Hi. I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady, and in this video, I’m going to answer Sally’s question about night waking. She posted it on my Facebook page. Here’s what she said:
My eight-month-old constantly wakes during the night. She cries out some of those times when she’s still asleep. Sometimes she’ll settle with a cuddle and other times she searches to be nursed. She has learned to self-soothe but needs assistance with her day naps to have an hour and a half twice a day. Why is she such a bad sleeper?
Self-Soothing Is A Skill
Sally, I would want to make sure that your eight-month-old really knows how to put herself to sleep at bedtime. It says here that she has learned to self-settle but it’s sporadic. She hasn’t learned this skill for naps, though. Naps are much harder to train than night sleep. But, because she’s only sporadically going back to sleep by self-soothing during the night, I first want to make sure that she’s got the skill down at bedtime.
Put Her In Bed Awake
Usually when I see this pattern it means that the child is being put down too sleepy at bedtime. It’s easy to do that. It’s kind of tempting for us because it’s nice and cute and cuddly. Also, it means you won’t have a lot of crying! If it worked before and they slept really well, we reason to ourselves, then “Great! Why mess with it?”
But clearly, it’s not working for your daughter.
How To Right The Ship
Be Sure She’s Well-Napped
I want you to go back and do what you need to do to get her to have good naps just as you said you’re doing now.
Be Sure She Is Awake
Then, the first night that you start sleep coaching you really want her to be awake.
- So, if you’re feeding her before bed, have the light on.
- If she starts to kind of suckle, then I would unlatch her or take the bottle out. Sit her up, burp her, and change her, even.
- If she has closed eyes while you’re putting on her sleep sack (or whatever it is you’re doing), then she’s too drowsy.
We Don’t Want To Trick Her
I don’t want her to feel tricked. When you put her in the crib sleepy and she goes to sleep easily, she will wake later during the night and will need you to get her back to sleep by cuddling or nursing. If you don’t go in and soothe her, she may feel tricked.
Check With Your Doctor About The Night Nursing
Make sure that you talk to your doctor so that you have a good plan regarding her feeding at night. You need to determine whether she needs to nurse during the night (or not). If she does need to nurse, then figure out how often should she be nursing.
Make A Consistent Plan
I want you to have a plan so that you can be consistent in your response to her at night. Because you don’t want to nurse her twice a night sometimes and some nights it’s once a night and some nights it’s not at all. This kind of inconsistent approach will cause more crying and will confuse her.
Sleep Train At Bedtime First
- Again, I want her to be awake at bedtime so that she really, really masters that skill at the easiest time to learn to put herself to sleep.
- Then, I want you to make a plan about when and if at all you’re nursing her during the night.
- Finally, you need to determine how you’re going to respond to her.
The Sleep Lady Shuffle
I’m of course a little bit biased. I think that you do respond (when she cries) and you should do a gentler sleep coaching method like The Sleep Lady Shuffle. If that’s clearly your choice of sleep coaching method, then you will coach her through each wakening.
Focus On Naps Next
When you’re starting to see a little progress you can do the nap coaching. This is a little bit more difficult process and takes about two to three weeks. By then, she will have learned the skill of self-soothing and going to sleep at night, which will make the nap coaching easier.