My eight month old used to sleep 11 hours a night but is now waking up anywhere from midnight to 2am. I'm still breastfeeding and she isn't asking for food. She just screams till I come in and then has a huge smile and wants to play. I tried to let her cry it out a couple of times but she will literally scream for hours and never fall back asleep (and it kills me).  Any advice? Sleepy mum

The fact that your eight month old did sleep a good 11 hours and you know she isn’t hungry are two big clues that yes, your right in your assumption that this night waking isn’t about food but play.  It is a game to her.  You need to understand your role in this, she is now more than likely waking out of habit and while you continue to pop in and reward her for night waking with ‘you’ she will continue to wake.

I know it sounds rather simple, however in her brain, when you appear she thinks something like ‘ oh, great here’s mum; this is how I get to see her in the middle of the night.  She must like this because she comes in smiles, picks me up and we have a cuddle, I must remember to do this again tomorrow night’.

Now how to break this habit?  Sorry, but you need to take yourself out of the picture, if you don’t she will continue this as you reward her with you everytime she does it, or most times anyway.  Even if you go in straight away sometimes or after 10mins or after 30 long mins, all you end up doing is teaching her to be persistent in her crying.

So take yourself out and stop attending, at worst this will take about a week, if you are consistent.  The first night will be the worst then you and more importantly she will sleep, well, soundly and deeply.  All this she needs to develop optimally, her brain categorizes while asleep, her immune system strengthens and repairs, her body grows and she wakes refreshed.  So do you I must add, solve this immediately or seek advice!  If you need more information please don’t hesitate to contact me for a appointment.

Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

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