Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Sleep Woes--Advice Needed!

I am wondering if anyone out there has any brilliant advice for me.  If not, it's okay--but I thought I would ask.

Noah wakes up between 5:15 and 5:45 every morning, and he wakes up grumpy.  I thought maybe it was a phase, but this has been the norm for several months now.  I have gotten kind of used to the early hour (though it's still not ideal), but I have not gotten used to how incredibly fussy he is at that time.  He generally wakes up screaming, and he continues to whine, fuss, and scream until his morning nap several hours later.  He doesn't take long naps either.  He's still taking two, but I am lucky if they are an hour-long, and he wakes up screaming from those as well.  I've read in some sleep books and I've heard from some moms that if a baby wakes up crying/screaming, then he/she hasn't gotten the sleep he/she needs yet.  Some of my friends have told me that they never go to their babies (once they are about 9 months old) if they wake up crying because they just need to fall back asleep and get the sleep that they need.  Supposedly, when they are actually ready to get up, they will wake up content and talking to themselves.  I've tried that with Noah, but his crying just escalates and he doesn't fall back asleep.  And I can count on one hand the number of times that he's woken up happy and babbling (from either a nap or nighttime sleep).  I have tried to leave him alone until at least 6:00 a.m. (as suggested by Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child), but he just gets more and more angry--he doesn't fall back asleep.  I've also tried briefly going to him and changing his diaper and giving him a bottle...that doesn't seem to work either.  I've tried putting him to bed earlier; I've tried putting him to bed later.  He already goes to bed exceptionally early, so I really can't push it any more that direction.  And when I put him to bed later, he still wakes up at the same super early hour, and he is even grumpier than usual.  I wish he would stay up a little later in the evenings, but it's not worth dealing with his crabbiness the next day. He is very good at falling asleep on his own without much fussing after a bedtime routine, so he should be able to go back to sleep without our assistance in the wee hours of the morning--but he doesn't, so maybe he is just an early riser and will always be a little crabby after he wakes up (I know I am).  We've made his bedroom as dark as possible, and he's always slept with white noise, so we can't do much else to alter his sleeping environment, I don't think.  My sister recently suggested that we start putting a sippy cup of water and a few toys in his crib after he falls asleep, so when we wakes up, he will be excited and distracted and able to soothe himself back to sleep, or at least entertain himself a few minutes instead of immediately getting upset.  We are trying this technique now...the verdict is still out.

Katie's mom (who is a nurse) told me that our bodies wake us up at least 30 minutes before they think we need to eat.  So if we are always feeding him immediately when he wakes up, he will continue to wake up at that time.  Apparently with some of the geriatric patients she's worked with, they've helped them readjust their wakeup time by adjusting their breakfast time.  So we've pushed back his first bottle until a little later, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to make a difference for Noah (but it seems like a great idea for others who might face this problem).

Can you tell we've tried everything?? :)  I've read several sleep books and talked to lots of friends, and I honestly think this might just be Noah's active, energetic, and stubborn personality, but I thought I would go ahead and see if anyone out there has faced this type of situation and has any additional ideas.  If he was happy in the morning, I wouldn't be concerned about it, but since he is so fussy for several hours, I honestly don't know if he's getting the sleep he needs.  It was worth asking for ideas and thoughts.

A related story: A few months ago, I woke up to Noah crying, and I looked around the room and noticed it was lighter than usual.  I groggily said to Ryan, "What time is it?"  He looked at his phone and answered, "6:23."  I pumped my fist in the air and shouted, "Go Noah!!"  I then had to laugh because, in my former life, I never dreamed I would be rejoicing to be woken up at 6:20!  Oh how motherhood changes your life! :)


  1. I'll start with my usual preface with any baby advice... every kid is different, and every mom is different and everyone is willing to do different things. and I'm no professional. but, I know how you're feeling and I know how stressful it is! that said... here are my thoughts :) maybe not brilliant, but thoughts!
    first off, BRAVO to all your investigating! that is fantastic. Seriously.
    my first question would be, how does he go to sleep? Both for naps and nighttime? Does he fall asleep on his own in his crib, with a pacifier, being rocked, while eating? If he wakes in the night, how does he go back to sleep? Do you have do 'X' to get him back to sleep or do you just need to solve whats wrong and then lay him back down? This would investigate whether he has a 'sleep prop' per se - and if that is interfering with his ability to put himself back to sleep on his own.
    I would agree that him waking grumpy and CONTINUING to be grumpy until his morning nap doesnt sound like he is rested from the night. That said, I'll also say that my children, even though I know they're rested, often wake up grumpy and I've concluded it can also be personality. But, that 'type' of grumpy they seem to 'shake off' once they're fully awake. On the other hand, if they wake with only a 45 min nap and are grumpy, though, I conclude it IS because the nap was too short. I'm sure you've read that babies have a 45 min sleep cycle, and some babies are just prone to stir and wake (almost all stir) at that point. Some mom's have to be super quiet at that 45 min point to ensure they dont wake. Mason was a '45 min waker'... until he finally just outgrew it. With naps, you kind of just have to do your best and then hold your breath... and sometimes its just a phase or a personality. Mason was reaaaaaally difficult for naps (timing it JUST right, getting him to take a decent one... it was a nightmare for my new-momness) and then as he got older, it smoothed out. So, I guess my advice for the naps is... keep trying, but don't feel guilty and know that it will get better!
    As far as the early morning waking, besides investigating the sleep prop thing, the only idea I can offer is called "wake to sleep". I've never had to intentionally do it for one of my kids, but have kind of seen it in action if they've been woken early on accident and have also seen 'testimonials' from other moms. Here is a post I found that explains it, and I'm sure you can find it other places - it comes from The Baby Whisperer:
    Good luck, Rach! You are a WONDERFUL Mom and doing so great! You are not alone with these types of issues and I promise it'll get better.
    Miss you!

  2. Thank you for your long and thoughtful comment, Jordyn! I appreciate your words of encouragement!

    He goes to bed on his own without our assistance (I added that to the post because that was a very pertinent question), so I don't think this is a sleep prop issue. I agree with you that not all babies are the same, and perhaps it is just his personality to wake up early and to wake up grumpy. It's not the end of the world, and we will be okay, but I thought I would just see if anyone has any other ideas.


  3. Elizabeth was a diffcult baby when it came to sleeping. She, too, would wake up too early from naps or in the morning and be grumpy. I set a wake time in the morning to 7 am. If she woke up before 7, then I let her cry until it was time to get up. After a few days, she was sleeping until 7 and waking up happy! I used Baby Wise with all my kids and it's worked perfectly.

  4. Bruce was exactly like Noah- if I let him "cry it out" he would just escalate, screaming louder and louder till he was completely hysterical. He was a super active, sort of high maintenance (physically, not emotionally) baby, who also had a difficult time with sleep. The books that really helped me with him were the Baby Whisperer books by Tracy Hogg, bexause she specifically addresses this type of high energy child (she calls them "spirited")and their specific problems.
    Good luck! I hope things get better soon!

  5. Noah sounds like Greyson. I used to love to listen to Avery babble in her crib for hours when she would wake up in the morning and it was so cute. Greyson...never happened. Not even once. Greyson is exactly like Noah, a screamer. I feel for you. Its the worst way to wake up EVERY morning. He has been screaming for about 2.25 years until just recently he stopped crying and now just yells MOM...MOM until I drag myself in there to get him. I have tried to send Ezra to get him in the morning and he usually screams "NO not YOU! I read the books too...and nothing really worked for us. Hang in there. At least he's adorable...right?

  6. I would honestly just let him cry it out until he goes back to sleep- even if it's an hour plus. That's the ONLY thing that worked for Ellia and it did work even though it's kind of an awful process. She's reverted a few times in her life and each time we try a few things and end up just having to let her cry until she gets back to sleep and it works every time, but it's a lot of crying. Good luck!

  7. I love how you've tried everything that I would have suggested to try. Um... how about throwing in the towel and going to bed at 7:00 PM. HA HA HA HA! Not helpful... I know.
    I wonder if there are any external cues he's hearing, like neighbors clumping around or a water heater turning on. I doubt it. This is just how he's wired for now. Good luck. Naomi did this for a while, and we would just let her cry for like 15-30 minutes. Then Kevin would get up with her. So... no help from me. She eventually changed her sleeping schedule, as they are wont to do. I hope he changes his soon.
    Oh, and I'm writing this from Korea. Just thought I'd share. :)

  8. Rachel, I hope you're finding some answers that will work for you. What a hard time it sounds like.
    I'll preface this with saying I haven't dealt with this issue at all. I just remember reading something in, I think, Baby Wise that talked about the waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night time. It mentioned not picking the baby up to comfort them because they get dependent on the cuddling, but instead pat/stroke/rub their back (or belly if he's a back sleeper) to help them calm down. When they've calmed, then you go. I'm a big cry-it-out advocate, but if you've got a baby working himself up to hysteria, there's something else going on.
    As with everything, be prayerful about how to respond. Pray to know when Noah needs to to comfort him and when he needs to be left on his own to learn to calm himself. Babies are very good at learning how to get what they want. From the beginning, I think parents are supposed to help children find good ways to communicate.
    Also, parenting, as ever, is about becoming Christlike. Noah isn't going to remember this stage of life. As you work to handle things well and to continue teaching him well, things will work out. He seems like such a happy boy.
    All my best to all of you.

  9. my advice: Go to bed earlier so you get more sleep! I don't think anything is going to change this boy's sleeping and waking habits other than time. You have a little stinker for a sleeper. He falls under the "fussy baby" patterns of sleeping. Just hope and pray your next little rugrat is a better sleeper. My little sister was a horrible sleeper and it was because of her food allergies. You already know that Noah has allergies, maybe that plays into it somehow.

  10. I haven't read what everyone else says, but if it was my kid I just flat out would not get up that early with him. I am too lazy for that for sure. Or like my sleep too much. :)

    Think about it though-what makes 5:15 the magic hour that it is ok to be awake? If it was 4:30 what would you do? Make him keep sleeping? To me the 5 o clock hour is not a time that we wake up. It's like the middle of the night. not morning. I am not a morning person. The 6 o'clock hour isn't usually on my radar either.

    So, frankly, I'd let him cry. And I would keep letting him cry for like 2 weeks if I had to until he learned I wasn't coming. Oooh, I am mean huh?! But sleep is so important to me. For the kids and for myself. And it sounds like he needs more of it and I am sure you do too.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Take it or leave it. :)


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