Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

One Year Old Baby Girl Not Sleeping Through Night

(Sorry this is so long, but I feel the details are important)

My daughter just turned a year old and we are still struggling A LOT in the sleep department.  She is not really able to self soothe and I know why, but I don't know the best way to help her.  I also have an almost 4 year old son.  When my daughter was born, I did what helped everyone in the house get the most sleep so I chose to co sleep with her, which meant her nursing often through the night.  I now see why this was not the best idea as she never learned to self soothe.  I am her pacifier basically.  She also often slept in her own bed in our room (though she usually did not sleep through the night) with the goal that she would move to her own room sometime between 6 months and 1 year.  At around 10 months, I decided it was time to get her sleeping in her own bed as I planned to try and wean her from nursing at 1 year and didn't want too much change at once.  She doesn't mind sleeping in her own bed so check Step 1 off the list! Step 2... get her sleeping through the night.. or at least waking less often.  Step 3 will be weaning her... though maybe I have this backwards, I don't know.  Here is what happens pretty much every night... We put her to bed at 8 pm either by me nursing her to sleep or my husband rocking.  She goes to sleep both ways.  However, about an hour later, maybe a littler earlier, she wakes up crying.  Pretty much guaranteed every night.  We wait about 5 min or so to see if she will go back to sleep, but she usually just starts screaming louder and louder.  One of us will go back in to her room and soothe her back to sleep.  My husband goes in there and she will actually lay back down so he doesn't get her out of the crib.  If I go in there, I try the same approach, but she won't lay down and screams unmercifully for me to get her out because she wants to nurse.  So, after a little bit, I usually cave and nurse because I don't know what else to do and it also makes me sad for her because I feel like she doesn't understand why she can't do what mommy has allowed her to do for the past year.  Anyway, we get her down again and an hour later, she is back up.  This goes on until about 12 pm.  Then she will sleep until 2 am, maybe 3 am on a good night.  After the 2 am waking, she usually sleeps until we have to wake her in the morning (we both work).  I know I need to not nurse her in the middle of the night, but I reach a point where I don't know what else to do... We have a night light, a crib soother, we play music for her (she has always fallen instantly asleep to U2 - don't ask, I have no idea), we rock her and do the nursing as the last resort... we try to let her cry it out as much as possible while still letting her know we are there.  My question is... is there a solid way to help her learn to self soothe without traumatizing her? What methods have you used that have worked?

Please be kind.  This is just one very tired mommy looking for some support from moms that have been there! Thanks in advance!  

Side note... my son was a great sleeper from the start.  He still sleeps like a rock, which is great since his baby sister would wake him up all night if not.  I am very grateful for that, but boy were we not prepared for this! Of course, we didn't cosleep with him and he went in his own bed in his own room at 4 months and never looked back.  So... that could be the difference right there!

Re: One Year Old Baby Girl Not Sleeping Through Night

  • Sorry, that should say *This goes on until about 12 am, not pm.  Though I am sure you picked that up! :)
  • You must be tired! I understand you are worried that whatever you do will traumatize her but I really don't think that will happen. Yes she is used to things being a certain way but she can learn new things too.

    #1 most important thing here is to be consistent. You cannot cave once you have decided what your game plan is. You can't start feeling bad, get her out of the crib, nurse her or co-sleep with her. Once you start there's no looking back!

    That first wake up, an hour after she goes to bed is the one I would work on first. My daughter used to do the same thing every single night so I stopped going in. I had to leave her for 10-15 minutes which feels like an eternity but it really isn't. Turn the monitor off, turn up the TV, do whatever you have to do so you aren't just sitting there listening to her. This worked after just a couple nights and my DD stopped waking up crying.

    I found that my daughter started sleeping better once she stopped waking up crying an hour after going to bed. The rest really fell into place and she isn't traumatized one bit :)

    I also have a 4 year old son and he has been a great sleeper from the start but DD wasn't always so great. She's 17 months now and sleeps like a champ. It just takes consistency and you'll see how easy it actually is.

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  • Thanks so much for the input and it's good to know I am not alone! Not that I wish sleepless nights on anyone! I think part of this has been an emotional adjustment for me, too. I wish it was easier for me to let go. This is my last baby so I just want to hang on a little longer, but at the same time I want more sleep. How is that for a double edged sword?!
  • Thanks so much for the input and it's good to know I am not alone! Not that I wish sleepless nights on anyone! I think part of this has been an emotional adjustment for me, too. I wish it was easier for me to let go. This is my last baby so I just want to hang on a little longer, but at the same time I want more sleep. How is that for a double edged sword?!
    I TOTALLY understand and feel the exact same way about my youngest! Hell, my DD is 17 months and I still give her a bottle before bed because I love the snuggles in the rocking chair :)
  • We speak the same language, lol. You know, they won't need a bottle and snuggles forever and you won't get that time back! We should know by looking at our 4 year olds. Don't even get me started on that!
  • We speak the same language, lol. You know, they won't need a bottle and snuggles forever and you won't get that time back! We should know by looking at our 4 year olds. Don't even get me started on that!
    Oh man, we could probably bitch for hours about our 4 year old's! This age sucks!
  • Good heavens, you are a superhero. I agree with everything miss McGee said so do all of that :) plus I have a few suggestions for you: 
    -Try to really distinguish when it's time to eat versus when it's time to sleep. It seems silly, but doing something small in between the meal and going to sleep helps break it up. Read a story, give a bath, change diaper, or sing a song. It helps them know that bedtime is one thing and eating is another. 
    -Offer a pacifier instead of nursing back to sleep? I know it's replacing one habit over the other, but I it could help with learning to self-soothe. 
    -put a sippy cup of water and a small stuffed animal or lovey in the crib. My kiddos wake up thirsty all the time and the water is right there for them. I also sometimes hear them talking to, chewing on or playing with their stuffed animals. 
    Good luck, mama! Hope your family gets some rest!! 
  • Those are all great suggestions! I was to the point where I was ready to run to the store and buy every kind of pacifier available to make sure she had her pick! Ha! I am beyond tired so that sounds just fine to me, lol. But hubs and I agreed not to resort to a pacifier (yet). Last night was a much better night. When she woke up again at 11 pm, I let her cry (just a fuss, not full on cry) for about 10 min. I went in, but tried to not get her out of the bed. I finally did and nursed her, but when I put her back in her crib she fussed but didn't scream and I was able to get her back to sleep by patting her back. That is progress since she normally will get up and scream until I get her. This was a little before 11 pm and she slept until 4:30 am! Woo! Hubs rocked her to sleep tonight and she is still asleep so far (fingers crossed!). Anyway, I like the idea of separating eating and bedtime. I can see how that would help. It is going to be a rough go, but I am feeling encouraged now. Thanks for the support and advice!
  • Honestly, that's still normal at that age. Self soothing/sleep through the night is developmental. I don't believe in any bad habits for babies. I or my husband still rocks our toddler to sleep almost every night. I am also a huge believer is babies transitioning when they are developmentally ready. 
  • I don't know how you do it. We put dd in crib drowsy but awake. Tuck her in, giver her the lovey, and put a Sippy cup of water in her crib and let her cio. The first night was 45 min, I just kept going in after 2,5,7,10,15 ect to lay her back down. The second night was less. Third even less and by the end of the week she was sleeping 12 hours. My dd is small (17 lbs at 14 months) and I worried she needed milk but we decided after bath and brushing teeth no milk until morning. And instead she increased her daytime food intake. 
    We call it key lime pie in my moms group. If you woke up at night to a big piece of key lime pie available you may eat it at 2am because its there, but if it isnt there you don't think about it (after a few nights ha!) 
    my good friend did the rocking/nursing to sleep thing for years and now her 4 year old still wakes 2-3 times a night. I think self soothing is an important skill and thats why I chose to cio. But I know why some people are against it. 
  • Also, I am an extremely light sleeper and since I am pregnant again and have terrible night sickness if I wake, I wear ear plugs and have a sound machine on. We have never had a baby monitor but my husband sleeps across the hall from her with his door open, he is a very deep sleeper so she will have to cry 5-10 min to wake him and 90% of the time if she does wake now she might fuss or cry a few minutes then fall back asleep. Before since I was such a light sleeper I would be in her room within a minute and most of the time she was crying out in her sleep so even giving her 5-10 min in the motn to settle herself seems to help. Sometimes they cry out between sleep cycles and I think I was waking her fully by rushing in! 
  • Have you tried a sleep consultant? They can be incredibly helpful. 

  • Our key was not putting little to bed actually asleep. We still give her a bottle but I have her give me a hug and kiss or I will talk to her before I lay her in her crib. She gets a paci, a lovie, a blanket, a stuffed animal and a pillow in her bed (she's 17 months but has been getting all of those since about 9 months). She sees me place all of her items and I walk out. When she does wake up we don't offer any milk (I know some who have done water and worked well for them) and we don't go in there unless absolutely necessary. If i do go in her room I will pick her up and walk around the room talking or singing to her. I only do this for about 5 mins and then I lay her back down like before. Our key was doing an earlier bed time. When she was over tired, she slept worse. LOs bedtime was 7 but we moved it back to 7:30 after daylight savings time. She sleeps until we wake her at 7am for daycare. I hope it gets better!!! Good luck 

    Me 32 and DH 40

    Fur-baby named Bella

    1 MC Nov. 2013

    DD born Nov. 2, 2014

    Little 2 EDD Oct. 1 

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