Last updated on April 4th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Hi. I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in today’s video I’m going to answer Stacy’s question about night waking that she posted on my Facebook page. Here’s what she asked:
“My 11 month-old is still waking for milk or water every two hours. What can I do to help him sleep?”

The Sleep Crutch Identified

Stacy, this is a very common question and more than likely your 11 month-old has formed a sleep crutch of needing to suck to sleep.
Luckily, he’s not picky about what’s in his bottle (I’m guessing it’s a bottle). A lot of toddlers will scream if you give them water because they only want milk. But it sounds like he will take either one. My guess is that he wants more sucking time. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a large bottle!

Check With Your Doctor

Before you get started on sleep coaching, I would recommend that you check in with your doctor. Describe how much your child is eating and drinking during the day and find out how much he may or may not need at night given his age, weight and health.
Oftentimes a healthy 11 month-old doesn’t need to receive calories during the night. But, I’m not a doctor, and I want you to make sure that is the case for your child.

Transition Away From the Bottle

Its important to start sleep coaching with a plan for how you will address the night feedings. Let’s say that your doctor says, “Stacy, your 11 month-old doesn’t need any feedings during the night.”
In this case, you could start to transition away from the bottle during the night waking by giving fewer ounces each time you go in. For example, if it’s eight ounces that he currently takes, then you will go down to six ounces. Then you will give four ounces and then three ounces and finally stop offering him a bottle during this night wakings.
At that point you will sleep coach him back to sleep.

Prepare For His Reaction

Some 11 month-olds are very smart when you do this. They are okay when you go from 8 ounces to six ounces, for example, but when you get down to 3 or 4 ounces they’re furious.
Prepare yourself if that happens one night. Be ready to say to yourself, “Okay. Guess what? Tomorrow we’re not having any bottles.” Then you’re going to start sleep coaching.

Into the Crib Awake

I want you to begin sleep coaching by putting him into his crib awake at night awake after a soothing bedtime routine. You will then offer physical and verbal reassurance until he’s asleep for each night waking from bedtime and throughout the night.

Progress In 10 Days

If you wean the nighttime bottle first and then start sleep coaching, begin counting your sleep coaching days on the night you no longer offered him a bottle during the night. Don’t include the weaning nights in your counting of days. I believe that in seven to ten nights he should be largely sleeping through, and your night waking should be over.

Next Steps

Once he has made good progress sleep coaching, you will be working on some early rising and nap coaching which takes longer to fall into place. All of this is outlined in my book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, and there are lots of helpful articles on my blog.

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!