S3E7: Amanda Answers Julie: "Help Me Solve The Night Wakings That Just Won't Quit!" | Baby's Best Sleep

Voice Over:
You’re listening to the Slumber Party podcast with your host Amanda Jewson, a mom of two girls, a child and infant sleep expert and general sleep lover! If you’re a tired parent who is desperate for answers or just someone who loves sleep, this podcast was created just for you. Each episode is packed full of tips and tricks to help you maintain your sanity as well as your social life during the early stages of parenthood. So grab your headphones, it’s time to get comfy!

Amanda: 
Julie reached out to me on Instagram about her child’s last conquest: the night feeds. A very common issue for many of my clients. So they’ll have their child sleeping well, naps are going well, they fall asleep, there’s no help to sleep. Everybody’s high fiving! But the night wakings persist. We do a pretty extensive deep dive into what causes these night waking. So for many of you, I would like you to take notes, seriously. This is a very juicy episode. We talked about wake windows, split night, feeding, pumping bottles, literally everything. So it’s juicy. I hope this helps you get to the bottom of your night waking issue. Do take notes and enjoy!

 

All right. Hi, Julie. Are you there? 

 

Julie:
I’m here. 

 

Amanda:
All right, let’s get into this. So, Julie, you reached out to me on Instagram about night waking stuff that you can’t quite figure out. I would love if you could give our listeners just a brief rundown about what’s going on, how old baby is, if you’re breast-feeding or bottle-feeding and that we can kind of go from there!

 

Julie:
All right, so, Abby is, she’ll be seven months next week, and when she was born, she was always a really great sleeper. Up until about four months, she was just kind of waking up for a feed around 4am or 5 am and we decided to sleep train her at that time, she could fall asleep on their own, and she caught on pretty quickly, and then we wanted to drop the 4/5am feeding and everything kind of went awry from there. She started waking up at all kinds of different hours of the night after dropping that feed and then, she started waking up at 5:30 for the day. And around time of 5.5months, she started to nap better and moved herself onto two naps. And then the 5 a.m. wake ups became more consistent, the night waking kind of.. she would wake up all kinds of different hours of the night. And so, yeah, we’ve been struggling with that since, you know, for 2-3 months now.

 

Amanda: 
That’s tough stuff. Okay. I want you to take me through a little bit. I know that you’ve spoken to some other people before. I want you to take me through some of the strategies that you have tried, just because I’m sure other people are feeling similar. 

 

Julie:
So we tried… Just trying to think of what, the order of things that we tried. We’ve tried capping her naps. She is a really good napper and sometimes I think like she would nap all day if I let her. And so we limited her day sleep to about three hours, but she always seems like she wants to still be sleeping, like I’ll wake her up from her nap and she’ll be in a very deep sleep. So we did that. We tried to play with her wake times. We’ve tried to extend the time that she’s up during the day. We’ve tried to shorten her wake times. Particularly before bed, we tried to shorten her wake window

 

Amanda: 
Before like the night time. You mean you shorten it? Okay. Okay.

 

Julie:
So then we tried to, what else have we tried…. Those were the big things that we tried

 

Amanda:
So different timing suggestions. Okay, so I’m looking at… how short has the last week window been before bed?

 

Julie: 
We’ve been trying to do, like, two hours and 45 minutes.

 

Amanda: 
Okay. Was that a suggestion given to you, too short in the wake window before bed 

 

Julie: 
Yes. 

 

Amanda: 
Okay, and then her. It seems to me throughout your day, because you sent me a little questionnaire before this call. Her wake windows are about three hours throughout the day otherwise. Okay. Three hours. Okay. And then what time usually is that last nap ending?  

 

Julie:
Because I am capping it, it is usually around 3:45 3:30

 

Amanda:
Oh, and then bedtime.

 

Julie:
I guess I also stay some days I’ve let her nap longer in the morning. And then so like I’ll, instead of limiting her to an hour and 1/2 nap, I’ve let her kind of sleep as long as she wants to in the morning and then capped the last nap.

 

Amanda: 
Okay. And then so then bed time is roughly around 6 15 6 30

 

Julie: 
Yeah. 6:15/6:30 most days.

 

Amanda: 
Okay, on the best, on the best, I guess mornings, when is like her wakings? What time were they usually happening? Is it usually around that 4am time. 

 

Julie:
She’s often waking…. Either it’s like, 12 o’clock or 4 am is most often. And then, and then someday she’ll wake for the day at, somedays she’ll wake for the day at 5:30 and someday she’ll sleep a little bit, like and wake at 6:30. But most of the days, like most of the night waking are sometime either at 12, around 12-1 or around 4am.

 

Amanda:
And how long do they last? 

 

Julie: 
So when she wakes at, like, 12 o’clock. She tends to just, like, babble and talk to herself. And she could do that for, like, an hour or maybe sometimes more – varying very vastly. Sometimes an hour and a half. And when she wakes up at 4am, also, it can be, she can be up for an hour.

 

Amanda: 
And is she mad at 4am?

 

Julie: 
At four? Yes. Sometimes she is. Sometimes she’ll babble and then she’ll start to cry and scream. But she tends to be more mad at 4am than she is when she wakes up at 12. 

 

Amanda:
Okay. Talk to me about feeding. You are breastfeeding, right? 

 

Julie:
Yes. 

 

Amanda:
Okay. How often are you feeding throughout the day? Breast feeds and solids

 

Julie:
I’m breast feeding her, like when she wakes up in the morning and after her naps. 

 

Amanda:
Okay. 

 

Julie:
And then she’s now getting solids breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Amanda:
Great. So three times. And how are solids going? 

 

Julie:
Pretty good. She tends to not like the solids so much first thing in the morning, but then throughout the day, she does eat. 

 

Amanda:
Great. And we’re doing that last feed before bed about 1/2 an hour before and that’s a breast feed? 

 

Julie:
Yes. 

 

Amanda:
Okay. Okay. So I asked a lot of questions there. I know that’s a lot of questions. Literally eight minutes of questions. Okay, so there’s a couple of things that are popping out to me that we can try. And, I didn’t warn you of this, but I’ll warn my listeners and everyone. When I’m doing podcasts, I’m speaking very.. in an expository way to give everyone listening and you a lot of information about why I’m making these suggestions. So it just doesn’t seem random. There’s a couple of things that are coming out to me. So when we have wakings there’s usually a few reasons why they’re happening. Number one, the easiest: they’re hungry. So they might not be getting a lot of food during the day. And they’re waking because they’re not getting enough calories in their 24 hour period. If you don’t want to do night feedings, you absolutely need to make sure those calories are happening during the day. Other things are things like you kind of tried already. So like timing things. So it could be too much or too little sleep during the day. Usually when I’m seeing night wakings from over tiredness are short frequent bursts, they’re not like waking happily and alert. The other thing that could be happening is, and it doesn’t sound like this is happening here that there’s help to sleep. So there’s something that’s assisting Abby in falling asleep, getting her drowsy and then she needs that or would prefer that to fall back to sleep. So, I don’t think this is happening. But just for everyone, there’s nothing happening in the middle of the night where we go back and help her back to sleep?

 

Julie:
Not, no, sometimes at like if she’s up at 4 in the morning and she’s still up at like, 5:30, I kinda get anxious about how we’re gonna make it through the morning and I have gone in to, help her, like, rub her back or I will help her back to sleep. But then there’s other days where she’ll put herself back to sleep at that time. So it like, I don’t think a habits forming, like she’s not expecting it, but I don’t know, maybe she is

 

Amanda:
It could be honestly like, you know, it could be the thing. So if there’s ever any time at any point where baby could be helped to sleep, especially I would see after six months when they’re super smart and they know everything, they might just have a preference for what happens, right? So they’re like, “You know what? I kind of want Mom to come and rub my back.” Something else that happens. And that is really common for a lot of the families that I work with is bringing baby back to bed, which is not happening here. But a lot of people/parents will be like, “Oh, just come and snuggle me for, you know, 20 minutes or an hour and then we’ll go back to sleep for another hour. It’ll be great.” Except baby’s will start to wake for that to happen, and the longer that that happens sometimes the the less likely it is for your child to go back to sleep because they are… They want that. There are things that they want, and they don’t understand why they can have it sometimes, and not when they want it. Other times they don’t care. So it can be really confusing to the parent to be like, “No, you don’t want it this time. It can’t be a habit, because half the time you do half the time you don’t.” But babies and children for a long time don’t understand nuance, right? This like, “No, we just did this that one day because I was losing my mind”, but they don’t understand that. So I would just be, that could be something easily that we can implement and think about in the future going forward. So, you know, if you give her, I would say 2 to 4 weeks of definitely not helping her in any way before sleep or in the middle of the night, that can be a thing that you took off like it’s not behavioral in nature. So that’s good. Okay. The other thing that was coming up for me is the feeding thing. So I don’t, How is your supplying in general?

 

Julie:
It’s… I think it’s pretty good.

 

Amanda:
Okay, great. So if there have been no feeding issues, I see this a lot of times with parents who have not had any sort of like feeding or breast feeding stuff. So what I mean by that is, so I’ll use myself as an example because this happened to me. So I, with both kids, had a supply for everybody. I could feed your kid, my kid, the street, the army, everyone. So I was pretty lazy about my supply and in fact, it kind of wanted it to decrease, so I wouldn’t do things. But, you know, that’s, that didn’t really harm me in any way. I went back to work at four months. I continued pumping pretty regularly, and I was getting a lot of milk, like 32 ounces a day from pumping. And then, I would, by December I was so sick of it. And I was like, “Okay, I want to not pump anymore, I’m going to feed, I’m gonna breastfeed in the morning, and I’m gonna breastfeed before I go to bed. And I have a great supply, so no big deal.” But the issue was because I decreased my overall supply, literally my supply tanked. Pretty, pretty quickly actually. So within, I would say about a month, my overall supply plummeted. My amazing sleeper started waking for about, like, 2 to 3 weeks. I couldn’t figure out, you know, what was going on. And then, I just realized that, you know, one night, my loving caregiver said, you know, maybe your supply isn’t quite keeping up, and I was like, “That’s impossible.” But we offered a bottle of formula, and I never heard from her, like, literally in until she was three. So sometimes what can happen is parents who have a plentiful supply, when they stop night feeding their daytime supply can suffer. And then what this can mean is sometimes… Have there been any random night feedings in the last 2 to 3 months? 

 

Julie:
Maybe like two or three months ago. Yeah, but haven’t done it recently. 

 

Amanda:
Okay, Sometimes what can happen is baby depending, especially when they’re on solids, can have a better calorie day than other. So you’re gonna have these, like, random days where she sleeps like a champ and then other days where she doesn’t. There could be a supply issue. I don’t know. One of the things that you might want to start introducing is something called power pumping. So it could be pumping in the morning and the evening. See if that helps. I’m not saying you have to do that forever, but it might be something worth considering if night feedings are removed, because it can affect your daytime supply. And everyone’s different on how that happens. So I would want you to look at that. And you know at her age – she’s so happy! She’s like “I love food!” If she’s eating solids well, you can continue to do that, offer breast milk often in addition to your pumping. Fortify her food with oils like coconut oil to kind of bulk up the fat content to see if that’s something that, if it is hunger, that something you can like tick off. Because I do think there’s this, there’s this funny time, sometimes between six and eight months, where if you take away the one night feed, they may legitimately need it, and, developmentally, they’re not quite ready to get rid of it yet, and then we take it away, and then they kind of struggle a little bit with, like that calorie consumption, so it can be important for us to supplement that during the day. I would definitely start there. 

 

Julie:
Does it matter? Doing it, at what point? Like is it worth it to do to, like, give her a bottle before bed or it just like throughout the day, she needs to be getting more calories to try it out?

 

Amanda:
The bottle could be enough. The bottle could be enough to help give her extra calories, but there’s a couple of things that you’d want to be careful of there. Number one: your supply. You never want to replace that for your, your feeds, you need to make sure if you are offering a full like 6 or eight ounce bottle that you’re pumping at that time. Don’t be concerned about your output because you’re pumping output is never the same as your actual output when your child is actually breastfeeding. I’m very reluctant to give out lactation advice because I’m very protective of mom’s supply and their want to breastfeed. I would definitely speak to a lactation consultant if you are worried about that, if you want to do some kind of problem solving with them. And that goes for anyone listening it like I don’t want to do… Don’t jump on anything I’m saying right now, I want you to talk to a professional in lactation. I definitely have a good amount of knowledge, but I also want to make sure that your supply stays where we want it to and not removing night feeds too quickly. Now, there are, there are situations which I feel like you might be in, where baby could probably use a night feed, but if we include it behaviorally, they’re too smart for it. So, you know, you’re seven months is not gonna understand why they can eat themselves back to sleep at 4am, and not at 9am before their nap. And so where that can be confusing is you start to get babies refusing naps, crying more, crying before bed and long and prolonged wakings throughout the night when they don’t get to feed themselves back to sleep. So it is a bit of a slippery slope. Some parents that want to continue to breastfeed do get up in the middle of the night to pump to make sure the daytime supply is active. But things like adding a pump before you go to bed, like a power pumping session and maybe one session in the morning when your milk is really plentiful, for a lot of my clients, that’s enough to increase their supply. So you could talk to a lactation consultant and think about the calories and whether that’s an option. The last thing, you’ve done a lot of work already with your timing. So, I’ll explain to everyone what I think you have been trying to do, and that is what it sounds like, you’re trying to avoid a split night. So a split night is when there’s so much daytime sleep happening, and it sounds like Abby’s such amazing sleeper, like we could let her sleep for, like, five hours a day, and she’d probably do it. The only problem with that is that we only have so much sleep in us, right? So, like, I probably only have eight hours in me a day. Abby might have 14 hours in her a day, and if she uses five of those hours in the day, she only has nine hours in her. So what that usually looks like is called a split night, where they wake halfway in the middle of the night. Usually, you know, yours is that 12 but it’s usually between three and four, and they’re up for an hour and they fall back asleep for a little while. And that hour is just enough time for them to build up some more sleep pressure to want to fall back to sleep again. So it all comes out in the wash. So what I think, what you’ve been doing with, I know that you’ve spoken to other consultants or a Doctor. What they’re probably trying to do is reduce your amount of daytime sleep so you get those hours at night. I like the idea of limiting the sleep to 3 hours, but for an almost eight months old, going to bed around 6:15 6:30, I think at most my clients are getting between 10 and 12 hours of sleep, right? 10 on the low end, 12 on the high end, most are between 10 and 11 at most. At most, I would expect her to want to be up at four o’clock after three hours of daytime sleep. So what I would be doing here, you could do a couple things, and I would do this incrementally to see what kind of helping first. Number one, I might start, if you’re going to have 1.5 hours or 3 to 3.5 hours of day time sleep, we need to up her wake window. So I’m thinking from three hours to maybe even 3.5 hours. And then I would like that to happened before bed as well, like 3.5 to even four hours because most kids can handle a longer wake window before bedtime because they have 10 to 12 hours of sleep ahead of them. 

 

Julie: 
She doesn’t seem to be able, like it’s always been before bed. But she’s like, that wake before bed has always been pretty short for her. I was always wondering why she got so sleepy, just before, like so quickly after her last nap.

 

Amanda:
Well, this is one of those things where it’s, it’s not… so it’s a funny thing, but okay, so right now she’s having, like, potentially 2 to 3 hours of nighttime waking at night, right? Yeah, and it sounds like to me that during the day she just, she’s tired. So then she wakes up and she’s trying to make up those two hours somehow. And so by the end of the day, she is tired. She wants to go to bed. So I get that. This is where we kind of have to push her. And it’s not fun. So don’t do it like aggressively. Don’t tonight go 3.5 hours, do 15 minutes at a time over three days. So, you know, tonight we’re gonna push her to, you know, we’re looking at 2.5hrs to 2:45 Let’s do 2:45 to 3hrs tonight for three days, and then I want you to push it 15 minutes for another three days and then another 15 minutes until you get to that time. Now she’s gonna seem really tired. But what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to put that sleep pressure into the night time and not to the day. Because she’s an awesome sleeper during the day! That’s all well and good, but you need to sleep that night.

 

Julie:
So true!

 

Amanda:
So, I think those were some things that you can implement pretty easily. I mean, I say easily, stretching her wake windows is never fun. I think if she’s going to bed at 6:15 the best you’re gonna get is like a 5am wake up. That’s the best you’re probably gonna get, and that would be amazing. So I do think that we need to stretch out the whole day. Let’s stretch out the whole day. Add in like, take those two hours, so if we’re giving her a 3-3.5 hour wake window during the day, that’s one hour, right? And then we stretch that last wake window before bed – that’s another half an hour to an hour, and hopefully we can get that in your night. And that’s not gonna happen today. It’ll probably happen in 3 to 4 weeks because you’re gonna have to take your time pushing her. And you’re also gonna have to make sure that you know her body clock adjusts a little bit, because right now she’s used to being awake at between four and five. So I’d continue to do what you’re doing in the mornings, leave her to be happy, babbling and go back to bed. I would definitely do that. Hopefully, it’ll take less time for her to do that, and you’ll probably see micro wakes around that midnight and 4 to 5 o’clock time for a while. Because that’s something that her body is used to doing. Like if I come to you and woke you up at 2, even just like this every day you would start to wake at two o’clock in the morning. And that would be awful and I would never do that to you. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You’re like I’m already there. Okay, so those are a few strategies I think that will help. Can you report back? 

 

Julie:
Yeah, for sure!

 

Amanda:
Amazing. Was that helpful? 

 

Julie:
Yes. Very helpful! Can I ask you a question about like, if she does wake up at 5:30 then what do you like, and she’s up for the day… How did you avoid that messing up the rest of her day?

 

Amanda: 
Well, my word of advice about that is just make sure that that first nap is never too early. So we always course correct. So I always assume at the very, very earliest our kids are getting up at six. And calculate the wake window from at least six. So it might mean that that first wake window is longer than she likes or is used to. But it just, like, keeps the day pushed out accordingly. Otherwise, everything is early. So I would just push it out from at least six. 

 

Julie: 
Yeah, all right. Awesome. 

 

Amanda: 
So just a few things just to recap, you’re gonna look at your feeding. I’m not convinced it’s a feeding issue. But whenever like even if I have a client, I’m starting with them, day one, they’re feeding their baby seven times a night, their baby’s 10 months old. I put them on a plan to maintain their supply. Because when you cut out night feeds, that can affect your supply. So I just want you to do a check in. I don’t know anything about your supply, so I hope I’m not creating any anxiety. Just do a check in. Then I want you to take a look at extending those wake windows and ensuring a split night isn’t happening. And then I want you to report back. Oh, yes. The other thing that we talked about was making sure that there’s no help to sleep ever, for 2 to 4 weeks, and then I want you to check back in with me. 

 

Julie:
Okay. Sounds good. Amazing. 

 

Amanda:
Hooray! Julie, that was 26 minutes, and you only talked for eight of them. 

 

Julie:
Well got a lot of information out of it, so I’m very happy about that! 

 

Amanda:
Oh, good. Well, honestly, thank you for being on the podcast and offering up your sleep problem to help someone else. Hopefully, someone’s listening to this and taking notes furiously. Awesome. Great work. 

 

Julie: 
Thank you. 

 

Amanda:
Thank you so much. 


Voice Over; Thank
 you so much for joining us for another episode of Slumber Party! If you’re ready to help your little one get the sleep that they need and get your nights back while you’re at it, make sure to check out Amanda’s signature DIY sleep training courses or work with her directly. For more details head over babysbestsleep.com. Don’t forget to hit Subscribe, Like and Review. Happy sleeping, Everyone!