Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 Months – Night Waking

My 4mth daughter, who is fully breast fed, recently started to wake in the night, even since weaning she has continued to do so

My 4mth daughter has been the best advertisement for the Contented Baby book there is. She has been sleeping through from 11pm to 7pm since she was 6 weeks old. We have followed the plan religiously and she is a very happy baby who never ever cries.
However, 2 weeks ago she started waking up at 6am. Then around 4 days later she woke at 4am and then again at 6am. For the last 4 nights she has been waking up at 2am, 4am and then again at 6am.
When she wakes she makes a noise mid way between a loud whinge and a cry. She is in our bedroom so I suppose we react as if she is crying and feel that by dealing with it quite soon we can all return back to sleep.
We didn’t feed at first, when she woke, as we did not want to encourage her to feed in the night. Instead we tried to settle her instead. However, after a few nights we did feed her and she readily took it. She is a good feeder.
Unfortunately we were strongly advised by the Health visitor not to begin weaning until she is 6 months. However, we have bought the Contented weaning book and are on day 3 of the plan today. We also replaced her 10.30pm breast feed with an expressed feed of 7ozs to make sure she was having enough at this feed.
Sometimes she settles herself, but we are more inclined to help her by “shushing” and stroking her head. This helps us all get back to sleep faster. It takes about 30minutes to settle her back to sleep.
Can you advise how we are best suited to tackle this and return her to her regular routine?
My daughter is fully breast fed taking both breasts for 15 minutes on each side at 7.15am, 10.30am, and 2.15pm. At 5.00pm she receives one breast for 15mins and takes the second breast at 6.15pm. At 10.30pm she takes 7ozs of expressed milk. At 4pm she takes 4ozs of water.

Following the weaning plan we are day three giving her 1tsp of organic baby rice mixed with 2 tablespoons breast milk at 11am.

My daughter weighs 16lb 9ozs.

She naps at 9-9.45am, 11.45-2.00pm and 4-4.15pm. She settles at 7pm.

It is not unusual for a fully breast fed baby to need an early morning feed around 5/6am until weaning is well under way. If you feel she is hungry at 5/6am then offer her a breast fed and settle her straight back to sleep. You then can offer her a top up feed at 7/7.30am to keep her on track for the day. If your daughter is hungry for this top up feed as well you can assume hunger to be the cause of her early waking. If she loses interest in having it then assume the earlier waking is more of a habit and try to settle her with some cooled boiled water and a cuddle.

Your daughter is drinking quite a lot of water at 4pm, which could be affecting how much milk she takes at 5/5.6.15pm. Although it is a good idea to offer her water at this time of day, limit it to 1-2ozs.

To help your daughter sleep better through the night there are two ways you can deal with the 10.30pm feed. To make sure that she is not only taking a large enough feed but enough hind milk which will help her sleep longer offer her a 6ozs expressed feed at 10.30pm. Express yourself at 9.30/10pm. When your daughter has finished her bottle put her onto the breast for 5-10minutes so she gets some hind milk.

The other way you may like to try is to wake her later, around 11.30/12pm if she does not wake herself before this. Your daughter would then take a good feed at this time and should settle until nearer 7am.

Once her weaning is well under way, and she is sleeping through to 7am on a regular basis you can begin to move this feed back towards 10.30pm. Do this by waking her 15mins earlier every other night providing she continues to sleep through the night, until you are feeding her around 10/10.30pm.

If she wakes again in the night, having had a later, full feed, then offer her water and a cuddle to settle her back to sleep.

As she shares your room you will be more aware of her noises. Leave her for 15- 20minutes when she first wakes, if you feel that it is not hunger. It can take this time for a baby to resettle themselves. If left, they will learn to do so. Providing she does not cry continuously or become very worked up then see if she will settle herself back to sleep, as she has shown she is able to do so. At this age a baby will become more aware of noises around them and maybe disturbed, if in a light sleep, by you. You may consider moving her to her own room soon. If you have a room adjacent to your own and set up a baby monitor you will be able to hear her if she really wakes. You wont be so aware of her every movement which may result in you going to her too quickly, in an effort for you all to return to sleep as soon as possible.

Check all the other reason’s why she may be waking herself in the night. Is she still well tucked in with light cotton weight sheet or blanket stretched lengthways over her and secured with rolled towels down the cot sides? When she enters a light sleep she maybe disturbed by her Moro reflex which can still be strong at this age.

Check she is warm enough if sleeping in a lightweight bag. During colder weather she may need another layer on such as a long sleeved body suit or a thin cardigan to prevent her from getting chilly.

Beginning to wean your daughter at 4mths, when following Gina’s plan means a very gradual introduction to solid food. The amounts are only very gradually increased as these are first tastes and fillers. Milk will be the main part of her diet until much nearer 6mths. It is important that her milk is always given first when offering solids so she does not cut back too quickly.

If you continue to breast feed make sure that you keep your energy levels up by eating three good meals a day and healthy snacks in between. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids through out the day, preferably water.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 Months – Night Waking

Since traveling I have been unable to get my 4mth son back onto a routine. He is waking hungry twice in the night

My 4 month old son is struggling to sleep through from the last feed at 10 – 10:30pm until 6 -7 am.
We started him on the routines at 4 – 7 weeks quite successfully – he really responded well.
But at 7 week we traveled to Australia from the UK, and for the next 6 weeks it was incredibly difficult to stick to the routines. For a start, it took him 10 days to swop day and night around, it was extremely hot, and nobody supported our decision to have a routine. We also traveled in Australia, long drives in the car leading to oversleeping and also jumping time zones. All the time I tried to get him on the routine. He also had some of his 8 week immunizations in Australia. He wasn’t very difficult throughout the whole trip, as him ‘own’ routine is not far off yours. But since coming back to the UK almost a month ago, I have not been able to get him on a routine. He was quite content until a week ago and now he wakes twice during the night seemingly hungry, he seems to also want solids but I’m confused as to whether I should first get him to have a routine for his age, or to try to introduce a bottle or solids. He won’t take water or formula or expressed milk in a bottle at all.
Overall he is bright eyed, laughs a lot & is interactive, wants to stand up and look around most of the time, and plays for short periods with toys on his mat.
I’m struggling to cope emotionally and physically with little sleep, and can’t always wake at 10pm to wake him, when he only feed for about 5 – 10 minutes.

My son breast feeds at 7am Breast last fed from 10mins, second breast 10mins. 9am cries for food, sometimes can wait until 10am. 10-11am 10mins from breast last fed on, 20mins second breast. 2pm 10mins and 20mins, 5pm one side, 6.15pm second side, 10.30pm drinks for 5mins, 1-2am feeds for 10mins, 3-4am feeds for 10mins.

My son weighs 6.4kg [14.1.5lbs]

He naps at 8.15-9am, 12-1pm, 4-4.45pm and settles by 6.30pm

If you look at your son’s sleeping pattern you will see that, at present, he is sleeping his longest stretch from 6.30pm to midnight. If you can make sure your son has a good 10pm feed you will then be able to work on dropping his first night feed. Many babies of this age can be very sleepy at 10.30pm and so take a small feed at this time. Until your son feeds better at this late evening feed, especially as he is fully breast fed, he may well wake twice in the night.

Your son needs to be really awake by 10pm to take a proper feed. You or your partner need to start waking your son at 9.45pm. Turn on the lights in his room and remove the cot covers. It may take your baby 15-20minutes to fully wake up but, once he is fully awake, offer him the first side. Feed him in a room which is light and has some background noise so he stays awake. If he begins to get sleepy whilst feeding, unlatch him and place him down on his play mat. Being away from the warmth of your body will bring him round and he will be ready to resume feeding. Change his nappy when he has finished on the first side. If you can, keep him happily kicking for 10-15minutes as this will help keep him awake and he should be happy to take the second side around 10.45pm. It can be difficult to do this when you are tired yourself but the better your son feeds at this time of night the more likely he is to settle well and have a longer stretch of sleep before needing his next feed.

It would help you if you can really work on getting him to take a bottle as you will then have the option of offering a fully expressed or formula feed at 10pm and can be sure he has had a full feed.

If your son is not used to a bottle by now he may take a while to accept it but try using a bottle with him on a daily basis. The feed at 2.30pm may be a good feed at which to introduce the bottle, as your son will be both hungry and wide awake. If he cries when offered the bottle, don’t keep taking the teat out of his mouth as this will make him cross. Make sure the bottle you are using has a teat where the milk flows quite quickly. Once he tastes the milk on his tongue he may be encouraged to suck. Often a soft teat, such as that sold by NUK, will work better at the beginning for a baby who is reluctant to take a bottle. Make sure you sit him upright when offering the bottle, and warm the milk to at least body temperature. Test the milk by dropping a few drips on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too warm.

It may help if someone else gives a bottle to your son until he gets used to taking one. This is because he associates you with breast feeding and so may be more resistant to you offering a bottle. It is often best if you are not even present in the room as by this age your son will be well aware of you looking on. Once he has realized that milk comes from a bottle as well as a nipple he will take a bottle from you as well. If it is not possible for someone else to offer a bottle in the day then do this at 10pm, if your partner is willing to try, using either a fully expressed feed or formula.

If you need to sleep in the evening try to be in bed by 8pm so you will have had two hours sleep before getting up again. It is very difficult to wake if you are in a deep sleep which will happen about an hour after going to bed. You need to get up out of bed to feed so you need to make sure you are properly awake as well.

Once you know that your son has had a good feed at 10pm you will be able to begin to use the “core night” method to help him stretch out for longer before needing his next feed. This is explained on page 148 of The Contented Little Baby Book and page 42 of The Complete Sleep Guide.

If your soon feeds well at 10pm then he should be able to drop the first night feed. But as he is fully breast he may continue to need an early morning feed around 5am/6am until he is weaned.

During the day your son appears to feeding and napping fairly well. Try and keep him going in the morning to nearer 8.30am/8.45am before putting him down for his nap. You may find that topping and tailing him at 8am and getting him dressed for the day will encourage him to stay awake longer. If he does fall asleep around 8.30am and sleeps to 9.15am you can keep the day on track by giving him an extra catnap at 10.45am. See page 136 of The Contented Little Baby Book where this is fully explained.

If your son has fed well at 7am he should be able to get to at least 10am before needing a feed. Make sure he is fully emptying your breasts at the 7am feed, even when he has fed at 3am/4am. Use the same technique as explained above (for the 10pm feed) for encouraging him to continue to feed should he become sleepy.

To help your son sleep well at the lunchtime nap, especially if he is feeding by 10am, offer him a top up feed before he goes down at 12 midday. This should help him to sleep to nearer 2pm/2.30pm. If he has slept earlier in the morning, from 8.30-9.15am, and then had a short cat nap at 10.45am you may find he can wait until 12.30pm before going down. Still offer him a top up feed at this later time as hunger is one of the most common reasons why the lunchtime nap goes wrong and a baby wakes after an hour.

Getting your baby to have a good lunchtime nap will allow you to rest at this time as well. If you are very tired at present your milk supply may be affected so it is important to get as much rest as you can in the day. Also, if your partner is willing to give the 10pm feed you will be able to go to bed in the early evening, once you have expressed, and get some much needed rest.

At present your son is awake for 3 hours between 9am and 12 midday which may be the reason for his short lunchtime nap. He is overtired and unable to sleep for longer. Make sure he is well tucked in to his cot, even if he is in a sleeping bag. Use a sheet and light cotton blanket across him if he is wearing a bag of 0.5togs. Using the lightest weight bag is recommended at this age as the Moro reflex can still be strong so causing a baby to wake himself when in a light sleep.

The present guidelines suggest that weaning takes place nearer to six months. If you feel that your son is showing all the signs that he is ready to move on to solids before this then discuss the situation with your health visitor. The signs that he may be ready to wean can be found on page 88 of The Contented Childs Food Bible.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 Months – Lunchtime Nap

What else can I do with my 4mth son who often wakes after 45mins at lunchtime?

My son sleeps well at all other times and manages 10.30pm until 7am. He does wake but settles himself back easily. He cries at lunchtime after 45mins. Some days he does resettle, some days he doesn’t but will cry until he’s due to get up. It doesn’t affect the rest of our day or night if he only sleeps 45mins but I am keen to get him to sleep longer at lunchtime. In the other letters it talks about retraining and I have done controlled crying with him but he continues to cry until he has to get up (although I never pick him up when he’s crying). He won’t sleep being cuddled or held in order to retrain him, the only method is driving and that would involve driving for 2 hours every lunchtime – expensive and tiring! He’s not hungry or seems to have any other problem, and I have cut his morning nap to 25mins. Should I persevere and is my only option to continue with the controlled cry, I have been doing it daily for 2 weeks to gain some consistency?

My son is fully breast fed. He has full feed at 7am, 10.45am, 2.30pm, 6.15pm and 6ozs of expressed milk at 10.15pm. He weighs 16lbs 2ozs and I am thinking of starting to wean him next week.
He naps at 9-9.25am, 12-12.45pm and 4.30-5pm. He settles at 7pm.

Getting your son to sleep for longer at this lunchtime nap may well improve once he is established onto solids. This seems to sometimes happen. Although you feel he isn’t hungry, have you tried offering him a top up expressed feed before going down at midday? This can make it easier for a baby to settle themselves back to sleep should they wake after 45minutes.

Rather than letting him cry for long periods of time, if you know he is not going to settle it would be better to get him up. When he wakes after his first 45 minutes you may like to leave him for 15-20 minutes to see if he is going to settle back to sleep. Make sure he is firmly tucked in and the room is fully dark. If he continues to cry persistently after 15 minutes get him up. Let him have some quiet time sitting in his chair if he does not want to kick on the floor. On the days when you have had to get him up early then offer him his feed at 2.15pm and let him have a nap from 2.45-3.15pm. He will still need a nap later in the afternoon; it may only be for 15-20 minutes but should prevent him from being exhausted when he goes down at 7pm.

Going down when very tired could be another reason for his unsettled sleep. Some days, if he woke earlier in the morning, your son may need longer than 25 minutes at his morning nap. On the days when he sleeps until nearer 7am you can cut it back a little. Be guided by your son’s needs each day, and make small adjustments to accommodate them.

The lunchtime nap is worth persisting with and you may find that suddenly it will fall into place.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 Months – Lunchtime Nap

My 4mth daughter always wakes after the first 30 minutes of her lunchtime nap and then is slow to settle back again

For the last two weeks we have had great problems with lunchtime nap. My daughter wakes up after exactly 30 minutes and can stay awake for 1.5 hours before falling back to sleep. She has always had her lunchtime nap in the carrycot when we are out for walks. I have tried to be in quiet places after the first 25 minutes of sleep, but have also tried more noisy places, either way she wakes up after 30 minutes. She never cries, only opens her eyes and is fully awake. Before this began, she would open her eyes slightly, and be in light sleep for about half an hour then fall back to deep sleep. It is really frustrating, especially since it was working so well before. She is not hungry, she gets food last thing before we leave the house.

I have tried twice to make her sleep at home, but she wakes after half hour then too.

My daughter is fully breast fed, taking feeds of 10-15 minutes at 7am, 10.30am, 2.30pm, 5pm, 6.30pm, 10.30pm and 3am. At 11.15am she has 5minutes before we leave the house.

My daughter naps at 8.45-9.15am, 11.45-12.15pm, 1.45-2.30pm and 4-4.30pm. She settles at 7pm.

The sleep cycles of your daughter have started to change which is why she now wakes up completely after 30 minutes. As you are out with her during this nap it may help her to have a blanket across the pram, blocking out the light and stimulation. Now she is four months old and more alert she will be interested in what she sees going on around her. Once she has come into a light sleep in her pram she will hear noises and be stimulated by the light to wake fully.

This is why Gina suggests this nap is taken in a darkened nursery on most days. As your daughter is used to being in a pram, and having the movement to help her to settle, it will take her time to get used to being in a cot. If you decide to move her into her cot for this nap you must be prepared for her to cry down when she wakes after 30 minutes. She will need to learn how to settle herself back to sleep again, without the familiar motion of the pram.

If she is happy to lie in her pram whilst awake, and you are happy being out at this time, let things stay the way they are. As she does settle herself back again in time she is still sleeping for 1hour 15 minutes at this nap, just not in one long stretch. If you find that she is getting tired in the afternoon due to the lack of a longer sleep you may decide to get her used to sleeping in her cot in the daytime. Take a look at the Lunchtime Nap article on the web-site to help you to decide if you want your daughter to get more used to settling in her cot in the day.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 Months – Lunchtime Nap

Despite trying with controlled crying for over a week I cannot get my 6mth son to settle when he stirs in the lunch time nap

My son will not sleep at lunch time. He goes off at 12.00 and wakes 30 minutes later and will not go back to sleep. I have been trying now for about 10 days doing the controlled crying method and it does not seem to be working. Sometimes he will go for one hour before waking and then will cry until it is time to get up. I have read all the case studies etc but I cannot seem to work out what the problem is. It is quiet in the house, we have blackout curtains and blinds, and he is feeding well and sleeps well at night time. If he does wake at night he will talk to himself for a while and will then go back to sleep. I follow all the rules and nothing seems to work. He has always had problems with this sleep but would go back to sleep after 20 minutes. Since he has starting sleep through the night the problem has got worse. I now dread lunchtimes and it is getting very depressing for us all.

My son feeds at 7am 7ozs, followed by 1.5 tablespoons of porridge cereal and 1 cube of fruit. 11.10am 5ozs followed by 3 cubes of sweet potatoes and 2 cubes of vegetables, 2.30pm 6ozs, 4pm a little water, 6pm 7ozs followed by 5 teaspoons of baby rice and 2 cubes of fruit puree.

He naps at 9-9.20am, 12-12.30pm and 4.30-5pm.

In order to help your son to settle for a longer period at lunchtime it is a good idea to work your way through the list of ideas to be found in Gina’s article Lunchtime Nap on the website.

Although your son appears to eat well at lunchtime, you do need to rule out hunger as the cause of waking. Before settling him for his nap offer him a feed of 2-3ozs. Continue to offer this top up until he has been sleeping through at lunchtime, or waking and resettling himself within 10-20mins without too much fuss, for at least a week.

To reset his body cycles, so he is able to stay asleep for a period of time, you will need to decide which method to use and persevere with it every day for at least a week, to begin to see some results. If you decide to take him out in his buggy then you must be willing to do this each day so he gets used to sleeping for a longer length of time. At first, he may wake after his usual 30 minutes but, after a few days, he should become used to settling himself back to sleep again. If it is not possible for you to walk at this time of the day you may decide to stay in his room, holding him in your arms, for the remainder of his sleep. Again, you will need to commit yourself to do this in the same way for at least a week or more.

Whatever way you decide to try, stay with it until you feel that he is more settled at this time of day. Even if he is still stirring after 30 minutes he should be settling himself back to sleep within a short time. Then is the time to go back to putting him into his cot for the nap. It should only take a few days of controlled crying for him to learn to settle himself should he stir after 30minutes.

If, after trying the methods described above and offering your son a top up feed before he settles, he still is unable to settle for the full two hours it would be better to get him up after an hour rather then leaving him to cry. He should then be encouraged to have a short nap after his 2.30pm feed to help him get through the afternoon.

Some mothers do find the lunchtime nap suddenly falls into place after a time of trying to get it right. This may be due to a baby becoming more active in the morning once he starts to move around. Making sure your son has plenty of floor time in the morning may help, as could a short walk in the fresh air before his lunch. Mothers have also noticed an improvement in the nap after protein is introduced into the baby’s diet. This is why your son should be offered a top up of milk before his nap even though he seems to have eaten well at lunch.