Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Night Waking

Since a recent illness my 7 mth daughter is waking at night and now is unable to settle alone with out a great deal of crying

My daughter has been ill with a virus and for last 3 weeks taken to waking again between 10/12pm and not settling. While poorly – coughing etc- I found she would only settle on my chest and spent several nights with her asleep on me or able to slide her next to me. Then I tried leaving her to cry it out which on the first night went well. It took her less than an hour to settle at 1am and she slept until 7am. But last night she was still going after 2 hours! Before this illness she was sleeping through and taking milk well. I didn’t really feel that solids were that well established. My daughter had just started on protein but this illness has knocked her eating for six. She will sometimes take few mouthfuls at breakfast, lunch and tea. Other times she purses her lips. I have gone back to stage one of weaning and reintroduced milk at 11am feed. She is not finishing all her milk feeds as before. She seems to like finger foods though , she does have a 2 year old sister to watch eat. I feel at sea again as far as eating and sleeping going and think must be some link. I have taken on some advice from message boards but getting confused and anxious. My daughter does seem to arch back and get uncomfortable / even distressed after some meals. I have tried yoghourt but she seems to prefer warmer food.

At present she is taking 8ozs of formula at 7am, 8am, a few spoonfuls of porridge and fruit puree. 11.30am 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable puree if she takes anything followed by 4ozs milk, 2.30pm 4-6ozs, 5pm few spoons of vegetable puree, nibbles at soft vegetable finger food or toast, fruit puree. 6pm 6ozs of milk, [offered 8ozs].

My daughter naps at 9-9.30am, 12.30-2.30pm and 4.45-5pm. She is settled by 7pm.

It can take quite a while for a baby to get their appetite back fully after illness. As your daughter is still not really taking a lot of solid food in the day she may well be waking through hunger. Now that she is over the coughing and congestion of the virus but taking longer to settle each night consider she may be hungry. Until she increases the amount of solids, and is taking protein again at lunchtime, try offering her a dream feed at 10pm to see if 2-3ozs of milk will help her sleep all through the night. By offering her the 10pm bottle in her sleep, without fully waking her, should mean she just takes enough for her needs and then settles straight back again.

Until your daughter’s appetite fully returns give her a smaller breakfast to encourage her to be hungry at lunchtime. It is important that you get her back to eating protein again as soon as you are able to. Try encouraging her to take a small amount of protein at lunchtime. Offer 1 cube of chicken casserole mixed with her vegetable puree. It was a good idea to go back to stage one of weaning to get her back to eating but she needs some protein now she is well into her 7th month. As her appetite returns you can increase the amount of protein cubes you give her every few days. Until she is fully recovered her appetite may be smaller but it is important to keep encouraging her to take more protein rich food which will help fill her up. Also make sure you include a carbohydrate vegetable at this lunchtime meal. Sweet potato would be a good choice.

One of Gina’s tips may encourage her to eat a little more. Puree a casserole recipe into a thick consistency and spread it on pieces of bread roll. For a baby who enjoys to finger feed herself, this may be an ideal way to get her back to eating protein again.

By all means offer her a small milk feed after her lunchtime solids as this will help her have a good rest at her lunchtime nap. Since her nights are disturbed she needs to sleep well in the day to help her recovery. Once her protein intake increases you can begin to cut back the milk feed ounce by ounce.

At teatime you could try giving her some of the vegetable soups in Gina’s Contented Book of Weaning. Try ones such as Thick Lentil and Carrot on page 86. Even if she only takes a few spoonfuls, the content is carbohydrate rich and so will help fill her up for the night. This and other similar recipes could be offered with mini sandwiches or toast.

You could also try her with cheese sauces spread onto pieces of toast. She may enjoy these as the sauce would be warm, if freshly made, and more acceptable to her than soft cheese spread or yoghurt.

It may take some thinking on your part how to get her to eat food which will nourish and fill her whilst her appetite is still returning. Keep trying with different things and by all means encourage her to feed herself with finger food. It is amazing how much you can offer a baby of this age in finger food style, especially if she is a willing participant.

Once you have made these changes to her daytime meals your daughter’s night waking could well disappear. Once you feel she is eating the sort of food which will help fill her up, and the quantities she is taking begin to increase, you can cut back on the dream feed at 10pm to see if she is able to cope without it.

After illness it can be difficult to know whether a baby is waking simply through habit and it is important to eliminate other factors, such as hunger, before considering using controlled crying as a solution. Allowing the baby to cry for a prolonged period is not really the best way to deal with the problem at first. Once hunger has been eliminated as the reason for her waking and inability to settle at night you can begin to be more confident that using a sleep training method will address the problem within a few nights.

If you feel that your daughter seems uncomfortable or distressed after feeding on a regular basis take her to your doctor to have her checked over. Even if prior to having this virus your daughter showed no signs of gastric problems it would be advisable to have a doctor take a proper look at her.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Night Waking

Baby, age 7 months – Waking twice a night

My baby is 7 months old and, despite introducing solids at 6 months and feeding him at 10pm, he still continues to wake up twice in the night and refuses to settle back to sleep unless I breast feed him. He weighs nearly 17 pounds and is exclusively breastfed. He settles well at all his other sleep times, so I know it is not a sleep association problem. I have been advised that a baby of his age should not need feeding in the night and that I should sleep train him to stop him waking up for night feeds.
We did try leaving him to cry a couple of times but he just worked himself up into such a hysterical state that it took a good couple of hours to calm him down again.
He breastfeeds during the day at 7am, 10.30am, 2.30pm, 6.15pm, 10pm and then around 2am and 5am in the night. We offer him solids at 8am, 11.30am and again at 5pm. He rarely takes more than a tablespoonful at a time and gets very upset if we try to urge him to take more. In addition he refuses any food that contains protein, which is very worrying.

In my books I advise that most babies of your son’s age can sleep through the night, provided all their nutritional needs are being met during the day.
Taking into consideration your baby’s weight and the amount of solids he is having, I suspect that most of his night wakings are due to genuine hunger and that you can not realistically expect him to sleep for twelve hours until solids are more established.
On saying this, his feeding three times in the night is probably affecting his appetite for solids during the day, hence the reason he is so fussy about taking solids. When this happens a vicious circle arises of baby needing to feed in the night, because he is not getting enough solids during the day.

Sleep training for this type of problem should never ever be contemplated as your baby is genuinely hungry. What I would suggest is that you gradually reduce the amount of milk that your baby is drinking in the night, which will in turn encourage him to eat more solids during the day.

The first thing I would suggest is to drop the 10pm feed. Because he is waking at 2am and 5am, it is pointless to continue with this feed as it is not helping him sleep a long spell in the night. Consequently it will be most likely that he will wake around midnight and 2am. It is important that when he wakes at this time that you offer him a really good feed and do not restrict the length of time that he is on the breast. A substantial feed should hopefully last him to between 5am and 6am.

As your baby is being fussy about solids I recommend that you work on establishing solids at lunch and tea first. I would advise not giving solids at breakfast until your baby is taking between 5-6 tablespoonfuls of solids at lunch and tea.

If your baby is not having breakfast you may have to bring lunchtime slightly forward if he is showing signs of being hungry before the recommended time. With a baby who is being fussy about lunchtime solids this is preferable to giving solids at breakfast. As your baby is still feeding twice in the night, I would suggest that you offer the solids first at lunchtime, followed by a breastfeed. As he is still taking two milk feeds in the night, you do not need to worry at this stage that his daily milk intake is dropping too low. The aim of this plan is to increase your baby’s daytime solids, without leaving him to cry with hunger in the night. You will find that once your baby increases the solids he is eating during the day that he should automatically need to breastfeed less during the night.

Once your baby has been happily taking 5-6 tablespoons of solids at lunchtime and teatime for several days, you can start to introduce small amounts of protein into your baby’s food. When your baby is willingly having 5-6 cubes of protein-based meals at lunchtime, then you can introduce breakfast. I would suggest that you start off with a small amount of yoghurt and fruit, then progress onto breakfast cereal and fruit.

The important thing to remember, when introducing breakfast, is that you should not increase it so much that it takes away the appetite for lunch. Also it will really help if your baby has finished all of his milk and solids by 8am. Remember that the aim of solids is to establish your baby on a feeding pattern of three meals a day with bigger gaps between meals. If you give milk at 7/7.30am and then delay breakfast until 8/8.30am it could affect your baby’s appetite for lunch.

Once breakfast is introduced I would count the 5/6am breastfeed as his breakfast milk and reduce the amount of milk that he has at 7am, to encourage him to take his solids well. This is obviously difficult to work out if you are breast-feeding, but offering a few minutes less on the breast, then solids, then the remainder of the breast-feed, should help you get the balance right.

Once your baby has increased the amount of solids that he is taking during the day, he should automatically start to sleep a longer spell at night, where you will find him waking somewhere between 3/4am, instead of 2am and 5am. I would continue with giving him a big enough feed at this time, until he sleeps regularly to 7am for at least a week. Once he is doing this you can gradually decrease the length of time his is on the breast by a couple of minutes every few nights. Once you reach a stage of him taking a breastfeed of only a few minutes in the night and sleeping until 7am, then you can look at dropping this feed, confident in the knowledge that the waking is not due to genuine hunger.

I would suggest that dropping this feed would be easier if you can ask your husband to go to the baby when he wakes and settle him with a small drink of cool boiled water and a cuddle. It may take several nights of your husband having to pick him up and resettle him several times. Follow the same procedure until your son shows signs of settling back to sleep quicker in the night. Once this happens your husband should progress to settling your son back to sleep without taking him out of his cot. Although it may take a week or two, by being persistent and consistent you should get your son sleeping through without resorting to leaving him to cry for lengthy periods.

As you decrease the time on the breast in the night, it is important to remember to allow your son more to drink during the day. What you are aiming for now is a full breastfeed at 7am, followed by solids, then lunchtime solids at around 11/12 noon, followed by a breast feed. At this stage he will need a further breastfeed at around 2.30pm, followed by solids and a small breastfeed at 5pm, then a full breastfeed at bedtime. Once your baby is well established on three solid meals a day and four to five good breastfeeds, you can feel confident that any wakings in the night are not due to hunger.
I would also suggest that you have a discussion with your health visitor about the types of foods that you give your baby. Getting the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit also play an important role in establishing healthy sleep habits.

Finally, it is important to keep an eye on how much sleep your baby has during the day. Although all babies are different and some will need more than others, I would recommend that you aim for a nap of no more than 30/40 minutes in the morning and two hours after lunch, if you want your son to sleep well at night. If he sleeps less than two hours at lunchtime, then he may need a short catnap between 4pm and 5pm to avoid overtiredness.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Lunchtime Nap

Can I move my 8.5-month-old son’s lunchtime nap onto 1pm?

My son is 8 months old and sleeps at 9.30am until 10.15am, from 12.30pm till 2.30pm and the full 12 hours at night from 7am-7pm. However, due to other commitments, I need to move his lunchtime nap to 1pm. I was thinking that I could let him sleep from about 1.15pm to about 2.45pm, giving him about 1.5 hours and maintaining the morning sleep as is. Can you please advise me if this is the right thing to do? Will he be able to go from 10.15pm till 1pm comfortably?

It is impossible to say how your son will be able to manage this change but the way to find out is to move things forward very slowly. Keep him up for 5 minutes longer every few days before settling him for his lunchtime nap. This way he should get to 1/1.15pm without being too upset.

One thing which may happen is that as he gets older he begins to cut back on his first nap in the morning and so become very tired by 1.15pm. You may need to juggle his whole day a little to accommodate this, but always try to move things slowly over a period of time and most babies adapt quite well, providing they are still having an appropriate amount of daytime sleep for their age.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Lunchtime Nap

How can I get my 6.5-month-old daughter to nap for longer and settle better?

I seem to be surrounded or read about people’s babies who take long naps. I can count on both hands the number of times my 61/2-month-old daughter has ever done a stretch of sleep longer than 45 minutes at lunchtime. I can’t remember when she last slept for 2 hours. Rarely she sleeps for 1 hour and 20 minutes. I used to leave her crying and sometimes she resettled herself at lunchtime but she’s changed and in just 1 month seems so much older and wakeful. She sleeps all night 7.15pm to 7.15am and at every nap time and bedtime she screams constantly until she finally falls asleep. She doesn’t have any wrong sleep associations (never has had): no dummy, cuddling, she is not hungry or thirsty, she sleeps in a dark quiet room, she has a light show and wind down time – you know the drill!
She’s naturally cut her morning nap to 30 minutes (she naps at 9.30), at lunchtime she will only do 30/45 minutes and whereas she used to need another nap at 4pm of 20 minutes she now stays awake until 4:30/4:45 which is so on top of her dinner at 5pm (not to mention the end of the day). If, on those rare occasions, she has a lunchtime nap of 1 1/2 hours, she can make it till bedtime. At lunchtime she won’t nap until at least 1pm. She fights at every nap. She a big girl and has been crawling for weeks now and is very inquisitive which I thought would wear her out.
The older she is getting, the more worried I’m getting as I can see her last nap coming past 5pm and she won’t be able to make it to bedtime without it (or won’t want to sleep either). (I also have a 3-year-old so sometimes her naps are out). Is there anything I can do to tweak her routines?

As you have a 3-year-old as well it is not always easy to get a baby into their cot before they are overtired. As your daughter fights sleep so much she may need some quiet time to really calm down before her nap. This is not always easy to do when there is another child to be cared for as well but try to use ten minutes before your daughters usual nap time to sit with both of them quietly and look at a book. Your inquisitive baby may not like to sit on your lap but will probably come crawling over to you if she sees you sharing a book with your older child. Looking at several short books before naptime or bedtime can help a very active baby or small child just begin to wind down a little and become more used to the transition of being busy in the world to falling asleep in a quiet room. If you do this before each nap, or at least in the morning and at lunch she may become less resisting of settling herself to sleep.
In the afternoon it may be possible for you to take a walk with both children around 4pm. Even if you daughter does not fully nap, she will be resting from all her activity whilst in her pram or buggy. Often just a 10 minute doze whilst walking home well before 5pm can help an active baby of this age get through to bedtime. If you time your walk to be around 4pm she has the chance to nap before 4.45pm, rather than needing to nap just before tea. With a baby who does fight sleep as much as this you will need to be aware of the time and start a gradual wind down using books in the day and a very quiet bath and bedtime routine in the evenings. Again, not always easy to do with two small children but worth trying to help her settle quicker.

Getting her to sleep longer at lunchtime may not fall into place until she no longer needs a morning nap. You could try cutting this nap back to 20 minutes so she is woken before 10am and see if this has any affect on her lunchtime nap. Although a lot of babies need this morning nap until nearer a year many do cut back on it, , especially if they sleep well at night and do not wake early in the morning.

Look back on the days when she does manage 1 1/2 hours at lunch and see if you can see any reason why this can be; is it on an activity day? Or the day after? What did she eat for lunch? How did she spend the morning? What time did she wake? This will help you see if there is a reason why she can sometimes do it. Leaving her to try to resettle at lunch is a good plan. If she will amuse herself in her cot once awake don’t feel you have to get her up after 45 minutes. Make sure there are one or two small soft toys for her to find, should she wake. If she is distressed it may be better to end the nap; let her have some active time in the afternoon before going for a walk around 4pm to let her have another short rest before tea.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Lunchtime Nap

My 6.5mth son is unable to settle himself back at his lunchtime nap anymore

Lunch time naps have always been a problem with my son. He loves his morning nap and will sleep for 1 1/2 hours then if allowed but we try to keep to the one hour to avoid compounding the problem at lunchtime.
He was sleeping at lunch but not without much protest first and several visits from me. I had learned to live with this routine however the past few days he really has started screaming and getting very agitated keeping it up until 2pm when I give up and give him his 2.30pm milk.
It is then far easier to get him to nap after the milk and I decide a late nap is better than no nap. I don’t think hunger is the cause as he eats a good lunch at 12 noon.
I am wondering if I should cut back on his 1 hour nap at 10am to try and sort out the lunchtime nap battles?

He feeds at 7am 4/5oz formula, 3tablespoons porridge, sometimes banana. 12pm 3 cubes: 1 meat and 2 vegetable, a petit filous or fruit puree pot and watered fruit juice. 2.30pm 5ozs formula, 5.30pm 3 cubes: 1 meat, 2 vegetable with a petit filous or fruit puree, watered fruit juice. 6.30pm 9ozs formula. He weighs around 19lbs.

My son naps at 8.45-10am, 12.45-2pm and is settled by 7pm. He wakes around 6.30am.

Getting the right daytime sleep needs in the second part of the first year can be tricky. A baby who begins to cut back on his lunchtime nap but still wants a long nap in the morning will end up going to bed exhausted, and so more likely to wake early the following morning. At this age a baby is developing rapidly. He may be beginning to move around more and in the next few months he will become much more mobile and active which can lead to overtiredness, especially if the naps are not structured properly.

Begin to cut back on the morning nap until it is 40-45mins long. Do this by putting him down 5 minutes later for a few days and then pushing the time on forward by another 5 minutes, until he is settling around 9.15am. This shorter nap may mean he will need his lunch bought forward to 11.30am or else he may be too tired to eat properly. Aim to have him settled at 12.15pm at the latest.

As he has begun to wake at lunchtime and be unable to settle again until fed, hunger could well be the cause. The amount of solids he is taking seems quite small for a baby who has been weaned since 17 weeks. Begin to increase the amount of protein you give him. If you are using Gina’s Weaning Guide then use some of the simpler protein recipes and begin to replace the vegetable cubes you are offering with all protein-based ones. This is explained on page 53 of the Guide. Also, begin to offer him larger portions. A baby of his weight would normally be taking around 5-6 cubes of a protein meal and then having a fruit puree or petit filous if they still seemed to be hungry. If your son does not want to eat any more than the amount of savoury he is eating now it would be advisable to offer him a small top-up feed of formula before going down for his nap. Should he still wake he will be more likely to settle himself back to sleep if hunger is not preventing him.

When you have increased the amount of protein your son receives at lunchtime you can begin to offer him a vegetarian tea rather than more meat. Again, the Complete Weaning Guide will give you plenty of ideas of things to prepare for him.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 Months – Lunchtime Nap

My 7-month son, who weighs 8.5kgs, sleeps in his cot for all his naps. But sometimes he refuses to settle for his lunchtime nap unless given a dummy, and I always have to give him a dummy for the late afternoon nap.   I am unable to drop this nap as he gets very tired by then, due to him still waking at 5am for a feed.

My 7-month son, who weighs 8.5kgs, sleeps in his cot for all his naps. But sometimes he refuses to settle for his lunchtime nap unless given a dummy, and I always have to give him a dummy for the late afternoon nap.   I am unable to drop, as he gets very tired by then, due to him still waking at 5am for a feed.  How long can I expect to him to go on waking for a feed at 5am, and how do I get him to settle for naps without the dummy?

He sometimes fights going down at lunchtime and is only given a dummy if he has not settled after 30 minutes.

He settles at 9am for a nap of 45minutes, but how do I get him to stay awake past 9am?

Feeding details

5.00am: 7ozs formula
7.00am: 8ozs formula, followed by 3 tbsp porridge and pear
10.30am: 5ozs formula, followed by 3 tablespoons chicken/salmon/lamb with vegetables, 1tbsp natural yoghurt, few sips of water
2.30pm: 8ozs formula
5.00pm: 2ozs formula followed by 3 tablespoons baby rice mixed with vegetables
6.30pm: 6ozs formula

Total daily intake: 36ozs formula

My son naps at 9-9.45am, 12-2.00pm and 4.15-5.pm. He settles at 7pm.

Once a baby reaches the age of six months he starts to cut back naturally on the amount of sleep he needs.  We advise that the times of the daytime naps are moved forward and that the length of the morning nap is shortened.  This ensures that the baby reduces his sleep during the day and not in the early hours of the morning.

To help your son adjust to the new times move things forward slowly. Put him down by five minutes later every few mornings until he is used to settling nearer to 9.30am. This nap should be about 30 minutes in length. By napping later in the morning your son should be ready to go down for his lunchtime nap around 12.30pm. The later timing of this nap should help your son manage to get through until bedtime without the late afternoon nap or, if he does need it, that it is a very short nap.

This nap in the afternoon does not always need to be taken in your baby’s cot.  If you take your son out for a walk in his buggy he will probably fall asleep for 15/20 minutes, which should be enough to refresh him so he enjoys his tea and bath time.

As your son settles without his dummy at some of his naps we suspect, from looking at the amounts he is eating, that he is probably not getting enough food, and this could be contributing to him wanting to suck on the dummy at some of the settling times.

Count your son’s 5am feed as his breakfast feed and then, when you get your son up at 7am, you should go straight into giving him his solids.  This will encourage him to increase the amount of solids he takes at this meal and will allow you to push his lunch forward.  He can be offered a 2-3 oz of milk after his breakfast.

Now that your son is taking protein at lunchtime you need to quickly reduce the milk feed at this meal and then eliminate it altogether. You should aim to give him lunch at 11am and cut out the milk feed, replacing it with a drink of cool boiled water from a beaker. This will help him increase the amount of solids he is taking. Although all babies are different, a baby of your son’s age would normally take between 6-8 tablespoons of solids at lunchtime.

To help eliminate your son’s need for his dummy to settle him at his lunchtime nap, you can offer him a couple of ounces of milk to, as long as you do not allow him to fall asleep on the bottle.  Once he is settling well for his nap you can gradually reduce the amount of milk he is taking, and then eventually drop it altogether.

You may find that giving him a small milk feed prior to his nap results in him taking a smaller 2.30pm feed, but this should help increase his appetite for his tea. Now that your son is eating a protein lunch you can begin to offer him a carbohydrate rich tea, using the suggestions to be found in the CLBW book. Offer your son suitable finger food at the beginning of the meal and see if he is able to drop the need for 2ozs formula before he begins to eat his solids. Your son should then increase the amount of solids he takes to nearer 6 tablespoons, providing this does not mean that he cuts back on his bedtime milk. Ideally this should be a full feed of 8ozs.

Your son needs a minimum of 500-600 mls (18-20oz) at his age, ideally divided between three milk feeds.  As long as he gets this amount of milk each day he will be taking enough.  You should find that reducing the amount of milk your son takes enables you to increase the amount of solids he takes and this, in turn, will help him start to sleep to nearer 7am in the morning.