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Subject: constant waking by 9 month old baby
Question: I have a 9 month old baby boy, who was sleeping through the night from 3 1/2 months old, with the occasionally bad night. However, from around 5 months we seemed to have more bad nights with constant night waking, than good nights. I always think he's teething but surely teething would not cause constant night waking for over 4 months. From 6pm -10pm he wakes up 2-3 times and then again at between 2;30-3am, in which he is harder to resettle at this time of the morning and i just give him a breastfeed. Surely at his age he should be sleeping through the night. also, could it be something that I'm feeding him in his diet that's causing this, or is it a breastfeeding thing? please note that he falls asleep pretty easily when initially put in his bed at the beginning, and he is not rocked or fed to sleep, so i know he has the ability to fall asleep on his own. He also doesn't have an issue during his 2 day naps. Please help understand why this is happening almost every night.
Answer: Dear Olay:
Several things jump out at me. First he is nine months old and he doesn't have a problem with his two day naps. Maybe just cutting back on the two naps and going to one might help?
It could be food. You mentioned you breasted is he getting food as well? If so, what type is it organic, is it spicy, is it dairy? There are so many possibilities. It is not a good idea to give children under the age of one any diary. Hard for them to digest.
I strongly suggest parents incorporate bedtime routines (see some of my previous answers to parents about troubled sleepers).
Bedtime routines are all about process not time tables. About a half hour before you want to put your little one down for the night start lowering the noise level in your home. Lower the lights, turn off the television, radio, music (unless it is soothing natural sounds). Then play softly and gently with him, read him a story, give him a bathe, and finish up with a baby massage. A nightly massage will probably put him out for the rest of the night. Who doesn't sleep deeper after a full body massage?
How active is he during the day? Often little ones are so active and stretching and using their muscles (boys muscles grow faster and develop quicker than girls) that their bodies are exhausted at night. What can be waking them up is the muscle aches they start to notice when they are deeply asleep. Relaxing muscles are not necessarily a pleasant experiences when they have been tight and wound up during the day. Again, massage is a good idea before bedtime.
Some children are extra sensitive to their environment (see the book, The Highly Sensitive Child). Too much stimulation for some will be a night wake as well.
These are alot of things to consider however, incorporating the massage into his nightly routine will support any of the other ideas about his disturbed sleep.
Lastly, not all children sleep through the night until they are much older. Some children wake up during the night until they are in elementary school. So readjust your expectations for both your sakes.
Dr. Mary Kay Keller
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