Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

There could be many reasons causing my 7.5 month son to wake but now he won’t settle back in the early morning even with his dummy

I don’t really know where to start! I am that confused about what the potential problem could be. I thought I had resolved it one night but I haven’t.
My son has always had a dummy – but not for sleeping. However whenever he awoke during his lunchtime nap he wouldn’t settle unless given it so he has always had it for then and also he was given it for his early morning waking. He has never really slept until 7 am since I dropped the 10 pm feed about 8 weeks ago. It has been more like 6 – 6.30. If he woke in the night he would be able to settle himself back to sleep himself and if he cried for more than 10 minutes I knew something was wrong. However we went to see my MIL in October in Spain and my son shared a room with us. He was quite unsettled whilst there (probably all the people that were there) and so we used the dummy so as not to wake the household up. Then when we got home I had just got him used to not having the dummy at night again when he got a cold. So he was given the dummy during sleep time as it seemed to sooth him. He only got better for a couple of days and then caught another cold and so was given back the dummy. By last week I was tearing my hair out as he was waking up a lot in the night looking for it and so I did a day of controlled crying and no dummy and then he slept from 6.45 pm to 6.30 am. However the next night (last Saturday) my Mum looked after him. When he cried out at 5.00 am she went straight in got him up and put him in bed with her. She did say he was full of mucus and the next night he awoke again at 5.00 am. I left him for 10 minutes but when I did go in he was coughing and spluttering and I got him up for 30 minutes to clear him. When I put him down he started crying so after 10 minutes I gave him his dummy and he slept until 7.15 am.
Since then he has woken up at around 5.00 am and will not go back to sleep – even if he is given the dummy. He also wakes around 11 pm and won’t settle back well – last night my husband gave him his dummy after about 20 minutes of crying. He does not have it at all any other time day or night except sometimes I use it to entice him to feed. He seems to have got used to not having it during the day and when being put down at 7pm. During the lunchtime nap if he wakes up after 10 minutes I get him up rather than giving him the dummy. He does still have a cough and runny nose and the only time he is really coughing badly is early morning. I got a vaporizer which I used last night but it didn’t seem to make much difference.
I have also noticed he screams when I leave the room – he is ok during the day if I leave him playing so I am not sure if it is a separation thing. He never used to cry when I left the room before.
I have given him my tops/cuddly toys etc but he doesn’t seem to be attaching himself to anything.
Also – he does about 4 poos a day – always there is one in his nappy in the morning. You can see below how much he eats – he is a big baby but I am wondering if I am not feeding him the right food or the right amount which is causing him to poo and wake up? For example this morning I heard him stirring for ages before he started crying. At 5.45am I went in after 10 minutes of hard crying and he had done a poo. I changed him with the dimmer light on and then put him back – for him to scream blue murder so I gave him his dummy but every time I left the room it made him worse. He never went back to sleep.
Also – I caught him last night trying to roll onto his tummy. He is tucked in using a 0.5 tog sleeping bag and a blanket as when he wasn’t tucked in he ended up being upside down etc. He wears a baby gro and his room is normally around 23 degrees. Should I try a bigger tog and leave him un tucked – maybe he wants to be on his tummy?
He normally sleeps 2 hours at lunchtime but his waking’s in the night have gone on whether he has slept 45 minutes at lunch or the full two hours so I don’t think it is his day time naps. He never normally sleeps more than 2 .5 hours in the day. He can still go to at least 9.00 am even if he has woken early so I can keep him in the routine.
In terms of food he has been through a couple of fussy eating phases – this week he went off food after my Mum had him for a day – will eat now as long as it is totally pureed smooth.
I just don’t know what to do to resolve the problem – there seems to be that much stuff that could be causing it. My husband thinks we should give him the dummy until he is totally recovered from the cold and then do controlled crying but its not him that has to deal with it all plus another child in the house that now keeps waking up due to the crying!!
I would say in the last 8 weeks he has slept through the night twice.
My son feeds takes 8ozs formula at 7am and 6.30pm. He has 2-5ozs at 3pm. Breakfast: Baby cereal or Ready Brek mixed with 3ozs formula.
Lunch, 12midday: 8 tablespoons of one of the protein recipes from Gina’s book and an adult sized organic yoghurt.
Tea, 5.30pm: 8 tablespoons of a vegetarian meal from Gina’s book with rice cakes, bread sticks or rusk’s and a jar of organic rice pudding. He weighs 24lbs.
He naps at 9.30-10am and 12.30-2.30pm.

It would certainly seem that one of several reasons could be causing your son to wake. Thinking through them all and taking a general look at his routine and overall day may help you.

Until he is completely clear of cold and mucous he may well wake in the early hours through coughing and general discomfort. The temperature of his room does seem quite warm for night time. 23 degrees would be considered fairly warm by day; at night it would better to get this down to nearer 18 degrees if you are able to do so. A dry, warm room will cause him to cough and become more congested. Try putting a bowl of water on the radiator to humidify the air a little. Dry air will dry out nasal passages and cause coughing. You could place a few drops of Olbas oil in the water. Cold mist humidifiers are now available through some nursery suppliers and can help children who suffer from night coughs. Elevate the head of his cot using telephone directories or other large books. This will help drain the mucous away from his nose and throat. Vaporizers are best placed under the cot so the vapors released encircle the sleeping area. Another way to help his congestion is to split open a Karvol capsule and sprinkle the contents onto a muslin. Tie this securely to the bars of his cot, preferably above his head.

If his colds seem to continue or run into each other it would be sensible to have him checked over by your doctor.

As your son has begun to try to roll over, put him in a higher tog rated sleeping bag and remove the covers from him. Providing he is able to roll well both ways, he should now be allowed to find his own sleeping position.

Separation anxiety does often begin around this age. Even if you feel he is happy about being left in a room in the daytime he may feel differently in the dark. He has reached the stage of development where he understands that you can go away from him and yet he has no means to follow you yet. This can be a difficult time with a baby. Deal with it as sensitively as you can. During the day play lots of games of peek-a-boo and hiding behind chairs and doors, as this all helps to reinforce the idea to him that although you disappear you will also reappear again.

The amount of food your son is eating seems about in line with his weight. Make sure his tea is really carbohydrate rich so serve things such as pasta bakes, jacket potatoes with cheese or vegetable toppings and vegetable risottos. All these should help to fill him up well. It is hard to see that any one thing is triggering the fact that he poos four times a day. Using potato, rice and pasta as the base for his tea could help him, as these starchy carbohydrates can help the digestive system to slow down a little and maybe prevent the early morning dirty nappy.

The one thing which is noticeable from your notes is that he hasn’t properly slept through the night since dropping the 10pm bottle. Although you may feel that you are back tracking a little it would be worth offering him milk at 5am if he continues to wake at this time. If he takes quite a feed, settles back to sleep and is happy to eat a good breakfast later then hunger is the cause of this early waking. If you give him milk at 5am, count that as his first bottle of the day. Although his overall milk intake is good, some babies at this age do seem unable to take in quite enough solid foods to meet their needs properly. Increase the amount he eats at lunch and tea if you feel he wants more.

As he appears to have got into the habit of waking at this early hour you do need to do whatever it takes to get him back to sleep again so that he is sleeping until nearer 7am. This may mean holding him in the dark so he sleeps again, if he finds it difficult to settle alone with his dummy.

If you are aware that he is falling straight to sleep at 7pm when put down, move his bedtime to around 6.30/6.40pm. A baby of this age begins to use up more energy once he is rolling and trying to crawl. If he falls straight into a deep sleep he is more likely to wake early in the morning when he comes into his last cycle of light sleep. An earlier bedtime allows him to chat to himself for 15-20minutes before settling down. There may not be any immediate, noticeable effect in the time that he wakes in the morning. It can take up to two weeks of early bedtimes for his body clock to fully readjust itself. Once he is regularly sleeping to nearer 7am you can begin to move his bedtime gradually back towards 7pm.

Once he is well again decide if you want to get rid of his dummy completely. Going “cold turkey “is the only way to do this effectively. It may mean some controlled crying until he learns to settle properly by himself. Keep trying with comfort toys and blankets. It can take a while for an attachment to take place. Muslin squares and small blankets, especially with bound edges of satin ribbon, are often chosen in preference to toys.