Parents of MetaFilter, I need your wisdom. My 9 1/2 month old son has always been an early riser, but for the past two months, we've been struggling with extremely early wake-ups. We're all exhausted, and I'm desperate to get back to a semi-sane schedule. Please help.
posted by Bella Sebastian to health & fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The short story is that he goes to bed around 6:45-7pm, and he wakes up anywhere from 4 am - 5:30 am. He is rarely able to go back to sleep once he wakes up, but he's tired within an hour of waking, so I don't think it's that he just naturally needs less sleep. When it's bedtime he goes to sleep easily and doesn't wake up through the night, aside from the occasional short crying spell (we don't enter his room for those.) He takes 2 naps during the day, one around 8 and one at 12:30-1, and they range from 1-1.5 hours. I put him down awake, never rocking or nursing him to sleep. His room is extremely dark and we use a white noise machine. More details, you ask? Happy to oblige...
When our son was younger, he naturally fell into an "early to bed, early to rise" schedule, which actually works out pretty well for us. From about 12 weeks old, he slept from 6:30 pm - 6:30 am with one "dream feed" around 10-11 pm. This was his schedule for months. Once he was eating a lot of solids, we gradually phased out the dream feed, as some of our baby books recommended. This coincided with the time change, and the end result was that our baby was now waking up anywhere from 4-5:30 am.
Thinking he was hungry, I would feed him, then try to put him back down to sleep. Sometimes this worked, sometimes this didn't. I talked to our ped, who gave the go-ahead to drop the early morning feeding. Our son is a giant man-child who eats like a trucker, so she suspected, and I agreed, that the early morning feeding was more habit than necessity.
Dropping the feed seemed pretty painless--we used the Ferber method, meaning my husband would go in and comfort him in ever-lengthening intervals. It took about 5 days, but he seemed to finally figure out that he wouldn't get fed, and he slept until 6 am. Bliss!
However, a week later, he started teething, and all of our earlier morning sleep training was forgotten. He's since gotten 4 teeth, but try as we might, we can't get him back to the earlier schedule. He now wakes up super early, and is cranky and awake for hours, even though he seems tired. Here is what we have tried:
--leaving him in his crib and letting him cry until the designated wake-up time, which in this house is 6 am. After a week of hearing him cry for an hour in the morning, I figured it wasn't working. He didn't learn to go back to sleep, or even to play quietly.
--trying the Ferber method to get him to sleep. It has worked in the past, but now having us soothe him just seems to get him more and more wound up. I've given up on the idea that I can comfort him back to sleep.
--feeding him and putting him back down. Thinking it might be a growth spurt, I've tried nursing him and putting him back down once or twice, but he doesn't go back to sleep.
--having an earlier bed time. I've tried as early as 5:45 pm, and he is usually able to fall asleep then. The first night he slept until 5:45 am (12 hours) so I thought I cracked the code, but the next day he was up at 4:30, and then 4 am the next day...
--pushing his bedtime later. We're currently trying for a 7 pm bedtime. It's really difficult because he is SO TIRED by this time, it's a chore to keep him up that late. We've moved his meals and naps later as well, so it's a full-on schedule shift, in 15-minute increments. We've been doing it all this week, and have seen no change yet. Last night he went to bed at 7 and woke up at 4:10 am. I tried putting him back down and he wouldn't sleep, but by 6 am he was tired and cranky. I really don't think we can have a schedule where his first nap starts at 6!
Things I am not willing to do:
--co-sleep, or bring him back to bed with me in the mornings. He doesn't show an interest in this, and I know I wouldn't be able to sleep with him in bed, so it seems pointless.
I know it sounds like we've tried a million different things, and we've probably confused him. This might be the case, although I should point out that we've tried various bedtimes or methods for several weeks at a time, trying to maintain consistency, so it's not as if we're doing something different each day.
The frustrating thing is that we might have a good morning, or several in a row, and think we've figured it out, only to have the next morning be a 5:30 wake up, then 5, then 4:30. I wouldn't even mind 5:30 so much, if it was consistent, but it's the fact that he just seems to get up earlier and earlier each day that absolutely kills me.
So please, give me some ideas. Have you dealt with early wakings? What worked for you? Please tell me I am not doomed to a life of getting up before the sun.