Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Night Waking

My nearly 1-year-old still wakes and needs resettling in the night

My daughter was a totally contented baby until solids were introduced. Since then we have had periods of sleeping through the night and periods of regular night time waking. She is a dedicated breast feeder, who from day one rejected a bottle. She initially refused but using the books and case studies (esp. Daniel), I now have a baby who eats well. At 11 months I decided to get tough. Together with my partner I stopped feeding in the night and he settled her back to sleep with cuddles or just by tucking her in and turning on her musical star. I have followed Gina’s advice on stopping breast feeding, cutting out one feed at a time, but my daughter drinks very little milk from her cup. Even hinting at stopping her bedtime breast feed results in hysterical fits. She is now back to waking twice in the night. She is easy to settle but we are exhausted and she is waking up our 2.5 year old who is very difficult to settle. We are second time parents and our daughter has had the right sleep associations from day one. We have tried leaving her for up to 45 minutes but always need to settle her in the end. Even if just to say “shush” and strike her forehead.

She has three good meals a day. In the morning she will take 2-3 ozs of formula from a cup and has a breast feed at bedtime. During the day she will take water or well diluted juice.

Now that you have eliminated the breast feeding in the night, you need to help your daughter learn to settle back to sleep without either yourself or your partner’s help. Up until now she has fallen back to sleep either with a breast feed, or more recently someone coming in to tuck her in and reassure her. She has learnt to associate falling back to sleep in the night with having the comfort of a feed or reassurance of an adult. The best way to unlearn this association is with controlled crying. As her wakings are disturbing her sibling already, it might be an idea to arrange for your 2.5 year old to stay with relatives for a few nights.

Read the details for how controlled crying works in The Complete Sleep GuideĀ p45. Initially you may have to cope with times of crying, but persistence and consistency will work in the end. Rather than leaving her for a long period, then giving her reassurance, this will gradually build up the time she is left to settle herself. At present she has learnt that if she continues to cry for long enough someone will come. Controlled crying builds up the time gradually so she learns how to resettle herself without needing any other associations. As she appears to be a happy and contented baby in all other aspects this should not take too long to take effect.

As your daughter readily returns to sleep in the night, at present her waking is much more likely due to habit rather than hunger. In the past months when she stirred from a light sleep she fed as it was offered to her, but as she now does settle back without too much trouble hunger can be eliminated as a reason.

It would seem that you are feeding a varied and well balanced diet by day with plenty of cheese, sauces and other calcium rich foods to help her low-ish milk intake. Keep trying her with a cup. Once she reaches her first birthday in a few weeks you may like to consider weaning her onto cows milk. This she may accept more readily than formula.