Please watch my child sleep video on how to cope with children waking several times during the night.
To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question is from the mother of a 13-month-old girl who is up three times per night for a bottle. She writes:
“My daughter is 13 months old and she goes to sleep on her own and quickly at 8:00 p.m. every night but still wakes up, on average, three times a night. I am still breast feeding her and I have tried to cut it out but she got sick and we went on holidays and I started feeding her again in the night and now I am exhausted and I am over getting up in the night.”
I can bet that you are over it, I would have been over it a long time ago. This is a common question I get. The first thing to look at is whether your child can fall asleep on her own at bedtime. It sounds like she can so that is victory one! That is the main goal. The best case scenario is that a child learns how to put themselves to sleep at bedtime and just starts sleeping through the night and there is nothing a parent has to do, it just naturally happens.
But other times not, especially if something is different for night wakeup, than at bedtime. She falls asleep on her on but in the night wakeups it sounds like she gets feeding so there is some inconsistency there. She is 13 months old so unless she is really underweight or there is something wrong with her health wise, there is no reason she needs to be eating in the night – even if she eats a full feed during the night. If I woke up in the middle of the night and my husband was sitting there with my favorite meal, I would eat every bite. I do not need to eat in the night, but I would.
We are very capable of eating when we do not need to eat. So I think what has happened is she is just waking up and eating out of habit more than anything else. So I would just cold turkey pull the night feeds. Each time she wakes up in the night give it a few minutes rather than rushing in. She might settle on her own.
If she does not settle on her own, then you either go back to the leave-and-check method or you stay with her until she falls back asleep, without feeding her. If you’ve got your husband’s help on this, this might be a good place to send him in. She knows she is not going to get fed from dad and even though she might be initially a bit madder to see dad, I find that the time it takes is a lot shorter.
If you are in there, she might just whine and moan for an hour. But if dad goes in she might be really mad initially to see him, but then 10 minutes later she is back to sleep. If you have his help on this, definitely use him and send him in for the night waking.
No more feedings and don’t consider morning anything before 6:00 am. If she is up then and you think enough is enough for one night, then get up and start the day. So some people do a 5:30 or 6:00 feed and then put the child back to bed. In my opinion, that is the same thing as a middle of the night feed and in the child’s mind, she cannot understand why can she eat at 5:30am and she cannot eat at 3:30am. It’s is just too confusing so I would pull the feeds completely. No feed until morning and then really make morning known by opening the curtains and turning on lights and taking her somewhere new for her first feed and letting her know that it is now morning.
The good news is because she can do this on her own at bedtime, it should not take too long. It will be a few nights and maybe even a few rough ones. Because she has the skill already, it is just a matter of transferring it to night wakings. Instead of waking up and thinking she might get fed or you might do something for her, she will just know every time she wakes up, she’ll just do the same thing that she does at bedtime and she’ll just sleep through the night. There is some good news in all that!
Thanks for your question. Good luck and sleep well!
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