My daughter used to sleep through the night. Now she is done. Help.
September 24, 2019 10:06 AM   Subscribe

My daughter is 7 months old and a twin. She started sleeping through the night on her own around 5 months, and was doing a really good job at that until a few weeks ago. Help us troubleshoot.

Here are the facts:

-Daughter and son share a room. This is not changeable because of space constraints, other rooms without blackout curtains, and Reasons. Do not suggest that we separate them. We cannot.

-Daughter and son both GO to bed very easily. We have an elaborate, newly-streamlined-and-tear-free bedtime routine (see previous question of mine). Daughter and son both sleep well for the first few hours (sometimes son wakes up for his pacifier, but this is actually becoming less frequent). Bedtime ranges from 645 to 715, depending on the day and how efficiently we do things.

-Sometime around 2 and 3 AM, daughter now wakes up. Here is the thing, though, before you tell me to cry it out: She's often not crying. She's just hanging out, babbling loudly, rolling around, planking, practicing crawling. Sometimes this leads to crying, sometimes it doesn't. When it does, and the crying gets to the point of no return, we go get her, because we don't want her to wake up her brother. Sometimes the crying is mild ("fussing") and we can tell she'll stop, and she does, and then goes back to babbling and hanging out.

-Once she is up, daughter is up ALL NIGHT, with maybe a few catnaps thrown in.

-We used to use the merlin sleep suit. Alas, daughter rolled over in it (and did a plank, it was very cute) and once a baby can roll over in it, you can't use it anymore. Now we use a sleep sack. We tried the nested bean sleep sack but reverted to a regular one because...

-Daughter likes to sleep on her tummy now (we place her on her back, and find her on her tummy). The first few nights she did this, she woke up crying and I assumed it was because she rolled over in her sleep and woke up in a new position. This doesn't seem to be what's happening anymore though.

-I'm not sure the lack of the merlin sleep suit is the culprit here. The first few nights without it were perfectly fine. And now it's been almost three weeks without it, so I'd assume she'd be used to not having it by now.

-Yes, she is teething. She has been officially teething since she was 4 months old. As in, the pediatrician felt her mouth and said "this tooth is coming any day now." She is now 7 months +1 week. No teeth yet. WTF? (to be fair, my own mother said my teeth took forever too).

-We have tried feeding her, assuming she woke up because she was hungry. She ate a bit, but then still wanted to be awake.

-We tried tylenol, in case it was the teeth. It didn't help.

-She shuns a pacifier except as a toy

-You ask, if she's mostly not crying, just babbling and playing, what's the big deal? We still want her to sleep at night! She's miserable all day now, because she is SO overtired. Also her babbling keeps us awake (no we are not going to put earplugs in!), and likely impacts her brother's sleep as well.

-My instinct is to bring her to our bed and cuddle her to sleep, but we have a squishy, unsafe mattress for babies, and my husband doesn't want to start a bad habit. Sometimes we rock her to try to calm her down and make her sleepy. It works for the duration of the rocking. Then we put her down and she's all smiley and "aaaah!" which is her "hi!" Or she's complainy that she got put down.

-We are not opposed to sleep training, but again, the crying isn't frequent or the main issue here. I've never heard of "babble it out." And we are mostly doing that anyway.

What is going on? What can we do?
posted by millipede to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Just here for a general purpose reminder - kids are constantly in a state of flux. This too shall pass. Good luck and take care of yourselves.
posted by turkeybrain at 10:30 AM on September 24, 2019 [15 favorites]

Welcome to the 6 month sleep regression! It's a sign your baby is developing normally, which may be a small comfort in those wee hours. Here's a good article about how to cope and general causes.

Having caretaken an infant during this stage, I feel your pain. It doesnt last forever, though, I promise!
posted by ananci at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

Is the room completely dark? If there is some little night light try turning it off. She may be more sensitive to light than her brother. If you're in an apartment is it possible that some neighbor comes home between 2 and 3 and she hears something even though you don't. Same could happen in a house if a neighbor's car goes by every night at the same time.
posted by mareli at 11:10 AM on September 24, 2019

I don't have any tips because I'm into bed sharing so the available solutions are very different. However, despite my son having mummy-on-tap all night every night he still goes through periods every 3 months or so where he will have long periods of wakefulness in the night. Seems to be developmental and it passes. Only lasted a few weeks at a time for us. Now at 2 and three quarters he hasn't had an overnight party for about 9 months!
posted by kadia_a at 11:12 AM on September 24, 2019

I just read this interesting article talking about how sleep apnea in babies is a thing due to our poorly evolving skulls. Might want to get her a sleep study.
posted by bleep at 11:18 AM on September 24, 2019

I'm sorry to say it but that's super normal! Sleep regression is common and often coincides with growth, so she also night be waking up a bit hungry some nights and having a harder time falling back asleep due to it. My third baby slept through the night from 3 months to 6 months and her seventh month woke up nearly every night for that month for a quick feed and then just stopped one night.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 11:43 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

My kids totally did this whenever their brains were chewing on some new skill. A couple ideas you can throw at the wall, see if something sticks (but more often than not, you just weather it out for a few weeks and then it's over without any real explanation):

-Make sure she's getting a ton of opportunities to tumble around and practice physical skills during the day, seriously a ridiculous amount. My kid went a little nuts at nighttime when he was learning how to stand up so I just kept helping him stand up & sit down, over and over and over during the daytime, hoping he'd be less likely to decide to practice at night.

-White noise machine? Possibly some small household sounds are making her rouse just enough to eventually wake up fully.

-I use a star projector with Baby 2, it slowly rotates little blue and white stars all over the ceiling and walls. She coos at it and I think it gives her something interesting to look at in a dark room and MAYBE lulls her to sleep, at the very least it doesn't keep her awake. I have heard of crib soothers being used for this same purpose, this might help baby not protest when she's put back in her crib and gives her something calming to watch and hopefully helps her turn her brain off so she can go back to sleep. If Twin Brother is sleeping through at least mild crying/fussing, chances are the soft music or nature sounds will not affect him.
posted by castlebravo at 1:08 PM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I like the crib soother suggestion. We had phases with our babies where something like a mobile or the pretend aquarium soothers that play music were a good stop-gap to occupy baby for a few hours and hopefully lull them back to sleep. White noise machine if you don’t have one.
Also, and this is really a long shot, but: is it possible there’s something waking her at that time? Does the brother slightly wake and make a noise, is there a car with bright lights, an outside noise? I had a situation where I happened to be in the bedroom while baby was asleep, and a not-very-close train went by, causing a slight vibration that rattled the light fixture in the room. Baby woke up. I removed the fixture and it seemed like the 2 am wake-ups reduced. Also probably the baby just outgrew them, but I like to think I’m a baby wake-up Matlock, so let’s say it was the train thing! Finally, is she trying to roll over? Can she roll over? You could try to do lots of rolling over practice during the day. That could help if she’s getting stuck on her stomach and that’s making her wake up.
I’m sorry you’re going through this. You sound like very good parents. And twins!? You’re getting through the hardest part. Good on you. Maybe rotate nights with ear plugs, so one of you can sleep each night?
posted by areaperson at 4:30 PM on September 24, 2019

Parent of 2.5 year old twins here. We had really similar experiences, and as others have pointed out, it may have something to do with some new developmental leap. I think with twins it was especially difficult because we were always thinking "why is one doing it and not the other?" And of course there's the issue of one waking the other up. When these sleep disturbances happened to use, we tried to keep our routine as consistent as possible until they passed, which they always have so far. We've had similar things happen with naps as well--sometimes we'll go through periods where the afternoon nap disappears, but so far it's always come back. We've found the Ferber book helpful for getting a better overview of sleep patterns and how they change, and we used his gradual method of sleep training when our twins turned 6 months.
posted by 6and12 at 5:18 PM on September 24, 2019

The poorly evolving skulls article is interesting, and does have some practical advice. It suggests that sleep apnea in children is related to a shorter jawbone in modern people, and that many children should get orthodonture earlier to correct for some sleep related problems.
posted by xammerboy at 6:59 AM on September 25, 2019

Babies constantly learn and develop so they constantly change behaviors. Some developmental thing happened; respond to the behavior. Reduce daytime sleep time, increase sleep-promoting stuff. Maybe play soft music in the room, make sure she's warm, go in and pat her every 5 minutes, then every 7 minutes, the 12 minutes, etc.,doing whatever you do at bed time, to help with habituation for sleep. Which really means, help her adjust, and wait it out. good luck.
posted by theora55 at 10:03 AM on September 25, 2019

As was mentioned before, it's normal, but here are a couple of things to try out:

Keep a sleep log, after a while you might notice some patterns

Check room temperature is not too hot (aim for 19 deg Celsius) and that they are not dressed too warm.

Reduce daytime naps.

Make sure she's as active as possible during the day

Experiment a bit with the lighting. Try pitch black, and a small amber night light, and see what works best.

Try opening the window for a while before she goes to sleep to let in some fresh air.

Avoid screens for at least two hours before going to sleep.

Experiment with meal times, she might be hungry at night or perhaps she's eating too late.

Don't talk to her at night, except to say shhhh
posted by Sharcho at 4:34 PM on September 25, 2019

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