I’m going to let you in on a little something we learned when our first child turned about 6 or 7 months old. She had been sleeping through the night from about 7 weeks on (about the time I needed to switch from nursing to formula in a bottle). When ALL OF A SUDDEN, at about 6 months old, she started waking up in the middle of the night crying, for no reason at all. We had a Well-Baby exam scheduled within a few days of this happening, so we asked the pediatrician about it. Here’s what she explained…..
Up until about the age of 6 months, your baby does NOT know you exist if you are out of sight, so during those months, he or she is most likely waking up slightly during the night but unless uncomfortable in anyway, has no reason to cry out for you. Then all of a sudden at about the age of 6 months (the age when playing peek-a-boo becomes fun) they figure out that although they can’t see you….they KNOW you are there somewhere, so they decide to cry out and “find you”. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s perfectly normal, but if you respond the wrong way, you will be causing yourself and your child many hours of sleepless nights. The thing to do (according to the pediatrician) is to go in, briefly comfort your child and tell them it’s still “night, night time” and that they should go back to sleep. And lay them back down in their crib and leave. They will most likely keep crying, and you should just go back in about every 5 min to assure them you are still there, and lay them back down. You might need to do this many times in a row on those first few nights and this whole process can take a week, easily, but you’ll notice that every night, they will persist for a lesser amount of time. Well, we did this exactly as instructed, and let me tell you….it wasn’t easy! It broke my heart to have her cry like that, but it worked! In less than a week, she simply stopped waking us up in the middle of the night! And proceeded to sleep through the night from that day forth!
Now let me tell you how a neighbor of mine handled the exact same situation (our kids were about 2 weeks apart in age). Although I passed on to them this wonderful pediatric advise, they just couldn’t imagine doing that. Instead they ended up awake in the middle of the night, every night, taking turns trying to feed their son, allowing him to walk around in his walker, play etc. for a couple hours till he got sleepy again, and then everyone went back to bed. They ALL lost an enormous amount of sleep, which is SO UNHEALTHY for both parents and child, and this went on for months!!! It was just crazy and so UNNECESSARY!! Keep in mind….before this, he too, had been sleeping through the night for months already!