Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and today, I’m going to answer this mom’s question about her toddler who still wakes up at night for a bottle:
“My daughter is 15 months old and was born premature at 31 weeks.” (So, I’m going to consider her about 13 months.) “We’ve had some problems getting her to sleep at night since she was born. She still wakes up several times during the night and when she wakes up crying, I give her a bottle and once she’s done, I lay her back in her crib to fall asleep.
I first put her down at 7:30p.m. This is after her set bedtime routine of bath, bottle and brush teeth. Once asleep, she will sleep until 12:30a.m. which is then followed up by her waking up every few hours until she’s up for the day at 6:30 a.m. When she’s home, she takes a two-hour nap around 9 and then a 45-minute nap around 3. I’m not sure what she does when she’s at daycare. They have said she takes a long morning nap and sometimes takes an afternoon nap.
She’s a light sleeper and shares a room with her 5-year old brother. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Please help.”
Is Reflux or GURD a Factor of Your Toddler Sleep Problem?
There are a lot of things going on here. I will answer this question considering her as a 13 month old since she was born 9 weeks early.
I’m not sure if you are still adjusting her age or whether there are any medical or developmental problems which can factor in to what’s happening now. I recommend that you rule out reflux. If she has a history of reflux, find out whether it’s still a problem.
I noticed that after you feed her in the middle of the night, she then wakes up frequently. I don’t know whether she’s waking up frequently because it becomes harder and harder to go back to sleep — which is common. It could also be because she had a bottle and then you lay her down and she has reflux. You didn’t share any of this history but these are potentially important points to look at .
Scheduling and Nap Issues
You also mentioned that your daughter is in daycare some days, while she is with you the other days. At daycare she takes a big morning nap and a small afternoon nap (sometimes) and the afternoon nap is at 3 o’clock to 3:45. That’s a big window from approximately 11am to 3pm. I’d rather see a shorter morning nap and a bigger afternoon nap so that she’s not conking out at bedtime and that can help potentially reduce the night waking.
RELATED: My Baby’s Naps are too Short! It’s Time for Nap Coaching
You may want to also wake her after one and a half hours from the morning nap to ensure she has an afternoon nap. And if even an hour and a half morning nap causes her to not nap in the afternoon at daycare, I would ask them to shorten it to 45 minutes so she can have a bigger afternoon nap. I would also encourage you to get more details from your daycare provider such as how they put her to sleep. Is there any flexibility in the timing of the naps, and are there any ways to promote her having better day naps?
If you are logging her sleep you may see a pattern where she sleeps worse at night and wakes more often after the 12:30am bottle after a day of poor naps.
More Tips for your Toddler who Still Wakes up at Night for a Bottle
- Check in with your pediatrician and find out if she needs a feed during her 11 hours of overnight sleep
- Make sure you continue to put her down to sleep at bedtime awake and that you are not doing anything else to help her go back to sleep. She would then expect that help in the middle of the night. This is CRITICAL for sleep coaching success!
- During this sleep coaching process, consider a 7pm bedtime until she catches up on her sleep
- Ask your pediatrician about whether you should wean the bottle. If so, reduce the number of ounces within a week or so.
- Have a consistent response to her for all of her night waking
- Read this article about sleep coaching siblings who are sharing a room.
I know that was a lot! All the details are in my book “Good Night, Sleep Tight“.
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