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Help a Mom: Baby won't sleep through the night

Posted April 23, 2013

I was chatting with a mom this week when she asked me for some sleep advice. Sadly, as a mom of two kids who didn't sleep well in those early months and years, I was little help.

"Wait three years," is the best advice I could muster, though I did mention our recent series with Irene Gouge, a local mom and owner of Loving Lessons Pediatric Sleep Consulting.

But I know many of you are much more successful than I ever was at getting your kids to sleep. (It should be noted now that both of my kids, ages 3 and 8, sleep, for the most part, like rocks).

This particular mom told me that her nearly eight-month-old son isn't sleeping through the night. In fact, he's waking up regularly throughout the night, often when he moves and hits the sides of the crib. It gets so bad that the baby sometimes ends up sleeping on his daddy.

Can you help?

Do you have advice for this mom? Please share your tips in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

Help a Mom features questions from readers every Wednesday. If you have a question that you'd like to ask Go Ask Mom readers, click here to email it to me.

12 Comments

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  • prmommy08 Apr 26, 8:18 p.m.

    Our older son had this problem. I agree with the "wait 3 years" and putting him on a mattress on the floor (we did that). However, there is waking up and being restless, and then there is doing it every hour or hour and a half all night, which our older son did. Turns out he had eczema. It's common for children with it to toss and turn at night. Our son woke himself up hitting himself on the crib, just as yours is doing. The solution (for us--every child's triggers are different) included no disposable diapers (he was allergic to all of them), only cotton clothing, oatmeal baths (every day--sweat was a trigger for him), slathering him in Aquaphor, and only using "free" detergents and double rinsing every load (NO fabric softeners). Note that unlike many things you read about eczema, our son did NOT have a rash (it was little bumps, but not red and scaly). There's a reason they call it "the itch that rashes" and that's exactly what was happening with him. Hope this helps!

  • kathleen73 Apr 24, 9:44 p.m.

    I safely (please research safe bed sharing) co-sleep with my son and nurse him when he needs to at night. There is no crying at all and we both get plenty of sleep. I honestly could not tell you how many times or what time he nurses because I don't wake up enough to look at the clock. But this is only recommended for nursing moms not formula fed babies,there is research on this look it up for yourself if it bothers you. And before you tell me how hard it is to get them out of my bed; it is not hard I have been there and done that before. Bought my daughter a bed put her in it and she slept in it from day one no crying. Co-sleeping works for my family without me ever fully waking up or getting out of bed, no video camera, no music, no animals, no stuffed bean mittens, no special bumper pads, no crying it out for 3 days or more feeling guilty the whole time, just me his mom touching him, feeding him, patting him, or what ever he needs to feel safe and secure all during the night.

  • lilypony Apr 24, 12:36 p.m.

    Ditch the bed and put the crib mattress on the floor. That removes his wake up call. No middle of the night feeds, if you're offering them. That removes a wake up reward. Putting yourself to sleep is a learned skill, not a natural thing that just happens. Comforting those midnight tears and bringing him to bed with you exacerbates his reliance on you to make him fall asleep. New behaviors take 3 days to start becoming habit, so 3 nights of agony before seeing hints of improvement. Just don't get up when he cries, you know he's fine! Wait through 15 minutes of screaming before offering comfort. Fill a winter glove with rice or dry beans. When you go in, don't hold him, just pat/rub back until relaxed. Then leave the glove on his back for a bit of weight so he still feels your hand. Consistency now investments in your sanity later. Give him the gift of learning to put himself back to sleep. We all cycle through light sleep, but we have learned to keep sleeping. He will too!

  • JAT Apr 24, 10:56 a.m.

    stop getting him. may take a few nights but you're already not sleeping anyways so nothing lost there. maybe you just need to buy a better crib that doesn't rattle or make noise when he moves. everytime you get him out and take him to bed with you, you just reinforce that if he cries enough, you'll come get him.

  • Pilot-42 Apr 24, 10:23 a.m.

    continued from Pilot-42-...See if you can find some of those sleepsacks. They are like blankets that zip up. Some of the child consignment stores have them. Sleep training is difficult. I cried while my first son cried (screamed) in his crib. But after a couple of nights, the crying becomes less and less (for both of you). Eventually, he will know that you are not going to pick him up every time he cries and he will find his own way to soothe himself to sleep -- like hum, sing, or play. Eventually, it will be like second nature. Oh, one more thing. We always have the same routine in the evenings. Dinner, bath, book, bed. And we stick to the same bedtime every single night. Best Wishes and Some Sleep-filled Nights for both of you!!

  • becca2379 Apr 24, 10:19 a.m.

    I am sure I will get grief for this comment but both of my sons now 3 and 6 had the same problem. It turns out the bed was not big enough for them. My oldest son escaped from the crib around 8 or 9 months and would not stay in it. So we ended up getting a set of bunk beds with the larger bed on the bottom. I loaded the sucker up with pillows and stuffed animals and had all kinds of things on the floor just in case he rolled off. Too this day the kid in the night rolls all over the place now he has room and he stays asleep. With my younger son it was a different problem. He was diagnosed with developmental delay and he goes through cycles where he will sleep through the night in his room or he will wake up after a couple of hours and sleep on his sleeping bag in our room. Your child might just need a bigger bed. Good luck and as trite as it sounds it will get better. :)

  • Pilot-42 Apr 24, 10:17 a.m.

    Dear Sleepless Momma, I'm sorry because I know exactly where you are coming from. My oldest son (now 4 1/2 years old) seemed to scream all night long, especially from newborn to around 9 months old. There were many nights we slept in the recliner with him on my chest (not a good night sleep for Momma). My second son (now 2 1/2) slept like a rock for 11 hours every night from the day we brought him home (the doctor required me to wake that child in the middle of the night to feed him). The difference between the two? I truly believe it was the swaddling. Baby #2 wanted to be swaddled, tightly. Tighter than just a little blanket would do so yes, I went out and bought one of those $20 velcro swaddlers. Any night that I didn't use that, he was awake every hour or so . . . so, I bought two more of those swaddlers (one in the wash, one in use, one for backup). Now, your 8 month old may be old or too big for those swaddlers but it "could" be that he is getting cold. See if you can find some o

  • madevita87 Apr 24, 9:35 a.m.

    Our daughter started sleeping throught the night at 1 month old. We found it worked to have a set schedule and bed time routine. Before bed, we would sit in the rocking chair and read a book. Then say good night to daddy and the dog. We used and still use (at 20 months), the sleep sheep-we play the rain noise which goes for 45 mins. When she was smaller I would rock her to sleep, and then found around 6 months that if I laid her down when she was really sleepy, she would go right to sleep and nights when she wasnt tired when it was bed time, we would lay her down and do the 'cry it out' for 2 minutes-which was hard for me, but worked. We stopped feedings during the night pretty early and learned too that when she did wake up in the middle of the night that daddy needed to soothe her back to sleep because she always associated me with feeding and comfort. I still can not put her back to sleep if she wakes in the middle of the night! We also have a video monitor, which helps out alot! So

  • jrm576 Apr 24, 8:21 a.m.

    Our 6-month-old has been sleeping through the night regularly since she was 3 months old, with a few exceptions when she has been gassy or teething. We've found that a few things have helped. We have a sleep sheep that plays white noise and a Fisher Price music and lights machine that has soothing lights and lullabies. Those usually help her drift to sleep. If she does wake up and those things aren't helping, one of us will go in and rub her back or pat her bottom without speaking or picking her up to see if she'll go back to sleep on her own. Picking her up is always a last resort. We also still have the back bumpers on her crib. Not recommended, I know, but she loves to cuddle up against them.

    Baby Einstein has a lights/music machine called Sea Dreams Soother with a remote control so you can turn it on without even entering the baby's room. It's ~$40. This would be fantastic as the baby won't have the added distraction of you coming into the room to turn it on.

  • creecht Apr 24, 8:10 a.m.

    We live on a busy road, so traffic noise & headlights can be a problem. I put up blackout curtains in my daughter's bedroom, which help block out light & noise. We run a white noise machine (a fan) at night. She has a "Twilight Turtle", which glows in your choice of three different colors for 45 minutes. She also has a Fisher Price "Musical Star", which plays soothing music & has lights for 15 minutes. For those times when she wakes up at night, we could just walk in & turn both of these back on, leave the room, and she could be soothed back to sleep. I also love a powdered magnesium product called "Natural Vitality Natural Calm". You can put it in your child's juice. If you do have to go in your child's room, remember, don't turn any lights on, don't talk to them & make it quick. And many times when they wake at night, they are getting ready to do something "big", such as walk, etc. etc. This too shall pass!

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