Baby Sleep Problems: My Baby Wakes Up Every Hour, Could the Pacifier Be the Problem?

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  • November 20, 2012

Would you like to have me answer your sleep question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s video:

Hi. Kim West, the Seep Lady. And today, I’m going to answer Kate’s question. She wrote in quite a long email, but I want you to hear all the details because I think it’s really important:

Our son John is ten months old and his still waking nearly every hour, starting from about midnight or 2:00am, until he wakes up at 6:45am.
My husband and I are so sleep deprived from the disruptive sleep. We’re feeling at the end of our rope. We feel like we’ve closely followed your strategies, but somehow are not getting him to sleep all the way through the night. His bed time is consistently between 7:00pm and 7:30pm. We have followed your strategies of letting him fall asleep on his own and he does this quite successfully with little to no fuss. He takes two naps each day at roughly 10:00am and 2:00pm, generally lasting about an hour and a half to two hours each.

He’s eating well, and he doesn’t seem to be hungry, or at least really shouldn’t be hungry as his healthy weight, and we’re not offering him any overnight feedings. He does use a pacifier at naps and at night and when he does wake up we generally pop the pacifier back in and he goes right back to sleep.

Sometimes it takes a bit more soothing but regardless, either my husband or I, are getting up walking to his room to sooth him and then trying to get back to sleep ourselves just to be woken about exactly an hour later. At times we thought he was waking due to teething or discomfort from ear infection, but this still occurs even when we believe that neither of those are the issue. Honestly, we simply can’t figure it out.

If the pacifier is the issue, I’m not sure how to break that pacifier. Any advice is much appreciated. Kate.

Kate, at times I get emails saying, “I tried the Sleep Lady Shuffle, it didn’t work.” And usually when I get the honor and the privilege of speaking to those families, I just have to ask enough questions to figure out why it didn’t work. I see that YOU figured it out by the end of your email when you said, “If the pacifer is the issue, I’m not sure how to break it.”

I think the pacifier is the majority of the problem that you are experiencing. You didn’t mention as to whether he goes down awake, but hopefully he is since you’ve been following my book. Here is an important question, is he putting the pacifier back in himself?

At ten months, he does have the pincher grasp. Meaning he could pick up the pacifier and put it in his mouth himself just like he would pick up a piece of food and put it in his mouth. If you want to keep the pacifier, then I would toss several of them in his crib. When he wakes expecting you to come in an plug it in for him, I would start putting the pacifier in his hand. And then gradually start scooting them over to him and finally start pointing to them and not handing it to him. Prepare for a bit of a struggle over this at bedtime AND during the night wakings. He won’t understand initially why you are not just plugging it in for him and why now he has to wake enough to find one and put it in himself.

Make sure he is awake enough at bedtime so that the pacifier may very well fall out and then he has to sit up and roll around and find the pacifier. Make sure you’re also not plugging it in for him during the day and try to do the same thing for naps.

If you want to wean the pacifier all together then you will have to get rid of it cold-turkey at night first. Unfortunately there is no gradual method for weaning the pacifier because its either in your mouth or it is not. Be prepared for a few difficult nights. Consider doing the Shuffle again in order to stay by his crib side to offer physical and verbal reassurance during those first few nights (without creating any habits you have to undo). I have had families keep the pacifier for naps and get rid of it at night with success. Not sure why that works behaviorally but it can. If you find yourself going in during the naps and constantly re-plugging then that will be the sign that you have to get rid of the pacifier at naps also.

The last thing –make sure you are watching his nap windows. They don’t sound horribly off and it does sound like he’s napping well, but 10am and 2pm may be a little bit late considering he is still waking during the night and is likely overtired as a result.

If 10am and 2pm seem to be his “sweet spots” for naps then keep them, and work on the night and the pacifier. Either, weaning the pacifier altogether at all night and redoing the Shuffle or by putting several in his crib and having him learn how to put it back in his mouth himself. And again, expect a little bit struggle if he is used to you doing it for him. Hang in there.

Sweet dreams,
Kim
The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have successfully weaned the pacifier or helped teach your child how to replug it himself, please offer your support to Kate. Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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