchtime nap. To do this wake her 10 minutes earlier every 3-4 days until she is only sleeping 30-40 minutes. This should have the effect of sleeping for longer after her lunch. The ideal should be about 2 hours. If she still wakes after an hour at the lunchtime nap offer her a drink of milk, water or well diluted juice before going down in case thirst is stopping her from sleeping longer at this time.

Once she has changed to having a long lunchtime nap, going down less exhausted at 6.45/7pm and waking later in the morning, push her morning nap on to 9.30am and keep it short.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

My 9-month-old son is still waking early in the morning and needing a feed to settle him

I have looked at the forum and case studies for a solution but although my problem looks fairly common on the surface (my baby is in the habit of eating at night) there are a few issues which make it unique, hence my request for help.

My son is 9 months and still wakes in the night. He shares a room with my three-year-old. She cries out in her sleep or has nightmares or gets up for the loo several times a week which wakes him (and not really her). If she does not wake him he will usually wake anyway between 4.30 and 5.30am. He does not cry, but squawks louder and louder until I go in (sometimes I leave him squawking for up to 30 minutes before I relent). He usually needs to be fed to settle. He drinks 7/8 oz in 5 to 6 minutes (compared with his day time feeds which are smaller and he is far less enthusiastic about them). He does not fall asleep on the bottle (and never has done). When he has eaten and has been winded he goes down fully awake, chats for a few minutes then settles himself no problem at all. He will then sleep until 7.30 to 8am.

My son has never been particularly keen on milk. It is a struggle to get his daily 18-20oz into him. If he does not want to eat there is nothing you can do to persuade him. He hits the bottle away, gags and screams if you try to insist (so we don’t!). Sometimes he refuses to drink his evening bottle and his intake at 6.45pm varies between 1oz and 8oz. Even if he drinks 8oz he usually needs to feed again at 5am.

My son’s daily food intake is as follows: if he feeds at 5am, then I give him breakfast at 8am (cereal with 2oz milk and 2 cubes fruit). He then takes a nap around 9am (sometimes later if he has slept until 8am). This nap can be anything between 30 minutes and 1 hour 15 (but is usually around 45 minutes). He has a 6oz bottle at 11am. Often he only drinks half of that. The rest of that bottle goes into an organic cereal pudding made by Heinz or Hipp which we give to him after his lunch, so that we know he has had his full 6oz milk. Lunch is at 12-12.30pm. He has around 5 cubes of protein and vegetables (such as fish and sweet potato), 3 cubes of fruit and the cereal and milk pudding. His lunchtime nap varies as his sister needs to be in school at 1.15pm making nap time tricky. We live in an upstairs apartment so we cannot leave Harry in the buggy to nap. This means that if Harry has an early morning nap he usually has another hour before the school run (from which he is woken) in which case he will have a third nap of 45 minutes at around 4pm) or if his morning nap was later he will fall asleep on the school run and will sleep approx 1.5 hours. His overall daytime sleep, whether 2 naps or 3, rarely exceeds 3 hours. We do not do a 2pm bottle (this is why we kept the 11.30 one) as Harry is often asleep due to the school run issue. Dinner is at about 5pm and consists of 5 cubes of vegetables and potato/pasta, followed by a yoghurt or some more organic cereal with 2-3oz milk, depending on how much milk he has taken during the day. Bath is at 6pm and his evening bottle is usually at 6.45pm. He is often exhausted by then and falls asleep immediately by 7pm. As mentioned before he often does not take much of that bottle (especially if he is very tired having not had a third short sleep at 4pm), making it hard to avoid feeding him in the night as I think he is genuinely hungry. He weighs 10 kilos (22lbs).

A few questions: how do I encourage him to eat enough food in the day to make sure he is not hungry at night? In particular, how can I make sure he will drink that important evening bottle?

Am I giving him the right amounts of solids and the correct balance of proteins and carbohydrates at the right time?

Given the school run issue, if his daytime sleep is causing a problem how can I change that? Is it affecting his night sleep to have a nap as late as 4pm (he really still seems to need that given the earlier sleeps are sometimes cut short)?

Will my baby eventually become a deeper sleeper? When he wakes he does not wake my 3 year old who can sleep through anything.

Is it normal for my 3 year old to have nightmares? We leave the door ajar and the hall light on for her. What can I do to alleviate this problem so that she does not wake my baby? Do I need to separate them for a while and try to get them to share a room later on?

Please help – I work full time and have a demanding job which is tough to do when you are up 2 or 3 times a night with one or other child.

Getting the sleep and feeding needs right during the day could really help your son be less hungry early in the morning. It is not easy to try to structure the daytime sleep of your second child when the first has to be at school.

There are two ways you could try to structure his sleep in the day to fit in with your daughter. Decide which one to try and give it at least a week to see if it works.

Wake your son at 7am even if he has been awake earlier in the morning. He should then be ready for a nap at 9am. Allow him no longer than 30 minutes, even if you have to wake him. Once his night time sleep has improved this nap will move on to 9.30am but still should only be 30 minutes in length. Towards the end of his first year he may be ready to drop it all together or only need 10-15mins. He will need to have an earlier lunchtime sleep, around 11.30/45am so he can have at least an hour’s sleep before 1pm. Then give him a further nap at 4pm making sure he is awake by 5pm. As he appears exhausted at 7pm this nap should not be affecting his night time sleep and he will need it if only sleeping for an hour at lunchtime.

If you prefer to leave your son sleeping until 7.30/8am you may not need a morning nap at all but a very early lunch, no later than 11.15am followed by an earlier nap before he wakes to go on the school run. If he sleeps for longer at this time he will still need a nap in the afternoon but it could be shorter, around 30-40 minutes at 4pm.

Which ever way you decide to go or seems to work best, your son is very tired at bedtime. Falling straight to sleep at 7pm is another reason for his early morning waking as well as hunger.

Getting him into the bed by 6.30/40pm should help him to have a time of chattering before sleep, and he also should be better able to drink his milk when not so tired. Aim to have a short bath with him at 6pm and give him his milk by 6.15pm. If you are able to get him into the bath before 6pm it would be even better.

Moving onto the food issues it would seem that at 22lbs your son is not eating a great deal of solids. At breakfast, which seems enough, offer him a drink of milk in a beaker with his cereal and encourage him to have some toast as finger food. Although your reason for giving your son milk at 11am is reasonable as you are concerned about his overall intake it would be better to cut this out so he will eat more at lunch time. At his age he needs 2ozs of animal protein a day. Some recipes do not always contain this amount so you may have to make some adjustments to ensure he is receiving enough. Five cubes is not a large amount for a baby of this size. By cutting out the milk earlier he should increase this. To help his overall milk intake you could offer your son natural yoghurt mixed with fruit puree as a dessert after his main course. Once he is eating a larger protein meal this should be adequate for his needs. Another way to help his milk intake would be to offer him a small feed before he goes down for his nap. Offering him milk at this time rather than before his solids will help him begin to take in enough protein for his needs.

Whatever time your son naps, either before or during the school run he can be offered a beaker of milk at 2.30pm. Often at this age a baby will not want much, especially if they are eating well at lunchtime.

The amount of solids at teatime could be increased. Making sure the meal is carbohydrate-based is a good idea. Offer him some finger food as well. If he is having a thick vegetable soup then offer it with a rice cake or mini sandwiches. If pasta is on the menu give him a few cooled, cooked pieces to try to eat. Tea can be a more relaxed meal if lunch has been eaten well. Again, giving him cereal at this time, in order to boost his milk intake could well be filling him up too much to want his bedtime bottle. Use natural yoghurt, unsweetened fromage frais with fruit or a homemade milky pudding if you feel he is still not drinking enough or still seems hungry after his main course.

As stated earlier make sure your son is having his milk by 6.15pm as he will drink it better if not ready to fall asleep.

When you have begun to make these changes don’t be disheartened if you see no immediate difference to the early waking. It can take up to two weeks for a baby to manage to reset their cycles of sleep even if their nutritional needs are being met in the day. As your son is disturbed by your daughter at night why not separate them for a short period of time whilst you sort out his sleeping and feeding issues? As he is sleeping in a room with a door open and a hall light on when he enters his light sleep in the morning, coupled with his exhaustion at 7pm, he is more likely to wake himself up fully. Having him in a totally dark room could also help these early mornings. Continue to feed him when he wakes in the morning, and get him back to sleep as soon as possible until you begin to see reluctance in wanting to feed at the early hour. If he still continues to wake early through habit once all the changes have been put into place then offer him cool boiled water to settle until he manages to sleep nearer to 7am. It will take time for you to really sort out your son, and help him to take in enough milk and food by day to see him through the night. Keep a record for yourself as to how much he is eating and drinking in the day so you will see the increases and how this effects his sleeping.

Once you have separated your children you can begin to help your daughter. Talk to her in the day about her dreams. Some children are willing to be more open in the daytime about what bothers them at night. A lot of bad dreams and restless sleep at this age can be caused by over-tiredness so take a look at her routine and see if she needs an earlier bedtime or more rest periods in the day. These could be when she enjoys a story, doing a puzzle or spends time quietly drawing to help prevent her from being too tired. Also be aware of the stories she hears at bedtime or any videos she may watch which trigger these dreams. Talk to her about school and see if there are any issues there which may be bothering her. Try not to pry too much but see if you can get her to open up a little about what worries her.

Watch her fluid intake towards bedtime and encourage her to go to the loo just before she gets into bed after her last drink. Would it be easier for her to have a potty in her room, placed on a towel or disposable mat so she could learn how to cope with herself? A plug-in night light could be left on which may also help her.

Given a few weeks you should begin to see an improvement at night with both children. Once they are both more settled at night time you may consider putting them back together again as they probably are good at amusing each other in the mornings, especially at weekends when you can enjoy a short lie-in.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

My son has begun to wake at 5.30am, needs changing then so starts the day

My 9.5mth son is a great kid but he is waking now for 2 weeks at 5.30 am. I am trying everything. We have now got to the point where he only gets 15min sleep between 9-9.30. He then sleeps at 12.00 for 1.45 min….and then is up till 6.30 – 6.45.

If I give him longer in the morning then he cuts his afternoon sleep. If I let him sleep more in the afternoon I am afraid he will wake up earlier.

I have tried to leave him to cry in the morning – but he is very distressed as his nappy is leaking poo. He seems to mostly poo at night which means that his nappy is overflowing in the morning. I have bought him a bigger nappy but that does not seem to work. There is so much of it – he is teething but he is not ill.

I know that going in at 5.30 might start a routine itself – but he is terribly upset (not just moaning).

Once I have changed him – he is full of beans although I know that he is tired as we never get to 9.00am for his morning sleep it is more like 8am.

I am due to go back to work in Jan (I am setting up my own business) and I am desperate to change this routine as it is really making it difficult for me to get through the day.

My son drinks 16ozs milk a day, taking 8oz in the morning and evening. For breakfast he will eat 1 weetabix with half a banana and full fat milk, lunch is chicken or beef with vegetables and mashed potato, all home made. He takes a little yoghurt for dessert. Mid afternoon he has a beaker of undiluted juice and a rusk. Tea; if protein has been given at lunch then he is given vegetable puree and mash, then a dessert. If he had a vegetarian lunch he will have beef, fish or chicken at tea.

The daytime sleep needs of a baby coming up to his first birthday do begin to change. Although he needs slightly less sleep, his increased mobility can result in exhaustion. If a baby falls straight to sleep when put into his cot at night he is likely to begin to wake earlier in the morning. As your son already goes to bed between 6.30/6.45pm, and possibly falling straight to sleep, it would be a good idea to let him sleep until at least 2.30pm in the afternoon. If he still goes down at 6.30pm he should be less tired and so spend 15-20 minutes chatting to himself before dropping off to sleep. The effect in the early morning may not be seen for at least a week or two. It takes time for sleep cycles to be reset, so the early mornings may still continue for a week or more but, gradually, he should sleep until a bit later. Don’t be tempted to stop letting him sleep later at lunchtime if you feel nothing is really changing. Keep with it for at least two weeks. Once he is sleeping later in the morning move his morning nap to a short one between 9.30am and 10am. This may mean he will go down later at lunchtime, nearer to 1pm, and then sleep to 3pm. This will all help him get through the afternoon and possibly be able to stay up until nearer 7pm. Many babies of this age do still need an earlier bedtime as they are so active but, by gradually moving things, you will find he will become better at sleeping from 7pm to 7am. See page 117 of Gina’s Complete Sleep Guide.

The problem of the nappy in the early morning may be helped if you serve a carbohydrate-rich tea. Offer jacket potatoes with grated cheese, pasta bakes with cheese or vegetable-based sauces, pizza pieces or thick soups with mini sandwiches. Offer him a rice cake instead of fruit or yoghurt if he is still hungry after his main course. If the main part of this meal is carbohydrate, rather than protein or vegetable, he may be less likely to wake with a dirty nappy. Make sure he has 2ozs of protein at lunchtime so you can be more relaxed about what he eats at teatime. Teething can sometimes mean slightly runnier nappies as a baby is producing a lot more saliva. But this usually only lasts for a short while, until the tooth is through,

Although your son would like to start the day at 5.30am, and it is understandable that you must go into him if you know he will be uncomfortable, treat this visit as you would in the night. Change him in the least possible light and, if necessary, offer him some of his morning milk then cuddle him back to sleep. Continue to do this until the effect of the longer daytime sleep and going down awake at 6.30pm is beginning to have some effect in the mornings and your son is waking later.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Night Waking

My 9-month-old baby is not sleeping at night – she wants milk

We are having problems with our 9-month-old girl, Molly, and her sleep routine (or lack of!). We have two boys aged 3 & 6 who weren’t great sleepers either. Molly was born at 7½ lbs and has maintained a healthy weight gain since then. She has been in hospital a couple of times as a small baby with suspected infections that were never conclusive. A doctor also thought she had ‘silent reflux’ and put her on renetadine medicine. Molly has been quite behind on her solids.

This is her feeding routine at the moment:
4.30-5am – bottle, 6oz
7-8am – cereal, 5/6 spoonfuls.
11.30am – lunch 1 jar (4 month size).
2.30pm – bottle 5 oz.
5pm – dinner, as lunch but with ½ jar pudding.
7pm – bottle 7oz.
10pm – bottle 6oz.
1-2 am – bottle 6oz.

Sleep-wise she settles well at her 7pm bedtime and is happy to fall asleep by herself. But in the day she is less happy to fall quickly to sleep and can just fall asleep with exhaustion. This is also the case at 1 or 2 in the morning when she often cries for 1 or 2 hours! We have tried several times to drop the middle of the night feed but she cries for 2 hrs. She is now crawling and I feel she should be having more solids but she just won’t eat more, sometimes she cries all the way through the feed. Any advice? We would be very grateful for any tips.

Kind regards,
Emma and Simon

Ask your doctor for advice before beginning to try to cut down on these night feeds. He should be aware of her past history of silent reflux as crying through feeds is a symptom of this distressing condition, and it may need further investigation.

Molly is taking 12ozs of milk during the night, which is causing her to be uninterested in her daytime solids. I realise that she has had feeding problems in the past but it is only by cutting back on this milk intake that her daytime appetite will increase.

As your daughter is nine months, she should be able to pick up small finger foods such as lightly steamed batons of carrot, florets of broccoli, small pieces of cheese, mini sandwiches and small pieces of pizza. If she is given the chance to feed herself with a small but colourful selection of food, you may find she becomes more interested in eating.

Is it possible that you could begin to introduce some home-cooked food into her diet? Commercial food, although convenient, does have a low protein content, which could be a cause of Molly’s night-time hunger. Perhaps you could make some apple or pear puree which could be given to her with her breakfast cereal. Introduce a small amount of home-cooked chicken and vegetable casserole at her lunch. For a few days you may need to mix the home cooked food with that from a jar. Increase the home-cooked portion and decrease the readymade as she becomes more accustomed to the taste and texture. Home-cooked food will fill her up and help her become used to satisfying her hunger in the day.

Will Molly eat yoghurt or fromage frais? This could be given at teatime to replace her jar of pudding, after offering her a home-made savoury such as vegetable soup with mini sandwiches.

For ideas on what to prepare Molly, I suggest you read the Complete Weaning Guide which has many recipes and ideas to tempt your daughter.

The best way to wean Molly off her night-time feeds, without leaving her to cry excessively is to dilute the feeds. This is done over a period of time. As she begins to take less milk in the night, her appetite should improve by day, if she is tempted with finger food and homemade dishes. Diluting feeds must be done slowly. Try one feed at a time. If you could increase Molly’s 10pm feed to 7oz she may go longer before waking again. Dilute her 1-2am bottle by 30mls (1oz), so use180mls (6ozs) of water to 5 scoops of formula. Dilute this feed each night by 30mls (1oz) until the feed is only 1 scoop of formula to the rest water. Molly may drink more at her next feed (4.30/5am). This may happen as you are trying to eliminate the feeds one by one. Once she has had the very dilute feed for a couple of nights, try to settle her if she wakes at 1-2 am with plain water. Be prepared for the first nights to be disturbed as she may take a while to settle. It is important not to give in and feed her again at this first waking. If you can get your husband to help you, perhaps over the weekends you should be able to cut down on these feeds in time.

Once the first feed is eliminated work on the 4.30/5am in exactly the same way. By the time you start to do this, Molly may be showing signs of an increased appetite by day so you could start diluting the feed by 50 per cent. Once she is taking just water and settling until morning you can be sure she is getting enough to eat by day. Then is the time to attempt controlled crying if she should wake.

Crawling babies can often keep going until they are exhausted. Try to watch for the first signs of tiredness during the day and put down her to sleep then. She should be able to settle herself more easily if she is not overtired.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Night Waking

9-month-old Megan’s reflux wakes her at 4am every night without fail

Hi! I am desperate for a full night’s sleep. We have 2 girls – Ella, 21 months and Megan, 9 months. Ella has pretty much always slept through (except when there is a full moon!)

Megan is a different story. At seven months she was diagnosed with reflux (prior to this, the doctor and health visitor ignored it – then we insisted on seeing a specialist privately). Symptoms were: a very strong cough, sick a lot, slow to take a bottle, can’t eat lumpy food (only very puréed).

She wakes up EVERY night at 4am screaming and rigid. We have tried cranial osteopathy, homeopathy, more protein, protein before bed, carbs before bed…

To fill you in on Megan: she currently weighs 20lbs.

Feeding times are: 4 am bottle, 8am breakfast, 11am bottle, 12.30 lunch, 3pm bottle, 4:30 tea, 7pm bottle. Bottles are all 8oz and she doesn’t always take it all. She takes about 15 minutes to finish a full bottle. She is on SMA Gold (tried SMA staydown before she was prescribed Gaviscon), teat size 4 (Avent).

Solids – all she can eat is puréed food (she has a very strong cough from the reflux so anything lumpy she coughs and rejects). Breakfast – Weetabix mixed with lots of milk and fruit purée. Lunch and tea are puréed versions of whatever her sister has (pasta, fishfingers soup etc). Waking time – I put her to bed every 2 hours. At nursery she has much less sleep (about 1 hour a day). At home for 4 days a week she has a 2 hour sleep in the morning then one after lunch and then a nap at about 5pm. She settles herself to sleep and her bedtime routine is bath at 6:30pm and bed by 7pm. She always wakes at night between 4-4:30am. She wakes up screaming, arching her back and is inconsolable until we give her a bottle then goes straight back to sleep in her cot. We have tried everything from leaving her to scream to rocking her. She is rigid and now we can only assume that, as it is almost the same time every morning, that it is just when her stomach is empty acid comes up.

Please help! We have had about a week’s full night’s sleep since she has been born. She is the most gorgeous happy little thing apart from at 4am and the odd day here and there when the reflux is bad through the day.

Thank you!


You have our every sympathy over Megan’s reflux. Have you discussed with the specialist you saw about this early morning problem? Sometimes a slight change in medication can help, especially as she was diagnosed two months ago.

Megan appears to have her longest sleep in the morning, especially when at home. By moving the two hour nap to lunchtime she may not need her sleep at 5pm and settle still by 7pm. She is possibly being woken by her reflux at 4am as she is in a much lighter sleep. By moving her longest sleep to midday she will be more rested for the afternoon, but not too overtired by bedtime. Many babies in the second half of the first year start to cut back on their daytime sleep. Helping them to cut back at the right times will prevent them from becoming overtired as they get more physical.

Try cutting back on her morning sleep by 10 minutes every few days until she is sleeping about 30-40mins. When she goes down at 1pm she should settle for a good 2 hours and then wake really refreshed for the afternoon. If she can then make it through to 7pm happily you may find her early morning waking will improve. As long as she settles to sleep happily at bedtime and you don’t feel she is exhausted then I would try to cut out her 5pm nap.

As Megan gets older, hopefully her reflux symptoms will begin to subside and she will be able to cope better with her swallowing. This will help her to accept larger portions of food at a time and begin to cut back on her milk intake. If possible, I would make another appointment with the specialist to discuss her growing needs.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Night Waking

Teething seems to be causing night waking

My problem is night waking. My son was a good sleeper (12-13 hours a night) up to the age of seven months when he began teething. He is now nine months old. He has never been a good daytime sleeper and I have always struggled to get him to fit in with the routine fully, but generally he has a morning and an afternoon nap of anywhere between 1¼-2 hours split between the two. He always settles well at 7pm and I do not believe he has any wrong sleep associations.

I think that teething is the main cause of his night time waking. He seems to be in pain and is constantly trying to bite my face when I pick him up. (He is also quite grizzly during the day.) However, in Gina’s books she says that she has rarely found teething a problem in the hundreds of babies that she has cared for. Am I wrong about this? Do other parents have night time waking due to teething? He is getting harder to put back in his cot and we have even resorted to taking him into our bed on a couple of occasions because we are so tired.

Sion sleeps in a sleeping bag and has three milk feeds a day and three good solid meals. He was 10lb when he was born and is now 24lbs.

Any problems with teething are usually short-lived. A baby may be in discomfort for a day or two as a new tooth comes through, but it not usually an ongoing problem. Waking up every night has become a habit with him, possibly beginning with the discomfort of teething.

Is your son very active by day? A baby who is crawling, cruising and generally on the go all day is using up a great deal of energy. At this age it is not uncommon for his food intake to not be quite enough for his needs. Sion may well be all too ready to get down from his chair at mealtimes when he just hasn’t had enough. Take a look at his food intake, especially towards the end of the day when he is also getting tired. Encourage him to have a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon as well as his main meals.

If you feel that teething is a problem still try using Nelson’s Teething Granules when he wakes at night, or rubbing some Bonjela onto his gums, if he will let you.

Once you are sure that Sion is waking purely from habit you will need to put some controlled crying into place. Leave him for 10 minutes when he first wakes and then go in to reassure him. It will mean a few very disturbed nights as he relearns how to settle himself when he comes into a light sleep but that is better than possibly beginning new sleep associations with your bed.

Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Night Waking

My son refuses to go back in his cot when he wakes in the night

My 10-month-old son is really good all day, but is tired by 7pm and goes straight to sleep in his cot. He is awake when he goes in, but very dozy and goes to sleep straight away. He may cry out once but that is all.

In the night he often wakes between 10pm and 3am and will not settle himself or go back into his cot if I take him out. He just screams and screams. I have tried everything: giving him a bottle, giving him water, giving him a cuddle, controlled crying. I gave up on this after 1hr 20 minutes at 2.30am. I have started to bring him in bed with me, where he sleeps very well. On some occasions he will sleep all the way through from 7pm to 6 or 7am. There does not seem to be any reason or pattern as to why or when.

His daytime sleep is erratic. On the 3 days he attends nursery he generally does not sleep there. On the days he is at home he will sleep for 1-1.5hrs at around 10.30am and possibly have another 20-30 minutes at about 4.30pm.
What should I do when he wakes in the night to get him to settle? Or should I be doing something in the day to get him to sleep through the night.

He takes 2x 8oz bottles at 7am and 7pm. He eats three meals a day and drinks a small amount of juice with his meals.

Your sons night-time waking is probably due to overtiredness. He is also associating falling back to sleep with being in bed with you. He is losing a lot of daytime sleep which he still needs at his age. As well as not sleeping much on nursery days, he is having his longest sleep in the morning when at home so going down at 7pm exhausted.

On the days when he is at home, get him more used to having a short nap of 30-45 minutes at 9am and settling for a longer nap after his lunch. This should help him go down less exhausted in the night. Try to get him down by 12.30am and get him to have 1.5 to 2 hours. To put this in place, cut back on his 10.30am nap by 15 minutes every few days and begin also to push it back to 9/9.30am. It may take a week or so to really get this in place but should help him catch up on the sleep he is missing on nursery days. In the beginning he may still need a very small catnap in the afternoon, especially if the sleep at lunchtime takes a while to fall into place. Settle him in his cot whilst still awake. Check he is not thirsty before going down at 12.30pm by offering him a drink of water.

On the days when he is at nursery, bring his bedtime forward by 15-20mins so he is settled by 6.45pm at the latest. Although this will not totally make up for his lack of sleep in the day, it may help him settle down to sleep more gently rather than falling into a deep sleep immediately.

Once this daytime sleep is more regular you can begin to sort out the night waking. At 10 months your son is aware that if he cries for long enough, you will take him into your bed. In order to break this habit you will need to use controlled crying so he learns to settle back on his own in his cot. This is going to involve some crying and persistence on your part if you want to make it work.

Look at the Contented Sleep Guide p45 which gives you detailed instructions on how to do it. Also read through some of the case studies, which will help you to see that controlled crying can take a while to really work. It is the only way that your son will learn to fall asleep on his own. As he falls straight to sleep each night and is away from home on several days a week his cot is probably not a very familiar place to him.

Get him more used to this by using it for short periods of playtime by day. Put him in there when awake and engage him in play. Once he is happily playing leave his side for a few minutes and busy yourself in the room so you are still in sight and can talk to him. Gradually extend these times of play until he is content on his own for 15-20 minutes at a time.

At ten months he may be attached already to some kind of comforter such as a toy or muslin. If not, it may be worth finding a small toy to tuck into his cot beside him to help him settle back to sleep better. A good trick is for you to sleep with the toy for a couple of nights so your familiar smell is on it when given to your son.