Baby sleep problems - help!

(49 Posts)
newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:11:26

My 5 month old is a terrible sleeper. Is anyone else going through the same thing, or can anyone offer any advice?

In the day she will have two to three naps of 20 to 60 minutes. She will sleep in her pram, sometimes in the car and eventually in my arms. If we're at home and I see the first signs of tiredness I will pick her up, rock her and sing to her. At first she will smile, then she realises what I'm doing and kicks, lashes out and cries until she falls asleep between 5 and 20 minutes later. I'm currently experimenting with putting her down (asleep) in her cot for one sleep a day, but this takes a lot of work and she needs patting every few minutes to keep her asleep.

At night she settles quickly (on the breast - she is ebf) and I put her down in her cot asleep. However she wakes 5 or 6 times a night wide awake and grumbling. If I feed her she goes back down easily in 15 minutes but if I pat or shush her it takes much longer and usually doesn't work.

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:17:06

Oops, stupid phone.

Just to finish, her best ever night was two night feeds, and worst was eight. I've read about teething and wonder weeks and growth spurts but she's been like this since birth. Wide awake when everyone else's tiny babies slept non-stop.

Then on top of all that we had a terrible night where she wouldn't settle back to sleep between 1.30am and morning (after already being up for three night feeds). This doesn't normally happen so I'm hoping it was a one off, but the other problems described above are constant. I've not had a good sleep since before I was pregnant and am so tired I could cry. No sleep at night and no possibility of catching up in the day. Can anyone help, or sympathise?

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:18:50

Ps the terrible night was last night, just to clarify, which is why I'm feeling so in need of support today. Sorry for the mammoth post.

Is there anyway you can sidecar the cot to your bed? That way you don't have to get up to feed. I did this and used to fall back to sleep whilst DD was latched on. I also used to go to bed about 8.00 p.m. every night - there is a saying that one hour's sleep before midnight is worth two after. I know there is societal pressure to get your evenings back and have adult time, but really it's not for ever.

StuntNun Thu 11-Jul-13 09:32:36

My method is to sort the day naps out first as they say sleep begets sleep. With my 7 month old, I follow a rough routine of naps 9-9.30, 11.30-1.30, 4-4.30 then bedtime at 7.30. The durations are quite variable but that is a rough guide. My policy is 'sleep by any means possible' usually bfing, dummy, rocking or some combination of all three. He is settled and put to sleep in a sleeping bag in a darkened room. Once the daytime sleeps are established then you can start trying to put the baby down awake but you may find hand holding or shushing or a hand on the chest is required to help sleep. We're now at three naps a day and two night feeds (at 10.30 and 4.00) and this is the best he's been since birth. A big problem here has been a recently diagnosed egg allergy. Until I cut egg out of my diet completely we would routinely have had very short naps (10 minutes) and hourly wakenings at night.

The Baby Sleep Site is quite good.

And yes I feel your pain. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since November. confused

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:39:12

Hi world- thanks for your reply. Our bedroom is tiny so the cot is right up against our bed. I only have to lean over to pick her up and put her back again. I think you've hit the nail on the head though talking about societal pressure. I've been going to bed between 8pm and 9pm every night since dd was born. Meanwhile other mums I've met with babies the same age and even younger are back in the "real world" - nights out and weekends away which I can't do (had too many traumatic battles trying to get her to take a bottle so gave up). I feel like I'm stuck in limbo and no one else is here with me.

Does anyone know, will I need to do sleep training to improve the naps and night time sleep or will it just improve on its own in time? I've done so much reading (in the middle of the night!) on sleep training vs attachment parenting but it doesn't compare with having real life experience. I feel completely in the dark with this whole baby business.

LillyofWinchester Thu 11-Jul-13 09:40:17

I can sympathise, lack of sleep is awful and you spend your days wondering what your doing wrong. Honestly it will get better, gradually the nights when she has two feeds will become more frequent, and the 8 times a night will get less. It sounds like what you are doing is fine to me, she'll learn how to sleep longer in her cot soon during the day and you might notice a difference when she gets more active with rolling and crawling.
Hang in there, your doing a good job and it will pass soon.

When my son was like this I tried to expect a night of 8 wakes ups and look at the nights with only 2 as a bonus, that way I didn't get my hopes up that I'd cracked it! Don't think everyone has babies that sleep all the time, there are plenty that do what your baby does just not everyone is honest about it. For some people sleeping through the night is some kind of badge of good parenting. You really do have my sympathy, I don't think anyone really understands sleep deprivation until they are actually going through it themselves.

flowers

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:45:27

stunt - thank you so much. I feel really sorry for you but am pleased someone else is living through this too as I was feeling very alone. I'll work on the daytime naps and see how that progresses. Also good to hear you work on sleep by any means possible. I didn't know if I was doing the wrong thing by doing that. Although there doesn't seem to be an alternative. If I put her down awake she will just roll about and play and then cry. On more than one occasion she has gone all day without a nap.

How did you diagnose the egg allergy?

LillyofWinchester Thu 11-Jul-13 09:48:22

To answer your follow up question I think learning to sleep well is a developmental milestone, your baby will do it when ready. I think sleep training methods only work when people happen to time them right, if you do it too soon when your baby isn't ready it won't work. Even if you don't do anything your baby will improve on its own, and for lots of people waiting it out feels a lot more comfortable.

Think of it like a baby learning to walk, you can help it along, give encouragement and gently nudge it into learning but even if you did nothing to help your baby to walk it would still do it because babies are programmed to be working towards independence.

Plenty of people swear by sleep training methods but only do it if it feels right for you, if not it's perfectly ok to wait it out and let your baby learn in its own time by carrying on doing things how you are currently doing them.

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:48:24

lily your message is so nice it literally brought a tear to my eye. Thank you so much. It's so nice to know I'm not alone. I don't know anyone else in RL who is going through this (or who will admit to it!)

LillyofWinchester Thu 11-Jul-13 09:50:26

Also, totally agree with sleep by any means possible! Don't worry about bad habits or rods for backs, do what you need to do and trust your baby to learn in her own time

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:52:15

lily I was hoping you'd say that. I'm not against sleep training per se, I'm just too soft (and nerves too frayed) to be able to do it right now. I just wish I had some experience to draw on. I feel like I have no idea what comes next or how things will pan out. I know she'll sleep through by the time she's 15 but no clue what happens between now and then!

TinyTear Thu 11-Jul-13 10:07:36

my daughter was like that, 30 minute naps most of her first year and waking to feed often... she is now 17 months and sleeps through after being bf to sleep and put in the cot asleep
if she wakes, i bf to sleep again and down she goes

no need for training
sleep is developmental and it will happen when they are ready.

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:14:11

Thanks tiny I can't tell you how pleased I am to hear that! Fingers crossed that's how things will pan out for me too.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Thu 11-Jul-13 12:43:17

newtothenet, I have a 4.5 month old son who I think must be in cahoots with your daughter as he is also a dedicated non-sleeper grin I tried all sorts of routines etc and they were only making me stressed and miserable, so I gave up keeping track of anything and just let him sleep, feed, and basically do what he wants. Much less stressful. He has got much better at night on his own (still wakes 3hrly ish though), but does not settle to sleep until about 10pm so no nice free evenings for me! So I have no real advice but a lot of sympathy. I agree with those who have said it is fundamentally a developmental issue rather than a parenting one, and babies will sleep for longer periods when they are ready. No harm trying to gently encourage some regular naps and bedtimes and trying different things though - but don't pressure yourself if it's just not happening.

We have a sidecar cot arrangement, although I don't feed lying down. I usually bring him into bed with me at around 4am when I'm fed up , and I find he will then sleep for a good 3 hour stretch. I wouldn't want to encourage co-sleeping as there are lots of issues to consider eg safety, partners etc but I'm just sharing what has worked for us.

It takes some effort but try not to compare with other people. I did that a lot and it was frustrating. I now avoid seeing the most persistent "my baby is in a lovely routine and sleeps through the night" smug arses because it was upsetting me so much. plus I didn't like them much anyway

AidanTheRevengeNinja Thu 11-Jul-13 12:45:01

Oh, and while I was typing that message he appears to have fallen asleep on my lap. Bonus smile

TinyTear Thu 11-Jul-13 13:20:01

And the ones who have the lovely routine and sleep through at 3 months then get hit in the face by the 4 month and 9 month sleep regressions and then the molars and canines and whooomp...

At least I was used to sleep in 2 /3 hour stretches, sometimes 4 so the regressions didn't affect me as much... it was nothing new...

while, now, that she is sleeping more, on the times she wakes more often I feel worse

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 13:29:03

He he! If only my baby would get bored of me mumsnetting and fall asleep! Completely agree about avoiding people with "perfect" babies - I've started doing that too. It's just difficult when you're at baby groups and the woman across the way is chatting about how tired she is because her two month old is still waking up for a 4am feed. Anyway, in the middle of the night I do try to remember the laughs and smiles and lovely parts of being a mum and it (mostly) gets me through!

notsochic Thu 11-Jul-13 15:36:27

Sending sympathy my DS woke 7+ times a night until 17 months and until that point I hadn't had more than 3 hours sleep in a row.

We eventually used a plan from the baby sleep site mentioned above but it was a complete no cry one so was appealing to me but also worked.

I felt like I was stuck in newborn land while everyone else had moved on. He never took a bottle either so no rest.

He now sleeps by far the 'best' out of all his peers :-)

Bizarrely I now have a 2 month old who has slept through for the last 2 weeks (though will only sleep on me during the day) and I am not doing anything different so don't let yourself think it is anything you are doing or not doing :-)

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 16:55:36

stuntnun and notsochic I'll have a good look at that website when I get a minute. A no cry solution definitely appeals to me. I'm pleased you say your two children have slept completel differently. It's so easy to question yourself and wonder if it's something I've den wrong and should have due differently.

StuntNun Thu 11-Jul-13 17:08:37

Newtothenet keep trying different things: white noise, swaddling, routine, baby led, whatever suits you best and you think will benefit your baby. The sad truth is that some babies are terrible sleepers. My DS2 was bad and I thought I was prepared for the worst but DS3 has reflux and was reacting to the egg proteins in my milk. Now that he is properly medicated and I have cut out eggs we have seen a big improvement in his sleep. Last night was technically only one wakening (he was up for the day at 5:45 hmm) making it one of the best nights so far. He had a reaction to scrambled egg (rash and coughing) but it took a while longer before the penny dropped that he was reacting to even trace amounts of egg that I was eating.

newtothenet Thu 11-Jul-13 17:09:50

notsochic I've just had a very quick look at that site but not properly. Wich plan exactly did you use? Did you purchase email contact, or one of the books? I'm a bit confused by the site and am obviously more happy to have a go at something recommended by someone than to pick something at random!

notsochic Thu 11-Jul-13 21:53:16

I purchased a bespoke plan, about US $100 and specified I wanted a no cry one. However, I did this at 17 months, and I wouldn't really do it earlier than a year. It worked for us as DS was old enough to understand what we were saying to him, and really didn't need milk in the night other than for comfort.

At your baby's age I would read the no cry sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley as she has great suggestions for younger babies. If I had my time again (and I will probably end up needing for Dc2 once we hit sleep regressions) I would have persevered with her suggestions as I think they work better the earlier you try and are kind methods too.

My son also had silent reflux which I think didn't help. DC2 is a much more settled baby overall.

The no cry book has some nice reassuring stats about baby sleep which made me think a lot of the other mums were lying!!!!

Good luck smile

notsochic Thu 11-Jul-13 21:55:05

I purchased a bespoke plan, about US $100 and specified I wanted a no cry one. However, I did this at 17 months, and I wouldn't really do it earlier than a year. It worked for us as DS was old enough to understand what we were saying to him, and really didn't need milk in the night other than for comfort.

At your baby's age I would read the no cry sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley as she has great suggestions for younger babies. If I had my time again (and I will probably end up needing for Dc2 once we hit sleep regressions) I would have persevered with her suggestions as I think they work better the earlier you try and are kind methods too.

My son also had silent reflux which I think didn't help. DC2 is a much more settled baby overall.

The no cry book has some nice reassuring stats about baby sleep which made me think a lot of the other mums were lying!!!!

Good luck smile

notsochic Thu 11-Jul-13 21:59:23

Stupid phone sorry for double post.

Also I cut out dairy for my son as he had CMPI. With my daughter I cut out soy too and she doubled her sleep stretches as soon as I did (lots of babies who can't handle dairy also react to soy).

Not saying you should do that just noticed StuntNuns baby also had intolerances and was a poor sleeper

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