Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

I dont know if my 7mth old son’s waking is due to hunger, teething or habit?

A former problem of my son vomiting at bedtime and so waking hungry in the night has been solved. However the night time waking has continued and after 4 wks of very little sleep I am at desperation point as to where I am going wrong. I did think that the waking could be due to teething – over the past 3 wks he has been cutting his 3 top teeth which has caused runny nose and lots of hand chewing and I do remember that the bottom 2 at 16wks did cause some problems but nothing like this. I also recall from Ginas books that teething should not cause ongoing disruption – is this still the case if a baby is getting so many teeth at once? He is waking once or twice at night and will sometimes settle with medised and water but on a number of occasions I have had to feed him (120 – 150 mls) – he then settles till about 8.00am. I am now wondering if it is due to hunger but he does seem to eat well for his age and I don’t think I could get him to take more although he obviously does not have any desert after tea ( I tried dried rice pudding mixed with water again last night and he was sick). He has had the odd day when he has gone off his food but I have put that down to teething – whether this is right I am not sure but he has continued to drink his milk and last night had 350mls but still woke up. We have tried controlled crying but after an hour of wimpering/crying he starts screaming and even if he does settle it is only for 10-15 mins and the screaming starts again – should I continue to leave him? Is is because he is getting too much sleep during the day – although he wakes at 8.00 I think its because he has missed an hour – hour and a half at night and by 10.00am is ready for a nap. I really dont know what to do and after 4 wks of broken sleep it is affecting bothe my husband and myself. I dont feel I am in the right frame of mind some days to have a full day ahead of me with my son with only 4 hrs sleep.

8am: 140mls, 3-4 dessertspoons porridge mixed with forula and fruit. Natural yoghurt given with apple or banana. Remaining formula offered at end.
11.45am: 3 cubes chicken/beef casserole, 4 cubes vegetables. Yoghurt with fruit.
2.30pm: 140 mls formula
4.14pm: 2oz water
5.00pm: 2-3 cubes chicken/ beef casserole, 3 cubes vegetables or baked potato and vegetables or pasta and cheesy pasta sauce. He weighs 20lbs.
He naps at 10-10.30am, 12.30-2.30pm and is settled at 7pm.

Now that your son is taking a full bottle of milk before bedtime, it could well be habit which is causing him to wake and be unable to settle again without a feed. Although he has been cutting teeth over the past few weeks it rarely causes more than a few disturbed nights as the tooth is actually breaking the surface of the skin. If, when you offer him Medised, he settles straight away you can be pretty sure that teething is not the problem. It takes about 20 minutes for a pain reliever to take effect. A baby who is troubled by painful gums will still continue to fuss and cry for this period of time, only settling to sleep once the pain reliever kicks in.

As your son is taking milk in the night and not cutting back on the amount he takes in the morning you can assume he is genuinely hungry. You need to look at his daytime intake of solids and milk to see where the problem may lie.

The amount of protein he is taking at lunchtime needs to be increased a little. Begin to offer him more protein cubes than vegetables so you can be sure he has received most of his daily intake at this meal. In a baby of seven months this will need to be about 2ozs.

If he has his main protein meal at lunch there is no need to offer it again at teatime. Tea can become a vegetarian meal which is high in carbohydrates to help him feel satisfied and able to get through the night with out the need of extra milk. Use the Contented Baby Weaning book to find different options. Thick vegetable soups are popular at this age, especially if given with mini sandwiches which he should be able to feed himself with. You can add some grated cheese to these if you feel he still needs a small amount of protein. Continue to offer jacket potatoes and pasta dishes, all of which should help fill him up. As you have had troubles in the past with him vomiting at bedtime it would be wise to offer him pureed fruit, rather than yoghurt or rice puddings, if you feel he is still hungry.

To eliminate your son’s need to feed in the night, begin to dilute the feed you offer him. There is a full explanation of this method as a way to eliminate night feeds when on p 44 of the Complete Sleep Guide. As long as he continues to take milk in the night, the effect will be to diminish his appetite slightly in the day. As he now seems to associate settling back to sleep with being fed, this way will wean him off these feeds rather than stopping them suddenly.

Once your son is only receiving water when he wakes, as a result of you diluting down his feeds he should be more used to settling himself back to sleep. You may have to put a small amount of controlled crying into place once you stop giving him water but it should only take a few nights before he learns how to settle himself.