If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s toddler sleep problem video:
Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and today, I’m going to answer Sarah’s question. This is what she wrote in:
“Our 13-month old has only slept through the night five times since birth. He now wakes once during the night and anywhere between 1 and 4:30 a.m. and will not go back down without having a bottle. He then wakes up between 4:30 and 6 a.m. and needs either another bottle or to get in bed with us to go back to sleep until 7 or 7:30 a.m. He takes two one hour naps a day and he goes to bed between 7 and 7:30. We give him a bottle at bedtime and he goes to bed awake. He doesn’t have bottles during the day anymore and we’ve been working to make sure he gets plenty of calories and nutritionally dense food during the day to make sure he’s not hungry at night. I don’t know if needing the bottle in the night is a habit or because he’s truly hungry. We only have one bedroom that he shares with us so letting him cry in the night is challenging and very stressful for everyone. I would love some insight about this toddler sleep problem.”
Sarah, you’re doing a lot of great things. Bedtime is at a good time, 7- 7:30 p.m. for his age. He’s still taking two naps anywhere from one to two hours each so that he’s probably getting somewhere around three hours total and good for you! And you haven’t tried to transition him to one nap too early in hopes that it would help him sleep better at night. You have also already weaned him off the bottle during the day, you’re watching his nutrition and making sure that he’s eating well.
Check with Your Pediatrician
I would check in with your pediatrician about whether he needs to receive calories during an 11-hour period at night given how much he tends to eat over a three to five day stretch since after a year old a toddler’s eating can be up and down. Again, check in with your pediatrician and get that green light so you can feel confident about weaning it. Once you get the green light, you can start to gradually wean the bottle by reducing the amount in both of the bottles until it’s down to two or three ounces and then you have to make the big decision to not offer the bottle when he wakes during the night. Wean the bottle in seven to 10 nights max. Read this article for more details on weaning the bottle.
Gradually Wean the Bottle to Help Your Toddler Learn to Sleep
I would also do the same thing at bedtime so that you get to the point where he’s having just a water cup while you’re reading a story. If that makes you too anxious especially if he tends to not eat a good dinner for instance and you find yourself thinking “But he hasn’t eaten anything since 5:30pm. How will he make it to 7pm?” which I get, then have a small bottle of milk or a milk cup at bedtime. Make sure he does not get drowsy with the milk bottle or cup. You’re going to have a hard time having any progress in the middle of the night if he is zoning or getting too drowsy with the milk cup or bottle. If you aren’t already, get in to the habit of brushing his teeth after the milk cup or bottle at bedtime to avoid cavities.
So, your big jobs are three fold. One is to wean the bottle during the night. You’re going to first talk to your pediatrician about his eating and if he needs to receive calories during the night. If he does not you can begin to work on weaning the bottle completely by slowly reducing the amount in the bottle within 7-10 days (its ok to go faster also). Make sure you are putting him down awake at bedtime without a bottle at bedtime to get him to a drowsy state. Respond to each waking in the same manner and don’t start the day until after 6am. Be consistent for long enough!
The Sleep Lady
Video filmed by In Focus Studios