Sleeping Through the Night: Struggles & Myths

My son is 9 months old and doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s a dream of mine. Can you imagine? Sleeping through the night? Off to fairy land I go…

Lucas wakes up a lot right now. Like, if I said he wakes up every hour or two I would not be exaggerating. As I’ve mentioned, we’re all staying in a room in a guest house. The second I hear him cry I jump up to get him so my husband (who has to be up at 7am) or the sweet people who live here don’t wake up. I’m up a lot at night. He nurses back to sleep, he sleeps in bed with us, he goes to bed early, he sleeps in late. I’m okay with that.

I also think his pack n’ play may be a little uncomfortable. I added a blanket to the bottom of it tonight, we’ll see if that helps.

I have learned to look at this situation as a blessing. Because really, that’s all I can do with it right now. I get frustrated at night. I get impatient and irritated and upset that he is up. Again.
Please don’t think I’m saying that I’m okay with him getting up so often each night. Mary Poppins and I don’t jump on the elliptical machine every hour, every night when my son wakes up. I’m not excited or happy about it.
What I’m saying is I am trying to look at it as a blessing and to deal with it the best I know how.
I try to, for the most part, go with the flow and treat it as a blessing rather than an annoying habit of waking up every few hours. It’s a blessing that I get to wake up with my baby’s face right next to mine. It’s a blessing that I get to treasure every moment with him in the middle of the night.
I may not be an expect or what does work, but I certainly can rule out what does not work for getting your child to sleep through the night. There are so many things we say as parents, or hear from someone that is “guaranteed to help your child sleep through the night!” More often not, these are myths.

1. Feeding them a big dinner or starting them on solids early will help them sleep through the night.

Please, please do not start your baby on rice cereal or other solids when he’s three months old because you think it will make him sleep better at night. I cringe when I hear people recommend starting a baby on solids way too early because they think it will help a sleep problem.
Lucas started solids (avocado was his first food) just before he was six months old. I remember that night after he had his first bite of avocado and peaches thinking, will he sleep through the night tonight? And guess what happened?
He slept exactly the same. He woke up two or more times during the night.
Then weeks later he had fruit mixed with cereal and then the biggest dinner of all and once again I thought, That was a huge dinner! Surely he’ll sleep through the night tonight!! And guess what happened?
He slept exactly the same. He woke up two or more times during the night.
Babies, unless they’re infants, usually don’t wake up because they’re hungry. So food isn’t usually the problem of waking up or not sleeping long stretches.
2. If he doesn’t nurse at night he will start sleeping better.
I do think that if Lucas wasn’t breastfeeding right now he would be sleeping better at night. I’ll tell ya, I would not be going upstairs to get a bottle ready every three hours. Because he is nursing he nurses at night and sees that as a comfort and also as somewhat of a habit. I will night wean him again when we’re in our own place.
It’s not worth it for me to stop breastfeeding just so he will or so I think he will, sleep through the night. When I did night wean him, things were actually going really well. He was only waking up once at night and all I did was go in his room and sooth him for less than a minute. He feel back asleep and slept until morning! It was great and I really think night weaning, especially at this age, is a good idea. But then we moved and his schedule got all messed up and….
3. Let your baby CIO (cry it out)
This is not my parenting style, so I will not do this. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, because I’ve talked to numerous moms who say their child cried for two night straight but then started sleeping through night. It way work for some, but it doesn’t work for me.
For the record, and please don’t get into a large debate about this, I have and will again (once we’re out of this guest house..) let my child cry for minutes at a time. I don’t define that as CIO. I believe crying for a few minutes is fine, and in fact I’ve seen Lucas cry for only 30 seconds and then fall back asleep. It has helped him learn to sleep through the night and I’ll be doing that again when we’re in our own place. I do define CIO as letting a child cry for 10, 20 30, 40 whatever minutes until they fall asleep. That is not something I believe in, so as far as getting my kid to sleep through the night, that’s not an option.
4. Baby wakes up because he/she is hungry.
I am 100% positive that Lucas isn’t waking up because he’s hungry. I mean for Heavens sake, he ate just two hours ago! He is 9 months old. I have seen him go 4+ hours during the day without eating. I know he is not hungry!
He wakes up now I think, because it’s habit. We are going to break this habit very soon I hope!
I don’t claim to know a lot about sleeping habits. Clearly I don’t! I do know that things are a stage. Babies are babies. Kids are kids. He will sleep through the night. Some day.
I would love to hear your thoughts about what you think does and doesn’t work as far as getting your child to sleep through the night. Have you heard or read any funny/crazy sleeping myths?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

35 thoughts on “Sleeping Through the Night: Struggles & Myths

  1. This is such an issue with us!! My daughter is 19 months old and still gets up. The past week has been really good just because I was consistent–that is key!! I think you covered a lot of the myths, none of which seemed very true for us…All we've found is that being consistent so that she knows what to expect is the key. I tend to say I'm not going to get her out of bed and then end up taking her out… And good for you for trying to look at it as a blessing–that's what I try to think when I'm up and rocking with her, some day she will be 13 and giving me dirty looks all day long, so I should cherish these moments πŸ™‚

  2. Love this post- only because as a tired mom of a 7 month old who still wakes up at night (and is NOT HUNGRY, he's formual fed and VERY TIRED!!!)…so I can empathize.
    My son happens to “travel” in his crib, bump his head when he gets to the top of his crib, wake up (kinda) and stand up. Then he cries. Every night.
    So, I have no advice, except to say that the week that we he slept in his pack n play he woke up a lot more then usual!

  3. My daughter was nursed on demand and was sleeping 8 hours through the night at age 6 weeks.

    My son was nursed on demand and started sleeping 8 hour stretches through the night at age 2.5 years!

    So, I agree with you! Throw those old myths out the window! πŸ™‚

    Great post!

  4. I'd love to share “what works” but I don't believe there is anything that works for every child and I swear, there is nothing except the passage of time that works for some of them.

    I can't get Jordan to sleep through the night for anything and he's 10 months old. If I'm reallllly lucky, he'll only wake up twice, but most nights it's every 2 hours or so, and some nights it's constant.

  5. For the most part I've found that when kids have good naps during the day they sleep better at night which is contrary to popular belief.

    However, that said my 2 year old wakes up at least once a night even though he takes a 3 hour nap each day!

  6. Thanks for this. I struggle with this so much. Our little girl wakes up several times a night. So many moms have advised me to let her CIO and I just can't. I pray that one day this will naturally be resolved or I'll have the wisdom to help her sleep better. I'd be interested in how you night weaned. I'll check your back posts to see what you wrote on the subject.

    Off topic, I'm sorry you don't have your own home yet, but I'm glad that it looks like you are going to be with family for the holidays. I hope we get to meet in person soon.

  7. My son started sleeping through the night around 8 weeks and it was awesome. But around 13 weeks, when he started teething and rolling over, he began waking up once per night. He's still been waking up once per night to eat (he's fed expressed BM) but he falls back asleep fairly quickly.

    One of the craziest things I've been told several times is to turn your baby upside down to get them to sleep through the night. Apparently because they have their nights & days mixed up you have to flip them to un-mix up the days and nights. My FIL swears by it. Can you tell we're a bunch of crazy italians? lol

  8. I couldnt agree more to this post! I am fortunate enough to have a baby that sleeps most of the night. She'll get up every once in a while but just needs to be soothed back to sleep.

    I agree that a big dinner doesnt make them sleep through the night. We have been feeding Brook rice cereal due to her intense digestive issues and she doesnt always sleep though the night. I just started her on solids since the ped thinks that might help her tummy, and she deffinately has awaken in the middle of the night since we started like a week ago. lol

    Good luck! I hope with your new house brings new sleeping habits! =)

    ps when I get off work at 4 am…i sometimes nudge brook to see if she'll wake up hehe I know thats bad but I love cuddling her back to sleep at night =)

  9. I love that there is another Lucas just like my Lucas! Mine is a month younger, but he also wakes up several times a night and ends up coming to bed with me and nursing the rest of the night. I too am trying to cherish it, but I definitely get impatient when getting him down for the first time at night. If you ever find the magical sleep method, please be sure to let us all know!

  10. We discovered when our son was 9 months old and wasn't sleeping all night, that he was waking up purely out of habit. It only took 2 nights of letting him cry for less than 2 minutes when he woke up for him to fall back asleep. 2 nights later, he was sleeping 9-12 hours at a time. Turns out he was more exhausted because he wasn't getting enough solid sleep because he was used to waking up.

    Just my experiences. Good luck getting some rest! I know it's hard πŸ™‚

  11. I would love to know how you night weened him before the move and how you plan to do it again. I too have a 9 month old who still wakes up around 10pm to dreamfed and then again around 4am. I know it is probably habitual but can't get her back to sleep without nursing. She will just keep crying until I finally give in. Please do tell your strategy to night weening…

  12. This is such a great post! My daughter Lizzie did not sleep through the night until she was 20 months old – 20!!! I finally night weaned her. Yes, she was an 18 month old that would wake up once at night to nurse. That got old but I was too pregnant and tired to deal with her tremendous fits so I just nursed her. Finally I got my DH to help me night wean her and haven't looked back since.

    Now my 8 month old isn't night weaned yet (I will wait until he is closer to 1 year old) because he seems to sleep better at night. He only wakes up 1 or 2 times, whereas his sister woke up 2-3 times at this age. I feel like I am getting way more rest with this one. Each child is indeed so different!
    God bless!

  13. I'm 38 and I still don't sleep through the night…

    Seriously though, I think it is just unavoidable with some babies and they are all different. I have given birth to five. Some of them slept through the night right away it seemed. Others took forever to finally sleep through the night. My 2 year old still wakes a couple of times. I have found that if I give her just a few minutes, fighting the urge to run to her and offer her things, she tends to go back to sleep on her own very quickly. Not always, but usually.

    Great post!

  14. I really do feel for you mama! When Gage was a little baby he used me as a pacifier. Every time he woke up he HAD to nurse. At 6 months old, we was up some nights every 15 minutes all night long to nurse. And I'm sad to say that's not an exageration! Once he was weaned, it did get some better but he's 18 months now and still gets up quite often.
    Heck, my 3 year old still does it too! He gets up to come sleep w/ me every night at about 2-3am! I kinda enjoy it though since my hubby works third shift. He's my little snuggle butt πŸ™‚

    Hang in there, It will get better eventually. It's not for me yet… but I'm sure it HAS to be soon. Right?

  15. Oh, P.S, both my children now fall asleep on their own. It took some getting used to but it didn't take too long for them to put themselves to sleep. I wouldn't say I let them cry it out but I would lay them down and if they cried, I'd wait 4-5 minutes and go back in, calm them down, and leave again. It never took more than a couple times and they would fall asleep on their own. Now I usually don't have any problems getting them to sleep.
    It did break my heart at first to hear them cry (even if it was only a few minutes) but it was best for them and now they know how to soothe themselves back to sleep!

    I do miss rocking them to sleep sometimes though!

  16. I did a post on this ssame topic a few days ago. My son Gavin also does not sleep through the night.
    I am exhausted and keep coming down with colds because my resistance is low. I also have a 5 year old who is in Preschool. I do not believe in cry it out either. I just deal with it the best I can and sometimes at 2 am when I am watching Baby Einstien I am content because he is snuggeling with me.

  17. ITA w/Dawna. Also, have you considered that he's waking up to pee? Babies don't pee in deep sleep, they have to partially wake up.

  18. Great post! Sleep is so precious, for everyone!! I think the only thing you can count on is that EVERYTHING changes πŸ™‚ It stinks that you're not in your home to be able to let him cry a little if he needs it, or whatever you want to do, so I'll pray for a house for you! πŸ™‚

  19. I wrote a post about this a while ago just like many others have. My daughter is 6 months old, and we were blessed to have her sleeping through the night since she was a month old. Now what I'm about to tell you could be a total fluke, or it could have really worked. Who knows, but I'll share it with you anyways, and maybe you have even already tried this. We started doing the same thing every night. Solids around 6:30pm, hang out and play, sometimes she will take a short 15-30 min. nap. At 9pm she gets a bath. After her bath we put on her PJ's, feed her, and rock her to sleep. Simple as that, but we do the same thing around the same time every night. It worked for us, so maybe it will work for you! It's worth a shot because really, you have nothing to lose.

  20. my two year old doesn't sleep through the night. We've tried literally everything, his pedi even suggested giving him benedryl (which i wont do).

    It's one of those things you learn to live with. I have a pretty zen attitude about it these days. If he gets up at 3am and wants to play then we play until he goes back to sleep, if he wants to come into bed with us then he can. I stopped trying to fight with it.

  21. Great post, Samantha!

    Honestly, with my first baby, I stressed about sleep so much. My mom would ask me every.single.day. how she'd slept, and it completely made me feel like it was a measurement of how good a mom I was (and she was just asking because I was so obsessed with it!).

    I let her CIO at 5mo, and I've always regretted it.

    I've gotten more laid back with each baby, less stressed about how much the sleep and less consumed by it as a whole. Sure, I'd like to get some sleep, but they're only tiny for a little bit!

  22. Yes we are still dealing with my 19 month-old not sleeping through the night. We rock him to sleep and he usually goes down without a struggle but then it is a crap shoot as to whether or not he will sleep all through night.

    I don't know if there really is any sort of magical method. It seemed like once we figured something out it wouldn't work the next night. Or if my DH found something that worked for him it wouldn't work for me.

    I think that your Lucas is still adjusting to the new surroundings and he will eventually go back to his normal sleep habits once you are settled. Just keep your chin up and try to keep your positive attitude. I know it is hard especially when you've been up several times and nothing seems to help. We've all been there and I think it helps knowing that you aren't alone. He will grow out of it and someday he'll be a teenager you can't get out of bed πŸ™‚

  23. You know I think it has a lot to do with personality. My 14-month-old still wakes multiple times at night to nurse and I'm okay with that. My kids have all naturally begun night-weaning somewhere around 18 months.

    But you know what? My 3-year-old still often wakes once a night, gets a drink of water and goes back to sleep…and so does my 7-year-old! It's routine for them and they sleep wonderfully before and after their brief waking. Both boys are big eaters so obviously, they don't wake from hunger. It is just part of their natural sleep pattern.

    I also have a 5-year-old who NEVER wakes at night, not even with a bad dream. She is a sound sleeper and does not need that moment of waking at night to regroup.

  24. Boo didn't sleep through the night until she was almost a year, and we did CIO. She wasn't hungry, just need the reassurance that we were there.

    I get so frustrated when people put rice in the bottles…it is too soon! It makes the formula to thick, and babies don't have the gag reflux for it. Boo was 5 months when she started mouthing like she was chewing at meal times, that was our cue.

    I think all of those are great points. Everyone has their own opinions, and I happen to agree with yours (for the most part).

  25. There is NO sure fire method. My mom did the cereal in the bottle with me and it worked. I also never napped.

    I have 3 kids. No pattern here.

    DD1 slept through the night at 18 months. She was nursed for 4 months then bottle fed. We co-sleep
    DS Slept through the night for the most part until 20 months when he weaned. I say for the most part b/c he wouldn't wake up to play he would wake up to nurse. He now sleeps through the night. We co-slept until 14 months. He has never woken up at night to get up. Just nurse or suck on something (bottle or paci)
    DD2 Is 4 moths, EBF and has slept through the night since she was born. She also sleeps with us.

    Good luck. I have also been told that first babies do not value sleep as the other babies you might have do. DD1 was defiantly a party animal compared to my younger 2.

    You are not alone in this struggle. Just remember that!

  26. I agree with just about everything you wrote! My daughter will be 11 months next week and has only slept through the night 4 times. As tired as I am, getting up 2-3 times a night, I am sure once she sleeps through the night on a regular basis, I will miss our night time together.

  27. Check out this blog. http://www.babywisemom.blogspot.com

    This was the best resource I found for solving sleep problems. I found that you CAN'T try one thing and when it doesn't work one time switch to something else. Pick something and stick with it for at least two weeks. Including some type of bedtime routine. This is the number one way to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own.

    If nighttime waking is the biggest issue and you are not into CIO, have you tried giving him a pacifier rather than nursing? If he is waking up to nurse at 9 months it is NOT because he is hungry, it is out of HABIT. He has trained you to wake up and nurse him. Now you need to train him to not wake up.

    Once I started giving my daughter the paci instead, she sucked a little and I rocked her and she went back to sleep. Then after doing that for a couple of nights, I would just pick her up for a minute, comfort her and put her back down. Then after a couple nights of this, I would lay her back down without picking her up and soon she stopped waking up completely.

    I am of the mindset that teaching your child to fall asleep on their own and to self-soothe is the most important step in teaching your child independence and confidence. It doesn't mean I love my child less or she is not cuddly and loving because she is. She is a total Mama's girl. But she also sleeps 12-13 hours a night and takes a three hour nap. And I can lay her down ANYWHERE to nap or put her to bed while we are at a friend's house and she will sleep. She goes to bed wide awake. No milk/nursing/bottle to go down. No rocking to sleep. Bath – bottle – book – bed. 12 hours later, she wakes up. Clockwork.

    She was never an easy baby – I take a lot of pride in the fact that I worked my butt off to train her to sleep this way. Anyone who says, “oh you are just lucky to have a good sleeper” annoys me. I worked long and hard to get it this way and am very proud of that.

    Just my two cents. Take it for what it's worth. Oh yeah – get a white noise machine. It will help him stay asleep. Esp once you move into your house. Good luck.

  28. He does fall asleep on his own. He just wakes up a lot πŸ™‚ And yes, I give him his pacifier and that works sometimes. But like I said, because we are staying with people I can't really “train” him right now. He has a consistent bedtime also.

  29. He does fall asleep on his own. He just wakes up a lot πŸ™‚ And yes, I give him his pacifier and that works sometimes. But like I said, because we are staying with people I can't really “train” him right now. He has a consistent bedtime also.

  30. you hit the nail on the head with this post. every baby is different. some will sleep all night at 2 weeks, some at 2 months, and some at 2 years! I am fed up with the notion that something is wrong with your baby if he/she doesn't sleep through the night. Babies experience growth spurts and other developmental activities that cause night waking. I think some parents push past these to attain an artificial goal of the achieving “sleeps-through-the-night” status.

    Oh, and I hate the person who thought up #3. If your baby cries…tend to him/her!

  31. I was told if you schedule feedings during the day that you can get them to sleep through the night. I don't believe this at all.

    Right now my 2.5 month old sleeps through the night about once a week and I'm ok with that. She also has really bad reflux so we are constantly battling that as well.

  32. There are MANY reasons why children wake up at night. Nighttime feedings (especially) at 9 months are super important because they help maintain your milk supply! They are very active during the day and may not get in all those calories or close times like they do at night. It also suppresses ovulation! A good thing for him and you.
    You are NOT alone. I have a 15 month old who wakes 2-5x a night. I'm used to it and don't resent it in the morning. That helps me cope. I try and nap in the middle of the day too.
    Good luck πŸ™‚

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