My daughter is now seven months old, and for the last week she’s been waking up four times a night. How can I make this stop?
She has never slept through the night, but until recently she was only getting up once or twice to nurse. During the day she nurses every three hours or sooner. We don’t totally demand feed, but we’re not on a rigid schedule either. But at night, she’s trying to nurse four times in 10 hours – five if you count the feeding right before she goes to bed.
It’s pretty clear to me that this is not about a nutritional need but rather a mommy need. When I nurse her at night now, she latches on with vacuum force and won’t let go. I used to be able to sneak her pacifier in when she had stopped actually swallowing milk and moved into human-pacifier sucking, but she’s on to me. She refuses the pacifier pretty articulately for someone who can’t talk.
Our pediatrician suggested giving her a bottle of water at night instead of letting her nurse. I haven’t tried that because it seems like throwing gasoline on a fire since she hates both bottles and water. She hasn’t had a bottle since I quit my job when she was almost five months old, and the last time I tried to give her one was wildly unsuccessful. She has a sippy cup that we put water in and let her play with, but I wouldn’t use the word “drink” to describe this scenario. If water actually does hit her tongue, she gags.
She sleeps in her own crib most of the time. She started in a co-sleeper in our room and moved into our bed pretty quickly once I discovered side-lying nursing. She slept in our bed for months mostly because I could sleep while she did that – until I couldn’t anymore. She started sleeping fitfully with us, so we transitioned her to her crib. Everyone sleeps better this way. Except me because I have to get up four times now. But she didn’t start waking up four times a night as soon as she moved into her room. We had several weeks of reasonable sleep.
After she nurses, she goes back to sleep in her crib pretty well — I’ll just be up again in 90 minutes. But on the nights I’m too tired and just take her back to our bed, she wants to be latched on to me for the rest of the night and protests loudly when she’s not allowed to. It’s kind of a trick to get her to go back to sleep, but after that she doesn’t wake up as often if she’s in our bed.
So I’m kind of stumped. Part of me thinks, fine, let her use me as a human pacifier all night, obviously she needs the security right now. But part of me thinks I’m really failing her by not letting her learn to self-sooth and sleep independently. And how would I even do that?
On a positive note, I find her emotional development fascinating. For a person who has only been in the world for seven months and was kind of just a babylump for most of that time, she’s pretty emotionally mature now. She laughs and whines and gives kisses and says “mmm” after bites of sweet potatoes. Also, she’s an adroit manipulator of adults now.
Which reminds me of this oldie-but-goodie from The Onion: New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths.
OK, moms, I’m officially soliciting advice, knowing full well how touchy sleep/breastfeeding issues are. I can take it.