Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/My 11 month Old won't sleep thru the night

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Question
My boy is 11months old and won't sleep thru the night. He wakes up once or twice and has to eat a whole 8 ounces! I've tried feeding him heavier food for dinner about 8 o'clock but he still wakes up. He is also a co-sleeper an has been since he was born. Everytime I put him in his crib he wakes up immediately and screams until he lays back down on me. This, of course, is taking a huge toll on my love life and home life. I prefer not to try the "let them scream in the bed until they fall asleep" tactic. I've tried everything I can think of and nothing is working. His pediatrician says he's perfectly healthy and doesn't know what else for me try so I feel defeated. Please give me some new ideas so I can regain a little but of my sanity!

Answer
Hello Kay,
Yes, having a baby sleep with you may allow you to sleep and enable him to sleep without crying, but it does nothing for your love life.
However, there is no magic formula for persuading a baby that he should give up sleeping with his mother and start sleeping by himself. Who wants to give up sleeping with someone else and starting sleeping by yourself? Certainly not your baby!
The situation is one of training. That is, you have trained him to wake up in the night, demand food, and then refuse to go back to sleep unless he is with you. And while there is nothing wrong with this -- as long as you enjoy it -- there is something terribly inconvenient about it. Which means that you have to retrain your son to sleep through the night in his own bed. And how will you train him to do these things?
It will not occur by continuing to feed him during the night when he awakens or by letting him sleep with you. He must get in the habit of going back to sleep by himself when he awakens -- and going back to sleep without a feeding. I hate to tell you this, but this means that you start out by placing him in his own bed at bedtime and leaving him there. Which means he will not be happy about this new routine and to show his displeasure he will cry or scream. And if you get tired of his crying or screaming and give in and take him in your bed you will be continuing to train him to cry in order to be able to continue the pattern of sleeping with you.
But I know no other way of doing this. If you truly want him  to learn to sleep by himself, you must be prepared for his crying. It doesn't mean you can't go to him and soothe him when the crying gets too intense, but if you take him to your bed (or even if you lay down with him in his room) you will not be changing his pattern. I know you wanted to avoid this approach, but there are no new ideas out there that anyone can tell you to make it easier. I've been helping parents do this for many, many years and this approach works -- but not without some crying -- and some sleepless nights for parents. And I might also add, the longer you allow him to eat during the night and sleep with you, the harder it will be to train him in the future.
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.
Best,
James Windell

Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers

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James Windell

Expertise

I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.

Experience

I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

Organizations
American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

Publications
I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at Jimwindell.com includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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