Q & A: My 8 Month Old Wakes Up Startled

Hi Rosemary,

My 8 month old sleeps soundly for five hours until he rolls over and wakes up startled.  I have placed pillows and even tried five pound rice bags but he still rolls over and wakes up. Its quite difficult to soothe him back to sleep at 3 am. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you,
Hi Raquel,

I’m sorry your little guy is giving you a tough time in the middle of the night!

I was wondering whether he goes to sleep initially on his own, without being soothed, or if he needs your help? Which ever way you soothe him when you put him down at the beginning of the night, it is the same thing he is going to expect if he wakes up during the night. In other words, if you pat him or rock him to sleep at bedtime, he is going to want you to do the same thing at following wake- ups. Having said that, if he goes down to sleep unaided initially, and he wakes up 5 hours later, I suspect he may be missing you. By this age, babies are very much aware of mom or dad’s absence. You might consider going to him, reassuring him by a short pat, and then leaving him to eventually fall back to sleep on his own. He may need some help learning this. You should definitely continue to go in and out of his room if you find that helpful, or you can also stay beside him and soothe him, but I would avoid picking him up. This may take a few nights for him to get used to, but I’m sure that in the long run, his sleeping habits will improve.

Hope this is helpful!


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