My 12 month old is waking every two hours if not every hour to nurse for comfort. She only nurses for three minutes and goes back to sleep but it’s killing me and I need to stop but she will scream for hours if I don’t do it and wake up my three year old. She’s stubborn. I know I have created this bad habit because three minutes compared to hours of screaming was worth it but now I am exhausted
This is sooooo hard!!! We have some amazing sleep consultants in this community so I’m going to tag them and try to get you some help mama!
Ah- the 12 month old sleep. It can be so hard. There is a lot going on developmentally right now and it can impact sleep. Is this new behavior or has it been going on for a long time? What time is bedtime? How about naps? Is she taking two naps? Daytime sleep can impact the quality of nighttime sleep.
It sounds like she is nursing for comfort and not for true hunger (given that it is such a short time). This means you will want to try to replace the nursing with something else. There are lots of ways to handle waking, you just want to be consistent with the method you choose. Handle each wake the same way.
I know the crying is hard to hear. You can try adding white noise machines to your older child’s room or even in the hallway to help mask out the sound. As long as you are consistent with the method you choose, it hopefully won’t take long. Also, you might be pleasantly surprised by what your 3 year old can sleep through! My older son never heard his younger brother cry at night and they shared a room! I was always shocked!
I am happy to chat more and give more support. Feel free to email or text:
Johanna@sleepsoundlyconsulting.com or 917-558-3488.
This scenario is actually why I became a sleep consultant! My now 3 year old did the same thing until she was 10 months old and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I knew she couldn’t be hungry each time but we were in survival mode and it’s all we knew to do!
What I didn’t realize was that by nursing her and rocking her to sleep each night she then needed me for every natural wake up that occurred in the night. We all have natural wakings, but for adults and kids who have independent sleep skills, we generally don’t even notice the waking because we slip right back into sleep. So if your daughter nurses or rocks to sleep, or is even laid in her crib drowsy, each time she naturally wakes she’s looking for that same help to get back to sleep. Does that make sense?
(ps If your goal is to nurse past one year, you absolutely can! We just work on pulling it away from sleep!)
The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay that way. With a developmentally appropriate sleep plan she can be sleeping well in about 2 weeks, and we generally see the nights, especially, consolidate with the first 5 or so!
My daughter is not 12 months yet, but I found this super helpful. Thanks ladies!
been there mama! and its really exhausting. a sound machine for your 3 year old might work really well, at least for a few nights. Without worrying about your older child, are you ok letting your baby cry it out? if yes, then maybe for a few nights you need to move the 3 year old to a different room of the house that she’s less likely to wake up, or over the weekend so that if the 3 year old does wake up, you don’t have to worry too much about getting up and out the next morning.
When my baby was waking up just to be comforted back to sleep, she woke up around 9/10:00 the first time and my older child was in a really deep sleep at that time so when I let the baby cry it out, I wasn’t too worried about the noise and then that ended up being it for the rest of the night once she settled herself that first time. not sure if i was just lucky, but maybe its worth risking your 3 year olds sleep for a few nights to get all your nights back
Hang in there mama! Some good advice already posted…my LO is 2.5 now and is a great sleeper but I just couldn’t stand doing the cry it out method with her. As people posted above already, one of the best ways to get her to sleep past two hours is to help her learn to get better at connecting her sleep cycles. Putting her down drowsy but awake so she can learn to put herself to sleep is a good first step to take, though it’ll take time to get her to learn this way versus letting her cry it out. You’ll really need to stay on top of her wake windows, which is the really tiring part, but it’ll make it easier to get her to fall asleep on her own.
Another idea is to give her a lovey, some kind of crib-safe stuffed animal, that smells like you or dad (sleep with it in your bed for a few nights), might help too. This was instrumental for my LO. We’d watch her on the camera, see her wake up, reach for the lovey and go back to sleep.
This also may be a little late to start, but maybe giving her a pacifier? This was instrumental for my LO to self-soothe herself back to sleep, though she started rejecting it at 9mos.
I love the lovey idea that smells like mom or dad!
I had trouble with the scream it out method so when my babies cried at night, I would rub their backs to help them relax and know i was close by, but I cut out the feedings. Not sure that would be helpful to you or if you feel like you’re past that-it can take longer, but it is a different method. good luck mama, you’ll get through this!
Ok I just have to give an update: I tried @SleepSoundly sleep schedule she so kindly suggested to me for my 12 month old. Also when she woke up in middle of night I went in and rocked her for 30-60 seconds and then laid her back down and left room. First night was rough but I was consistent with my approach. Second night rough but a little better. And LAST NIGHT… she went to bed at 7:30 woke up at 1:45 and cried I rocked her for 30 seconds she cried for about 3 min and fell asleep and is still sleeping!!! My toddler has slept all three nights through the night she never woke up her to screaming. Thank you to all for your suggestions and tips. I feel like a new women
Ahhh!!! This is amazing news! Thank you for sharing this update and I’m so glad our community was able to help
@Madisonmlb, this is a fantastic update! You are well on your way to healthy sleep. Great job staying consistent! I am so happy to hear that sleep is better for everyone! Hurray to feeling like a new woman, and hurray to more sleep for your kids!
Here’s your next step: each time you go in when she wakes, try to use your voice to soothe, without picking her up. Give her a quick check to reassure her, but try not to touch her. Leave the room before she falls asleep. If she continues to cry, you can do a few more checks, but just try your best to leave her in the crib and reassure her with a “sshh”. You got this! You have already made tremendous progress and you will continue to do so! WAY TO GO!
Amazing! Sleep can be so tough so I’m glad the schedule from @SleepSoundly is working!
Thanks trying it for sure!
That’s amazing!! Thank you for sharing!!