how We GOt our 5-month Old to Stop Waking up 10 Times a Night

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I’d like to share how we went from having our 5-month-old son getting up 10 times a night down to a much more reasonable 2 (more-or-less). Every kid and situation is different so this probably won’t be your solution, but it worked for us.

4-month Sleep Regression

From a couple weeks to 4 months, our baby slept great: from 11pm to 8am, only waking up once. He usually slept in a basinet in our bedroom with some white noise. Sometimes I’d co-sleep with him and tap his little bum, which seemed to help keep him asleep longer.

But then we realized he wasn’t gaining weight very good, so we made some efforts to have him nurse more punctually and consistently during the day–and night.

That seemed to get him to perk up a little bit more, but also frustrated his nap and sleep routine. Soon, he was getting up about every hour to fuss and cry for a couple minutes.

Our baby is breast-fed, so being the husband, I couldn’t help out much with feeding him. But I could help getting him back to sleep when that’s only he needed.

But it was exhausting getting up every hour, even if only for 5 minutes.

The Fix

I finally broke and decided to “sleep train”. That’s a nice way of saying “put the baby down somewhere and cry it out (before you lose it and do something you’ll regret)”.

So we got the baby’s nursery ready and set up a baby monitor for him.

After his last nurse at around 10pm, I’d rock him to sleep (usually in our room with some white noise going) then put him down in his room (which also had white noise going… specifically, the Hatch, but any whitenoise with a fairly good range of sound works).

Somehow he seemed to sleep much better in his own room with that particular white noise machine, and the fact that his room isn’t air conditioned (so it was a little more toasty, which babies seem to love for sleeping).

The first night he slept 3 hours straight, which was relatively wonderful. He still nursed twice that night.

Sometimes he’ll still wake up about every 2 hours and fuss and cry. I don’t go get him unless it’s time for him to nurse again (ie, more than 3 hours since his last nurse). A couple times he’s cried for 10 minutes, but then fallen back asleep all by himself.

I let my wife sleep by just turning off the audio on our baby monitor until he settles, but stay awake myself for the (relatively) short while until he falls back asleep. Yes, this means I’m again up for a few minutes more times during the night, but he’s getting the hang of “self soothing” (a euphemistic way of saying “crying until he gives up and falls asleep again.”) So the situation’s improved a lot and still getting better.

Teach them Crying Doesn’t Get THE Parent

I’ve read some “sleep training” instructions online that advocate for putting your child down in their crib while they’re still awake, letting them cry for a minute, then come back and console them, then leave for 2 minutes before returning… then 3, 4, 5 minutes etc. Until eventually they fall asleep.

I saw some friends doing that once and it was torture. The child was rightly confused and distraught.

I much prefer to put rock them to sleep with a good amount of white noise and pacing around the room. Then plop them in their crib in a toasty room with more white noise (almost uncomfortably loud… that’s what they’re used to in the womb and they love it).

But then I’m gone. I don’t come back until they’re due to nurse. This stinks the first time, of course. But they figure it out after crying for 10 or 20 minutes when they wake up. Then they know what to expect. They won’t start yelling for you because they know that doesn’t work. So they just give up and go to sleep.

A possible exception: if I do something wrong putting them to sleep, I may go get them earlier. E.g., if I put them to bed too early, or hungry, or uncomfortable (because they have a wet diaper or aren’t toasty enough.) But this reduces their understanding that crying doesn’t get the parent. So I avoid it as much as possible.

Again, that’s just what worked for us. If something else works for you, great. Your kids and situation are different, so you do what’s best in your situation. But maybe this will help somebody else getting up 10 times a night,

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