Monday, February 28, 2011

My 4 month old won't sleep more than 2-3 hours, what's the deal?

Questioner: LeAnn


Subject: 2 problems

Question: QUESTION: My 4 month old son wont sleep more then 2-3 hours at a time during the night no matter how long he nurses for. I tried just giving him a pacifier and getting him to go back to sleep and even just picking him up and rocking him, anything but feeding him, to try to help him understand that he's not going to get to eat all night long.. but instead of learning to go back to sleep, he's started screaming the second I try to distract him from eating. Am I doing something wrong or is he just so stubborn that he's just going to have to have his way?

My second question is, when we take a nap together he wakes up crying and will not stop crying until I get up out of bed and pick him up. Nothing else works.. what's his deal?


ANSWER: Dear LeAnn:

I am not sure where you got the idea that a 4 month old was suppose to sleep all night long?

Take a look at his tiny fist. That is how big his little stomach is and breast milk absorbs faster than regular formula because it was made for the human body.

There is a good possibility that he is just hungry every 4hours.

What concerns me is that you believe he is just being "stubborn." Please do yourself and him a big favor and adjust your expectations.

If you haven't already joined a LeLeache League support group for breastfeeding moms then do so quickly. You will get emotional support and further education on what to expect from your little one.

When he cries after waking up from a nap it is because he wants you. Crying is the only way a baby knows how to get their needs met.

His "deal" is that he wants to be near you. Do you want to be near him?

If you are feeling overwhelmed by meeting his needs I strongly urge you to pamper yourself more, find good emotional support and possibly even talk to your doctor.

You son is not hear to make your life easier, you are hear to make his life easier.

Best Wishes!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!

--------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: You misunderstood my questions. The first being that he should be able to sleep longer then 2 hours, it was my doctors advice to try to get him to sleep longer. Secondly, I said we nap together. Meaning cuddling. He wakes up crying when I'm right there talking to him and trying to soothe him. You might want to re-think giving advice to anyone, seeing as how the only advice you gave me was that I'm a bad mother and need to seek help.

Answer: Dear LeAnn:

I did not at anytime say you were a bad mother. I regret this was the interpretation.

My point to you which was lost was there is no RULE that he should be able to sleep longer than 2 hours. He is obviously waking up because he is hungry. Regardless of what your doctor's advice is I disagree with him. As a professional with 20 years of experience I can do so.

My concern is with the language used to described the situation. It does not sound like there is anything amiss with your son. He cries when he is hungry and he likes to be with you as most 4 month old babies do. There is nothing to fix here and no solution/advice necessary.

Getting him to sleep longer maybe as simple as giving him a baby massage and providing an environment which is conducive to deeper sleep. There are several postings here on night time/bedtime routines. Feel free to peruse through them for more ideas. So both of you can get some more sleep.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!