Sleep Clinic 4: My baby is making us so sleep deprived

Mandy helps a mother suffering with a baby who wakes up all night, and then doesn't settle

Q. My little girl has just turned six months old and wakes numerous times in the night, although I've managed to reduce her feeds to one per night. She used to wake up at 3am, but now wakes at midnight and we feed her, but she either wakes up again at 5.30am onwards or I have to wake her at 7am!! If she does wake early and won't go back to sleep (even with a little milk) she's falls asleep by 9.30am.

We have a bedtime routine and she goes straight to sleep (with a dummy) even in the daytime (two naps at approximately two hours each). She's great but if we don't feed her at night she gets hysterical and won't stop crying. I've tried giving her water, stroking her and giving her a dummy but nothing works.

She gets put to bed at the same time every night (bath at 7pm) and I will wake her at 7am each morning if she's still asleep - is this too long to sleep at night? Her daytime naps are difficult to time as if I need to go out then she will fall asleep in her pram and not be tired at usual nap time.

I feel like we've tried everything and if anything, it's getting worse. She can sleep through the night (she did it a few times when she was four months old) but now she wakes at least twice. I'm so tired!

Mandy says

With sleep problems, it is sometimes not the right techniques that you need to implement, but re-scheduling sleep itself, and my feeling is that your daughter is having too much sleep in the day. At her age, the total amount she should be having is 14 hours in each 24. If she is having 12 hours sleep at night, her correct nap schedule should be an hour in the morning, and one and a half hours after lunch. You may need to wake her up from these.

Too much day-time sleep can mean that you have early rising – in other words, a child who wakes at 5am.

It doesn’t seem as if she is waking up because of hunger, but make sure that she is eating enough in the day. Keep giving her the midnight feed, but, once the other sleep problems are sorted out, start reducing this feed by 1oz a night. When you are down to 3oz, you can stop giving it altogether.

Her dummy may also be causing problems, because at six months, she won’t be able to put it back when it falls out.

You should try to do controlled crying consistently. In other words, do it for all her sleeps – at naps, bedtime and in the night.

Good luck!

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Millpond Sleep Clinic was the first private clinic to specialise in babies' and children's sleep problems. It now has a reputation as the UK's leading children's sleep clinic

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