Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

Why does my 8 month old wake in the night?

Carmen has always slept well at night, but during the past month she has started to wake at about 3am and then at 6am. She is never distressed; she contentedly makes little baby noises, so I wonder why she wakes when she never used to. At 3am, after 20mins I end up going into her, give her a cuddle and she quickly settles herself back to sleep. I know I shouldn’t complain as she doesn’t cry but she still keeps me awake. When she wakes at 6am she doesn’t go back to sleep. The result is, that she is really tired by 8.8-30am. She always falls into a deep sleep at this nap although I wake her after 45 minutes. She tends to sleep well at lunch time and only needs 10 minutes between 4-5pm, but not every day. I am not sure that she is getting enough sleep and concerned she may be awake for longer periods at night when I don’t hear her. Carmen is not crawling yet; is she simply not tired at night?

This is not uncommon amongst babies of this age. As Carmen is happy to chat to herself at night and doesn’t cry, it would be best to let her settle herself back to sleep. Although your sleep is disturbed by her noise, try to doze through it rather than getting up. If something was really troubling Carmen she would let you know.
There are a few things you can check to see if they are the reason why she is waking herself.
Make sure she is warm enough. If she moves in the night, as babies often do it is best to put her into a 2.5 tog sleeping bag. She will be warm enough in this without any extra coverings unless it is particularly cold at night.
Check your house for any noise such as hot water boilers or central heating systems starting up, which may coincide with her lighter sleep, and so wake her.
At 6am make sure that her room is still dark. A chink of bright light can often cause waking at this time.
Does she have a dirty nappy in the morning? Some babies are not bothered by this but wake themselves when filling their nappy.
If Carmen is going down at 7pm and chatting to herself for 15- 20 minutes before sleeping, she is not falling into a very deep sleep which can cause early morning waking. If she is very tired at 7pm, and you think this may be the cause, then give her an extra 10 minutes for her afternoon sleep, still making sure she is awake by 5pm.
If none of this seems to be the cause, then simply not being tired is the most likely reason. Once Carmen is more mobile she will use more energy.
During the day give her plenty of time on the floor. Play games of “Row, row, row the boat ” together and encourage her to roll from back to front and back again. Place her on her tummy if she is happy that way so she can practise pushing herself up. Let her “stand” whilst you support her.
Try to get outside every day, as fresh air can aid better sleep.
Does Carmen attend any classes? Both swimming and infant gymnastics would give her some exercise even though she is not yet mobile herself. Both these activities are usually adored by babies and will give you both an outing by day.
As Carmen is not distressed at night and contented by day, accept this is just a phase she is going through which will pass, most likely when she is more active in the day.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

My daughter has begun to wake several times a night at 7.5-months-old

My daughter is suddenly waking up to 5 times each night. The last 3 nights she has stirred at 8.30pm, 10.30pm (very quick and asleep again within 5 minutes) 12.30pm (I fed her as per the suggestion on the FAQ’s) then wakes again at 3am (leave her to cry and she settles within half an hour) then wakes at 6am to start her day.
She was born a month early and is still on the lower end of the weight scale. She has a small appetite and will not take any more solids than I have mentioned above. Due to diabetes and Coeliac disease in our family I am not giving her formula, gluten or dairy in her first year, which somewhat restricts her diet. All my daughter’s food is home-made and organic.
I have not given her any water or diluted juice as I feel with her weight I should be filling her up with all the food and breast milk that I can.
Can you give me any ideas on how to get her to sleep longer in the night?
At present she weighs 14lbs and feeds at 6.30am both breasts, 8am 4 cubes apple/pear mixed with tbsp baby rice mixed with the 2ozs breast milk. 10.30am 1 breast, 12pm 4 cubes, 1 chicken, 1 sweet potato, 1 carrot, 1 squash. 2.30pm both breasts, 5.30pm 2 tbsp baby rice with 1 cube pear mixed with 2ozs breast milk. 6.30pm both breasts, 12.30am one breast when she wakes in the night.

There may be a reason other than hunger which is waking your daughter in the night as she is managing to settle back to sleep without too much fuss. Is she moving around the cot more and perhaps disturbing herself? Some babies get their arms stuck in the cot spars and so briefly wake. This can be prevented by pushing rolled-up towels well down between the mattress and cot side. Letting her settle herself back to sleep is advisable, but briefly check on her after 5-10 minutes of crying just to check that she is alright. If you can do this without being seen then she will not begin to associate waking with needing you to comfort her.

Continue to give her the midnight feed unless you notice a disinterest in her 7am feed.
Although premature and started on solids at 6 months it would be a good idea to begin to introduce a little variety at teatime with the introduction a vegetarian dish rather than always giving rice and fruit. Given your dietary restrictions it would be advisable to ask advice from a doctor or dietician about how to introduce some more substantial food at 5pm. This meal is usually carbohydrate-rich to help babies settle well and get through the night. As they are often tired by this time, it needs to be something they can easily eat such as vegetable soups enriched with beans or lentils offered with gluten free bread if your daughter is beginning to enjoy finger foods.

Try to offer your daughter a small drink of cool, boiled water from a beaker after she has received her 12pm solids. This will help her get used to drinking something else than milk, which is an important part of her development. She will probably take a very small amount and not fill herself up too much to cut back on her next breast feed.
Be aware: how active your daughter is by day, if she has plenty of floor time and time outside in the fresh air, which can both help her sleep better.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

At 6-months-old my son is still not sleeping through the night

My son is now 6-months-old and still does not sleep through the night. He is still having a 10.30pm bottle of 7oz. By day he takes breakfast at 6.30am of 6ozs with cereal and fruit. He naps 8am-9am, and then he has a 4oz bottle at 10.30am. He will play until 11.30am and then has a half-hour nap before lunch. Lunch is at 12 noon and he has 6-8 cubes of vegetables and some protein followed by fruit and juice. He will then nap from 1-3pm and have a 4oz bottle at 3pm. He will nap again at 4.30-5pm and then have his tea – usually fruit with baby rice and milk. I bath him at 6pm and then it is a struggle to get him to drink any milk but I can usually get him to take 4oz. He settles well at 6.45pm until 10.30pm (I keep him awake for 30 minutes). The problem is: he will wake at 3.30am, again at 4.30am and 5.30am and I have settled him back to sleep with a dummy. Lately, as well, (I am now desperate for sleep) in bed with us where he settles really well. He has been in his own room since 3-months-old and takes all his naps in there too. He can roll onto his tummy and gets stressed about it (I have tried tucking his grobag in the end but he gets really stressed with this). He will sleep soundly on his tummy when comfortable.

At present he weighs 22lbs and has about 24oz of formula through the day. At breakfast he has 1 weetabix with 2oz formula and a mashed banana. For lunch 6-8 tablespoons of vegetables and protein followed by 2-4 tablespoons fruit puree. At tea he takes 6-8 tablespoons of fruit puree and baby rice mixed with 1-2 oz formula.

Your son is a good weight and obviously has a healthy appetite. Now that he is six-months-old, it would be a good idea to replace the baby rice and fruit puree at 5pm with a proper vegetarian meal such as: jacket potato and a topping, thick vegetable soup and mini sandwiches, pasta and vegetable bakes. This more substantial tea given at 5pm should help him begin to cut back on the large 10pm feed he is having. Give him a very small drink of water with it so he is hungrier for his bedtime bottle. Offer him his bedtime milk around 6.30/6.45pm and have him settled by 7pm. Begin to reduce the amount of milk you give your son at 10.30pm. Very, very slowly cut it back until you are able to drop it. If he has increased his bedtime feed he will no longer need this to get through the night.

During the day it would be better to get your son to have one short morning nap of 30-45mins and a longer one over lunchtime of two hours. At present your son is sleeping 4 hours a day which could well be affecting the times he wakes in the night. To make these changes move things gradually and be prepared that he may be a little bit unsettled for a day or so until he adjusts to the new timings. Begin to move his 8am nap onto nearer 9am. Do this by keeping him up 10-15 minutes longer every few days until he is settling nearer to 9am. Wake him by 9.45am. If you feel that he is hungry well before lunchtime – as he has such an early breakfast – then offer him a small healthy snack such as: a piece of fruit, small amount of yoghurt or a rice cake with a drink of water or well diluted juice – by 10.30am rather than the 4ozs of milk he presently has. Cut out the short nap before lunch. If he is very tired then bring his lunchtime to 11.45am. Put him down for his long nap at 12.30pm which can be two hours long. If he is really tired in the afternoon then let him have a very short cat nap of no more than 15 minutes and wake him well before 5pm. At his age he really needs no more than three hours sleep between 7am and 7pm. More than this will affect his night time sleep.

Now your son is six months old, providing he is able to roll well both ways, it would be best to let him find his own sleeping position. Remove any extra blankets or sheets from the cot and dress him in a suitable weight bag for the weather. In the cooler months this will be a 2.0 tog. If he is still unable to roll from his front to his back then practise this in the daytime. You may have to reposition him for another week or so until he can do this well himself. Once he is able to roll both ways, don’t rush in to help him when you hear him stir. Leave him a few minutes as he will now be able to get himself more comfortable. Babies often cry out in their sleep but will settle themselves in a favoured sleeping position once they are able to. This rolling may also be a cause of his waking in the night, coupled with too much daytime sleep, so he is not so inclined to fall back to sleep again when he comes into a light sleep.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

My 8-month-old son is still waking several times in the night after a recent time of illness

He has been a really good sleeper – right through the night from 7 weeks old. He took to weaning well and is generally happy and very content. We had a few disturbed nights when the lower two teeth came through but were getting back on track when he started to show symptoms of a cold about two weeks ago. This then turned into vomiting and diarrhoea. It was not constant but after every feed he would vomit much of it back up, particularly the milk, and fill his nappy.
We were advised by the doctor to water down the formula as it is not well tolerated by an upset tummy which we did. The trouble was, my son went right off his solid food and with watered down formula (and only taking 4 oz of that each time) was hungry a lot during the daytime and started to wake at night. I presumed this also to be hunger and continued to give him the watered down formula during the night. After three or four days of doing this, the vomiting and the diarrhoea stopped and he got his appetite back. He has a bigger appetite than before he was ill, which is good as he dropped some weight during his illness. So I’m feeding him up in the daytime.
The trouble is despite being well and eating properly again, my son is still waking up at night and it seems to be getting worse. The last two nights I settled him at 7.00pm and he woke at 10.30pm, 11.40, 1.00, 2.40, 3.40, 4.15 when eventually having tried and failed to settle him with water, I gave him some formula. He took 4-5 oz and settled until 7.50am (I was too tired to set the alarm for 7.00am!).
He wakes up crying quite hard and if I leave him it gets louder. I try to settle him in the cot and resist picking him up but he just gets hysterical rocking backwards and forwards on his hands and knees, sobbing and grabbing at my arms. Often when I do pick him up he falls asleep almost instantly in my arms and I can put him back in his cot on his back and he shuffles, rolls onto his side and goes back to sleep.
I follow the weaning guide almost to the letter, making sure he has at least 3 portions of carbohydrate, a good 3.5-4.0oz of protein with vegetables. He eats well, but lets me know when he’s full and I don’t force it.
I’m getting to the end of my tether with him! Including the time he was poorly, this has been going on for over two weeks now. I’m exhausted as I keep him on track with the routine during the day – so he (and I!) only get 2 1/2 – 3 hours sleep during the daytime. It’s like having a newborn again except he wasn’t this challenging even as a newborn!!
I’m not sure whether it’s separation anxiety. He has shown signs of this during the day and cries when I leave the room he’s playing in. Could it be his upper teeth coming through? I’ve tried the gels and powders but they don’t seem to settle him. Is it possible that he could be hungry? Should I start the 10.30pm feed again? The only other thing I can think of is that he took a tumble out of his buggy just before he got the cold (it was a new buggy, new straps… he does like to lean forwards). Fortunately he landed on sand rather than a hard surface as we were walking in the woods. Is it worth seeking out a cranial osteopath to check him over? The GP has seen him. He still sleeps well during the day though and doesn’t show any signs of discomfort.
I just don’t know what to do. My husband and I are both exhausted and really need some help.
His present feeding is; 7am 5ozs formula, 5-6 tsp oat porridge or baby muesli. Sometimes with added apple, banana or blueberries. 3ozs milk used to mix porridge. Offered the rest of formula at the end.
11.20am Protein and vegetables such as salmon/ chicken pie. Followed by yoghurt, sometimes a biscuit or rusk. 4-6ozs of water.
2.30pm 5ozs formula- varies as it depends how much he ate at lunchtime.
5pm savoury biscuits, toast fingers, vegetable pasta cheesy bake, another yoghurt if needed. 6.30pm 8ozs formula. 5-7 ozs formula given as a last resort in the night.
He naps at 8.50-9.30am and 12.15-2.15pm. He is settled at 7pm.

As your son has been taking a feed late in the night and still managing to eat well in the day it would be a good idea to try giving him a feed at 10.30pm for a week or so and see if this helps the repeated night wakings. Offer him 5-6 ozs and see if he is able to sleep better in the night. If he is able to sleep through again allow another 7 days for it to become a habit again and then begin to decrease and drop the feed.
Continue to reassure him at night if he continues to wake. If reinstating the 10.30 feed eliminates his hunger, you may then have to put some sleep training in place. He has grown used to settling back to sleep with you holding him. Reassure him with your voice and touch and keep your hand on him in the cot as you lie him down again. Keep reassuring him with your voice, even if he continues to cry. Once he shows signs of calming down, remove your hand but stay close to the cot using your voice to tell him you are still there. Offer him water if this helps but he should be able to go through to nearer 7am with a feed (if it has been successful) at 10.30pm. Gradually begin to move away from the cot still using your voice to reassure him, until he is more able to roll over and settle back to sleep again.
As his illness happened around the time when separation anxiety can begin there is most likely some of that too. After illness it can be difficult for a baby to adjust back to the normal routines. When he was ill your son had your complete and undivided attention, both day and night. It can take time for him to adjust to the fact that this is now no longer the case.
During the day begin to play hiding and peek-a-boo games with him so he gets used to you disappearing and reappearing again. Begin with sitting close to him and hiding behind a book then popping out. Move onto being behind a newspaper whilst sitting on a chair. Call out to him ‘Where’s Mummy?’ and then reappear again. Move onto hiding in the same room as him and then get behind the door. Watch his reactions and if you see he is becoming distressed stop the games and reassure him. If you do need to leave the room where is playing tell him you are going and call to him from the next room. Separation anxiety can be a trying time for you, but it is better to always take him with you if you are going to be away from his sight for more than a few minutes, or need to go further than the room next to where he is. If he becomes more anxious about your disappearances he will become more clingy. Helping him to learn how to cope with someone going out of sight is the reason behind the games. Once a baby becomes more mobile and can more easily follow you they can get better about being left behind, as long as you give them time to catch up with you.
If you are concerned that his recent fall may have had some affect on him a visit to a cranial osteopath will not do any harm. They can be a real help in diagnosing problems unseen to us which may be causing these repeated wakings. It may involve a few sessions, but a cranial osteopath may well be able to help sort out your son’s present problems.

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.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

My 7 month baby wakes every night at the same time but is never upset

My son of 7 months has followed the routines since he was 9 weeks old. He is a very contented baby, but has started waking around 4.30am. This has been exaggerated by the recent clock change as he was waking at 5.30am. He is happy to stay in his cot talking away to himself and sucking his thumb. He sometimes goes back into a light sleep but more often her stays awake. But he never cries. He is not hungry as he is content to wait for us to get his breakfast with out making a fuss. He doesn’t have a dirty nappy in the morning either. He was sleeping through the night until 7.30am.
I returned to full time work at the end of August and he is cared for by my mother. He still naps for 1/2hr in the morning and my mother tries to keep to his 2hr lunchtime nap. This is not always possible with the commitments she has but when at home with her she does try to keep to the routine I had for my son before returning to work. When I pick him up in the late afternoon he has a 15 min nap but still settles to sleep at 7pm with out a fuss. Sometimes he will drop off with in 5 minutes of going down, at other times he will stay awake for 15-20 minutes before settling to sleep.
Now he is “finding his feet” and knows he can move around his cot, when he wakes he kicks the side of his cot. Knowing he is awake means I am awake too.
His bedroom is very dark, with black out blinds. The heating is not coming on at this time and disturbing him, he just has an inbuilt alarm clock that seems to wake him up.
He eats well in the day, always having home cooked food and seems to love all the recipes in Gina’s book. I recently increased his milk at 6.30pm to 8ozs, but this had no effect on this night waking.
At present he takes 7ozs at 7am, 6ozs at 2.30pm and 7-8ozs at 6.30pm. He eats 5-6 teaspoons creamy porridge and a piece of fruit in the morning. A full protein meal at lunchtime followed by petit fillous and a vegetarian tea such as pasta and creamy vegetables followed by a piece of fruit.
My son naps at 9-9.30am and 12-1.30pm.

Since this night waking is not causing your son any distress it is likely to be a phase he is going through. Once he is more mobile and active in the day you may find it will disappear, as he will be using up more energy.

Providing he is happy to chat to himself, leave him to settle himself back to sleep. Now the waking is happening an hour earlier, due to the clock change, he may well drift back to sleep most mornings. If you are using a monitor in your room try using it on the lowest setting so his noise does not disturb you too much. If he should become distressed you will be able to hear this.

During the second part of the first year the daytime sleep needs of babies change. If he is able to stay up to nearer 9.30am before taking his morning nap he will probably push his lunchtime nap on to 12.30/1pm and be able to settle until 2.30/3pm. This may not always be possible when he is being cared for by your mother but it is worth reading Gina’s notes on moving this nap in The Contented Little Baby Book, page 180. For a longer explanation see the Complete Sleep Guide, page 103. Providing he is not too tired to eat a good lunch, a slightly later nap in the middle of the day could help his night waking as he will be happier to chat for a while before settling to sleep at bedtime.

A baby who is as happy and content as your son seems to be should soon grow out of this phase. Now he is moving around more in his cot he will bang and kick the sides. You will become more used to the noise and be able to at least doze through it knowing that he is not unsettled or upset, simply awake!

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

How can I stop my 6 month daughter waking at 4am every morning?

My daughter has followed the routines since 1 month old. In the beginning she would cry every time she was put down, but I persevered and up until last month she was a contented baby. I am now having the problem of her waking every morning around 4am. She settles well at 6.45/7pm. I have tried leaving her to settle herself back to sleep but it is just not working. I put a music box in her room but that is not working either. Is there anything else I can do to sort the problem out?

She is fully weaned on three meals a day. Her milk intake is 22ozs; 7.30am 8ozs, 2.30pm 6ozs, 6.30pm 8ozs.

She takes 1/2 weetabix at breakfast, lunch varies between vegetable soup, chicken casserole or fish pie, followed by fresh fruit. Tea is a similar meal, followed by yoghurt. Her protein based meal can either be at lunch or teatime. My daughter also has a snack at 10am and 3.30pm.She usually eats a full baby bowl.

My daughter naps at 9-9.45am and her lunchtime nap varies between 12-3pm, it is normally 11/2 to 2 hours long.

Finding why your daughter is waking at this time every morning could be a process of elimination. The two main reasons, hunger or too much sleep in the day, need to be looked at first.

At six months your daughter has only just begun to have protein based meals. It is better if this meal is always given at lunchtime. A baby who is getting tired at the end of the day may not always take the amount of protein needed and so not fill themselves up as well as they would if they were less tired. By knowing she has had a good breakfast and lunch you can base her tea on carbohydrates, to help her through the night.

A tea which is rich in carbohydrates will help fill her up. Serve thick vegetable soups, vegetable bakes, pasta or jacket potatoes with grated cheese or vegetable based sauces. Recipes for all these can be found in the Complete Weaning Guide. Check that the snack your daughter is having mid-afternoon is really needed. It may just be taking the edge off her appetite for tea at 5pm. If she seems hungry mid afternoon offer her a piece of fruit rather than rice cakes or bread sticks.

Next, look at her day-time sleeping which, in your daughter’s case, does not seem to be excessive. During the second part of the first year the morning nap begins to get pushed on towards 9.30am, especially if you are having to wake your daughter at 7am. This nap shortens to 20-30 minutes, often by the first birthday. The knock-on effect of this is that the lunchtime nap moves on to nearer 1pm and is given for 2 hrs.

At your daughter’s age she is becoming more mobile and active in the day and may well be falling straight into a deep sleep at 6.45pm/7pm. A common reaction to this is waking early in the morning. Begin to watch how you structure her sleep by day and try to keep to roughly the same times every day. This is especially important at lunchtime. If your daughter is settling at 12 midday for 2 hrs, she is awake from 2pm all the way through the afternoon until bedtime. Many babies of this age who are having earlier lunchtime naps or not sleeping two hours will need a 15-20 minute cat nap around 4/4.30pm, so that exhaustion does not cause them to fall straight into a deep sleep when put to bed in the evening. If your daughter has her lunch at 11.45am, have her in bed by 12.45pm at the latest. Watch during the afternoon for signs of tiredness and, if needed, take her for a short walk around 4pm so she can rest or catnap for a short while if tired.

If your daughter does not seem to need a short nap in the afternoon and is keeping to a regular lunchtime nap, you may need to have her in bed by 6.30pm. This will help her settle herself within 20 minutes but not fall straight to sleep. You may have to persist with an earlier bedtime for at least a week before you notice any real difference in your daughter’s night waking. Her body clock needs to be reset and this can take time.

Once you have eliminated hunger or too much daytime sleep, look at how she sleeps at night. Is she beginning to move around the cot at night? Maybe she has begun to turn herself over and wakes herself when caught or unable to get back again. Using a sheet to tuck her in can help this problem. Check she is neither too hot nor too cold. Early mornings can be chilly and a baby may wake through moving from under their covers and becoming cold.

When you have checked through all these things, you will need to decide how you will tackle getting your daughter to settle again if she continues to wake in the night. As she is waking at the same time every night it could well have become a habit, so you may need to teach her how to settle herself back to sleep again. Leave her for 10 minutes when she first wakes so, if still only half awake, she may settle herself back. Then go in and reassure her with a few words and tuck her back in her cot. You should keep going back to reassure her every 5-10 minutes for the first half hour she is awake. Just reassure her and stroke her head briefly then leave the room again. After half an hour begin to leave her for 15-20 minutes before checking. Keep checking her every 15-20 minutes until she settles back to sleep. This is following the first day of the controlled crying technique as described by Gina in her Complete Sleep Guide, page 47. On subsequent nights you lengthen the time before going in, so your daughter learns to settle herself back to sleep on her own. Providing you have checked for all the other reasons first for your daughter’s night waking, this method should see her settling herself within about 20 minutes after 3 or 4 nights.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

What can I do to get my 8.5mth old son to sleep through the night?

I am trying to get my son to sleep through the night but he just won’t. He’ll sleep from 7.00pm – 10.00pm and I go to feed him but then a little while later he wakes up again and just won’t settle back down. I end up going to bed then and taking him in with me.
He is fully breast fed, and was weaned at 6mths.
He takes one side at most feeds which takes him between 5-10mins. He takes these feeds at 7am, 9am, 12am, 3pm, 6.30pm and 10pm.

For breakfast he takes 1/2weetabix, at lunch 1/2 jar savoury puree and 1/2 yoghurt, at tea 1/2jar of savoury and some fruit puree.
He weighs 17lbs 11ozs.
He naps at 9-10am and from 1.30-3.30pm.

Looking through your son’s notes it would appear that one of the reasons your son is waking in the night is hunger. At 8 months there should be no real need for a feed at 10pm if a baby is eating three well balanced meals in the day, as well as having full breast feeds.

If your son has become used to coming into your bed at night it may well take some sleep training to get him more used to sleeping on his own. His need to feed in the night which could well be for comfort but also because he is hungry, due to the small amount of solids received by day. This could be causing a vicious circle as he is then not really hungry at 8.30am to have a proper breakfast.

If your son is eating mainly commercially prepared food from jars this may also be affecting his ability to sleep through the night. The commercially prepared food often has a high content of water, starches and fillers. Many have lower protein content than a similar recipe cooked at home. Using jars on occasions is fine but introducing some home-cooked food into his diet may well help him. By 8 months he needs 2ozs of protein daily, as well 2-3 portions of carbohydrates, and at least 2 servings of fruit and vegetables.

Take a look at The Complete Weaning Guide for easy and balanced recipes you could begin to make at home for your son. He may find the flavour and texture of home-made food quite difficult to get used to. Offer him a spoonful of a home- cooked recipe, such as chicken casserole, mixed in with a similar savoury jar meal. Gradually increase the amount of home-cooked food and decrease the amount of commercial food until he is accepting the fresher flavours and textures.

The meal given at 12pm/12.30pm should be protein based. Protein absorption into the body can be lessened by up to 50% if offered along with milk. Once your son has begun to take enough solids at this time of day begin to decrease the amount of milk he is given. Offer him a small amount of milk first and then his solids. He may still need another small feed at the end until he is taking enough protein-rich food. This milk feed is then completely dropped and water is offered after at least half of his solids has been taken.

Weaning him off his night feeds should help his appetite by day. Use the core night method where one by one each feed is dropped. This will cause less distress for both you and your son. Feed your son as you normally do at 10pm. Providing you are confident that you have a good milk supply at this time of day, and he takes a good feed, he should not need another feed at his next waking. Offer him cooled boiled water or well diluted juice. It may take him a while to settle back to sleep as he is used to sleeping with you as well as snacking in the night. You need to be consistent and persistent in the way you deal with this. It will probably take him several nights for him to learn how to resettle himself back to sleep. The best way to help him to do this is to settle him down in his cot, reassure him and then leave. If he begins to cry, leave him only a few minutes if the cries are escalating. If it is just a sleepy moaning cry leave him about 5-10 minutes to see if he is able to settle himself again. Your son needs to learn how to fall asleep without using your bed or the breast as a prop. This may involve some crying but it should never be allowed to become excessive or lengthy. If he is distressed then go back and reassure him. If you can do this without picking him up from his cot it will help him become more used to falling asleep alone. Stroke his head and use your voice to quieten him, but try not to stay too long with him. Leave the room again. Leave him another few minutes and, if he continues to cry, go back in to reassure him again. You may have to repeat this quite a few times the first night before he settles to sleep. If he wakes again in the night then you offer him a feed as he may be genuinely hungry by now. This method is establishing his “core night” so he gradually lengthens the time between feeds rather than dropping all nights feeds in one go. Look at page 148 of The Contented Little Baby Book where this is described. It also appears in The Complete Sleep Guide, page 42.

If he still wakes the next night and is not able to settle himself after a drink of water, begin to very gradually lengthen the time you leave him to settle before going to reassure him, but only by another 5-10 minutes or so. Your son will learn how to settle better, especially once his nutritional needs are being fully met in the day. It is then a question of waking from habit rather then genuine hunger.

Until you have got your son to be taking around 5-6 cubes of food at lunch time and at least 4 cubes at tea time, he may well need one night feed.

Once your son is feeding less in the night he will probably be ready to have a bigger breakfast, such as a whole weetabix with some fruit puree and then fingers of toast offered to him to encourage him to feed himself. This is an important part of a baby’s development. If you always offer a small amount of finger food at each meal time he will begin to pick it up and feed himself. It can be a good way to get a baby interested in the food he is eating.

Gina has some case studies which could help you. On the website is David, which shows how a combination of night feeds and commercial food in the day resulted in a poor sleeper. Emily; The Contented Book of Weaning, page 61, and Thomas; The Complete Sleep Guide, page 123, also deal with similar problems.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

My 7 month son has started to wake at night, but I am slightly confused as to why

My son, who is just 7 mths, has slept well through the night since eight weeks. But, for the past three weeks, he has been waking in the night. He does not wake every night- it has averaged out as one in every three nights. Although I have found similar questions on the website and have posted a question on the message boards, I feel I have tried every suggestion given and I am running out of ideas.

We originally thought it was teething as he did not seem that well in the day for the first week, but it is not every night and most of the time he seems quite happy once I go in and check on him. I give him a dose of Calpol if his cheeks seem a little red. Then, sometimes he settles straight away and other times he cries for ages.
From the suggestion of other Mums, I thought about temperature of the room, but it has stayed constant and doesn’t seem to be a factor. And, I thought about a growth spurt and therefore increased his protein at lunch (as you can see he eats quite a lot). From what I have read, he is getting the right amount of protein.

The only other two things I can think of is just habit- but wouldn’t he wake every night through habit? And, I have always been very strict when I go in- I check if he is alright, give a quick dose of medicine if I feel it is necessary and then put him back.

I still have to tuck him in because although he can roll from back to tummy really well, he usually gets stuck on his tummy and gets cross! He can get back, but not every time. He is an active baby and I wondered whether he gets frustrated that he can’t move around? Should I experiment with this?

As you can see I am stumped and would appreciate some advice.

My son has 6ozs of formula at 7.30am and 6.30pm. He takes 6ozs at 2.45pm.

Breakfast at 8.10am: ½ to 1 weetabix mixed with formula and 2 cubes pureed pear or 5 tsps Ready brek with pear. Toast fingers offered.

Snack at 10.30am: water and Cow and Gate biscuit offered
Lunch at 11.45am: 8 cubes of protein recipe- lamb, chicken or fish, 2 cubes of vegetables added. Yoghurt for dessert, or grated cheese offered if still hungry.

Tea at 5pm: 8 cubes of a carbohydrate recipe such as mixed root medley or vegetable broth with mini sandwiches. 2 cubes of fruit puree or yoghurt for dessert.

He naps at 9-9.15am and 12.15-2.30pm. He settles at 7pm.

It can be difficult to always pinpoint exactly why your baby is waking, especially when it is not at the same time or even every night. Teething can cause night waking, especially as the tooth is breaking through the surface. If, when you give your son a dose of Calpol, he settles straight away you can be pretty sure that it is not his teeth bothering him. It takes about 20 minutes for a pain reliever to work, so a baby suffering with teething pain would still be grizzly and distressed until the effect began to be felt.

As you appear to be aware, a baby of this age is beginning to need about 2ozs of protein in his diet each day so, by watching his intake, you can see if this could be an issue with him. Adding grated cheese to vegetable soups at teatime is a way to make sure he is getting enough protein through the day.

The most likely cause though seems to be his inability to fully roll in both directions yet. This can happen and, even if quite active by day, he may find it harder to do so in his sleeping bag at night.

Practice rolling with him in the day so he becomes really competent doing so both ways. Until he is able to do so at night, you may need to resettle him if he gets himself into an uncomfortable position. When you first hear him in the night, leave him for several minutes to see if he is able to get himself into a more comfortable position without needing your help. If you go into him straight away he may begin to associate you with settling back to sleep again.

Continue doing as you are doing now. Lie him down in a comfortable position and then let him settle himself back to sleep.

Once you are happy that he is able to roll both ways without too much trouble let him begin to find his own sleeping position. Once he is able to do this with ease he may start to sleep on his stomach. This is fine once he is over six months of age.

Some mothers do find that their babies move around so much in their cot and bang the sides that they decide to pad the edges with rolled towels or blankets. Tuck these well down the sides of the mattress to prevent your baby being caught up in them. Once your baby is moving around a lot at night it would be best to dress him in a warmer sleeping bag with a tog rating of 2.5 so you will not need any extra blankets in which he may become entangled.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Night Waking

My daughter of 6.5mths is still waking in the night and needing small feeds to settle her

My daughter is 24 weeks and has never slept well at night, although she goes down awake, is well tucked in and all the things such as darkness have been looked at.

I think her wakings were due to hunger because after we started weaning, once she was taking a decent amount, she slept through the night 4 times. Then she got a really awful cough and cold, and now conjunctivitis as well. She has been unwell for a month now and has only gained 5 oz in the last 5 weeks. The doctor says it’s just a bad cold and we just have to ride it out. She has not really progressed on the weaning front the whole time she has been ill and has often refused to eat anything. I have not yet introduced protein. She eats a good selection of fruit and vegetables at 11am and then has rice and fruit in the evening but small amounts each time. The problem is that she has started to wake several times a night. She won’t settle with water from a cup and won’t take a bottle. I am guessing it is hunger but I am also worried it could be habit from being ill for so long. (Many nights I have had to sit up with her as she has been unable to sleep lying down even with the cot elevated, humidifier on etc) But one good thing has been that she now sleeps the full 2 or 21/2 hours at lunchtime whereas before she was ill she only ever slept 45 minutes at lunchtime, so maybe being held upright to sleep has reset her sleep cycle. She still stirs after 45 minutes and often cries out but will then go back to sleep. I am exhausted from all the broken nights and I have a 3 year old who has also been ill too. How should I proceed on the weaning front? Should I introduce breakfast (she is not very hungry in the morning having fed at least once in the night) and protein now? And is there a way to stop her getting into bad habits at night and minimize her night time wakings even when she is so poorly and its been going on so long? (The times below are based on the last month whilst she has been ill)

I feel so fed up as I have tried to do everything right and in the last month everything has been going wrong and my happy little girl is so grumpy all the time.

My daughter is totally breast fed. She takes 5 minutes at 7.30 and 8.30am, 10mins at 10.45am, 11am, 2-3cubes of sweet potato and carrot or other vegetables, 5mins at 11.15am, 10mins at 2.30, 5.45, 6.30 and 10.30pm. At 6pm she takes 2 cubes of pear puree mixed with 1/2oz breast milk and thickened with baby rice. When she wakes in the night, which can be up to three times between midnight and 6.30am she will take 5-10mins and either go straight back to sleep or cry for about 10mins and then settle. She weighs 14lbs 3ozs.

My daughter naps at 9.10-9.40am, 11.45-2pm and 4.30-5pm.

To help your daughter sleep better in the night, especially if she is now over the worst of her illness, looking at her solid intake and beginning to offer a greater variety of food should help. As she is totally breastfed and over the age of six months the iron supplies laid down at birth will now be running out. Breast milk does not contain adequate levels of iron to sustain a baby over the age of six months, without the addition of iron rich foods to the baby’s diet. Introduce dark green leafy vegetables, lentils and beans as soon as possible, as well as introducing protein. Begin to do this by making a chicken casserole such as that on page 75 of The Contented Book of Weaning. Mix 1/2 to 1 cube of this with 2 cubes of the vegetables she usually takes at 11am. Gradually increase the number of protein cubes and decrease the vegetable ones until she is taking a full protein meal. The casserole recipe contains vegetables she is already familiar with and will help her get used to the taste of chicken. Very gradually offer her more solids at this feed. Her need for milk at this feed will decrease as the solids begin to take over. Use the “tier method” explained on page 25 of The Contented Weaning Book so, by the time she is having a full protein meal, she can drop the milk feed completely and be offered water from a beaker.

Increase the amount of rice you are offering at the 6pm feed until she is having 5-6 teaspoons mixed with fruit puree. Increase the amount slowly if she is reluctant to take a lot more but eating a larger amount of solids at this feed will help her get through the night without the need for more milk. Once you have established protein at lunchtime then consider moving her teatime solids to 5pm and giving her a vegetarian tea. Begin with the vegetable soups in Gina’s Weaning Guide if she is still not eating a lot of solid food. These are thickened with carbohydrate, vegetables, beans or lentils, all of which will help fill her for the night and again cut out the need for milk feeds should she wake.

Once you have noticed an increase in her lunchtime solids and have begun to cut down on the night feeds you can offer your daughter a small amount of breakfast cereal mixed with fruit puree. Increase the amounts very gradually as you don’t want her to begin to cut back on her lunch. Once breakfast is offered she may be able to wait until nearer to 11.30/11.45am for her lunchtime solids.

After a prolonged spell of illness such as your daughter has had it may take a while for her appetite to really pick up again. It will help increase her appetite if you begin to cut back on the feeds you give in the night. Look in the Complete Sleep Guide, page 42, for a full explanation of the “core night”. This will help you drop these feeds one by one which will be far less traumatic for both of you than trying to get rid of all of them at once. As your daughter refuses the water you offer her during the night you may have to give her a cuddle at her first night waking, to encourage her to sleep for a longer stretch. Just in the way you have “reset” her at lunchtime it will take time but, along with an increased intake of solid food by day, she should be more able to settle back to sleep again without the need of a feed.

If your daughter does not already have a comfort object of some kind such as a toy, Cuski or even a muslin, consider introducing one to her. If you sleep with the toy or muslin for a couple of nights before giving it to your daughter she may be comforted by the familiar smell.

The last things to take into consideration are her daytime naps. These begin to move forward in the second half of the first year. Continue to push the morning nap towards 9.30am so she also moves her lunchtime nap later. As this is now her longest sleep of the day, if it starts at 12.30pm and she continues to sleep for two hours she may only need a brief 10-15 minute catnap later in the afternoon to get her through to teatime. Cutting back on her daytime sleep, even by 10-15 minutes, can help a baby who wakes several times at night.