OK, my problem is: I’m exhausted.
My 8-month-old baby won’t sleep through the night. She used to sleep through the night, but now she wakes up every 3-4 hours, sometimes even more often and will cry hysterically until I pick her up. Then she will only calm down if I nurse her.
Very rarely, I get her calm by rubbing her back or belly. If I’m lucky, she’ll fall asleep at my breast and I quietly move her back to her crib, which is in a separate room. Sometimes she will start crying within 30 mins after that and then the same scenario… Sometimes I get a couple of hours of rest before the next fit.
I tried letting her cry it out, checking on her every 5-10 mins but she would just cry louder every time I left the room and when I picked her up, her crying just broke my heart and her little tummy was shaking. I would nurse her then and she would become quiet but her tummy would shake rhythmically.
I would let her cry it out again but I’m scared to hurt her, physically and mentally. I have no idea what I’m doing to her when I let her cry. If I knew for sure, she would be fine, I’d do it again and be consistent this time.
She does not have too much trouble napping, she usually takes two naps a day, each one at least an hour up to 2,5 hours.
She’s always been a healthy and happy baby. She eats 3 meals during the day and I started giving her snacks couple of days ago. She has already the bottom two teeth and I’m not sure if she’s getting the top ones yet.
I’m staying at home with her and I hardly get any rest since I don’t have any family or friends around here to help me out. My husband goes to school at night and works full-time so he’s not much help either. What can I do to help her sleep better? I slowly but surely cannot take the mornings after anymore.
How To Cope When 8-Month-Old Baby Won’t Sleep Through the Night
I can totally relate to your situation. When our daughter was 10 months old she woke up every hour to breastfeed. My husband traveled a lot and I was staying at home. I thought I was going to lose my mind!
I’m sorry you are getting so exhausted. It is hard when a baby changes sleeping patterns but I’m afraid it is par for the course! Some babies sleep through the night from an early age, some never do until they are toddlers or even older.
She may well be teething, she may be going through a hungry phase, she may be scared and frightened. Separation anxiety is more common than not at the age of 8 months. This type of 8-month-old sleep regression is actually common, due to all these things – separation anxiety, development, teething… So at least you are definitely not alone with your struggles!
I also suspect because you are exhausted and feeling stressed your baby is picking up on it and wanting more reassurance that you are available for her. And it becomes a vicious circle – the more demanding she is the more frustrated you get, and the more she is worried you are not really there for her.
I am not a proponent of letting babies cry themselves to sleep. I believe babies cry for a reason and if they need attention and reassurance then it is important to give it. However, if you are getting so exhausted and frustrated that you have no reserves left then you need to make yourself a priority.
Here are some things you can consider to improve the situation:
- I realize your husband is working hard too, both working and at school, but the well being of yourself and your baby has to come first for a short time. It is very hard when a baby usually only wants Mom, but even if he can do an evening shift, or early morning a couple of times per week to give you a bit more sleep. Maybe he can get up early with her and do the breakfast run and you can get an extra hour. You can find several tips on how to get some sleep as a mom here.
- There is one thing you and your husband can try that made our daughter go from waking up every hour to maybe once per night in only three nights. Admittedly she was a bit older than your girl, but you can always try: What we did one Thursday evening was to decide that from now on the first person to care for our daughter at night was Dad. I put in earplugs and he got to sleep next to the crib. We also decided that if our daughter would be sad for more than 5 minutes she would be allowed to breastfeed. (Since she ate so often we had no clue whether she was hungry or not.)So at night dad picked her up and cuddled her, gave her the pacifier, and tried to help her go back to sleep. The first night I think I had to breastfeed twice and my husband probably picked her up every hour. But on the third night she actually only woke up once! It was like magic! No cry-it-out, just no mom, and no feeding. (Guess without the suckling there was no point in waking up.)Sure my husband was tired for a couple of nights, but afterward, we just couldn’t believe that we had waited so long. On the night of her first birthday, she slept through the night. Not something I would have bet on just two months earlier…
Again, it might be that your daughter is too young to skip every feeding. But even if you only get rid of 50% at first it would be a huge improvement, right?
So, my advice is to take help from you hubby! Even if he works long hours, well, so do you! Work together to help your baby sleep better. And skip the “cry it out”, I’ve heard so many examples of babies actually sleeping worse after that.
- Also regarding your daughter’s sleep, I don’t know where she sleeps. If you can put her crib next to your bed: even attached to it, with the side of the crib off if possible, you might be able to calm your baby by just placing your hand on her. If she is worried at night because she is too far from you, sleeping really close may improve her sleep very quickly. For some babies, this age is actually ideal for co-sleeping, to enable some kind of quality sleep for the parents. Read more about safe co-sleeping here.
- The other thing is when she naps, you nap. It doesn’t matter what else needs doing, you HAVE to get rest when you can or you are no good to anyone. She will settle back down into a different routine in time, so for the short term, you must get sleep when she does.
- Also just check in your area if there are services available. Where a friend of mine used to live, there was a service called Parentport, where a Mom could take the baby for the day or overnight and go and sleep in a soundproofed room. Even one good night’s sleep is an incredible help!
- See if there are baby playgroups around, find other moms who know how you feel, or may offer to swap babysitting for a couple of hours so you can take a Nap.
You must look after yourself so you can be available to enjoy your little girl – she needs a happy Mom to play with her and teach her things and reassure her when she is uncomfortable.
Keep us posted on how you are doing,
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Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.
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Did you ever find refuge? I’m in a very exact situation with my husband away working nights and no family. It’s been a while since this was posted but just need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Hi Emma, I know the feeling, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel! My youngest woke up at 4:30 and stayed up until morning for a year between 1 and 2 years old… We took turns waking up with him and we were so exhausted. Then one day he slept until 8 am. And it continued. :-) You WILL get through this! (In our case, the miracle happened when we were away on vacation and happened to “mess up” his nap schedule. He had obviously been napping too much! )