Q&A: getting baby back to sleep after midnight feeding

Naomi writes:

"My second son, just over 2 months, is having some sleep issues.  We successfully got through the "witching hour" problem at about 6 weeks, but now it seems to be back, with a twist.  Every night my son is up somewhere around 1:30 or 2 am, and just will not go back to sleep until after 4.  Sometimes he seems a bit gassy, so we give him gripe water.  We've tried not talking to him, swaddling him (he sleeps swaddles much of the night), talking to him, rocking him...all the tricks. 

As a bit of background about him, he sleeps in a bassinette beside our bed about half the time, and in bed with us the rest of the time.  It took over a month before he would sleep at all (day or night) anywhere that wasn't on or touching me.  To get him to sleep in his bassinette we have a hot water bottle with a blanket around it, a rolled up blanket and a cushion around his head - this means he is being touched all around, and therefore he will consider sleeping.  He's incredibly tactile, loves being held. 

I don't expect him to sleep through the night, but how can we encourage him to go back to sleep after his 2 am feeding?  (he is exclusively breastfed).  Any thoughts?"

My guess by the way you've written this is that you didn't have that problem with your first son. It must be all the more insulting to be a BTDT parent but still be bumping up against this egregious pattern.

Yes, I said "egregious." There's nothing wrong with your baby. He's perfect, the best baby in the whole world. Better than any other baby. But waking up to eat and then not going right back to sleep is egregious. And unconscionable.

Unfortunately, if you've tried all the tricks (rocking, singing, swaddling, sitting on the couch with the lights off and Food Network on very low in the background, bouncing him on the balance ball, gripe water, mylecon, chamomilla pellets, standing on your head singing the theme to "Barney Miller," praying to the diety of your choice, singing "Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little asshole" to the tune of "Lullabye and Goodnight," sobbing uncontrollably, threatening to send him in a box to your mother's house, getting a white noise machine, handing him to your partner and going into the guest room to sleep, and just lying next to him on the bed listening to him cry), then there's probably nothing left to try. Once he goes through the next developmental spurt (at 12 weeks) he'll probably start going back to sleep after he eats again.

In the meantime, the only thing to do is know that it's not your fault, it's not his fault, everyone feels really sorry for you, and it will pass. Take a look at your older son and remember that the baby will someday be a big boy who sleeps at night and can tell you what's wrong.

Sorry I don't have more for you. I wish I had a magic sleeping bullet.