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Welcome To The Members Area! Forums Baby Sleep Help 5 month old suddenly screaming and refusing to nap Reply To: 5 month old suddenly screaming and refusing to nap

  • Emma H

    April 17, 2024 at 8:53 pm

    Hey Emma,

    It’s great the diarrhoea has finally cleared up. I wonder if that might have been the cause of his sudden change in behaviour, as the timing lines up?

    It also sounds like the overnight wakes are getting slightly better in that he is falling back to sleep after the feed and the time between the feeds seem to be getting slightly longer. On the 9th of April you mentioned he was waking every 1 -2 hours and now it’s every 2 -3 hours which is slightly better.

    And it also sounds like maybe the day sleeps are getting a bit better in that you can lay him down in the co-sleeper for the nap?

    Based on how often he wakes up during the night, it seems like two things might have happened. The first thing that happened was for some reason he started waking up between sleep cycles. This might have been due to some discomfort, possibly from the diarrhoea or pain at the vaccination site, or something else entirely. To soothe him back to sleep, you’ve naturally been feeding him, which might have led him to expect more feedings during these times. As a result, he could now be waking up more often because he expects to be fed.

    Here’s what you can try to help reduce these frequent night wakings:

    1. Identify when he is waking overnight due to hunger and when he is waking due to comfort.

    Document each overnight feed for a few days to differentiate between hunger-driven and comfort-driven wakings. For breastfeeding, note the duration of each feed; for bottle feeding, record how much he drinks.

    After collecting this information, review it to see which feeds were likely due to genuine hunger — indicated by longer breastfeeding times or higher amounts of milk consumed — and which were likely for comfort, shown by shorter feeds or less milk consumed.

    2. Gradually Reduce Comfort Feeds

    For the comfort feeds you want to gently reduce these comfort feeds. This involves decreasing the duration of breastfeeding or the volume of bottle-feeding slightly each night.

    • For Breastfeeding: Begin by shortening each comfort feed by about 1 to 2 minutes every night. Continue reducing the feeds until the feedings last less than five minutes. Once they’re under 5 minutes, you can stop feeding and instead use the ‘Settling Pyramid’ strategy or step 3 to soothe him to sleep.

    • For Bottle-Feeding: Reduce the volume given during comfort feeds by ½ to 1 ounce each night. Continue reducing the amount until it’s less than 2 ounces. At that point, switch from feeding to using the strategies from the ”Settling Pyramid’ or step 3 to soothe him to sleep.

    3. For comfort-driven wakes, use other soothing strategies to help him fall asleep

    If he wakes up during the night looking for comfort, and you cannot settle him to sleep using the settling pyramid you can try this gentler approach. Gently rock or bounce him in your arms and gradually reduce the amount of hands-on strategies you’re applying while he is in your arms. For example, when he is lying in your arms, rock him, as you gently pat his bottom and ‘shush’ him. Then, as he settles down, stop rocking him (so stand or sit still) and continue patting his bottom and shushing. If he remains calm, stop patting him and continue shushing. Then stop shushing so that he falls asleep in your arms while you’re standing still. Then, place him in the crib. Stopping the rocking and patting before he falls asleep helps him become comfortable with falling asleep without movement (so he is not reliant on movement to fall asleep). This will make it easier to move to using the pyramid technique when you’re both ready.

    4. Try the settling pyramid if he will let you and you have the time and energy.

    As he seems to be generally a bit more content and the diarrhoea has settled down, do you think he might be more receptive to laying down in the crib after you complete the nap or bedtime routine? If you do think so, try the settling pyramid again as this gives him a chance to practice falling asleep in the crib with your support which is a key component to getting him to sleep for longer stretches overnight. If you need to climb to the top of the pyramid and pick him up, check your energy levels. If you have the time and energy, you can settle him back down, and when he is calm, put him back in the crib and descend the pyramid following his cues. If you don’t have the energy or time, or he is too distressed, settle him to sleep in your arms, using the gentler steps I outlined in step 3.

    5. Just try the first nap of the day

    If you don’t have the energy or time to apply the settling pyramid for every nap, just use it for the first nap of the day. Babies tend to find it easier to fall asleep for this nap, so you’re more likely to have success.

    6. Feed him in a sunny, distraction-free room for daytime feeds

    It might be worth feeding him in a quieter room during the day to ensure he is having bigger feeds. This can sometimes help to reduce the need for overnight feeds.

    7. Try lowering the room temperature

    If you can, you could try lowering the room temperature in the bedroom to around 21 degrees and see if this helps improve his sleep. Babies tend to find it easier to sleep in a cooler room, plus their core body temperature needs to drop just before sleep (which is why having a bath as part of the bedtime routine can be so helpful). So lowering the temperature might help. If adjusting the temperature isn’t feasible, don’t worry too much about it.

    There are also additional strategies in the course lesson titled “Managing the 4 Month Sleep Regression” which you might find helpful. So if you haven’t already, make sure you check that one out.

    Also, the AAP and Red Nose Australia recommend you room-share (so the baby sleeps in your bedroom) until at least the first 6 months. So I do recommend they stay in your bedroom for the first 6 months. If you can set the crib up in your room then that would be great.

    I hope that helps!