So, I'd like to use this post to share my thought process on something we are currently going through. I am hoping that as I write this, I will solve my own mystery! As you know from previous posts, we have had a lot of change and challenges in the past couple of weeks: dropping the catnap, sickness, the "grey period" of the wonder weeks, and possibly teething (still waiting on those to pop out). Now that she is on her new schedule again and over her virus, we are dealing with something new. Three nights in a row she has woken in the middle of the night. Two of those nights it was around 2:30 am, and last night it was at 5 am.
When your baby is just getting over being sick, might be teething, is in a developmental leap, and had her head bumped on a ceiling fan (read about our parenting fail here)... you go in when she wakes up at 2:30 am! She felt a little cool to me both nights, so I changed her into something warmer. She cuddled right up and wasn't even asking for food. She seemed to just want Mama. She was up for awhile both nights, so I ended up feeding her (because when I wake up and am up for awhile, I usually need food to go back to sleep- so I figured it couldn't hurt). Last night, she woke and cried out at 5 am, but went back to sleep. Did this a few times, but never long enough cries that I needed to go in. But, the big question is, why all of the sudden is she waking in the MOTN? For 3 months now her normal behavior is to not do this, so this is out of the ordinary for her.
I try to think about the advice I'd give another mama. I try to think about the questions I'd ask another mama.
To start with I'd ask for the schedule. I'd look to see if she was getting too many naps, too lengthy of naps, too much wake time, or too little. I'd look at the age to see if she was going through a growth spurt, and ask the mama if her baby seemed hungry when she woke. I would look to see if she was in a developmental leap- a wonder week. I'd ask what skills she is learning and if she seemed to want to practice those skills. As I heard the answers to these questions, it might prompt more questions.
So, in my attempt to solve this mystery, I am going to answer my own questions:
What is her schedule?
7 am nurse and solids, 11:30 am nurse and solids, 4 pm nurse, 5 pm solids, 6:30 pm nurse, 7 pm bed
Naps from 9:30-11:30 am, 2:30-4 pm
She doesn't always sleep from 2:30 pm to 4 pm. She is still getting used to her new schedule, so she is still overtired on some days and only sleeping from 2:30 pm -3 pm. On those days, I move her bedtime up and just follow her cues. The nights that she woke at 2:30 am, she had only slept for 30 minutes for her second nap. Last night, when she woke at 5 am, she had slept 1 hour and 15 minutes for her second nap.
My thoughts: She is taking 2 naps, which is not too many naps for this age. She is taking a 2 hour nap plus a 30 minute - 1.5 hour nap. The ideal daytime sleep is 3-5 hours. She is slightly less than this range if she is taking only a 30 minute nap for her second nap of the day. This could be the cause, in which case, I will just have to wait it out a few days and see if she adjusts to her schedule better. If she doesn't, I may have to shorten the second wake time, so she is not overtired for her nap. She should respond to this by lengthening her second nap. With this scenario, I may also have to move bedtime to be slightly earlier.
What is her age?
She is 7 months.
Is she hungry when she wakes?
No. She is not asking for food. I eventually give her food, because once she wakes she is up for awhile. She gladly eats. She is comforted simply by me holding her, and hunger is not what is waking her.
My thoughts: She is not at the age where she would be going through a growth spurt, nor is she acting extra hungry.
She just finished the "grey period" in the wonder weeks chart. She was definitely in a fussy phase, and only wanted Mama to comfort her. We just made it through a week long phase where she wouldn't even let me set her down. I had to be holding her (and it had to be me), in order for her to be happy. She seems to be on the other side of this now and is enjoying independent playtime again, but when it comes to being comforted, she still needs Mama. She is not currently learning skills such as sitting or rolling that she may be wanting to practice, and she seems to want to cuddle when she wakes.
Is anything else bothering her?
She does seem to have teething symptoms, but no teeth yet. She is still pulling on her ears and doesn't want to chew food (we had to go back to incorporating more purees into her diet as a result). Orajel and Tylenol have seemed to help her. We still give her one or both of these at night, and they seem to help at times.
My thoughts: She does not seem to be waking to practice skills. She may be waking because she is slightly cold, she may notice the twinge of teething pain, or perhaps something else is rousing her- but once she wakes, she may simply want company. She IS in the phase where they can have some separation anxiety and need extra comfort. Even if she isn't in any pain, or nothing is really wrong, it woke her enough for her to realize that she wants Mama's company.
We are going to keep the schedule as is for the duration of this week. I am hoping she can adjust to the schedule again (as she had done before getting sick), and start to take a longer second nap. I think this may correct the issue.
I am going to continue to treat her teething symptoms as real symptoms, even if she turns out to not be teething. It is something I can take out of the equation by assuming they are bothering her and treating them.
I am not worried about forming bad habits at this age. She already knows how to put herself to sleep if she wakes in the MOTN, and she is not going to lose this skill if I help her right now. Obviously, something bothered her enough to wake up, and if she wants snuggles right now, I am simply going to give them to her. Honestly, while I haven't been enjoying waking up, I have really been enjoying my nighttime snuggles once I'm in there.
I will also continue to give her ample time to put herself back to sleep, however. Meaning, I am not going to run and jump to go into her room and help her. Often times, when I do that, she ends up waking more because she is excited to see me. She is fussing, not screaming for me, so when she does that I let her fuss it out for 15 minutes or so before responding. If she is going to put herself back to sleep, she will do so in that amount of time, so I like to allow her the opportunity to do so.
Updates on our progress will be soon to come! I hope this helps calm any stressed out mamas out there! Even at 7 months, when you have great routines, schedules, and awesome nighttime sleep, you can run into setbacks. They are normal and nothing to fret over.