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When my 18 month old wakes up crying in the middle of the night am I supposed to let him sooth himself or go get him out? (STILL not sleeping through the night).

We've been sleep training our 18 month old (late in the game I know) because he STILL doesn't sleep through the night and he was sleeping in our bed every night. He wakes up several times a night to nurse still and we're trying to break that habit.

 I'm simply exhausted. I haven't had a full nights sleep in 18 months and it's taking it's toll on both my health and my mental stability. We've been putting him in his crib awake and letting him go to sleep. He fusses a LITTLE but not really crying.

My problem is he's waking up around 2 or 3 wanting to nurse. I've been going in there to sooth him but I'm giving in and nursing him. Then last night he ended up in my bed.

 My mom says I'm not supposed to go get him when he wakes up crying and that I'm supposed to let him sooth himself until he falls back to sleep.

I'm just worried...What if he thinks I abandoned him? What if he doesn't understand why I'm not coming?

 Is this normal mommy worry or am I valid in feeling like this?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 2:22 PM on Jan. 25, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Answers (23)
  • My son was like that. I co-slept. When he woke I gave him a bottle of water. I could never let him cry. I would just nurse him if I were you.

    Answer by mompam at 2:27 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • You can go to him, assure him that you are there, and then tell him to go back to sleep. But now that you've given in and nursed him and put him in your bed it's going to be even harder for him to learn to lay back down - because he knows that if he cries he'll get what he wants. If you want to continue nursing and co sleeping that is up to you, but if you're going to do cio then you have to be consistent for it to work. Being inconsistent and letting him cry sometimes, then giving in at others, is just confusing and mean. Yes, it's hard to listen to your child cry, but after 3-4 nights, it will lessen or stop altogether and the goal will be accomplished.

    Answer by missanc at 2:29 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • I have a 2 1/2 yr old and a 15m old. My 2 1/2 year old still takes 3 oz of milk or water to nap and bed time. I think it is the same as nursing. And he hopefully gives it up on his own in another 6 months or so. My situation with the bottle is, he has a lot of changing environments in life, and if that soothes him right now, I'm not taking it. He recently has been fighting a diaper at sleep times, so I tell him as long as you take a bottle like your baby brother you are wearing this diaper like a baby too. OH and he has been sleeping in my bed the last 6 months now too.
    Now, my 15m old still wakes often. If it's a few hours after waking I rock him until he is calm and lay him back down. Then in the middle of his night I do change him and give him a few oz of milk too. But he always wakes around 5 or 6 and I recently just let him fuss himself back to sleep. It only takes 5 minutes. If it is over 10 minutes I go check on him....

    Answer by 2BlondeBabies at 2:31 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • You can msg me if you want to talk, vent, or whatever. My parents told me I didn't sleep a full 10 hours until I was 5. Some babies and young children just don't. Good luck, I feel your exhaustion!!!

    Answer by 2BlondeBabies at 2:32 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • They cry for a reason. He may be cold, hot, wet diaper, gassy, feverish etc. I never let my Son cry for over 5 minutes. Just relax, don't make an issue of it, go with the flow & see what his issue is at the moment and soothe him. This too shall pass like all the baby stages do and get ready for the next phase like the terrible 2's, 3's & 4's! This is just what us Moms have to do & you are not alone.

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 2:33 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • I was not getting any sleep at all. I finally HAD to put my son in his crib at night in his nursery. The first night he screamed bloody murder for 40 minutes until he went to sleep. He slept for 7 hours. The second night he cried, not screamed for 10 minutes. he slept for 7 hours. Every night since he is asleep within seconds. rarely cries. I try to put him in bed when he is really tired but not asleep as he seems to do better this way. Give it some time. I do get him up when he cries at 4am b/c that is when his diaper is wet. Changing his diaper, I usually just take him to the living room and chill in the recliner for an hour then let him watch some Sprout. He has started going to his room on his own now and waiting for me to pick him up and put him in his crib. He is 14 months old. I have been doing this since November. Give it time. You will thank yourself later.

    Answer by aikenchic at 2:33 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • Is there someone else who can go in and soothe him, rub his back or sing him a song or something so he knows he's not alone?The problem with you going in is that your breasts come with you, and then he knows the milk is right there. Will he take bottles? When my DD was struggling with eating at night I eventually gave her a bottle with a little water in it, it gave her something to help her fall asleep but wasn't milk or juice to ruin her teeth, then that eventually just phased itself out. I think letting a baby cry is a really personal choice, for me it wasn't something I was comfortable with. I did not want my DD laying in there wondering why no one was coming to check on her. Frankly, I am 31 and if I woke up at night crying and no one checked on me I would feel abandoned, too. I would at least go in to reassure every few minutes with a soft word or pat on the back so baby knows they are not alone. Good luck.

    Answer by MaryMW at 2:34 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • If it were me in this situation, I would nurse him, considering it's only once that he's waking. That's pretty good, just once. I think what you're doing, first trying other methods of soothing him, and nursing as a last resort, is a good idea. BUT, if it's consistent that he's wanting to nurse at that time, I might skip the other methods and just nurse, as it will save you time. I do NOT think it's a bad thing that he's waking wanting to nurse once a night. It's just once, you know? If he were waking 6-7-8 times to nurse, then I would probably start doing something differently. If he's in a crib, maybe consider moving him to a twin bed, so that you can try just laying with him, and see if that helps. But, most humans wake at least once at night, because they're thirsty, have to go to the bathroom, reposition themselves, etc, so it's foolish, IMO, to expect different of kids.

    Answer by Krysta622 at 2:34 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • I know I shouldn't have gotten him out and I am going to HAVE to be consistant because I simply CANNOT just keep nurisng him at night. I'm stressed, I'm exhausted, and I'm doing this all by myself right now.

    My DH is out of town 5 days a week.

    Also he's not really screaming or crying. It's like he's fussing and still half asleep. I don't even know if you would consider this CIO (which IMO is when the baby is REALLY crying themselves to sleep).

    I like the idea of letting him fuss for 5 minutes and then going to him if he's starts really crying or is still fussing after 10 minutes.


    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 2:39 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

  • Being consistently mean is not better than being inconsistently mean.

    Children, in recorded (rather than parent-reported) sleep studies DO NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. It is uncommon for humans to sleep through the night, and usually requires drugs.

    The fact that people do not have any memory of waking at the end of each sleep cycle -to check their bodies and environment- doesn't mean they're dead to the world the whole night.

    You can teach a child to stop making noise in the night, but you can't stop them from being hungry, lonely, thirsty or terrified --just that no one is coming to help.

    A lot of the sleep research has shown that parents who are convinced their kids do not wake in the night are sleeping through their kids screaming, sometimes for long periods, in the night.

    Answer by LindaClement at 2:42 PM on Jan. 25, 2011

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