My daughter is 16 months and still wakes at least twice a night for a breastfeed or a cuddle. I’ve had only two nights in her life where she has slept through till 6am and they were a couple of weeks ago.
She is a very happy, contented baby, but the night wakings are making me (and my husband) insane. The first wake-up call is usually around 12.30am, which is a feed on both breasts and then she goes back to sleep easily.
The second wake-up is around 3.30am and this one varies each night. Sometimes I just need to give her a pat or stroke her, and she falls back to sleep. Other nights she needs a cuddle, or a breastfeed, and rocking to sleep.
But then on the worst nights she will wake up again at 4am, then 4.30am, then 5am and on it goes until I give in and put her in bed with us where she can suckle all through the morning. It’s nights like that where we become increasingly angry at her and at each other, and I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
Some nights if I refuse to pick her up, or if I refuse to breastfeed her, she screams and throws her body back and forth in a massive tantrum. She has hurt herself doing this, as she has banged her head against the cot. She will do this in my arms as well, so I have to be careful I don’t drop her!
My husband works very long shifts and needs his sleep, so leaving her to cry is out of the question (plus I don’t really like the idea of controlled crying).
We’ve tried comfort blankets and teddies, but she hasn’t taken to any of them. I’ve even given her a soft tank top that I’ve worn so it smells like me, but she throws it out of the cot. This worked for my eldest daughter who still takes it to bed (she is 5 years old).
We’ve tried given her a dummy, but she thinks it’s a toy to play with, and likes to give them to her baby dolls. I’ve also tried giving her a big drink of milk before bed, but she will only drink a couple of sips and then wants breastmilk. I’m honestly not sure if she’s even getting enough milk from me.
I’ve tried lullabies, but she finds music stimulating rather than relaxing.
I’ve tried rocking her, singing to her and lots of hush-hush sounds, but none of that teaches her to self-settle.
She gets enough sleep during the day, around 2 hours.
The two nights she slept through she ate a really big dinner and went to bed a bit earlier than usual, but most nights she eats just the normal amount (obviously I can’t force her to eat more).
I could try and put her bedtime earlier in the evening, but it’s really inconvenient for the rest of the family and our current routine, so I’m reluctant to make everyone else change just for her.
I’m sure she is not too hot and not too cold.
Co-sleeping is not an option anymore because she moves around in bed far too much and kicks us both so we don’t get any sleep at all.
We have a small house too, so I can’t set up a bed in her room - plus I’d really like to sleep in my own bed!
So, how can I wean her at night time without her screaming the house down?
How can I get her to self-settle?