My wife and I have a little girl who is almost 10 months old. We’ve gotten a little concerned about her sleeping habits lately and are now wondering what we can do to help her. Our baby typically wakes up twice in the night and we’ve always had my wife breastfeed her to get her back to sleep. We want to get her to start putting herself to sleep and getting her to sleep through the night.

Managing feeding and sleep in this age group can be a challenge. It is important to check in with your pediatrician to rule out underlying health problems such as reflux and other issues regarding feeding. 

If your pediatrician has no concerns the initial step is to gradually taper and eliminate the nighttime feedings. This is very tough to accomplish unless the infant will take a bottle. An infant does not need to feed throughout the night after 6 months of age, and once nighttime feeding is eliminated sleep continuity improves.

The second overall goal which can be started at the same time is to establish a new association for your baby’s transition to sleep at the beginning of the night. If she is accustomed to nursing or being held at the first transition to sleep she will continue require the same cue to fall back to sleep when she has a nighttime awakening. You can begin to work on separating the bedtime feeding from the actual transition to sleep. This final feeding could take place in another room in the house. You can rock her for a few nights without feeding and then put her into her crib awake. You can gradually change each of these associations over the course of a few days.

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Daniel Lewin Daniel S. Lewin, PhD, DABSM is a pediatric psychologist, sleep specialist, and licensed clinical psychologist. He is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine and Behavioral Sleep Medicine and is the Associate Director of the Pediatric Sleep Medicine and Director of the Pulmonary Behavioral Medicine Program at Children’s National and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine.

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