Sunday, September 9, 2012

The 4am Grunting - Advice Needed!

There are many many many of you who have just had your babes in the last weeks or months...and I need your advice!

Baby Jett has this new thing that he does and it makes me want to die.

Generally he's a good sleeper, he naps plenty during the day and then he gets fussy for 2 hours before bedtime, but we nurse and burp and fuss and nurse and burp and fuss until he finally goes down sometime around 10-11pm.

Then he sleeps for 3-4 hours, change, feed, back to sleep.

He used to then go back to sleep for another 3-4 hours and lather rinse repeat.

BUT NOW, now he has this thing that he does. 

At 4am, give or take an hour, after the change, feed and burp routine HE STARTS GRUNTING and straining and wiggling AND HE KEEPS IT UP FOR 3-4 HOURS or until I give up on sleeping and just get up for the day having really only slept the original 3-4 hours that he allowed.

It's as though he is constipated and he's straining straining straining to have a bowel movement.

But breastfed babies don't get constipated!

Conveniently he started this just before his 1 month appt with the pediatrician and I asked her about it.  She said it's VERY COMMON and a complaint she hears from new parents a lot.

In a nutshell, he's learning how to actually control his bowel movements, learning how to push BUT HE  ISN'T RELAXING HIS BUM so he's pushing and straining and grunting.  AND HE WILL GROW OUT OF IT.

I accept this explanation.


He's been doing this for almost a week now AND I AM SO TIRED.


Or is this one of those cases of "this too shall pass".

The damn baby is absolutely fine the rest of the day, not gassy or fussy...generally a good baby, so I don't believe this is a diet issue or a reflux issue but I'm having trouble functioning on 4 hours of sleep.



  1. I have no ideas for you, but can appreciate how hard it is to function on that much sleep! Hang in there, Mama! I'm guessing this is yet another 'this too shall pass' instance.

  2. I am sure it is a "it will pass" time! Molly is in her own room so I don't hear any grunts! Have you got to the part where they don't poo for a few days......wait for this!!

  3. Me too. Baby is 9 weeks & has been grunting at 5am for weeks & weeks. We find he stops if he's on his side. So I often take him into thE guest room & position him so he sleeps on his side in my arm with no suffocation risk. I will keep reading the comments for other suggestions.

  4. It's funny, I've heard this is a BOY thing! My gf with twin girls just had a boy in may and she swears he grunts and groans and farts like her girls never did! I've also heard the cure for this in the crib. Away from mom, no monitor, you'll hear him when he needs you. Don't know if you're there yet but that's the only solution I've heard!

  5. Yup, Little Bun did this for a few weeks - it did calm down. She still has off nights when it starts up again (it's more farting than grunting, now ... joy!) however I think that's do to with her recently diagnosed issues.
    Not much help, but I think you've got it when you say, 'this too ...!'

  6. My little girl did this A LOT, so it's not just a boy thing, millionbabysteps :)

    Is he content while he's grunting... like does he just lay there and do it? My girl was kind of sleep/grunt/sleep/grunt for a few hours in the night, but she wasn't crying or anything.

    On nights when I just couldn't sleep through it I would wear earplugs, that way I wouldn't hear the gruning, but because she was sleeping right beside us I would hear if it escalated to crying.

    And yes, it will pass! ... and then the horrid teething will start! haha. I hate how everyone says that "it will pass" or "it's just a phase" because it's all phase after phase and usually they are all equally annoying/tiring/sleep-depriving!

  7. Is he fussy and requiring your attention during this time or just generally fidgetty in his own sleep? My babies were always funky night time grunters and it drove me to putting them in their own rooms because of it. They did not really need me...they were just in this half sleep where they would lay there and grunt and wiggle for an hour or so but not really require any intervention from me....and was always in the middle of the night. solution was to put them in their own room (right next to ours)...they were safe in a crib or bassinett and once they really needed me I could hear them and get up to nurse or attend to any needs. It helped soooo much for me to get that sleep. It also helped them learn to be on their own and hang out and self soothe a little bit. It was never really my intention to kick them out of my room before 3 months of age...but the grunting and such started about 5-6 weeks with each of them and by 8 weeks I was so tired I just kicked them out...they did just fine in their own room. I know you currently co-sleep so this may not be a viable solution for you...but it happened to us and this is how I handled it.

  8. Maybe he doesn't want to go to the bathroom in his diaper! He might be begging for EC or something. Maybe try getting a tiny potty and putting him over it with his legs bent up into his chest. Some kids hold it in to not go in their diaper! We tried EC with Winston, but then stopped with all the traveling, really wish we'd kept it up. He used to fuss before he pooped in his diaper.

    Also, you can't pee/poop in REM sleep, so you wake a little, adults will get up and go to the bathroom, kids will fidget, and likely wet the bed. Winston fidgets and makes funny noises at night, and I have to take him to the potty so he doesn't pee the bed (you think a baby makes a lot of pee - wait till Jett is 3!!!!)

    Diaper Free (The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene) by Ingrid Bauer is good book on EC...

    Studies have shown cry it out is BAD for baby, so try not to do that. Basically it doesn't teach baby to self soothe, it teaches baby to be content with being miserable and not having needs met.

    I'm trying to find the article Davio found, it wasn't from a parenting type site, but an Economist/NY Times type article...the boring stuff davio reads ;-)

  9. I second the suggestion of EC! Worked amazingly for us, and babe was out of diapers (like diapers packed away) at 15 months!

  10. Sorry to necro a 4 year dead thread, but we have this happening right now with our precious Miss Z, all of 7 days old. She already mimics mum's kisses so I don't think it's impossible she's highly intelligent, but then again I'm a dad, we all think that.

    Could it be possible that 'the 4am grunts' has begun so early? It seems incredibly young to be teaching herself to control what's happening in back.