Posted by: mindyourknitting | November 23, 2009

Anyone who says that co-sleeping is lovely is lying to you, because babies don’t sleep.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Abigail does not sleep through the night.  She is sixteen months old and can sleep through the night, sometimes does a 12-hour uninterrupted stint, but usually doesn’t.  On average she gets up once or twice a night a few times a week, and she can be put back to sleep pretty quickly if we provide her with her soother, or at worst a quick rock and cuddle before being put back into her crib.  We don’t jump up at her first meep, and we only take her out of her crib as a last resort.  She has a bedtime routine, and goes down for naps (which are generally early enough in the day not to interfere with bedtime) and at bedtime without much protest – usually she’s pretty happy to go to bed.  But lately she’s been waking frequently anytime after 3am, and it’s become a struggle to get her to stay in her crib until at least 6am.  We’ve tried moving her bedtime back a bit, and switching up her naps, and nothing has made any difference.  This morning she was up at 5, and one day last week she wouldn’t go back in her crib after 4am.  So we did what we never do – or rather Erik did what we never do.  He put her in bed with us.  This sounds lovely but involves her kicking me repeatedly in the head as she rolls around and takes the barest of cat naps.  When she was newly born she slept in our room in a bassinette until she was about 3 months old, but we never really did the co-sleeping, and she won’t do it now.  When she was a small baby, anytime we put her in our bed out of desperation to get her to sleep she would cuddle up and pass out, but I would wake stiff and uncomfortable because even in my sleep the mommy brain was making sure I didn’t move too much and squish her.  She also slept in a sling I carried a lot, but once she outgrew that she pretty exclusively has slept in her crib or a playpen.  And now, when I would give anything to be able to take her into bed with me and have her snuggle up and go to  sleep (no more fear of squishing), there is almost no chance she will actually fall asleep in this scenario.  Instead, she will chatter and play and roll around and fling limbs into our faces. 

I was so sure that she would sleep through the night by the time I went back to work (STOP LAUGHING).  I also thought she’d be a good ways through teething, but look at how that turned out.  The sleep situation is getting out of hand (although I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before and never really meant it.  And I’m not sure I do now).  It’s just that it so much less manageable now that I’m back at work, and I just got handed a bunch more responsibility (for a very marginal additional amount of money and on a temporary basis, but still), and I am so tired.  And some days Abigail has baby bags under her pretty blue peepers, so I don’t think she’s getting enough sleep either.  I don’t know if it’s a growth spurt, or teething, or her attempt to kill me through sleep deprivation, but her sleep is crap lately.  My Google searches this morning included “1 year old not sleeping through night,” sleep deprivation + long-term effects,” and “who taught baby Guantanamo techniques?”  I don’t think she’s aware of torturing us, but I’ll let you know if she tries waterboarding next.  I’ve wondered if her still having a soother has interfered with her sleep habits, but sometimes the soother doesn’t, well, soothe, so although it helps at bedtime and sometimes helps put her back to sleep if she isn’t really awake in the middle of the night, it isn’t a fail-safe solution, nor does it seem to be the root of the problem.  We’ve been giving her a bottle of milk before bed (the only bottle she has left in her routine, she’s fully on sippy cups now), but the last few days she’s been refusing the bottle, so now is the perfect time to yank it entirely, I think.  Last night, instead of drinking the bottle of milk, she flicked the nipple so it made a thwacking sound, over and over, and giggled madly.  Yeah, I think she’s over bottles for good.  I wanted to get rid of bottles, then work on getting rid of the soother once she was at least a year and a half, so we’re on our way.  But the sleep thing still confounds me.

I hate transitional times.  And there are so, so many with babies.  Every time we get her sorted out, something changes.  We’ve tried everything to help her sleep longer, and every time I look up sleep solutions, I come across a list of things we already do or have already tried.  The only thing we haven’t tried in any dedicated fashion is letting her cry it out, which in her case would involve shrieking, sobbing, and gasping because she gets so worked up, so we’re not doing that.  So, with that exception, do you have any suggestions?  Anything obvious that I have overlooked?  Or do I just suck it up and wait for it to work itself out? (Please don’t let it be that last one).  Help, internets, help!



  1. Well after my first angel, I would have judged and thought what are you not doing right? Babies sleep through the night by 6 months latest. However, angel #2 is a much lighter sleeper, a more frequent waker and overall a much more formidable opponent in the sleep battle. I would have said, suck it up and let her cry it out, but yet I’m still getting up a few times a night because angel #2 “cries it out” in a way that angel #1 never did. Plus I also now worry that #2 will wake #1, though it hasn’t happened yet. My conclusion today (yes today, parenting decisions have a very quick expiration date as the product switches on you constantly) is that we trust our gut and if crying it out doesn’t feel right then it isn’t. Remember, they won’t cry for us at 2am when they’re 16 and I have heard Moms of older children say they miss it. Sounds crazy but maybe I rush to angel #2 sooner as I know this won’t last forever. So maybe the only solution is knowing you’re not alone at 2am. In fact, see all you Moms up in a few hours.

  2. Ugh, the sleep thing is so hard. I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Have you read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child?” It’s certainly the best book I’ve read on sleep, albeit poorly edited and sometimes confusing. But maybe there’s something in there that can help you.

    I’m going to post about it, but Jack was always a great sleeper, sleeping from 7 to 7 at 4 months. But now he’s night waking a lot, even hungry at 5:15. I’m attempting to cram food down his throat all day in an effort to keep him from waking, but so far… not so much. Good luck to both of us!

  3. Oh, and I completely agree about the co-sleeping.

  4. I believe that I have Googled sleep solutions everyday for 10 months, borrowed every sleep solution book from the library and asked my fellow moms what their secrets are in an attempt to find a way to help my baby sleep through the night. My baby doesn’t sleep through the night at all (she wakes up at least once a night). As my mat leaves nears its end, I find that I am not minding waking up with her because I know that I will miss her so much when I’m back to work (I have a 1.5 hour commute each way to work and will be gone in the morning before she wakes up so I’ll only see her for a few hours in the evening before she is off to bed). I won’t let her cry it out either – so I’ve decided not to let it bother me anymore and take comfort in the fact that we all eventually sleep through the night … I know this doesn’t help all that much, but just know that when you are up at 2, 3 or 4 am, I’m probably up too!!

  5. Adam just started making it through the night when we switched from the crib to the big bed in the new house. He now makes it from about 9pm until about 5-6am and sometimes he comes into our bed and goes back to sleep for another couple of hours. After waking up every 4 hours for 2 years, this is like heaven and I don’t care as he’s out of our bed by the time he hits puberty and starts to smell. Its worth it. I have finally started having full thoughts from start to finish and don’t feel drugged all of the time.

    I suppose the hard asses would just call us lazy for not dealing with it. Now that he’s in a regular bed, he just slithers out of his own bed and crawls into ours and takes his position right between us, head on pillows, tucked under the duvet. We’re too tired from the previous 2 years to do anything about it. We’re just glad we don’t actually have to get up and go get him anymore.

    Besides that, there is a part of me that actually really enjoys having my whole little family in the bed. Waking up seeing my toddler in his snowman footie pajamas spread eagle in the middle of the bed like a starfish and my husband curled up in one tiny corner like a postage stamp. It makes me smile every time.

  6. Good luck… I’ve been co-sleeping with my little one for a while now, and that seems to work for us – I get him to bed by lying down beside him, until he falls asleep, then I transfer him to his crib – and around 1 a.m. he calls for me and I bring him back to my bed! I did this, more or less, with my 4 year old, too, when he was younger.

  7. […] 26, 2009 by mindyourknitting First off, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post.  It was reassuring to read that others struggle with getting their babies to sleep, and that […]

  8. Oh I feel your pain Trista. I think they come with a button that switches once they think we have figured them out – just to start all over again.

    Matteo was doing the 5am thing for a while..and while it sucked, we just took turns getting up with him. That passed and now he (who NEVER would sleep or cuddle with us) wants to sleep with me at bedtime. The other night he cried on and off for 2 hours! (I went it to console him, would have him settled and in bed and 10 minutes later, off and screaming again). I finally caved and brought him to bed with me where he rolled over and went to sleep for the rest of the night (glad he was sleeping as I wasn’t – I too can’t sleep for fear of him rolling over the pillows and off the bed or being kicked repeatedly). So, I then came to a conclusion..he is testing me and his limits. So, last night when he did the same thing, I went in, gave him a kiss, refused to pick him up, and told him firmly it was do do time. He hated that and threw his toys at me and screamed louder but I only went in one more time and then off to dream land he went and slept until 7:30 am….Go figure..maybe he just needed to know his limits or maybe it was a one time thing and tonight will be a whole new story 😦

  9. […] by a (possibly teething or nightmarish but most definitely wakeful) baby.  Remind me to write another post about how much co-sleeping suuuuu-huuuu-uuucks and really doesn’t ever, ever work for us and […]

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