My kid doesn’t sleep. Well, she does, but not enough, or really: not as long as I’d like her to. Here we are 9 and a half months into her life and she still makes it a point to wake up three to four times a night. Isn’t this the part where she starts sleeping better? She’s eating more throughout the day, “running” around more, and not as dependent on my breasts…. so then, why? Why wont she sleep? I know I’m not alone in this, I’m sure many of you mamas out there have kids who hate sleeping, but four times seems a bit excessive at this age. 
I wrote a post, four months ago or so, about my sleep issues: complicated relationships. I wonder, is Marlowe in a complicated relationship with sleep too? Is it nightmares waking her each night? Does she want to sleep, but just cant help waking up in confusion or fear? Or does she just not want to be asleep? Will she ever sleep? Or will she be faced with a complicated sleep relationship for her whole life? I worry that I’ve passed down the nightmare gene. Of course, there are worse things to pass down… but when you’ve been plagued your whole life with violent or sad nightmares and midnight tears—- the nightmare gene seems pretty bad. 
Who really knows. For me, I am certain: I will always hate sleep, but want it. I will always be plagued with nightmares, especially with meals or sugar closer to bedtime. I will, for the rest of my life, wake up in confusion to what is really and what is not. I don’t question it anymore. It is what it is. But for Marlowe: I’m not sure. You can see I have a lot of questions. It’s not just night time either. Naps have been minimal to none. Now, if she naps longer than twenty minutes, she will wake up crying at some point in between until she can be coaxed back down. If it’s not nightmares and just a baby thing, then how do I fix it? What can I do? Is there anything? If you know, please tell me. A mama needs a break.  


  1. i'm right there with ya! 9 months, still waking constantly through the night :/ barely coping, super jealous of peeps with sleepers. it sucks!

  2. Dear Drea,

    My son is a breastfed 3 month old. He just started sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night, but he doesnt usually go to sleep until 11 to 12. Right now we are working on trying to get him on some sort of nap schedule, but honestly its not working. Do you have a bedtime routine? With Fletcher we take a bath together, the lotion then nurse. He still fusses himself to sleep but when he gets to sleep he does sleep a good stretch. I would recommend during something the same every night so she knows that its sleepy time. Also I read in the Sleep Ladys Guide To A Better Nights Sleep that if she wakes up during the middle of the night have a set time to nurse, say 330 and try to stick to it. I know there's so many suggestions and I myself am personally overwhelmed with peoples opinions on what to do. Just do the best you can : )

  3. hi drea! wow, just reading these comments makes me feel sooo much better. levi is a day older than marlowe and trust me, he is no where near sleeping through the night either!

    i know there were a couple of people who mentioned that once they stopped breastfeeding, their baby slept through the night, but that was not the case with us. i stopped nursing ( :[ ) about a month and half ago and by no means have either of us gotten better sleep. In fact, it is almost even worse now because i now have to get up and make a bottle, so we both are more awakened, vs when i nursed and i could just grab him and plop him on the breast while we were still half asleep.

    anyway, i wanted to recommend a great book i found. it's called "the no-cry sleep solution" by elizabeth pantley (with dr. sears' interjections as well). she offers really great tips for better sleep. one of the best ones is an early bedtime. and by early, i mean EARLY. i used to try to keep levi up as late as possible in an effort to get that little early bird to sleep in more, but it just made things so much worse when he got overtired. she recommends bedtime AS SOON as they show any signs of tiredness (yawning, rubbing eyes, fussiness, etc.), even if that means 7 p.m. Once we started putting him to bed much earlier, his night wakings did improve and his naptimes were a lot better too. i am not the most diligent with following all of the book's tricks (because it does take time, and i am kind of lazy when it comes to being woken up in the middle of the night), but i've heard great things about her method. the best part is that she is 100% pro-breastfeeding and 100% anti cry-it-out. i hope you get a chance to check it out! good luck 🙂

  4. We didn't night wean our guy and get him sleeping through the night until he was around 15 months. He sleeps in the bed with us so we used Dr. Gordon's method called "changing sleep patterns in the family bed". It could also be applied for crib sleepers. It worked rapidly and with very few tears. It's a much more supportive method than the old fashioned sleep training (which probably gives way to sleep anxiety and nightmares in the long run who knows, right?) Also you don't have to read a book, it's all on his website. I wrote about it here:

  5. i was right where you were at 9 months. well, except my baby was waking up every hour and wouldn't let me put her down without a lot of coaxing. it's not that i'm completely anti CIO, it just doesn't feel right for my little one right now, so i was obviously having a very hard time. i went online and found out that right around nine months there is a HUGE sleep regression. seriously, so many mamas were right were you and i were. they said that even babies that had been sleep trained would usually have to be re-trained (to some extent) at nine months. with teething, learning crawl, walk and their heightened awareness and seperation anxiety, it all comes to together for a lot of rough nights.

    i co-sleep with my daughter and it so saved me. i know that it's not for every one, but i don't know what i would do without it. i push my mattress up against the wall, and my baby sleeps between me and the wall. i totally nurse her in my sleep, i even undo my nursing bra in my sleep! i actually get really good sleep with her and the hard nights that i don't get sleep would be hard no matter where she sleeps.

    just know that you are not doing anything 'wrong' to 'cause' her waking. sure you could probably take drastic measures to stop it, but at what cost? for me, i always weighed my options. i could drastically sleep train, but could i just stick it out one more week? two more weeks? go to bed earlier?
    thankfully, i stuck it out, but it was hard, but now she is sleeping better.

    also, there are a lot of myths about night nursing/ co sleeping floating around. the idea that if you have if you start co-sleeping, you have to do it forever. i have talked to so many people that would say it's not true! and for me, it totally is a joy, seriously. we do a combo, we put her to sleep in her crib and keep putting her back to sleep if i'm awake. then, once i am asleep and she wakes up, i go and get her and bring her into bed with me.

    but, know you are not alone in the difficulty of nighttime parenting. my little one has given me a run for my money in that area, but i always tell myself that no one has ever died of sleep deprivation… right??! 🙂

  6. you're an inspiration, drea. and you are strong. I'm walking this road with ya!

    and @katie gonzalaz — your comment even encouraged me. really.. i even cried.. because i needed to hear all you said. i'm getting that book! thank you.

  7. Our son woke up every 2 hours until 8 months, when we finally started co-sleeping. Now if he wakes up, we can comfort him quickly. We also tried to get him out of the habit of eating at night by rocking him to sleep instead of feeding him. It helped a lot, and now he sleeps straight through on most nights. He still has bad nights every once in a while too.
    When he turns and fidgets I worry he's having bad dreams, so I give him a hug and rub his belly. I can relate to your nightmares. I often wake up confused and upset. I wish I knew how to fix that.

  8. Oh mama! I read all the book when my daughter was a babe. I even spoke to a doc specializing in adolescent sleep. Nothing worked. I would never let her cry it out, but that didn't even work for many of my friends who have tried it. Infant sleep is tough. Everyone with a babe who sleeps thinks they have the answer. Truth be told, it's just the personality of the baby. My first born didn't sleep through the night until she was over two. Once I just accepted it, we were all better off.

    Now I'm starting all over again with another daughter who is two months. She seems to be a better sleeper thus far, but it's still too early to tell.

  9. oh, also… I have very similar sleep issues (I read your other sleep post too!) Sometimes I stay up super super late just because dreaming exhausts me so much I'd just rather not go there. Maybe that's why it's hard for me to wake up in the mornings on time?!! ha. I wonder if my baby dreams as vividly as I do. She always wakes up crying, and she's normally so happy. Who knows? It kind of comforts me to know other people have such intricate, intense sleep/dream cycles as I do. Sometimes I feel like I can never really get anyone to understand, but my dreams stay with me in my day to day to so much that sometimes I start to convince myself they are just as important as my real life. Confusing! And stressful. And sometimes sad, because I miss things that pop up often in my dreams. Sometimes I feel like my dreams last as long as my days. Double days and no nights! That's pretty exhausting.

    But, on the plus side, maybe it fuels our creative personalities? 🙂

  10. Drea,
    Have you read the La Leche League book – the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding? I am having similar issues with my 11 month old waking 2-4 times at night crying and wanting to nurse and was starting to feel pressure that something was wrong with something I was doing… but this book made me feel so much better. I feel like there are lots of well-meaning comments here about not nursing anymore or taking away night nursings, but I know from reading your blog that breastfeeding is really important to you.

    It's really important to me too, and I have done a lot of research to try to understand the complex changes and relationships between nursing/hunger/sleep/my daughter's development/etc. Just because they are not nursing for hunger at night does not mean that the nursing is not important… there are all kinds of benefits that nursing brings, comfort being one of them!

    Anyway, the section on sleep made me feel so much better about our semi-co-sleeping situation and gave me insight into the biological and psychological reasons for the frequent wake-ups, separation anxiety, etc. There is a lot of pressure in Western society for babies to sleep through the night, when really that is not the norm for babies. (The "norm" is that anything goes! Some people just get lucky to have a baby who sleeps through the night!) I think the best thing for me about reading this book is that it helped me accept this phase, and know that I am doing what's best for my baby.

    OH! And the section is great about night nursings – it actually makes that argument that you will get way more sleep nursing at night/ co-sleeping (even if you wake more often) than if you did not nurse at night. Basically, the idea is that many babies will wake often at night either way, and moms who nurse can take care of it quickly and fall back asleep while doing so. I wish I could cut and paste it all here – they do a great job explaining, and I am writing at the end of a long day and sense some serious rambling….

    Hope you check it out if you haven't already! This book is seriously great for a nursing-enthusiast, I wish I had read it sooner!

    And all that being said, I really hope you have a good nights rest soon!!!!!!

  11. This my first time commenting…but please read "happy sleep habits happy child." This book explains it all and will definitely help you get a child that sleeps well. Yes, sleep does beget sleep. My twins are 3 now and never up much past 8pm. At Marlowe's age they were in bed before 7pm. It's a vicious cycle when a child gets over-tired. It prevents them sleeping well through the night.

    You absolutely do not have to use crying-it-out (the book does have that in it but it offers other options as well), we didn't and we have great sleepers – twins who sleep in the same room and can sleep through each others' cries and yelling (now that they are toddlers). It took a little time in the beginning on our part but it was so worth it.

    My two when they were babies slept almost 13 hrs a night and now at 3 yrs old they sleep about 11 hrs (straight through).

    I really hope I don't sound "preachy." I love your blog! I just wish every parent was armed with this book. As adults who don't typically "understand" all that is involved with sleeping we tend to project our own issues onto our kids and it doesn't have to be that way. You can teach (and help) your child to sleep well.

  12. maybe change her sleeping routine? maybe go for a long walk after dinner and before bed to get her tired? babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own. it's not something they know to do. it takes time.
    i definitely still suggest not giving her the breast. it's just a matter of comfort for her.

  13. You didn't mention if Marlowe sleeps in your room but I agree with rokeon, I am single mummy to a breast fed 16 month old. I had issues with her constantly waking up to feed during the night, until shortly after her 1st birthday when I put my foot down and stopped her sleeping in my bed and put her down in her own room. It took a couple of days but, like magic, she would sleep through the night. It was tough and there were tears (from both of us) but I was at a point where I was so tired I didn't have the energy to be the mum I wanted to be. I give her a proper bedtime routine of books, bath, night feed, then bed. I do not let her fall asleep on the breast though otherwise when they wake up and you've disappeared they get alarmed. To this day if I sneak her into bed with me for a night she will wake up continuously to feed, its the smell of the milk. The same thing doesn't work for everyone but at this age it is comfort feeding, not hunger.

  14. I breast fed my daughter since day one, and she had never even taken a bottle (which was so difficult for me). She had never really slept a lot anyway, but I couldn't even go to restaurants when she was little because she would always be eating! Her naps were minimal and at night she would always wake up quite a few times, but once I fed her, she'd be back out. I couldn't get a break anywhere- even at night I couldn't let anyone babysit her so I could go out to dinner or anything. Thennnn, at 11 months, I just stopped breastfeeding. No lie, she has slept almost all night, every night since then (she's 16 months now). At first she woke a few times but I focused on not giving in and just patted her back to sleep. She got over it pretty quick. Naps were A LOT harder, and still sometimes are but each day is better. I thought she would be the kid that NEVER got over not sleeping much, but she actually did. I'd give it at least a year and/or when you stop nursing. I was totally in your position, seeking help and relief. It can ware you down, quick. As they say, you'll miss things when they grow out of it. I sure do. I even miss her when she finally does go to sleep, like "what to do now." Hope you get some relief soon!

  15. My little is two now and I'm trapped in this co-sleeping human pacifier phase (it's not a phase) where I still rock her to sleep and nurse on and off during the night. I'm ready to give it all up and move on but she's not, so I don't know. Tricky business this sleep stuff.

  16. Ooh, she stays awake through the turtle and white noise? She's good! Those things put me to sleep while I'm sitting in there with the kid!

    One other thought…this might be just my weird kid. But does she take a bottle? I was dead set on breastfeeding, and my baby had severe reflux. So I had to pump bottles (and add rice cereal) for him. He was also a biter. So I ended up mostly bottle feeding (but still breastmilk). Not suggesting rice cereal, but I found that he went to sleep quicker if he had a bottle at night (even if it didn't have rice). I don't know what the deal is with that…maybe he knew when the bottle was empty, that's it, it's empty, time to sleep, whereas with nursing, it's not like I was going anywhere, he could just eat and eat. Just a thought, if she takes a bottle at all.

    Hang in there, it's tough, but you sound like a wonderful mother and are doing a great job with your girl.

  17. @jess1979: How funny (or not funny) just as I was reading your comment M work up. I got her to bed early tonight! (930). I've been doing what I can to just rock her and not nurse her at night… except when I can she she is really trying to get in my shirt, then I nurse. I did just rock her back to sleep, no nursing, but she seems gassy tonight, so tonight might be a whole other problem. She has a white noise maker AND the turtle! neither seems to matter to her! I would love the turtle and white noise maker to help me sleep! 😉

  18. Someone might have mentioned this, but is she actually hungry when she wakes up at night? My son is 15 months, (I also have a 3 year old), and I nursed him until he was ready to stop a few months ago. At one point when he was maybe 6 months, I just didn't feed him when he cried in the middle of the night. I went in and picked him up, calmed him down, etc. I just felt like he wasn't hungry. I did that again the next night and rather quickly, he stopped "needing" to eat in the middle of the night.

    He (and his older brother) gets nightmares from time to time. I've found that the Twilight Turtles have really helped both kids…it really helped them fall asleep quicker, and they stay asleep. Also, have you tried a white noise machine? My 15 month old uses one at nap time, and I turn it on at night time too if he's had a bad dream or just having trouble going to sleep (and staying asleep!)

  19. I always joke about people who say all newborns do is sleep…because mine didn't! I too have been plagued with a love/hate relationship with sleep mostly because I also suffer from frequent nightmare and I require a lot of sleep to function. My daughter is now about five and a half months and for about a month now is starting to nap with relative predictability. I am not entirely sure why but I think she is making up for lost time! Either way I make a concerted effort to get her to nap throughout the day. The better she naps the better she sleeps at night because she is less resistent. Right now I bedshare while breastfeeding because at three months she refused to sleep in the crib for more than two hours at a time. Once in a blue I get four. If she is in bed with me there seems to be more symbiosis. I know this doesn't work for everyone.

    Otherwise what has helped is laying down with her to 'nap' and then getting up when she is sufficiently in deep sleep, driving, lots of rocking in her car seat, putting her in my maya wrap and tapping her bum while holding her close…whatever it takes. Best of luck!!

  20. not that you should stop breastfeeding but i think that cutting off some of the night feedings might help. that's what i did with Lily and she then started sleeping all through the night. they get used to waking up to feed so it's not even a matter of them being hungry, it's just a habit. i know it's hard (trust me, her crib was 2' away from our bed) but, let her cry it out. i'm a believer in the cry-it-out method. let her cry. go check in 15 minutes and soothe her. don't give up. good luck mama!

  21. First time posting and I'm going to give unsolicited advice (eek!) It seems like I read somewhere in your blog that Marlowe goes to bed kinda late, is that right? Have you tried putting her to bed earlier? (or is it even possible with your schedule?) I know it doesn't make sense but, with babies.. sleep usually begets sleep. If she gets some quality sleep on the front end of her night, you *may* see her wake less. This is what happened with my girl. Hang in there! I know it's sooo tough. You just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for days. Heck, WEEKS!

  22. I just learned in school that 8-9 months is the peak for seperation anxiety(give or take depending on the baby). So its normal for babies at this stage to wake themselves frequently in between sleep cycles to make sure you are still there. It is also normal at this stage to need you to help them get back to sleep. My little guy is 6 months old and has always been a good sleeper and he just started waking up 3-4 times a night.

  23. you're not alone! my daughter is now almost 22 months and still wakes up atleast once a night to nurse on most nights, but hates napping and falling asleep. the only thing that helped her sleep longer stretches was getting her her own bed. she never used her crib (we co-slept), so around 12 months we bought a full sized mattress, placed it on the floor and she slept like a dream. it seemed a lot more comfortable than the crib mattress. she never rolled off, since it's a full sized bed she had a lot of room to move around in. i hope you get some better sleep soon!

  24. Around that age (between 5-9 months), I had a similar problem with my daughter except she’d wake up so many times throughout the night. I think with her it was a combination of things: teething, hunger, gas, and just being a baby. Sometimes it would just be one thing and other times it would be several things all at once. I breastfed until I had to go back to work. I kept pumping until she was about 7 months. I don’t know how open you are to bottle feeding, but my doctor recommended rice cereal. So before bed, I’d take a bottle of breast milk and put a little bit of rice cereal in it and she would only wake up once at night. It didn’t happen every night, but it helped.

    Sometimes these things just have to run their course. Hopefully you’ll figure out something that works, or maybe she’ll just grow out of it soon. I know how hard it is to go without getting sleep, so I definitely feel for you. Good luck!

  25. I am glad you are sharing this! My girl is now six…almost seven. But sleep was a BIG issue for her. She was a horrible sleeper and suffered with colic for the first three months of life. Then it was two wakings a night. After age one it was one waking a night…and I think that way for a while…The thing that seemed to solve all of her sleep issues? Buying her a "big girl" bed. She received it for her third birthday and never woke at night again! I think it may have something to do with the feeding…I know how hard this is. Hang in there, it will not be like this forever.

  26. I wish I had an answer for you but olive (9.5 months) still wakes up anywhere from 1-4 times as well. The worst part is she thinks 5 am is wake up time for good. It's been so brutal. Every night I try and tell myself it Won't be forever and to just roll with it. It's so so hard and I'm so so tired but know you aren't alone. Im sure it has nothing to do with you hating sleep and passing that on. I'm sure just like my olive she is trying to figure it all out. I've tried it all. More feedings during the day, more naps, less naps, different ways going to sleep and she still does her thing. It won't be forever even though it feels like it. Just know I'm awake with you!

  27. @rockeon: not really. I had to co-sleep with her for a bit after her overnight visit. She would cry cry cry and not sleep. Shes been back in the crib now but in the early morning 630 am will be brought into the bed when she wakes up. I've learned if its before 630 I can usually get her back in the crib. After: shes wake or in my bed.

  28. Babes sleeping, such a tough time. My first baby was a terrible sleeper too and from 2 she has been AMAZING. SO its not forever! I can highly recommend 'The No-Cry Sleep Solution' it takes some discipline on your part but if you can get it happening its incredible. Check your local libraries.

  29. Are you still co-sleeping? I've heard breastfeeding, co-sleeping babies tend to wake more frequently because they know their mama, and more importantly, a warm breast is right there waiting for them. I'm not recommending that you stop co-sleeping but that may be an explanation. My daughter is now 18 months and is still breastfeeding but sleeps in her own room. She sleeps fairly well through the night now but I still have issues with naps. She consistently wakes after only 20-30 mins. I have never believed in cry it out but now that she is older, I will let her cry for a few minutes until she falls back asleep on her own. Hopefully Marlowe will get better with sleep as she gets older or at least as she gets older, you'll have more options in getting her back to sleep. Remember this time will pass so quickly. Before you know it you'll hardly remember that she was ever a bad sleeper 🙂

  30. drea, this may sound weird. but have you thought of hypnosis (not for M for you) to figure out the root of your nightmares? It can be highly affective, especially when it comes to something we can't control like dreams and our sub conscious. just a thought.

  31. I really feel your pain. I was so smug when my baby started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, but now she's waking at 3am and getting up for the day at 5am. It hurts! She's just turned one and I keep telling myself it's just a phase, but that doesn't help when I'm delirious with sleep deprivation…

  32. cruz is almost 18 months and still wakes a least 3 times to nurse in the night.
    And naps usually last about 30 mins then he wakes up and I nurse him back to sleep and he will stay asleep about an hour after that.
    And he ALWAYS, no matter what/where/when/why wakes up crying. ALWAYS. I wonder about nightmares too. He never wakes up happy. ever.
    No advice, just commiserating. It sucks.

  33. @fee: absolutely not. breastfeeding is more important to me than sleeping through the night.

  34. I have a nearly 18 month old on my hands and it's the same deal, waking up 3-4 times a night depending on the night and what he feels like. He screams and even makes gagging noises until we come and get him so it's not like I want to leave him there.

    It's hard but hopefully it will reach a point where she will just sleep through.

  35. i totally (well, not totally, my son is only fine and a half months, so i haven't been going through this as long as you yet) understand. and my son's dr. kind of got on to me at his four month check up… but i just have NO idea how to get him to sleep longer at night or during the day. good luck!
    – gabby
    gabriellecato at gmail dot com

  36. I stoped breastfeeding when my son was 10 months…. I am also a single mom and couldn`t handle the nights anymore… and volia… he only drank 1 milk bottle in 2 nights and then his sleep habits were much better for me! SO he really never was THAT hungry/thursty!
    I don`t know if you want to give up breastfeeding for your sleep!? I would do it again.

  37. My daughter will be 8 months old tomorrow and is STILL waking up 3 to 4 times a night! It's completely thrown up for a loop because our first daughter slept through the night at 5 weeks and never looked back. I ask myself constantly why this time around is so different? Is it something we are doing? Is she just using me as a human pacifier? I go round and round with it. I'm tired but I just hope she is getting enough rest. This is definitely a hard phase but I just try to treasure those nights, our togetherness, holding her close. It really does go by so fast so I suppose we should appreciate the moment while it lasts!

  38. i can't help with baby problems, but sleep problems suck big time. i have had similar issues to you for most of my life (as a six year old insomniac i would tidy my room so i didn't get in trouble with my mum for being awake!) – insomnia, lucid dreams and night terrors, definitely been there. i also sleep talk and converse with people in my sleep – it is so distressing when my dreams get mixed up with reality (when boy asks me what i am going on about and i answer in my sleep but wake up half way through) and takes days to recover from the confusion of it all. sleep really does suck so much sometimes, you aren't alone in this! i really feel for you and i hope that at some point you get the occasional luxury of a good rest (and so does marlow)


  39. To this day, my 14 month old still has a bottle (sometimes 2) at night. She was always up every 3-4 hours until recently. I think it had something to do with how much she ate before bedtime. With pureed foods, it just didnt help as much as the real foods that my husband and I were having for dinner.

    I hope Marlow starts getting better at sleeping. Its rough not getting un interrupted sleep

  40. Oh, I feel ya. Its soo hard. My little guy didnt sleep the first year, then right after one year he started sleeping through the night. I now feel human again. Also, I stopped breastfeeding at a 13 months and hes now on goats milk,which I read yesterday has a property that promotes sleep!!

  41. My son is 13 months and still wakes up 1 to 3 times a night, depending on the night. Sometimes he'll give me a 7 hour stretch but rarely. He's breastfed too. I feel your pain Mama. I'm right there with ya.