Thrashing limbs at night and waking himself up

(9 Posts)
flowerlady46 Wed 28-Aug-13 10:29:16

I wonder if anyone can at least explain what this is and whether it's just a phase.

My son is 15 weeks old and since he was born has been an excellent dream feeder during the night. He'd be partially awake, be breastfed and then go straight back to sleep again when he'd finished.

However, for the last 4 weeks or so the pattern has changed. He's continued to wake 2 or 3 times in the night. He feeds and to all appearances falls fast asleep again on my lap when he comes off the boob. However, when I move him back into his moses basket he lies there fast asleep for up to a minute and then suddenly his legs and then his hands start thrashing about. He's clearly still trying to be asleep but if I leave him he wakes up completely in about 8 minutes.

I've tried swaddling but that doesn't keep his legs still and once he's awake he fights it anyway. I've tried giving him a soother and rocking the basket but that doesn't seem to help.

It seems like the movements are involuntary and not under his control and sometimes I think he's as annoyed by them as I am.

At present my only solution is to bring him into bed with me where he immediately settles and calms and the leg thrashing stops.

I don't want this to become a habit but it's what I'm doing to get any sleep at all at the moment.

Any suggestions/explanations gratefully received.

elsabel Wed 28-Aug-13 21:49:05

Im sorry i dont have a solution really, but my dd is now 12 weeks and did this alot when she was around 8 weeks (still does sometimes but less so). And sounds exactly as you have described. She was diagnosed with reflux and gaviscon helped her through it. May not be anything to do with it but does your dc have any other symptoms? Posseting? Hiccups etc? It is very annoying!

flowerlady46 Wed 28-Aug-13 22:09:34

Thanks for the support elsabel. He gets hiccups about once a day (as he did in the womb in fact!) but otherwise has no other symptons. His digestion has always been pretty good and we've had v few problems with colic, being sick etc. The thing is that the leg thrashing doesn't seem to be accompanied by any pain or discomfort. He doesn't cry out until he's fully awake and wants comforting or company which can take up to 15 minutes. I'm hoping it's something that he'll grow out of it as his limbs come more under his control generally but it's been several weeks now and there's been no change.

elsabel Fri 30-Aug-13 11:08:51

Its really frustrating isnt it. Hopefully it is just a phase and he will grow out of it. You could always ask your health visitor, ive rang mine up a few times about things i didnt think needed a doctor but wanted advice about, and she was really good.

Reiltin Fri 30-Aug-13 11:15:12

My lo is 3mts and she thrashes loads! When she was about 6wks, she began starting every time I put her down in her Moses basket - legs and arms would go out, hit the basket, then back in & hit herself! We bought a Cocoonababy (it's a nest that's shaped) for her & haven't looked back! She still thrashes about but doesn't ever wake herself up. Talking to other moms, babies tend to move about a lot in their sleep so this isn't unusual. The Cocoonababy is only good for another month and I'm dreading having to move her into some flat, as she really likes the feeling of being held. Good luck!

CityDweller Fri 30-Aug-13 13:13:38

My DD was impossible to put down for naps around 14 weeks because she'd thrash her arms around and throw her legs up in the air. She'd also wake up in the night doing it (although putting her down at night was ok as I fed her until she was totally conked out and then put her down passed out). I worked out it was, I think, because she was on the verge of learning to roll over and was practicing that in her sleep (rolling over involves her throwing her legs up). Once she learned to roll she started thrashing less. The Wonder Weeks book explains how babies practice new skills - ones they're about to or have just mastered, in their sleep, which often wakes them up/ prevents them from falling asleep. Does that sound like it could be relevant to your DS?

As to what to do about it? Sometimes me lying next to her, basically pinning her arms and legs down (sounds violent - really wasn't!) stopped her from doing it, but I'd have to get my timing exactly right so that she was on the very verge of sleep. I'd wait for the first thrash and then lay an arm on her leg and another one holding her hands gently in place. This would usually work, but sometimes it would just enrage her and I'd have to give up and, in the case of naps, hold her in my arms and let her sleep on my chest.

Now, at 19 weeks, she barely does it at all. I say do what you have to do to get him to sleep as he'll grow out of the thrashing stage quite soon, I suspect. I wouldn't worry too much about establishing bad habits - DD would only nap in my arms for ages, now she hates it if I try to get her to sleep on me during the day and naps in her cot or pram. And how I miss those daytime snuggly naps!

flowerlady46 Fri 30-Aug-13 21:45:40

Citydweller. Thank you so much. Your situation sounds exactly the same as mine. I have also tried the gentle restraint technique and, as in your case, sometimes it works and sometimes it just makes him cross. It's interesting what you say about the rolling over thing. It may well be the case as he's at about that stage but he's showing absolutely no sign of attempting to roll when he's awake! The best news is that he's likely to grow out of it. That thought will keep me going through these difficult 1am to 3am vigils!

CityDweller Sat 31-Aug-13 11:31:58

Well, mine started doing it a while before she actually rolled over. Then she rolled over sporadically for about a week and now hasn't done it for about 2.5 weeks and shows no interest again! But, I think that's normal for gaining new skills - they do it for a bit, stop, and then start doing it again later!

flowerlady46 Fri 27-Sep-13 20:11:11

For the sake of completing the story for anyone searching for help on this problem I thought I'd provide an update on my post. My son is now nearly 20 weeks and I'm pleased to say that the thrashing limbs have abated. He now settles happily back to sleep after a feed (he's still waking up at least twice in the night) and if he seems to be having any trouble at all I roll him onto his side which settles him immediately. He still isn't rolling or showing any signs of doing so so I don't know if that theory is correct. So for anyone experiencing the same desperate night time struggles with a thrashing little body please take some comfort from the fact that it does stop and instead of beating yourself up about it, as I did, do whatever you need to do to get a decent night's sleep.

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